Happy 4th of July…Thanks to France…With Food Pics

4th-NYC-MAIN

As a student of history, I always find it ironic that France plays such an important role in the founding of our nation. We started by being sworn enemies during the French and Indian Wars, where ironically, our first President and Revolutionary War general George Washington cut his teeth (they weren’t wooden yet) in battle, while fighting FOR the British. Then when our war for independence from the British was all but lost, Lafayette came sailing in, with a huge contingent of war ships and soldiers to turn the tide to victory.

Some would also say that the British were just sick of trying to keep the colonists happy, and were looking for an excuse to end the war…but the Lafayette story is so much cooler…and ended up being the impetus for us saving France from the Germans (twice), during the two world wars. Enemies, bedfellows, and money make for strange allies. The history of the Middle East would bear that out today.

But as it turns out, our celebration of liberty and freedom this 4th of July actually started with  chance to board and inspect the amazingly gorgeous Hermione, a hand-built replica of the battle frigate that brought Lafayette to our rescue. (Details can be found here).

Before we start our travelogue…I want to warn everyone that recent studies about viewing pictures of other people’s vacations leads to depression. I don’t agree…and this isn’t FaceBook…and I will reveal how were were able to pull this off as we go. AirB&R is a GREAT resource!
Continue reading

Playing Ball With Your Neighbors…Fun, Waste of Time, or Scam?

Ball-MAIN

The dialogue in the main graphic above is one of the best “inside jokes” to appear in a while. It’s obvious that at least one of the writers is a USC football fan, and hates Lane Kiffin.  Lane Kiffin is easy to hate. He is one of those “climber coaches” who never stays anywhere very long…after announcing to the alumni, students, and players that “he has found a home, and is thrilled to get the job of lifetime.” This is the kind of vitriol Kiffen breeds. It’s hilarious.

He is currently the offensive coordinator for Alabama…where he went to “help them win a national championship.” Which he didn’t.

Anyway…Tap Ball and this update seems to have its own version of a lot of hot air and cost, with no real return on the effort…and may in fact be a total scam to get players to panic into spending donuts. (although I would NEVER suggest that EA would do such a thing…pffffffffftttt!).

I’m talking about the neighbor community prizes that we are to “earn,” supposedly through “playing catch” with neighbors. This is done by buying a Game Ball (for a mere 500 Amatuer Bucks) and then having the neighbor return the ball to you. However…I’ll be jiggered if I can figure out WHY, or to what benefit it actually produces.

Let’s take a look…
Continue reading

TSTO Tap Ball Period II Kicks, Throws, Punches Into Action- With Cheat Guide-UPDATED

PeriodII-Main

Ah…to think just yesterday, it was only Period One…and life was so simple. Now, it’s period 2, and it looks like it going to get a tad more complicated in some ways, and easier in others. Just sayin’….

It starts(or started depending on when you are reading this, at 1A PDT on July 3rd. I am at “the shore” by this time, kicking back with Katie, Ryan and Deb in prep for a relaxing 4th of July weekend. Oh…and doing my best to telegraph what is coming in this Period, without actually logging on…much.

There are a couple of new skins, (two Freemium, One Premium, a couple of returning skins, (One Premium One Milhousean), a BUNCH of buildings and sports equipment, and some new Currency as well as a chance to bean your neighbor with a ball.

Oh…and on another side note, before the weekend is out, the USA Women’s Team will be PLAYING IN THE FINALS OF THE WORLD CUP against either Japan or England. SOOOOOOOOO cool!

Let’s dive in to the action… Continue reading

Final Hours of the First Period…Tap

TapBall-Ending-Main

It’s counting down to the final hours of the First Period… So it’s time to take a look where you are, how close you are going to come to getting “everything you want” (Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness?), and realizing that you didn’t want as much as you thought you wanted, once you got it.

This is the LAST CHANCE (before they roll some of this stuff out again later) for you to get some of this very, important, don’t miss it, clutter!

Continue reading

When Fantasy and Reality Meet…It’s Best to Serve Tapas!

RYAN-Main

We really should have met at an Italian Restaurant (you can read why in the archives). But having eaten at an Italian Restaurant in the heart of North Jersey the night before, Deb and I were wanting something different. After all…this was a HUGE occasion!  It’s not every day that you meet a very good friend who you have never really met before.

Actually…that’s not entirely true. I have loads of clients, many of whom are kinda friends, that I have talked to, and with whom I have done business online and over the phone for years.  But, I haven’t written a book with them. Or foiled a dastardly villain. Or maneuvered the maze of insanity that is the world of blogging together. Or poked trolls in the eye with them. Or kept me laughing, almost nonstop since the first time we talked. This guy is special.

And so it was…that after what has to be hundreds of phone conversations, thousands of emails and shared posts…and a general sense of adventure that took us down roads we could never have conceived individually…it was time to meet Ryan Kagy in person.

This is not an easy feat. We live a meer 2916 miles away (according to Google Maps), and we both have incredibly busy schedules. Plus…let’s face it…in TSTO time, we have spent DECADES (TSTO Time is 1 year/20 years of Life Currency) of time in real life “moving on.” When people are “moving on,” by the very nature of the term, they are moving, and therefor less likely to cross paths. Unless that path is arranged by Google Maps and the nice lady on my phone who tells us how not to be killed on the New Jersey turnpike in rush hour.

Deb and I, after a long day in “the city” (NYC) doing Time Square, and another lunch with Uncle Dave, got back just in time to shower (walking in the city, in 85 degree heat, wearing nice clothes for a nice lunch, creates the need for a shower), we put Ryan’s address into our map-thingy on our phone, and started off.

For reasons unknown…the nice lady stopped talking to us from the phone, midway down the New Jersey Turnpike. Most likely because she was tired of having me scream at her for telling me directions too late to get over the three lanes of traffic traveling at between 70-90 mph, while texting and flipping one another off.

But we got there, almost exactly to the time we were set to meet. “There” being the lovely town of Englewood, NJ, which is one of those bucolic little townships that people who watch “Jersey Shore” or “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” would have a hard time believing exists in the “Garden State.”  More Norman Rockwell than Rockie Bimberino, it is a gorgeous slice of green, just off of the Turnpike (which has nothing gorgeous about it).

Continue reading

Fireworks, Frivolity, and Scandal…4th of July Mini-Update

4th-MAIN

I have been trying to keep things upbeat while on vacation…I really have. There is no doubt that I COULD have pointed out things like, “why are so many of the “FREE” skins associated with Premium characters that force players to spend money to get the “reward?”

Or “Why has EA had so many of the tasks, once again “Homer-centric” forcing us to use donuts to rush a task when Homer is needed on another walkthrough?” (such as the 1.5 DAY task that goes down in the Dedrick Tatum task-line).

I could go on and on about how this update is loaded with little ways that EA is tricking us out of a donut here, and a donut there…until we have died the proverbial “death by 1,000 paper cuts.”

But, I won’t.

However, the 4th of July Update is the last, freakin’ straw.  Richard FREAKIN’ Nixon? The most disgraced President in the history of Presidents is now a CHARACTER in SPRINGFIELD??????

And you can buy the Presidential Estate as well as the Water…er…uhm…ScandleGate Hotel??  HolyFreakinShirt!!!

But, that’s not all…there are LOADS of ways to make sure that this “Celebration of the Birth of Our Liberty” feels more like an extortion by thugs, or an audit by the IRS. Oh. Wait. Those are the same thing.

