Posts from May, 2009

The quick brown fox jumped over the good, but lazy Parker family.

how i met your mother: the first dates

Monday, 25 May 2009

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dear sparklet,

this is the third in a series of letters to baby sparklet about how mommy and daddy met and woo-ed each other.

it’s pretty difficult to pick out one event that would qualify as a first date.

the first thing we did together outside of work was go to Ben’s Chili Bowl. however, it was for lunch, and bridesmaid Mel was nice enough to chaperon that little event.  i am pretty sure those two things disqualify Ben’s from the “first date” competition.

(that was also my first hot dog is several years, and i can still remember how my stomach ached after that was all over…)

several weeks later, the lady sparkler and i went for a hike in Shenandoah national park … and barely survived. we made the mistake of hiking down (to some waterfalls on hazel mountain) instead of up.

hiking downhill seemed like a good idea for the first six miles, and proved to be easy enough that we kept going farther than we had planned. we were having a great time talking, laughing, and poking t.l.s. with a stick (well, that last part was mostly me…)

unfortunately, the six miles back uphill to the car sucked most of the will to live out of our poor, frail, out-of-shape, trying-to-impress-each-other-with-our-outdoorsyness bodies.

we stayed on the trail two hours longer than we had planned, which meant what had been planned as a day event now required dinner, which was a first for us.

and so, our first dinner date (however accidental) was at a ruby tuesday’s in warrenton on the way back to DC. to this very day, the sonora chicken pasta i had that night is just about my favorite comfort food on the planet.

now, i was mostly a vegetarian when i met the lady sparkler … i did eat some meat (almost all of it was chicken), i never cooked any dead animals at home, and never ate meat more than once or twice a month (i guess you could say that i was a social carnivore.)

so it was much to my surprise that after our hike, i found us talking about barbecue — which is not something I talk about much, so i’m guessing the lady sparkler must have brought up.

to keep up with the conversation, i found myself telling her that she should come up to Glover Park to try the ribs at Rockland’s, regardless of the fact that i had no earthly idea what they tasted like and would probably faint watching someone eat them.

she thought it sounded great.

so, while i had successfully arranged our first “alone” date back in DC, i had also managed to create a rather awkward situation. whatever meat i was eating at the time, i can assure you that it wasn’t anything that looked like it was once alive, much less slaughtered, cooked over an open flame, and hacked into little strips.

that next weekend, we met at Rocklands, and ordered at the counter.  me: a cute little array of sides (coleslaw, mac and cheese, potato salad).  my future wife: a huge slab of meat.

and so, i watched my wife-to-be pack away half a rack of ribs.

when finished, she proceeded to suck the marrow from the bones, and then lick her fingers clean. i kissed goodbye whatever vegetarian tendencies i had, right then and there.

and the rest, as they say, is history.



new theme (launch, v11)

Monday, 25 May 2009

well, while i was rebuilding the site anyway i figured it was about time to ditch the old three column format. it’s not my design, but that may actually be the point — i find i like designs longer when i have nothing to do with them.

it’s the 11th design i’ve had since my first site in may of 2002, and i can’t think of one that lasted longer than 18 months.

the end of baseball in washington

Saturday, 23 May 2009

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photo.jpg, originally uploaded by [ecpark].
i might be about done with the washington nationals.

the austin spaklers are in town for the lady sparkler’s birthday, and to get some some quality time with her belly. it’d been a year since we saw a nats game, so we tossed in one of those for good measure.

it turned out that we had three sets of friends there, and we had a great time all around. the food — ben’s chili bowl, again — was fantastic. the stadium is beautiful.

but the game was awful.

of course, part of that might be because the nationals are awful. luckily, they were facing the orioles … who are equally awful.

the two teams are averaging 6 runs allowed per game. together, they allow more people on base than any other teams in the league. washington leads the league in errors, and baltimore is close behind. both are in last place in their division.

all that futility should mean a scorcher of a game. but alas, did i mention it was awful?

i swear, there was 20 minutes between each inning. it took until the 5th inning for washington to score its first run (which would also be the last). the game was over in two hours and 31 minutes, but i would have guessed it was twice that.

in fact, when nat’s shortstop Cristian Guzman homered in the 5th i was excited … until i realized that it tied the game, vastly increasing the chance it would go into extra innings.

(not to worry, tho, as baltimore “stormed” back to win 2-1.)

but worst of all, we had to watch all the happy O’s fans … who have to win the award for most socially awkward fan base in the country.

i know that baseball is a game of stats (which is probably a polite way of saying math geeks) but O’s fans makes red sox and yankees fans look normal by comparison … preppy or thuggy, as the case may be, but without that certain “a/v club” veneer.

but, at least the O’s have fans.

honestly, the nats would have better success if they built a giant bar, with great food, a huge HD television, and a $25 cover charge. that way DCers could come and socialize, without feeling guilty about paying attention a baseball game.

(wait, that’s actually what they did …)

in the end, the two-plus hours where i didn’t watch the game was great, but the 20 minutes of the game i watched during pauses in the social agenda felt like an afternoon at the dmv.

it took forever, and no one was particularly happy with how it turned out.

