The Event is Ending…Really… and WHERE’DJA?

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As always, our good friend Gio (LetsPlayNintendoIta) has the lowdown on what is in the game files. I like have to admit, having our own TSTO version of “Edward Snowden” is pretty handy.

As it turns out, the LAP (Lazy Ass Programming) seems to be just that…and it delay in the end of the update was more of a Memorial Day Hangover (a weekend at the beach with a half gallon of Fireball takes its toll).

But…as I was stubbornly ignoring everything except the BMs that still demanded to be whacked, I realized that I still had to make room, and sense of the clutter we got in this Overblown Update. So…I commenced in placing and storytelling.

BELOW THE FOLD…you’ll see what is in store in the short run from EA, as well as some ideas on where I placed my Terwilligers stuff.

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The REAL Reason for the Update Extension…

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I know you want to believe that there is some wonderful reason for this extension of an already super-extended and bloated update.

And there is. 

But, don’t be surprised by what you read.

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Finally! The Terwilligers Update Is… What? – UPDATED By Time Zone

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I set my alarm for 1AM for this?  Yet another Non-ending-ending?

It is currently 1:31 AM…and NOTHING has changed so far…except for the counters on some of the Terwilliger prizes have flipped to “Ending Soon.”
Except for the Monsarno Card…which says there is another 8 days23 hours and change. HOLYFREAKINSHIRT…I hope not.

OVER-mnsrno

But…from what I can tell…everything is the same. You can still pop BMs (and they are still being generated in town). You can still pop Mutant Seeds…and place them. You can still perform/earn Cecil Tasks.  Who knows for how long?

UPDATED BELOW

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Final Hours…a Look Back on Three Acts of Tapping Mayhem

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Let’s start with the best part of this humongous, overblown, summer-blockbuster of an update… We Got Sideshow Bob! And, frankly…if we had received nothing else, except Bob and a handful of his rakes… I would have been happy. Really!

But (and you know there had to be a but, right?) just like so many of the Summer Blockbuster releases that come out this time of year at the theaters, there is often so…much…action…with so…little…plot…that it takes away from the original intent of the film.  Add to that conflicting storylines, heroes and villains, and before you know it…you have six weeks of tapping mayhem, with loads and loads of clutter, and unfinished, disjointed results.

So…as we dissect the three acts…and break down the rewards…let’s keep one phrase in mind; AT LEAST WE GOT BOB!!”  (ALWGB).

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Shouldja? Final Terwilligers Grab Bag of Crap

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You really have to  ask?  Really? Well…since you did, you may be surprised by my answer!

I had a complete day without touching my padular device. It was wonderful.  I have done as much with this update as I want, and even though I have a load of Crafting Currency, I don’t want anything else. There is no place to put it…and most of it doesn’t make any sense in the scheme of a REAL Springfield.

But…that didn’t stop EA from offering up a couple more silly, semi-retreads…that are head-scratchers at best.

Let’s take a look.
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A Basic Primer on “Living Wide”

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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.

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When Success Breeds a Need…

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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.
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Two More Things to Ignore…

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Ah…I love this part of a major update. The part where we really SHOULD be done…and for the most part, we are…but EA wants to extend things to keep us engaged…and being frustrated to the point of spending donuts to “keep up” with imaginary task boundaries.

But…really. You can ignore this stuff.

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

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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?”
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And the Winner Is…

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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…
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Final Week…Final Days…Final Hours…Mad Max Redux?

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After what is surely going to go down as one of the, if not THE longest, craziest, non-stop, eye-peeling, “Oh Dear God, Take a BREATH” periods of action in history (And no I am not talking about the movie we saw last night), we are starting to see some hints at winding down…mostly, kinda.

We went to a movie with friends last night to cap off a long weekend of super-activities that included a long freeway drive, a children’s birthday party, after party, after-after-party activities, and then coming home in time to do dinner/movie/drinks with friends.  The movie? “Mad Max Fury Road.” The best part about all of it, is that for almost the entire weekend, I was “padless” and didn’t care. I got the Simpsons House Boat. It was my primary goal. The rest is icing and clutter.