Let’s take a look…there is a LOAD of ways to PAY for the celebration. 

Continue reading

Winning When You NEED to Win!

Wining-Main

This is cracking me up. Really.  From what I can gather, most of us are enjoying a fairly simple, mostly fun, and mostly fair update. Until we HAVE to win!

I admit readily that even while I am on vacation in NYC and the Jersey Shore, I have had more than enough time to do my requisite 4 games of Tap Ball a day, complete the daily task, and clear my fans, even with a jam-packed calendar of fun events and travel.

Sure…there is some really lazy programming going on…but, who cares? It really makes it all that much easier to stay on track with the earning calendar.

I seem to be “winning” most of my matches…without trying too hard. But as we have said repeatedly, EA is making this EAsy, in that “losing” doesn’t really change the payout you get that much. The only Hiccups Come when your Daily Tasks DEMAND that you win at least “X” games to earn the prize. 

That’s where Stockpiling your Juice, and paying attention to the Daily Task Calendar come in.

Let’s take a look at how to make sure you WIN when you NEED to…
Continue reading

Playing While Having Fun…Questions and Reports From The Front

NYC-Mets
It has been interesting…fun…and not even that challenging to be able to keep up with the game…while having a blast on vacation!

We are in the land of the Big Apple…not the apple state (that’s Washington) but the BIG apple…NYC and it’s cheezy blow-hard cousin (no, not Chris Christie), New Jersey. We flew in and hit the ground, just as this update was starting to take shape…on Thursday, and it’s been one of those situations where I don’t want to be “that guy” (who keeps pulling out his phone or padular device to tap) or someone who ignores his job (to keep you guys updated) completely because, “I’m ON VACATION DAMMIT!!”  It has been remarkably EAsy.

Perhaps it is EA’s inherent laziness in this update that has made it EAsy…but, I’m grateful.  I am staying ahead of the calendar, winning most of my matches (every 4 hours) and getting all of the free stuff, without spending any donuts, because I’d rather spend it on food. Vacations in NJ and NYC are pretty much about the next place to eat. The diet…as it turns out…was just a diet BEFORE the trip, so I had enough poundage deficit to afford to eat what I want…or better said, what my friends and relatives demand that I try. It’s fine. I have a life to get over this trip. It will only take me a month to get over the trip to the Vitiello’s Bakery (where Chris shot the guy in the foot in the Soprano’s).

Let’s catch up on the game…and the trip. I hope you haven’t eaten yet.

But FIRST, Some Questions and Observations about the Tap Ball Update…
Continue reading

Tap Ball Math…Calendar…Strategy…Cheats…First Period.

TapBall-Math-MAIN
So…one of our community members reminded me that there IS a sport with Three sections of play…Hockey. Baseball has innings. Football Quarters. Soccer, halves. So, even though EA has been lazy enough to call these three sections of the Tap Ball Update “Acts” (I’m guessing there aren’t a lot of athletes on the programming and writing staff), I am going to go with PERIODS.  Period. 

Even though hockey is a confusing sport in that it is a winter sport, played on ice, with its finals in the summer…I am going to go ahead and defer to our reader. I’m magnanimous that way. 

So…let’s take a look at the MATH of this PERIOD.  It seems daunting…at first. But, the fact is…EA has really made it pretty simple…if you are willing to Tap a LOT…and just play a few games of Tap Ball a Day.

As has become the norm in the Big Updates with TSTO…you are kind of left with the overarching feeling of “Do I even CARE about this stuff I can win?”  The answer, if you are honest with yourself, is “no.”

But, let’s be REALLY honest with ourselves…we are RARELY REALLY Honest with ourselves (YES!…these jeans still look good, even with a minor muffin top). If you were really honest with yourself, you would have quit playing this game months ago…but here we all are, still caring about winning stuff, and worrying about the math required to do so. But…hey…delusion is a form of happiness, right? RIGHT? Come on…RIGHT???!!??

Don’t answer that. Just move on to the math answers below…
Continue reading

Flags, Fluff, Stuff and Tips for “Winning” at Tap Ball

FlagsFluff-Main

Certainly, one of the most used and ironic phrases from 2011 came from Charlie Sheen. One word, that sums up self-delusion in a way that makes you wince as he says it. Winning. (Yes, by clicking on the link, you can hear Charlie explain the term).

In reality, “Winning” in Tap Ball, and yes…even in the game TSTO is a relative term at best. For the most part…what you “win” comes from great effort, time, and perhaps treasure, which in the end, can often seem like little reward. But…we are filling time, staying in the game, and “winning” in the way we choose to “win.” Right?

Tap Ball is the perfect metaphor for “Winning.”  The more you play, the more you “win,” even when you lose. And in the end, even when the event is over, we are here to “win” another day…with a box full of random clutter to show for it.

And all along the way…there are loads and loads of ways to offer up “token of our appreciation” in the form of donuts/money, to let EA know that we understand that we are only “winning” and not really winning.

But…hey. Maybe I am just a bit jet-lagged from our trip out to NYC. We are here…or near there…in beautiful Nutley, NJ…where my weird “reverse jet lag” has once again set in, and I find myself tapping into the ether at what should be 4A my time.

So. Flags. Fluff. and Ways to “Win” at Tap Ball. You want it? Here it is.
Continue reading

Tap Ball Daily Task List- Cheat Guide and Calendar

TapBall-Daily-Main
As always, rather than reveal the information gleaned from the servers in drips and drabbles, like at least one TSTO Blog does to keep you coming back…I prefer to give you everything we can find…ALL at once.

Plus…I’ll be on a flight to NYC almost all day tomorrow…so I wanted to SPOIL the Spoilers. Hehehehe…

If you want to know what you need to do, on which days, to finish the Daily Tasks for Prizes…CLICK BELOW.

If you don’t want to know…don’t click below. I won’t take offense. Really.

Continue reading

Tap Ball Update…Quick Walkthrough Act/Level/Inning/Trimester ONE!

TapBall-Walthrough

Let’s make something really clear…the walkthroughs/update main questlines are really just filler. They are short…they don’t offer much, except some funny humor, but they are short (did I already say they are short?).

Plus…they really don’t get sports. Sports are played in halves or quarters. There are THREE of them…Trimesters?  Tri-MESS-Turds?  (sorry…channelling my 12-year-old self). This whole thing reminds me of “Calvin Ball” (the only rule, is there are no rules!  Calvin and Hobbes Ruled!).

This update, much like the last two, is about tapping stuff to get stuff, and kinda like Clash of Clones where you messed with your neighbors, without really hurting them, but mostly just humiliating them. So…I present the walkthrough, more as a “Oh. Right. There’s Also This” kinda thing.

There are SPOILERS. But, not many…
Continue reading

TapBall Update- The Basics Unfolded…and a Lot of Questions

TapBall-Game-MAIN

Let’s start with the fact that there is a reason that there isn’t much information out there yet about this update. It’s really convoluted…and at it’s base, you have to ask yourself…”Why?”

What appears on the surface to be a a lot of fun…WITH A LOT MORE NEW LAND! starts to feel like a very clear, and obvious donut ($$) grab in a hurry. To really play this update well…you need characters who can play…who will WIN (because life is really all about winning, right?)…and after just one day, it is obvious that the only way you can WIN a lot (because nobody likes to lose), is to upgrade, and upgrade…so your players are maxed out.

