To our Friends, Family and those in between,

This is the time of year I electronically dust off the addresses of friends and acquaintances, old and new, and ask myself over a cup of hot chocolate, “Do they still live there? How much is postage these days? Do I even know how to write something that isn’t my signature? This is to overwhelming. Maybe I’ll do it next year.” This is also where we’d have a picture of our family in front of a christmas tree showing how big Kara has grown and with a message about how great this year has been.

Fortunately, our lives have been so blessed that one picture couldn’t possibly summarize everything that we’ve experienced this year. So, I present to you this e-essay/card where you can click on links so we both reminisce on what’s happened to the Falgout Family in 2011.

Early on, I reconnected with my family through my long forgotten Falgout family tradition of a bonfire on NYE, as well as celebrating Kara’s birthday in our new Falgout family tradition: Cupcakes! We also got to meet Kara’s namesake celebrity, Katee Sackhoff. And a few other celebrities!

Kathy and I also had a joint birthday celebration which resulted in the best surprise of my 35 years on this planet and an amazing party. But that’s not to say life doesn’t have its falls, with screams of laughter, fear and excitement. In fact, one of my favorite accomplishments of the year was the Trebuchet Contest. Which also had it’s own falls, laughter, fear and excitement.

Somewhere mixed in all this was a trip to Italy, which I had promised Kathy for many years. And we discovered that even thousands of miles away, international cultures have more in common than you think.

For the first time, since moving into the Plano, we participated in Halloween. Verdict: Cute!

I also picked up bowling, which I found out I can be quite good at if I put my mind to it (read: Don’t drink as much).

And who in Dallas could forget the Mavericks finally winning the NBA Championship!

This year was also a resurgence in our friend’s fertility! 12 of our friends are on their way to starting their own families this year. (I sometimes think of ourselves as the Baby Making Hipsters of our friend’s circle.)

Looking back, it’s amazing to see all that has happened this year. It’s an extremely blessed and fortunate life. And it’s enriched by all of our friends and family which support and encourage us and our wacky lifestyle.

Thanks and here’s to outliving the Mayan’s expiration in 2012!
-Tommy, Kathy and Kara Falgout

LEGO Star Destroyer Hanging

A long, long time ago, LEGO announced their new Collectors Star Destroyer. It was their largest set at the time and I being a long time LEGO maniac, I had to have it. It took many weeks to build, and has been one of my prize possessions which I’ve flaunted even more than my hot tub. Friends, relationships and other toys have come and gone, but ol’Desty has always been around.

Now that I have a wife and kid, space has become constrained, and I’ve had to become creative in my toy storage. After mulling it around, I realized the best for Ol’Desty was to prominently display her, hanging from the ceiling. Unfortunately, after some researching the only useful bit of information I found was “use fishing wire”. I could do better than that.

To all my friends who have gotten this far, you can stop reading as the rest will bore you to tiny little brick pieces. To all of the LEGO enthusiasts, on with the gory details!

One of the most fascinating parts of trying to hang the LEGO Star Destroyer (LSD) was taking it apart and seeing how 9 years of being on display has affected the structure. If you’ve built an LSD before, you know that the fuselage is made of four attached triangles and most of the weight settles on the last two-thirds of the structure. You also probably also know that it’s an extremely fragile set, held together by magnets. Great idea, but for me, the bottom panels kept falling off all too often. In the pictures, you can see how the center beams have warped over time, bowing up to 4 3/4″ from the ground (between the two stands) and sagging to 4″ from the ground (at the tip).

On my first attempt, I tried to cradle the LSD by wrapping fishing wire around the entire structure, but that caused it to pinch the panels some places and bow out in others. After a few other experiments with the LSD over a generous glass of whiskey and coke, I found my solution.

I removed all 4 pieces of panelling and tied one long piece of fishing wire into strategic weight points on the triangle frame, using the peg holes of the middle long bricks to wrap the fishing wire around. I then re-attached the panels and fed the fishing wire between the horizontal center crevice. This approach caused the least amount of structural and functional disruption and allowed it to balance right on it’s widthwise center of gravity.

I played around with different locations along the frame and finally found a proper equilibrium (see pics). When hanging, my intent was to tilt the LSD slightly forward so that as you enter the room, a clear view of all of the beautiful deals LEGO put into the model are visible. Along with some more adjustments to the weight distribution, I was able to get the angle I wanted.

Google Sketchup was a great way to plan out exactly where to drill for the ceiling hooks. It also allows me to make some planned adjustments for upcoming LEGO Goodness

It required two people to hoist the LSD up, adjust the tension on the wires and tie off the ends. Once it was all settled and angled properly, the rear wires were significantly tighter than the front, but I believe that this is unavoidable due to the LSD’s weight distribution.

For the rest of the evening, I just sat there, basking at it’s beauty and glowing as it was inspiring to see it hovering ever so menacingly there, and proud of my accomplishment and DIY prowess.