Life is way more fulfilling if you don’t place too much value on any of the specific parts…but are able to simply enjoy the overall journey. It’s very cliche. But, it doesn’t make it any less true. If you have realistic and simple goals for your happiness, if you don’t succumb to the modern Western chant that “There is always room for MORE…and More is better…and here is another THING to make you happy…and you won’t be happy until you have more things,” well…you get it. Western culture runs on the high-octane fuel of jacked up commerce and the accumulation of clutter.

So…in the waning days/hours of the availability of some of the clutter, let’s take a look at what is really going on, and if you should “keep the throttle down” or just take your foot off of the break and coast. 
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SHOULDJA?? Act III Premium Buying Guide…With Optional Chant

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What I love about Marge, is that she mostly suffers in silence. Sure….she has the patented grunt/groan that lets you know she is dissatisfied with your decision. But, she is more than likely going to just try to explain her feelings, rather than wrap her hands around your neck and choke the living crap out of you.

She is more inclined to use civil disobedience, than out and out acts of aggression and violence. But, when she gets really mad about something, she’ll let you know.

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Grind Time -vs- Fun Time…and the Rewards with Walkthroughs

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The thing about working a system, is that if you are patient, and persistent, you get the rewards you want in the end. And then the fun begins.

I think the most unfortunate part of this update (or any of the recent style of major updates) is that it is so easy to get consumed in the Grinding (just cycling through the tasks to earn DC (digital crap), we don’t take the time to enjoy the FUN side of the game…which is the dialogue and storylines over which the writers sweat profusely (for a couple of hours a month).  There has been some hilarious lines in this one. Little one-liners that slip by as we are punching our padular devices to extract BOS and OMs.

As we get close to our goals, there are some great lines, with a ton of fun. And remember, THIS is what makes TSTO special, and stand out over the Family Guy mess or other tap-centric/short-on-smart games. So many other games are just tapping profusion…this one actually tries to entertain us. I really do appreciate that.

Almost all of us will be unlocking Opera Krusty soon (if not already), and the ultimate tapping Personal Prize, Dame Judith, will be in our grips soon as well.
Let’s take a look at the Walkthroughs, and some of the fun stuff that is happening.

SPOILERS FOLLOW- If you don’t want to know…don’t click below!
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Chillaxing With The System…What’s REALLY Important

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OK. Not to brag…but the system I laid out for you (and for myself) is ROCKIN’ it. First day after updating the Opera Stage to Level 5…and stopping…and I already hit 1,832 Opera Masks. The Boat will be mine before the weekend is through.  I am just short of Opera Krusty…I will get him today. And I am now firmly on a “clear BMs every 4 hours” pattern (Dr. Oz would be proud). Yesssssssssss… Sanity will prevail.

Which allows me to relax, and work on the things that matter. Like picking a winner for our Biggest Contest Ever…

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Going Rogue…or You’re Not The Boss of Me!

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If you haven’t figured it out yet… EA pretty much designs these huge updates in a manner to make you crazy, frustrated, and spending donuts to rush, if you are trying to follow a logical path.

They are CONSTANTLY throwing up conflicting tasks, updates, and nuanced fever buttons, that get you riled up, and freaked out that you AREN’T ON SCHEDULE if you don’t stay on track…which will cost you donuts.

Screw ‘Em.

It’s time to “Go Rogue” and realize that there is a simple, easy way to get what you want, and IGNORE EA. Really.

Let’s break this down.
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New Update…Argh…It Must Be Wednesday…Another Money Grab

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This game is starting to feel like a game of “why are you slapping yourself?”  You know…where someone bigger and stronger, grabs your hands and hits you in the face with them, and yells, “Why are you slapping yourself??”  I never had it happen to me…but I did have three sisters, and I have 2 large grandsons. You get the picture. But, I digress…

It’s Wednesday…and it seems that EA can’t let one slide these days, without making our lives more complicated…than the already complicated lives we are already tapping…OH…and the Need to Try to Steal More Money from Us.

Another mini update has hit…It is an episode tie-in for this week’s show.

  1. Mathlete’s Feat
    TV Episode
  2. Lisa transforms Springfield Elementary into a Waldorf school; Groundskeeper Willie coaches the mathletes.
  3. Air date: May 17, 2015

So far, there is nothing free…and it just disrupts what we were already working on. But…here are the details.
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Act III- Math, Upgrades, and Goals

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Look. I’m not going to tell some of you that you should have listened to me…but, ya know…you shoulda.