Like the last Super Update, and even the Terwilliger Update…the first thing you have to ask yourself is “WHY am I working so hard, to earn a bunch of stuff that I may or may not want?”

And the BIGGEST QUESTION OF ALL…that won’t be answered for a while…is “Will You Be Able To Play Tap Ball with anyone AFTER this update is finished? Will we just be left with a ton of useless stuff…and useless skins?  It really doesn’t make a lot of sense…yet. But we have a LONG time to go…almost 4 weeks.

Let’s Start Unraveling the Mysteries of Tap Ball!
Continue reading

Major Sports Upate (with a new sport) Hits Springfield

TapBall-MAIN
I am excited…and yet, just a TAD unsure of this update. It has  A TON of stuff. There is GREAT News…Good News…and what appears to be GN (Greedy News).

The update starts with a ton of fun with Homer and Lisa watching the World Cup. Gotta love the World Cup- right? Even if it is just the Women’s World Cup (sorry…had to get in a jibe for people who already think soccer is boring…especially those like me who played rugby).

The GREAT NEWS…is one way or another, no matter how this turns out, WE GOT A TON OF NEW LAND. Two Strips…one across the top and one on the right hand side. It’s expensive…as always…but those of us who ignored the stupid Money Pit, are flush.

The Good News…is that it seems like a lot of fun…with a TON of stuff to do…much like the last three Major Updates.

The Greedy News…it looks like there are LOADS of ways to have to spend donuts to get all of the stuff you may or may not want.

This is going to take a while to figure out…but the good news/bad news…is that this update is going to last almost a month!

Let’s take a look at the basics….
SPOILERS FOLLOW…if you Don’t Want To Know…DON’T Click Below!
Continue reading

Something Sporty This Way Comes…NOW

NEWSFLASH-GENERIC
Aha. Apparently, by letting EA know that I am going to be gone for almost 2 weeks to NYC, they knew it was the perfect time for a MAJOR UPDATE.

From what is being leaked into the files…it is going to be Sports Related…and loaded with content. I just hope the BASTIDS GIVE US MORE LAND…DAMMIT!!!

Click below for a preview of stuff…
Continue reading

Ultimate Friends List. Are You Worthy?

GET-NEW-FRIENDS

I love the way life works. The irony of timing is always something that makes me chuckle. Yesterday, I posted something about owner of TSTOGame giving up on the game of TSTO.  He had a variety of reasons…all valid. But, he has made these types of statements before.

When I finished the post, I went back through emails, to make sure that I hadn’t missed an address for those who had earned Buyijja wristlets, and found an email I had missed from James Taylor! I love James Taylor. I mean…he’s in my top 5 “go to artists when you are feeling down” kinds of artists. “You’ve Got a Friend” “Sweet Baby James” “Terra Nova” “Something in the Way she Moves” the songs started flooding back as soon as I saw his name!

I was pumped.
Continue reading

Finish What You Start…Even If It’s Monday

MONDAYS-Main
I have to admit, this feels like a MONDAY more than almost any Monday in recent history.  We had a “not so very good weekend,” that started with an accident that brought me back to the reality of how fragile our happiness can be, and ended with one of those “Man…life is crazy” moments that leads me to not be exactly jacked up for another Monday like this one.

First of all…Deb is fine, but boy oh boy, does her hand not look like her hand.

You have to understand that Deb has the kind of delicate, beautiful hands that cause people to comment that she should be a hand model. Elegant long, talented fingers that play classical piano, point children down the right pathways for life, and sooth her husband’s troubles with a single touch.

However after a run-in with a freight elevator, while helping her invalid mother retrieve some items from a storage unit, we are all lucky that the “crushing injury” she received was not worse. No broken bones…no apparent nerve damage. A few stitches…and swelling that makes her hand look like it was photoshopped with a catcher’s mitt or a giant lobster claw, but no permanent damage…we hope. I’d show you pics…but Deb is a private person, and “doesn’t want to freak anyone out.”

Too late. I was totally freaked out…for the entire weekend. Because I was 125 miles away…and couldn’t do a thing to stop it.

Life is like that. It’s why the Free Will to take charge of things we CAN change is so vitally important to the evolution of our lives.

So…to say that Father’s Day was a bit less “All About Dad” and mostly just me watching the crazy conclusion of the U.S. Open, as I made sure Deb was comfortable, while I opened my gifts and replied to FaceBook messages from my kids…who are scattered across the country like thistle seeds…would be accurate. 

I’m not whining. It could have been SO much worse…and she already told me she will “be fine,” by the time we board the plane on Thursday for an almost two-week trip to NYC to see Katie. We’ll see…

But, we are both thankful that she is done with school for the summer, and she can sleep in…while I “Check the game” and “Check the Africa Projects” and start the process of ramping up to answer the plethora of email requests from my clients, and follow up on the leads for the new product we rolled out for my company and finish the club newsletter, and answer the email from Emma about the NGO status, and …wait

WHAT’S THAT?  One of the TSTO Blogs is throwing in the towel???  It MUST BE MONDAY!!
Continue reading

The Biggest (not kidding) Contest Ever…Along With Great News

CONTEST-MAIN
What’s funny about a period of EALP (EA Lazy Period) like we experiencing currently, is that the traffic for the site goes way down. All of the drive-by-info grabbers go away, waiting for something new to pique their limited and narrow interests. What is left is the REAL community that we have here. And make no mistake…it is a REAL community. We know one another. We are happy to hang out and have a laugh…and we are happy to Do Something That Matters, even when the game is boring as hell…which it is.

And, I am more than happy to report great news, share in the joy of a winner, and share the work that YOU are enabling. Oh…and to launch what is our biggest contest ever...for a prize that is so rare…and cool…it makes me want to keep it for myself!!

Read on…
Continue reading

Level 54 Complete Cheat Guide

Level54-MAINCheat
Well…the boredom was interrupted by a new level update, and there is some pretty snappy dialogue in this one.  Ruth Powers is the kinda woman who makes all single mothers look tough, capable, and aware that everything they get in life needs to be won, not handed to them.

Perhaps she’ll end up on the $10 bill…which will see a woman’s face by 2016 (it will also be the first time a $10 bill is only worth $7, to reflect the difference in women’s pay).

Let’s dive in to the fun…even though there is STILL NO NEW LAND (and they are offering up more buildings).

SPOILERS FOLLOW… as always, If you Don’t Want To Know, Don’t Click Below!
Continue reading

LEVEL 54 Drops By To ShotKick Us Back Into Gear

NEWSFLASH-GENERIC
Well…it’s about damn time. And it isn’t much….but at least it is something.

The Powers that be, have blessed us with Level 54, and a chance to get…the Powers. (Laura and Ruth).

Let’s figure out who they are…and what role they will play in our towns…

Continue reading

Wow…REALLY EA? You Lookin’ At Me?

BIG-LULL-Main

I have to admit…I am flummoxed once again by EA’s business/game model. We have more than 6 straight weeks of insane tapping…with so many angles and twists and turns that you need several score cards and game guides and planning pages to even have a remote chance of finishing with a modicum of sanity.

And then there is this…

Such a complete vacuum of brain-sucking nothing…that we are left to get excited when our Task Book demands that we send Luigi to “Toss a Pizza.”  Whoohoo! Look at that pizza spin!