  • Fishing Wire (Sporting goods store)
  • 3 ceiling plant hooks
  • Whiskey, or libation of choice if so desired. (For focusing your LEGO and Engineering Chi)
  • Electric Drill (for pre-drilling the holes in the ceiling)
  • patience

    Example of LSD bowing after 9 years

    Rear support with fishing wire

    Mid support with fishing wire

    Front Support

    Supports w/o bottom panel

    Google Sketchup

  • Techno-Geek-arama

    Jason, Neil and I were invited to speak at the PHP track for the Tulsa Tech Fest It made for a fun road trip as well as a really good lesson learned for trying to code while presenting. In short: Don’t.

    Too many things can go wrong and the unexpected will always happen.

    The presentation I gave on MySQL Scaling and Growth can be found here.

    Thanks to everyone for the support and feedback provided.

    I’m 33!

    Do we get special presents for palindrome years?

    32 was a good year. Got married, went to Jamaica, moved into a kickass position inside Yahoo!, has taken off.

    I’m not sure what 33 will hold, but if the amount of facebook notifications I got wishing me a Happy Birthday, then it will probably be one of much celebration and appreciation with friends.

    P.S. My B-day gift from Kathy is helicopter lessons. Bad Ass.

    MySQL Scaling and Me

    Yesterday, I did something I do only about 2-3 times a year, but would like to do more. I lead a Tech Talk which went very well.

    It was a discussion on how to scale MySQL so that you can support 10-100x your current traffic load. Adding more webservers is a non-trivial task, but I tell ya, you’ve got to know your stuff to make sure that your Databases are able to handle a huge traffic onslaught.

    I also have to thank Dave Stokes and Jason Ragsdale for their support throughout the talk.

    Here’s the link to the talk I presented.

    –Snoopykiss feels geeky. And proud.

    If I were to have a restaurant

    I attended a friend’s Anniv. of the Repeal of Prohibition party on Friday. It was awesome with all of the costumes, libations, and even a secret password which you had to give though a sliding peephole to boot.

    We were reminicing about the Food and Spirits party when a friend told me that if I were to open a restaurant it would need to be named ‘Nom nom nom yarr!’.

    This would of course be hugely successful and need to be followed up with other specialities, similar to the Papa’s brand.

    We would have the French: Tres nom and it’s sister Qui est ton nom?
    The Mexican: Los Nomos
    The Asian: Om Nom Nom
    The Indian: Om Om Om

    –Snoopykiss might be onto something here.

    Food & Spirits 6

    6 years is a long time to keep anything going. Especially an annual event. True, by the time the next year rolls around, you’ve forgotten how much work it was, but when you’ve got something like the Food & Spirits, it becomes with it each time.

    I learned some interesting things this time around:

    • My friends are incredibly diverse. Two of them ran out to get a breaker for the hot tub @ 9:45 and installed it themselves.
    • My wife is mischievous. When said hot tub failed for the last time, and people got in anyways. She offered a bottle of Jamaican rum to the person who would last the longest. No jets. No heater. It was ~30 degrees outside. Neil won by lasting for 3 hours.
    • You can’t get rid of alcohol by throwing a party. You just accumulate more.
    • My friends are willing to drive 8+ hours just to come to the party. We had visitors from Kansas City, Tulsa and Austin. Just for this soiree.

    Congrats to the winners! This year, we settled ties by having a “Duck Off”. (Pick random duck with a number on it. Highest number wins. Pure awesome.)

    This is the point where I would say that I can’t wait till next year. But I’m hoping to have a new floor by then. That way I’m not embarrassed by statements like, “New Rule: If you make a stain. You have to sign it.”

    Till next year!


    Flash Drives

    On Monday, for the first time ever, I bought a flash drive. Considering that I also still don’t have a DVD burner, many of my friends could consider this as being “behind the times”. Instead, I think of this as being far ahead of the times. I’ve never needed one.

    Anything small enough to fit on one could be emailed and anything bigger than that could be found on a torrent. I found that people usually used them to share Word Docs, MP3’s and/or pr0n. If you were on a computer that had those, you were probably already close enough to email them.

    The reason I finally caved and got one was for more of my “ahead of the curve” obsession. Boxee ( is my new toy. I’ve been able to convert an Apple TV from a crippled iTunes box to an internet multimedia playhouse. Hulu,, Comedy Central and soon Netflix will all be available from one box.

    The plan is to also rip our movies to disk so that we no longer have to deal with disks anymore. The world is moving to streaming video. And I like it.

    –Snoopykiss is an early adapter. It can be expensive. But it sure is fun.


    Yes. I’m married. It happened.

    It’s become obvious to me that a number of people still relate to me as my old party/bachelor-esque lifestyle.

    “I thought you’d never marry.”
    “Last chance. I’ve got the car running if you want to bolt.”
    “I was starting to wonder about you.” — My Dad.
    “Wha-wha-what? Can you back up 3 sentences?”

    I don’t think of it as much as no longer having the wild and crazy parties. I think of it as having found someone whose company I enjoy in between the “New and (Mostly) Family Friendly Soirees”.

    She’s quite a gal. Anyone who’s met her can attest to it. Anyone who hasn’t can probably imagine since she’s putting up with me.

    — Snoopykiss now has a ring. But keeps forgetting it.

    P.S. When we came back from the honeymoon, some friends invaded our house with ~1000 duckies. It was awesome. Except for the one under the pillow. I’ll get you back, Neil.

    Duckie Invasion