Shamu Snubs the Conservancy

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Well, not really 🙂

Sea World / Busch Gardens and their “Animal Ambassadors” stopped by the Conservancy this morning … and a couple hundred of us gathered in the garden out back to see a Red-necked Wallaby, some type of lizard, an American Alligator and Magellan Penguin. Shamu (the killer whale) did not attend, nor was he expected (can you imagine *that* kennel carrier?)

I have to say that (a) the southern tip of Argentina is back at the top of my travel list, and (b) everyday would be better with penguins.

Photo: Penguin (detail) © Amy Hawthorne.

photos: the best of europe

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

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[Eiffel Tower, Paris, France.]
ECPA20090504_1496, originally uploaded by [ecpark].
not everybody has the patience to sort through 800+ photos from a family vacation, so i have distilled out about 70 of my favorites from scotland, london and paris. there is more commentary on the trip to come (UPDATED: it’s here now) but wanted to get the pictures up quicker than my weary brain can draft real blog posts.





website: hackers, and my blog, and stuff

Sunday, 17 May 2009

i feel so violated.

early this week, i was making a quick change to the blog, when i discovered hundreds of files filled with all sorts of obvious porn keywords (khandi-alexander-nude-pics.html) and some more with not so obvious porn keywords (blue-lotus-tea-recipe.html).

now, i would have been fine if was making porn-star money for hosting the files … but no one appeared to be sending me my cut of the proceeds.

for three days, i tried everything from deleting the files to figuring out where the security hole was that needed to be plugged. i had the latest version of the operating system, the latest version of WordPress, i deleted “extra” logins to the system, and i changed to a new WordPress theme (hense the new design) to make sure one of my “upgrades” wasn’t at fault.

but each night at 12:04 am, the porn files mysteriously reappeared. out of desperation, i finally contacted my web host — i did that last because i knew they were going to be useless — and sure enough all they could manage was “sorry we can’t help you, but try resetting your passwords.”

oops. hadn’t thought of that …

sure enough, i reset all the passwords, and the site hasn’t been hacked since. hard to believe it was something so simple (and stupid, and obvious).

i think there is some sort of life lesson in here somewhere, if i only knew where to look.

into the closet, pt 2

Sunday, 17 May 2009


this whole baby thing is going to have a profound impact on the lady sparkler’s life, but in no way more than the loss of the second bedroom as her own private a vain attempt to soften the blow, baby mama’s birthday present this year is a container store / elfa makeover for her closet … because she now has to make room in there for baby sparklet (a conversation which we’ve already had with her spleen and bladder).

the purchase was easy enough. i sketched something out beforehand — with Google Sketchup because i am a dork — and the store turned it into a “parts” list. someone in the back readied the order and put it into our car, while the sales clerk walked us through how to assemble the new system.

my personal life-goal now shifted to not having to paint the closet.

first, i unloaded all of the crap from the closet … and tried to ignore that the closet needed to be painted. then i took down the existing shelves … and tried to ignore that the closet needed to be painted.

then i repaired the 30+ holes from the use of railroad spikes to hold up said shelves … and tried to ignore that the closet needed to be painted. then i went to bed … and tried to ignore that the closet needed to be painted.

and then i woke up, and painted the closet.

in the end, the closet went together fine and the baby now has about three-eighths of the closet (two hanging bars, two shelves and three drawers). it’s not quite the space savings i was hoping for, but it will do for now.

i sure hope baby sparklet is small, and doesn’t grow much.



in mt. pleasant, dc:

1y, 9m, 28d

how I met your mother: the first kiss

Friday, 15 May 2009

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[Evan and Tasha]
dear sparklet,

this is the second in a series of letters to baby sparklet about how mommy and daddy met and woo-ed each other.

if be lying if I said that I wasn’t interested in the woman who would become the lady sparkler soon after we met, after two years of being telephone-only business chums…

but, I was coming out of a bit of a rough patch as far as the fairer sex was concerned. point of fact, I had sworn off women all together after the excruciating demise of two (and a half) relationships in an 18 month perod.

but, to be frank, swearing off women wasn’t quite what the lady sparkler had had in mind.

those days we spent a little bit of time out of the office together … but completely plutonic, in the “hands off like plutonium” sort of way. I didn’t want to have anything to do (romantically) with women, and she didn’t want anything to do (romantically) with anyone who had such a luminous recent history of spectacularly-demising relationships.

but all of a sudden, something changed. after, say, four months of plutonic nirvana, she came up to my place in Glover Park on a Friday night for an early dinner, before I was to drive to Williamsburg (and the family) later that night.

as I was packing, she sat on my bed — it was a studio apartment so there was no couch, you perverts — going ON and ON about how she was happy we were just friends, and that while she could see some thing happening romantically, it was waaaaaay off in the future, and that we should take things slowly, and that I needed time, and that she needed time, and how special male friends were, and how she had a lot of them, and how people often misconstrued that, but she was glad that I didn’t misconstrue that, blah, blah, blah-blah, blah-blah-blah.

she was preaching to the choir (nay, the clergy) as far as i was concerned … so i said “you are exactly right” for twenty minutes, packed quickly, went with her for a quick bite of Indian, decided her Native American name translated to “she who insists on stating the obvious, over and *over* again,” and drove to Williamsburg.