Well…enough is enough, EA!  That’s right…I’m talking to you! And…wait…are You Lookin’ At Me? Are You Lookin’ At ME??
Continue reading

When Others Lull…We Stay Engaged. TSTO Between Updates.

LULL-Main
Wow.
OK. So, perhaps for the first time since I started playing this game, I went a FULL THREE DAYS without opening the game. Not at all. Not even to clear handshakes.

Yes. We had an insane three days of driving to three different conflicting family events that kept us on I-5 more than we wanted. And yes…Deb is out of school, so Summer Deb has her own version of how we should spend the time. But, three days?

Let’s face it. We have all been “conditioned” to tap daily. It just feels weird to not have a REASON to tap. And if ever there was a reason not to tap, this is it.
Continue reading

School’s Out! Time to Spend Money? Really?

SchoolIsOut-Main
This is the weirdest, laziest “semi-delayed-update” ever.

So let me get this straight, EA. Perhaps, because we kind of ignored your last “update,” which was a thinly-veiled donut grab (veiled in a rainbow flag), you are going to now make it seem like we are supposed to celebrate summer and the end of school by having us spend money to “get a discount?”

No. That is a rebate. It means you spend full price for something that you weren’t really sure you needed, just so you can get a rebate back. It’s like paying taxes…but, with a lot less confusion in how it works.

Let’s see what Gil has to offer…
Continue reading

Catching Up…While Standing Still…and Waiting

STANDSTILL

It’s so weird. I was actually a tad bummed that nothing happened yesterday. Wednesdays have kind of become EA’s traditional release day…unless it’s a Tuesday, or a Thursday. But we are clearly not getting anything this week. Which is just as well. I am gassed…overwhelmed…and doing my best to catch up while the game remains in a “standing still” position.

I could fill the space with all sorts of blather about XP ratings, or ton of “Where did THAT come from posts (hint, hint…it came from the SHOW! And you can google it!) like some of the other sites who are dying for info to post. But like I said…I am hammered with stuff to do right now, and I’d rather just not post anything, than post something that is actually a bit of a nothing.

BUT…there ARE Important Housekeeping Things to Do Here...Let’s take a look! Continue reading

Jumping the Shark…More Series Secrets Revealed

SHARK-MAIN

Man…

Just when I thought that all of the sharks had been jumped, it seems like the series at least, is finally showing that it is doing its best to “scratch the itch” of anyone who thinks that 28 years of Bob trying to kill Bart, is long enough.

As you have probably read in the news (it made Google News Headlines) and on other blog sites (yes, I know you cheat on me), Bob is actually going to get a chance to KILL BART.

If they are going to go to this length to try and pump new life into the series, what else can we expect in upcoming episodes…remembering that TSTO has a way of tying into episodes, so they could effect the game as well!

Continue reading

Is It Time for Old Favorites to Be Put To Pasture?

RETIREMENT-Main

This weekend was really interesting…and forced me to start thinking about retirement…before circumstances force my hand.

The first “heads up” was watching Tiger Woods struggle in ways that make it clear that his “glory days” are over. WAY over. He is still relevant in the conversation as far as being a contender for “most wins” ever…but, it would seem that Jack’s record of the Most MAJORS won, is pretty damn safe.

Oh. Wait. You don’t care about golf? How about horse racing?

American Pharaoh has all but assured himself a GREAT retirement, by WINNING. That’s right…as the first triple crown winner in 33 years, he is going to be hastily put to pasture, for a lifetime of earning stud fees for his amazing, short, history. Is there any other entertainment or sports professional that gets to “reap the rewards” of a lifetime of becoming a highly paid sex worker, for just a few outings? I suppose Miley Cyrus could be one example…but, American Pharaoh would never stoop to making a video on a wrecking ball, naked. So the comparison isn’t fair to either party.

Oh. Not a Music Fan or a Horse Racing Aficionado?

Well…OK…How About the SIMPSONS???
Is it time for the show to finally be put to rest…or has it been “walking dead” for years?

Continue reading

FREE DONUTS!!

DONUTS-Main

WOW! So I thought that EA was going all out to recognize a special month with “Pride Month,”  Now…during National Donut Day, EA is pulling out the stops to give us all…

Continue reading

Pride Month…Week…Couple of Days…Cheat Guide

POSER-Main
I’m not going to pull you chain. I’m just going to tell it like it is. I’m gonna drag the truth out of the closet…and here we go.

EA is REALLY lazy….and their version of celebrating Pride Month really lasts about…oh, let’s say… less than a couple of days?

Not so proud now, eh, EA?

Whatever the case, I guess it’s worth a small post (because there isn’t much to say about this ridiculous Donut Grab, except “small…so very small…)

SPOILERS FOLLOW- If you don’t want to know, don’t click below.
Continue reading

Pride Month…when TSTO and the “Real World Collide?

PRIDE-MAIN

OK then.

We have the “major news” that Bruce is now Caitlyn. I’m fine with that. I saw the big interview…and frankly, being involved with the Kardashian Klan is bound to make people do all sorts of things that may be surprising and unpredictable.

I am not even going to assume that EA/Gracie had this in mind when they scheduled “Pride Month.”  But if we are no going to festoon our towns with rainbow stuff…for a month no less…this could be better known as “EALP Month.”

Rainbow Stuff just showed up…it isn’t an episode tie-in…and it is, just plain odd…and out of place…like a two-horned unicorn…or trying to rectify Bruce’s Wheaties Box with her Vanity Fair cover. Oh well… Let’s take a look.

Continue reading

The Real Reward of TSTO Blogging…and a little Troll Bashing

FOB-main

Besides visiting a  Walmart store at 11pm at night, there is next to nothing in the world that reminds you of the incredible cross-section of humanity that exists in this world, other than writing a blog on the internet.

This place is amazing. Really. Born from the love of a silly game, it has morphed into something that is so unique and special, that it defies explanation. Yes. We have the “regular TSTO patter,” that ironically attracts tens of thousands of “drive by info-grabbers.” But at the core…the real heart of this place, are a few hundred people who understand that what we do here is far more interesting, personal, and important, than just helping one another play the silly game of TSTO.

Oh. And there is also this really small, but increasingly fascinating faction of “trolls” who only show up for a couple of reasons.  We’ll get to them in a minute…and believe me…you don’t want to miss the latest iteration. You WILL be amused.

Let’s start with the obvious rewards of this place, beyond just helping one another figure out the next move by EA. And…in that last sentence is the key…”Helping one another.”

We are a disparate bunch, spread across more than 110 countries, with a huge range of professions and personal lives. I am constantly amazed to find doctors and lawyers and all other sorts of professional folks who should know better, playing this game. But, then I realize that a lot of the real reason they are here, is just to “hang out and have a laugh.”  I’m more than fine with that. I love to laugh. Really. And if what I write makes you smile…I am rewarded for my efforts.

An even smaller group has turned their trust of my efforts to make this place MATTER…and BE SOMETHING MORE…and have done something VERY amazing. They have turned “Me” to “We.” And, WE have accomplished some absolutely amazing things…for people we don’t know (yet)…that defy logic in ways that are even further beyond explanation.

Why?  Again…it is to see the smiles. Take a look at the smiles.
Continue reading

Shouldja? Where does Stacey fit in modern society?

Malibu-Main

As most of you who read this blog, know I have five daughters. I’ll wait while you pick yourself off of the floor. Yes…the reward for five daughters, was 3 grandsons, and the ability to understand the fact that men will never completely understand women, and the sooner we stop trying, the better off we will all be.

The power is in the stiletto heel, as well as the fact that they have the Free Will to wield the power, or play the trump card, which is to make it clear that they don’t HAVE to wear the stiletto heel to actually hold all of the power. We are helpless twirps…and it all starts when they go to the bathroom in a pack. But, I digress…

As a father of five daughters, (and brother to three sisters), I have done my time with Barbie dolls and the assorted friends, relatives, and questionable dating partners of this American icon.

First, let’s get something straight. Barbie didn’t ruin little girls’ self-images by being an unattainable body style, or role model.  The fact is, Barbie taught little girls that there are huge trade-offs for being super “successful.” Sure…you could “have it all,” with a beach house, and a corvette, and several careers, from a TV reporter to a doctor…but, you paid the price. That’s right, your boyfriend had no genitalia! What good is having a killer body, if you can’t use it?  And for that matter…can’t even bend your legs and arms into a reasonably comfortable mating position?

Yes. I spent far too much time playing Barbies with my daughters. And yes, I realize that “Malibu Stacey” and the subsequent Simpsons episode, Lisa -vs-Malibu Stacy (S5 E14) is a rip-off/homage to Barbie, and the countless child-psychology studies that have been done about the damages that Barbie perpetrated on girls.

It’s a myth. Period. And my daughter Ali is living proof.
Continue reading

Whered’ja? Followup From Your Towns

Where-Main-2
I guess most of you were too pooped to screen capture, but we have some cool ideas that came in from a handful of readers, and I did a little neighbor snooping to find some other great ideas.

What I saw was a LOT of plain, simple, tapping fatigue. There are tons of my neighbors that have kind of just chucked everything from the last couple of updates into a random chunk of land. I can’t blame them. There are So MANY ways to spend your life currency…spending hours decorating and trying to rearrange things is the kind of thing that should be done while sitting on public transportation, or while your wife is talking to your daughter on the phone.

But, there were some pretty darn cool discoveries.

Continue reading

Level 53 Complete Cheat Guide with Walkthrough

LEVEL53-MAIN

So…I guess I am a little late to the party as far as it goes for TSTO Bloggers. There is always such a rush to post the info (or drag it out, if you are a bliss ninny), that you can get caught up in the competitive nature of it all.  I didn’t this time. I admit it. I posted the “Update available” yesterday…and then went and played a much-needed round of golf, in the gorgeous early-summer Oregon weather. While much of the nation has been ripped by storms, we are having July-like weather. Loving it…but a tad nervous about the implications of global weather change. But, not worried enough not to golf, and enjoy it.

There were some interesting changes with this update… It is pretty much a straight mix of Freemium/Premium, weighted a bit toward the Premium (big surprise), and has some hilarious dialogue. I am going to post the walkthrough, as well as some of the gem dialogue.

So…as always…SPOILERS FOLLOW…if you don’t want to know, don’t click below!

Continue reading

Level 53 Hits… Just in Case You Were Bored

NEWSFLASH-GENERIC
This time is was spAnser who tipped me off… just as I was putting on the coffee pot, my phone dinger dinged, and BOOM! Another update.

I have to admit, I was kind of looking forward to a day without tapping. But, Noooooooooooooooo…EA thinks we haven’t tapped quite enough in the past six weeks.

Level-53-Upgrade
Ouch…OK…maybe there is a shred of truth in that, Jimbo!

It is an in-game update (Brockman Starts)…so if you haven’t updated yet (you were still trying to eek out BMs from the Terwilliger update) you need to do so, in order to move along.

Minor Spoilers Follow

If you don’t want to know…don’t click below!

Continue reading

A Basic Primer on “Living Wide”

WIDE-Main
It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the good old U.S. of A. It’s a weekend when we are supposed to remember those who have passed from this life, and onto the next frontier.  A weekend when we are supposed to celebrate the memories of those who went before us, and in many cases sacrificed their lives so that we may live a life of freedom.

In some ways, the weekend started early, in that I attended the funeral of the father of one of my best friends from High School.  As we sat in the quiet of the memorial service, I found myself humbled once again by a man who lived an exemplary life, and rarely talked about it. A man who truly understood the meaning of “Living Wide.

A WWII veteran who was in the Intelligence branch of the Army…serving in France, and playing a key role in several critical battles that ultimately brought Germany to a state of surrender. A track star in college on the GI Bill, who just missed running in the Olympics. A man who served in the special Intelligence division of the IRS, bring criminals and gangsters (the old school Mafia type) to justice.  A man who joined the Naval reserves, and attained the rank of Commander, and all while raising three of the most amazing kids you could ever know…all them spread across the globe, serving the needs of the less fortunate.

And I didn’t know any of this, until he was gone.

All I knew of this man, was that he was the consummate cheerleader, and local High School sports fan. He fundraised for countless school projects, was a Boy Scout troop leader, and one of the kindest, unassuming men I have ever known. Great grand-nephew of the naturalist, John Muir, he spent every extra hour of his life traveling, hiking, photographing and archiving his travels to every continent…except for Antarctica…which was on his bucket list, before passing at the seemingly still too early age of just 91.

I came away inspired…and with the feeling that I had somehow lost one of my brethren in “Large Living.”

And of course, with my own life showing bits of wear and tear, I recommitted myself to a life of “Wide Living.” Which made me decide to share what I consider a Primer on How to Live Wide.

Continue reading

When Success Breeds a Need…

Water-II-Main

There are many who would suggest that the world is best left to a state of natural selection. In other words, “what happens in nature is the way it is supposed to happen…and the less mankind meddles, the better off we all will be.”

There are others who would say, “we are put here to use our tools and resources for the best possible use of the greater good. Not using our gifts for the betterment of others is the greatest sin of all.”

There are still others who would say, “please…I just want to be left alone to amass the largest Simpsons Collection in the world!” 

Different strokes for different folks.

But what I do know…for sure…is that sometimes, if you are successful in one area, you often create an entirely different need in another area. And that is exactly what happened here.
Continue reading

The End(s) of an Era…Knowing When to Get Out…

EXITS-Main
It has been an interesting week. I admit it. It seems that I have been doing nothing but looking back, reorganizing the future, and watching some of my touchstones disappear.

I admit to being relatively apathetic about Letterman’s retirement…until I started watching the final week. It has been an amazing march down memory lane, for a guy who has been doing his show almost as long as my wife and I have been married. We used to watch Dave all of the time…when he was the upstart. Then came Jon, and Kimmel, and Colbert…and Dave was put aside.

Another entertainment icon passed. A guy who made a huge mark on music…but again, I admit to not owning a single one of his albums. BB King had the kind of career that spanned generations, without ever really reaching SuperStar levels of the kind of idiot-entertainers of this generation, like the Kardashians and Kanye (a match made in info-tainment hell). BB never earned a fraction of what he deserved, if you compare it to the kind of green that is being thrown at the freakshow that is the Kardashians (and their supporting list of weird men).

Then Sunday night, yet ANOTHER of my favorite TV shows of all time ended its run. Mad Men was brilliant. And as a former Ad Agency owner, the show struck chords in me that resonated to my core, as Don walked away from a world of make-believe that he helped create both in his personal life, and on Madison Avenue.

And closer to home in the Simpsons world, we got the news that The Simpsons has been renewed for another two seasons…at the same time that Harry Shearer is in a public scuffle with the producers.