She suggested that I stop by on my way back after my trip, which i did, and we ended up going for a walk, I’m guessing to give her roommate a break from the Evan-induced insanity.

not twenty minutes into the walk, she asked if she could hold my hand. not twenty-one minutes into the walk, she asked if she could kiss me.

we did, on the corner of Buchanan and Boyle streets, in Alexandria, Virginia.

to this day, I have no idea what happened between Friday at 8pm and Sunday at 4pm. but, whatever it was, I would like to officially take credit for it here and now.

all along, it was *obviously* my masterplan to drive her to do this switch-er-roo, and she was just powerless in the face of my onslaught of charm.

I promise to only use my powers for good from here on out.



how I met your mother: the beginning

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

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dear sparklet,

this is the first in a series of letters to baby sparklet about how mommy and daddy met and woo-ed each other.

one of the lady sparkler’s favorite shows these days is “how I met your mother,” whose premise includes a dad explaining to his kids (through flashbacks to modern day) all the zany hijinks that led to him meeting (and marrying) their mother.

you’ve seen it if you have been on an airplane in the last five years, or have a thing for doogie howser/ buffy the vampire slayer alumni.

anyway, the premise got me thinking I have a certain moral obligation to document all the embarassing stories I have about the lady sparkler, to make sure you (dear sparklet) have a full understanding of your antecedants.

so, I’m not sure how many people know this, but I knew my future beloved for about two years before we ever met. she was the head of communications for a small progressive non-profit, and I handled a web consulting contract they had with CTSG way back when.

it’s reasonable to say that I had a “client crush” on her — hard to explain, but that’s a commonish term that consultants have for clients that they don’t try to avoid at all costs. it happens a more often than you’d think, especially when your “relationship” is limited to whitty banter on the phone.

the funny part is that I assumed — for two years, up until the day that she started working for at CTSG — that she was 45 years old, married, with two or three kids.


one day I hear “new girl” is coming by for some social event because she was going to be starting with us in a few weeks, and two hours layer I realize it is (a) her, (b) that I have talked to her for years but never met, (c) she is decidedly not 45, and (d) had cornered me in the office kitchen in such a way that I was fairly certain I had best cooperate with her and whatever her vision of the world might be.

the part of the story that doesn’t get told all that often is that I inadvertently seduced her under completely false pretences … namely in a suit and tie.

the day she came to visit just happened to be the only day in four years of political consulting that I had a meeting with a member of congress (nick lampson, fwiw) so had dressed up for work in black tie, black suit and black overcoat.

(she said I looked dashing … I think I probably looked like John Cusack from Grosse Pointe Blank.)

regardless, it was one of maybe four times I got that dressed up in the last six years (poor thing).

looking back, she says it was love at first sight … I’m not sure I was so eloquent, but absolutely thought she was hot, had potential, and was going to kick my #%$& if I didn’t comply with her every demand.

mmmm, young love 🙂



the pregnancy so far

Saturday, 9 May 2009

yup, we’re pregnant. and to avoid any confusion, by “we” i mean the lady sparkler is pregnant. i’m just along for the ride … and the barefoot-kitchen jokes.

we had put a moratorium on even talking about making babies for the first year after our October wedding, and when we did end up talking in August of last year — you didn’t think she’d make it all 12 months, did you? — we decided we’d start trying in the New Year.

sure enough, we were pregnant by February. and everything is going swimmingly … no morning sickness for the lady sparkler, our little sparklet looks great, and is already over-achieving.

needless to say, a lot’s happened in the last fifteen weeks … and while it looks like i gave up blogging, they’ve just been going into the queue until the can’t-talk-about-it-for-the-first-trimester period was over.

to catch you up, here is the pregnancy so far:

  • well, here we go — we weren’t even sure t.l.s. was pregnant, and i already screwed up. and expect to screw up over and over again.
  • yup, we’re pregnant — and yes, we are going to find out the gender, and yes, we are going to pick a boring, anglo-friendly name.
  • ballerina — and no, chances are baby sparklet won’t grow up to be a classically trained russian ballerina, if here genes have anything to do with it.
  • obama boom — turns out we aren’t the only lefties that are pregnant, and (like everything else) it’s all obama’s fault.
  • there and back again — we found a hospital … five miles, twelve stoplights, three stop signs, one traffic circle, and 200 churches later.
  • the longest twelve weeks — i realized early on that i had the potential do a lot of damage in the twelve weeks where i was supposed to avoid talking about the pregnancy.
  • provisioning for two — the nine month shopping spree has officially begun. our only hope is that it all stays this cheap.
  • pregnant passover — went to a passover seder, where we were just about the only people who weren’t pregnant … sortof.
  • nesting — ever the planners, we’ve assembled a very healthy list of to-dos before baby sparklet arrives, and are starting to check them off.
  • ultrasound — baby sparklet, looks great, sounds great, and is already over achieving … and we’ve got proof.