It leaves one wondering, “when is enough, really enough…and is it better to go out on top?”
Continue reading

And the Winner Is…

Winner-main

The children of Buyijja… they are the real winners!

We pulled the winner today. I have been on the road, and knew that it was going to be a long process, that needed help.  When I need help, I always go to Mrs. Miller…also known as my lovely wife, Debbie (Mrs. Miller to her 4th/5th class).

To do this right…I had to print the names of ALL of those who gave to the Shoe Fund, and the Book/Supply fund…and then print the multiples of those who gave more than the minimum $10, and then REMOVE those who made it clear that even if they won, they wanted us to give the prize to someone else (they are amazingly generous people, these top ten of the 1% club).

And finally…to eliminate any bias…I had Deb choose from my Rose Bowl cap (lucky for everyone except for Florida State).

And the WINNER IS…
Continue reading

Reaching Goals…Staying on Track, Grinding -vs- Upgrading

GOALS-MAIN
It’s interesting watching tech companies which seem to be super, super, successful, but don’t actually make any money.  There are loads that come to mind…Amazon was one, but they are hovering on making profit. YouTube and FaceBook are others that defy logic in the number of users, without making much if any traction in the profit sector.

The reason is simple…they continue to grow, expand, modify, improve and invest…to the point that they never sit back and rake in some actual net profit. That’s great when you are working off of investor capital…but not when you have limited time to meet your goals.

This update is a little like that.  They keep tempting you to upgrade, upgrade and upgrade again…until you are upgrade rich, but DNA/BOS poor (there seems to be no end to the GMCorn…just look at any food label these days and look at all of the high fructose corn syrup!).

But, there are limits to the value, as well as limits on the length and opportunity for tapping. So, you have to know when enough is enough, is enough.

I am here to tell you when that magic number really is…enough. 
Continue reading

Level 51 – Living a Useful Life After You Die…

NDE-main

Death in the Simpsons and TSTO seems to be a slippery and confusing topic. We just got through the SuperHero update, where RadioActive Man and the Collider were both dead, or near dead, or back from the dead. This seems to be a common thing with super heroes. It may be part of what makes them “super.”

But death in general can be ambiguous in nature. Clinical death, brain death, bored to death are all conditions that are well-documented. But, then you have those who are “clearly dead” (and very most sincerely dead, like the Munchkin coroner sings about in the Wizard of Oz), and some that are just “mostly dead” as I already mentioned with Magic Max in the Princess Bride and The Man in Black 

In Level 51…we seem to have one of each. Frank Grimes…is very most sincerely dead. He died a horrible death in “Homer’s Enemy” (S8E23). He died…and was buried…and apparently has risen again. (Easter Redux anyone?).  You can buy Frank. You can buy his Grave.  If anything is more confusing to children and adults who actually understand how life really works…this is it. I don’t get it. I really don’t. I’d be fine with Frank Grimes…as a ghost, like Maude. She gets it. Once you are ALL THE WAY DEAD…you don’t get to be a full character with tasks, unless you are a ghost.

NDE-items

A bit more confusing in the show…AND the game is Dr. Monroe. As is the norm with some of the random characters in the show…he may or may not be dead, depending on which episode you watch. He passed away after an extended illness in Season Six…as mentioned as a passing reference to the “Marvin Monroe Memorial Hospital” in “Who shot Mr. Burns Part II” …it’s not  a “memorial” if the dude ain’t dead. That’s the way it works. However, he reappears a handful of times, once explaining to Marge that he was “just sick for a long time” and another, explaining to Homer that he is actually “caught in a horrible limbo where he can walk partway through walls but gets stuck.”  There is more on the WIKI here.

So…for whatever reason, EA/Gracie/Fox (the unholy three-in-one) have decided that suspending death, and giving these characters a new chance at life (with a little inside info) is the way to go.

And as it turns out,  I have a little experience in that department myself.

Continue reading

Using Garbage Time to Change Lives…

GarbageTime-Main
Here we go again. After back to back to back updates, it would seem that we are in for another period of EALPish garbage time.  Many of us will spend this time to catch up, and do some much-needed remodeling of our towns…trying to make all of the SuperHero and Easter stuff make sense in our Springfields.  I am carving out room as I can for mansions, and headquarters, and the beach house in my virtual world…while keeping in mind, the need for a foot firmly in the REAL world.

As I have been hinting at (strongly), April is the month for “refreshing” and “refurbishing” the things we have started. It’s a month to expand and extend, while celebrating our past.

It is not a time to sit…

Continue reading

Peace, Hope, and Love… You Give These Gifts!

VIDEO-Main

I admit it…I am REALLY excited about how this came out…because it was a “global effort.”  Much of the video was shot by Emma and his friends, along with video and singing in my wife’s classroom.   When I wrote and recorded the song, it felt special…as if we were reaching across the ocean to say “hello.”

Knowing what we have accomplished, and will continue to accomplish is the greatest excitement of all. All of you in the treasured 1%ers that get it…are so very, very special to me and the children whose lives you are changing.

Happy Easter… We Have Much to Celebrate! 

CLICK HERE TO SEE YOUR WORK IN ACTION…
With Our New Music Video!

 

While We Wait…Taking Time to Say THANKS!

SALE-OVER-Main

Well…first of all, I am thankful that EA dumped the “Black Market Sale” ahead of the original date. We didn’t need, or want, the majority of the stuff…and the bloated pricing made the decision really easy.

Who knows when/if something will happen today? I guess we’ll be thankful if/when it does.

Second…I am really happy that the weather has flipped in the past couple of days (sorry to you if it hasn’t) and I was able to get out and play a round of golf yesterday afternoon. Golf is like pizza and sex. Even an average day doing any of them is better than most days without…or something. I am definitely thankful for that!

Finally…I pulled the trigger on the Water Project Funding. We are still a tad short, but I have faith that we will hit the mark before Sunday…which is the final deadline for The Contest… and I was happy to cover the difference for a bit. Emma has been patient. The town of Buyijja has been patient. At this time next month, they will have a new source of clean, safe, water.

But…it couldn’t be done without the 1%ers (in this case…1/4 of 1%) who continue to support our efforts, and do something that matters, while coming back to share here at the TSTOFriends community.

The list is shorter…but included a great number of New Folks who joined our efforts…and that makes me even more happy!

Continue reading

10 Keys to Happiness…TSTO Style

HAPPINESS-Main

I don’t know about you, but I find myself getting lost in tapping of another kind. No…get your minds out of the gutter…not that. I mean tapping the links to “related stories” when I start with something like Google News, or FlipBoard. It’ s so easy to get distracted from the original time-waster in which you were participating, and get sucked into an entirely different stream of time wasting.

Even though we know that time is the most valuable commodity (EA even went so far as to deem it “Life Currency”…oh…wise…EA), it is easy to find ourselves seeking happiness during the cold, dark, crappy, short days of winter.

Well…fear not. Because while I started with a story about Brian Williams being suspended (deserved) and Jon Stewart announcing his retirement from the Daily Show (bummer…but not surprising), I wandered off topic onto “associated links” and made my way through “13 Most Annoying Stars” (turns out Kristen Stewart is a pill), “13 Stars You Wouldn’t Recognize Today” (Meg Ryan’s lips…eeek), and “13 Stars You Didn’t Know Were Banned From SNL” (Come on…give Sinead a break! That Pope was bad!)….until I finally stumbled onto something that made me actually feel happy…ironically called, “10 Things Science Says Will Make You Happy,” (which seemed obvious, as it didn’t start with the number 13).

I was surprised by a couple of them…and pleased that I already practice most of them.  But, then I thought…”Hey…I wonder if there is a TSTO slant on these?” (because I am always thinking of you!).

So Here Goes… 10 Keys to TSTO Happiness (with a little help from science).

Continue reading

Connected at the Pixels…But, are we more?

BLUE-SCREEN-MAIN

Last night, something unthinkable, almost earth-shattering, and seemingly devastating  happened.

No…it wasn’t the huge “biggest on record” snow storm to hit the East Coast of the United States. It was bigger!

Facebook and Instagram went offline for almost 3 hours!!!!  O. M. G.

That’s right folks. For almost three hours WORLDWIDE, people couldn’t see what others were eating for dinner, or what each other’s pets were up to, or what we thought this very moment about the deflation of footballs, that either did, or didn’t effect the outcome of the playoff game between New England and Baltimore last weekend.

It was terrifying!!  The boards on “IsItUp.com” lit up with people certain that the Chinese, North Koreans, Russians, ISIS, ISIL. et al had finally exacted their revenge on Western Culture.

In the end, it turned out to be a “self-inflicted wound,” caused by Facebook techs, who were uploading a new logic system…and blew stuff up.

Nothing was lost. Every “like” and snarky comment was restored. But, MAN…did it ever make you stop to think about how things have changed in the world in the past decade.

It makes one question the value of a life tinted with the hue of phosphorescent blue faces, looking down into screens, instead of into one another’s faces.

And then…when Facebook was back up again…I all but forgot about my feelings of self worth being questioned…and went back to seeing what my “friends” were up to.

But, this morning…I couldn’t shake the feeling that something has happened in the evolution of the species…
Continue reading

Sharing Good News During Garbage Time

Water-Progress-Main

It’s one of those old stories of “I have some good news, and I have some bad news. Which do you want to hear first?”

Always wanting to get the bad news out of the way, so I can move on to something more interesting and fun, I will start with a couple of facts.

We had an update. It was/is a small episode update. I has very little activity, and a some really odd tie-ins (which makes me want to watch the episode to figure out what’s going on).  The update is going to run until Midnight on January 28th (PST)/8AM GMT. So…that means a REALLY boring weekend, TSTO-wise.

Meh…

The GOOD NEWS???
Continue reading

Getting Back to the “Normal”…Water

Water-Main

Garbage time…that horrible space between updates, when there seems little or no reason to do much of anything, except wait, has been upon us for some time now. I usually fill this space with non-TSTO ramblings about all sorts of aspects of life, both real and imagined. But, recent events have left me feeling frustrated and sad.

It’s easy in this world to feel overwhelmed by people’s innate ability to lose perspective. It’s even easier to succumb to the overwhelming feeling of “what does it matter?”

And then, thankfully…I am reminded that we can, and do make a difference…when we try.

Talking with Emma over the weekend, it is obvious that his world was shattered with the sudden loss of his father less than two weeks ago. But, in his grief, and telling me of the special place in his heart that those who sent memorial funds for his family share, he looked into the SKYPE camera and said, “it’s time to go back to work.”

And, he’s right.
Continue reading

Looking Back to Look Forward Part II

YEAR-REVIEW1-MAIN

There is really no other way to say it…we in the midst of Garbage Time with this update. You are pretty much resigned to a couple of actions…tapping elves, or collecting bells, and neither of them takes a terrific amount of brain power (or need for my continued explanation).

So, this is a perfect time to continue “Looking Back at the Year that Was” so we can “Look Forward to the Year that Shall Be.”

Let’s see….where were we?
Continue reading

Thanks To You, The 1%ers…and the Contest Winner(s) Are Announced

Buijja-MAIN

As we all finally get to the place in the game, where we can take a breather (Nativity installedZutroy eating cats), I find myself once again marveling at what has happened here over the past year.

Maddy and Ali are home for the holidays, and this morning we SKYPED with our expanded family in Africa.  Emma and Kato (Maddy’s other guardian angel during her internship in Uganda) talked for almost an hour, over a clear, wonderful connection.  All I could do was smile…my heart almost bursting with pride and wonder at how this world has become so interconnected. And, that a disparate group of just over 200 people,  has come together, over a silly game, to change the lives of countless children they have never met.

If we tried to take this story to Hollywood, they would laugh us out of the studio…as it seems completely implausible.

“So…let me get this straight,” the studio weasel would say through a clenched cigar. “You start playing this goofy kid’s game…and start writing about it…and you almost quit a bunch of times, but then your daughter goes to Uganda, and you decide to turn it into a way to raise money for projects to help kids who live in a rural village in the jungle? Man…I think we did something like this with Eddie Murphy…but he was here…and was some king, or something.”

So…maybe the pictures of the big “Thank You” posters with representations of my TSTO character are a bit confusing. I get it. But, it DID happen…and is continuing to happen! And we have huge plans for 2015. But, we have to say THANKS first…to the 1%ers who made it all happen.

And now…I will.

Continue reading

And the grandest celebration was had by all…let’s keep it going!

Buyijja-Thanks-Maiin

I realize that right in the middle of a HUGE update…even one dedicated to the spirit of giving…most of you are bothered when I go “off topic.”  But, as I have stated a few times recently, if it weren’t for the way this “topic” has changed this blog and the community, I would have pulled the plug long ago.

So whether you are part of the 1%…or the “still to be convinced…or can’t be distracted from my tapping” 99%- I’m going to interrupt the update cycle for a HUGE CELEBRATION…and a call for support.

Continue reading

It’s Official…It’s Been a Year to Remember!

Anniversary-Main

Let’s start by saying that if you had told me that I’d be doing this on my own, after a year…and that the entire focus of the blog had switched from making money, to helping children in a rural Ugandan town…I’d have laughed in your face.

Not just a chuckle. But, a really, really, really, long, “ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FREAKIN’ MIND????” kind of laugh. The kind of laugh I reserve for people who tell me that Jack White is the best guitar player in the world. That kind of laugh.

But, here I am…after having written more about a silly game, and countless other topics related and not-so-related to that silly game, than would fill a large religious text if I had been counting (which thankfully, I stopped doing months ago, when the amount of words and pages made me feel foolish).

If ever there was a testament to the concept that “Life is Stranger Than Fiction,” it would have to be the sojourn that has taken us over the past year, to this very place.

I admit readily that it wasn’t JUST the travails of TSTO that created what we have today. It was a combination of circumstances that seemed to gather together into a perfect storm of redemption that simply could not have been foreseen, even by the most creative screen-writers around.

Redemption? Yes. Amazingly, that word must be used here. Because, it is almost impossible to escape the original intent of this blog, its roots of creation, and the ultimate change that has happened in me. It would seem insane, and completely improbable, if it hadn’t actually happened…and, with loads of witnesses (you readers).

Follow along…

Continue reading

When you know you are alive; A reality check on greatness.

HERO-Main
You know you are alive when you experience almost every emotion possible, in a single weekend. And this past weekend has had it all.

We started with overwhelming sadness, at the passing of Maddy’s boyfriend’s brother. It was heart-wrenching, and one of those senseless deaths that was a result of many years of bad choices. But, nobody should lose a child or a brother at such a young age. We grieve for their loss, and hope that brighter days are ahead soon. But, it has been consuming…supporting their family, while supporting Maddy, as she supports Bret’s family from within. Devastating news…followed by a family memorial gathering…as participants and observers of the deepest kind of sorrow imaginable.

It was my wife’s birthday this weekend, with some of our closest friends coming down to celebrate and watch the Duck game with us. The Ducks won, we all went out to celebrate at her favorite Mexican restaurant (where the margaritas are as big as your head). At the restaurant, we ran into the guy who introduced me to rugby, and inadvertently introduced me to Debbie. Ironies and synchronicity continue to amaze me. I hadn’t seen him in 25 years, but he could tell by the gathering, that we had endured and prospered through the years.

And finally…this morning…I got pictures of our latest project in Uganda…and I was filled with pride, admiration, and gratitude in ways that caught me off guard. The change our work will bring to the children and village is incalculable. My appreciation for all involved is boundless.

It’s almost Thanksgiving…and it’s time to truly be thankful.

Continue reading

Why This Site Survives…

Buyijja-Community-ROCKS

In the middle of the week, I had a note from my favorite Troll, a guy from Beverly Hills, no less…who is one of the freaks that writes every once in a while to let me know what losers we are. He changes his ID email all of the time…but, because I can trace route his IP, I know who he is.

Of course…the sheer illiteracy of his posts are self-evident in their ignorance…but they are entertaining nonetheless. Here’s his latest:

From Joey1234: I get you are a cranky old man who lost the little following he and his bye bye former partner once had. Who r u kidding? You really think once tsto is gone you’ll still be here? There’s a reason you don’t show your site hits lol. Cya never to return.

Oh…but that were true. The never to return part. But, it was ironic that it showed up, just before I once again had clear validation as to WHY we’ll still be here…long after TSTO is gone.

This week…we once again, proved that we are WAY different than other TSTO blog sites.
Continue reading

It’s Time to Redefine the Word, “Hero.”

HEROS-Main

The world has become a crazy place. The disparity between those who live a life in the rarified air of the upper 1% in income, and those who live in the lowest 1% in income has never been further apart.

Through all of it, the “common man,” those of us who work hard to maintain a semblance of a shrinking middle class, end up passing our time, and seeking entertainment, by deifying “heros” who represent a strata of performers who can do something we can’t.  We love our music, movies, television and sports figures. We typically measure their success by box office receipts, record sales, or net worth (in the case of wall street or tech billionaires).  But in the case of sports, are as likely to make them heroes in our minds, for statistics as inane as Yards After Contact, Yards per Game, or how they boost the stats in your fantasy football league.

By now, almost everyone in the world is aware of the “Very Incredibly Bad” week the NFL has had. Several cases of domestic violence, and a couple of child abuse charges just don’t say much about the caliber of people playing one of our national pastimes.  But the story of Adrian Peterson shook me to the core to such a degree, that I woke up this morning with a fire in my fingers to tell another story.

We need to know REAL heroes when we see them. And as a society…we have lost our way.

Let’s start with how much Adrian Peterson is making WHILE suspended from his “job” of running a football, while avoiding being tackled by other highly paid man-children.  Adrian, the highest paid running back in the NFL, is making close to $700,000… a week. That is not a typo. That is also before all of his endorsement deals. That’s $23,000 dollars a day.

Adrian Peterson is also known for fathering as many as 7 children with as many mothers. Adrian Peterson must love kids. Or making kids. He certainly has a penchent for “guiding” kids.

Now…I am going to introduce you to three REAL heroes, who I would offer, do REAL world-changing work, and earn between all three of them, less than 1/1000th per day combined what Adrian Peterson earns…while saving children.

Continue reading

LEGO Simpsons Creations!

KerrysToys-Main

Ryan here, and did someone say LEGO Simpsons Creations?! We have a very exciting break from the usual nonsense and quite frankly, a breath of fresh air. Too much TSTO is not good for the soul. We try to have our fun, but it’s also nice to just enjoy the community.

And our community has provided us with something extraordinary today. The timing is incredible, considering the recent release of real life LEGO Simpsons, tomorrow’s long-awaited LEGO episode and well, the Blocko Store in the Easter update I guess. Our great friend and invaluable community member KookyKerry is an artist, an entrepreneur and a pretty genius lady in her own right.

She has created something pretty cool involving Simpsons LEGOs that we wanted you all to see, and if you’re able and interested, to support. There is nothing more fun than when we get to share in something with a member of the community of Friends. TSTO is all well and good but real life is (or should be) happening all around us and we’re always flattered when someone shares a bit of theirs with us.

Continue reading

TSTO Friends Community: AboutChoo!

ABOUTCHOO!

Ok so here’s the deal…

We here at TSTOFriends have an AMAZING community of readers, commenters and genuine friends. We laugh, we cry, we yell, we poke fun and celebrate the good times while propping each other up in the bad times. So in some ways it’s more like a family…a big crazy family; but without squabbling over inheritance (who gets rich Uncle Zeke’s gold!?) Before you start thinking this is going to be another sappy, “lets hug” post let me clear things up: it’ll only be like, half that.

We’ve had some pretty cool projects and opportunities for community participation. There are the amazing array of Guest Posts, the always fun Poll Results and Discussions, that fantastic Holiday Writing Contest we had and a smattering of other things in the Community Art and Writing Center. A personal favorite of mine and Patric’s was the TSTO Community World Map and Downloadable Travel-Brochure project.

Now besides all this fun, we often have outstanding ideas come from you, the readers. Whether it’s something for us to write or do or wear or parse…it’s all good fun. Now it’s time for a new twist. Continue reading

TSTO Community World Map and Downloadable Travel-Brochure

Maingraphic

 

This place is amazing…no doubt about it.
When people ask me what makes it so unique and different than other TSTO Blogs/Forums…the answer is easy- THE COMMUNITY.  We continue to be blown away by the interaction, civility, intelligence, and desire to share.

Nothing proves the point better than our Put A Pin In It map experiment. Well…TAKE A LOOK. More than 75 pages (and growing) and close to 37,000 words (and growing) this document is a testament to the power of the Internet and a “Silly Little Game” to cross boundaries, borders and differences- to become a single community.

THE DOWNLOADABLE .PDF Version of our Incredible TSTO Community World Map is done.
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY

Continue reading

Final Days of Tap Ball Period ONE…Where are YOU?

Done-main
Again, I have to say, EA is making this one EAsy so far. Looking ahead at the WIKI it does seem that things start to get a bit more complicated in the Second Period. But for now, I will just be content with the fact that I just got Softball Mr. Burns a full 2 days before the deadline…and I am not really having to tap much at all!

The more skins (players) you have, the easier it is to hit the goals. As you add enough for two full teams (8 players), you will be able to almost double your Foam Finger output in regards to games played. I have had no issue getting in 5 games a day (6a, 10a, 2P, 6p, 10p) by setting my phone timer. The Once as soon as I get up, and Once right before I go to bed part is the hardest… Oh. And the “sneaking off to the bathroom in a North Jersey Tavern, filled with “characters” who were already giving me the “sideways glance” as an outsider…and I wasn’t even wearing one of my U of O shirts! I’ll get back to this story later.

Let’s take a look at where you SHOULD be, and a few of the fun aspects of this update so far.
Continue reading