When it comes to upgrades, there is a limit that makes sense. When you set a goal, it needs to be believable and achievable. And EA has found a new kind of tapper to exploit…”The Upgrade Freak.”  (UFs).

UFs spend all of their time upgrading, and not enough time collecting. I am only at Monsarno level 16 (like I suggested) and I got the Farmers Market weeks ago. I am only on Level 8 of the Weed Sprayer, and I got the Gas n Grub last Thursday. OK? Enough? Case closed?

What this comes down to…is optimizing your time and energy to get what you want. GOALS. Set them. Figure out what you want…and DON’T GET OFF TRACK.

LET’S DO SOME MATH…
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Terwilligers Act III- Complete Cheat Guide with Walkthrough

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Ah. It must be midnight. I promised to set the alarm, and see if I can pull this off. But, we’ll see. It’s already been a really long day.

In short…EVERYTHING has changed…and yet EVERYTHING is still the same.

There is a new currency. There are new Personal and Crafting Prizes. And there are crap-load of forced and optional upgrades to make. But…in the end, it seems to be a tad bit more fun, and less punitive. We still have a long way to go…argh. We’ll see.

Below the fold, we’ll get into some of the changes, and offer the walkthrough that matters- the one that helps us make sense of this strange combination of a passion play over the evils of GMOs, and the Opera that launched a horrible rendition of Pagliacci, and Krusty wailing for his breakfast cereal.

SPOILERS FOLLOW… If you don’t want to know…don’t click below!
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Final Hours of Act II…What’s In Store for Act III?

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Well…once again, because of the way that EA released this update into the game files, this is one of the worst-kept secrets ever!

The WIKI…and our good friend Gio (turns out, he prefers Gio to Giovanni or LetsPlayNintendoIta), have already posted most of the details for the upcoming act.  If you haven’t looked yet, you really should. It really does sound like it is finally going to get a bit more fun…and even quirkier. 

But…there are some wrinkles that are bound to bring about more dissention from the masses.

Let’s take a look. 
SPOILERS FOLLOW…If you don’t want to know, don’t click below. 
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The Goals That Matter…Final Days Counting Down

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We all want stuff. We all want a reward for our tapping. We all think that we deserve to “get it all” with this silly game. But, we are finding out just how difficult it can be to reach our goals, when the rules change.

Now…try doing any of this, when you are struggling for the most basic elements of poverty in your life.

The REAL work we do here…is more and more amazing. And the response has been great. We are winding down our Biggest Contest Ever…but you still have time to enter, and do something that matters.

In the past week…EA has made numerous attempts at extracting money from us…for useless digital baubles.  Meanwhile, some of you (far less than 1%) have generously donated to our shoe drive, and our books/supplies/storage unit drives. The REWARD is priceless…but the Prize you could win is pretty darn valuable as well.

I am going to keep the contest open through Sunday Night. Emma reminded me that we can now buy extra shoes, and keep them on hand in our soon to be completed storage unit. As the school gets new children in need, they will be there…waiting for them. A nice way to say, “Welcome to the start of your new life! Let’s get to work!”

DONATE HERE...remember….for each $10 donation, you get a shot at winning the amazing print from Suzy and Scott!

Have a good weekend. Hope you get what you want…as well as what you need.

CLICK BELOW FOR MORE INFORMATION AND A LARGER SHOT OF THE PRINT…
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Terwilliger-L52 Common Sense Cheat Guide- With Walkthroughs and Tips

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OK. So, I am over my hissy fit. I really don’t know why I expect EA to behave in a way that is anything less than EA (Egregious Assclowns) in nature. But…it does seem nothing but disrespectful and mean-spirited to keep changing the rules.

So. I am going to give you a COMMON SENSE way to look forward, using all of the data, and pragmatism I can gather. It’s almost the weekend…and we don’t want to allow EA any further chance to get us riled up with their greedy, underhanded ways.

Follow Along. Then- do your best to SEND EA a MESSAGE.

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EA…SBMs Abound. Changes to Their Favor. Again.

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REALLY? This is OK with you EA? You just make random changes in your favor…to incite riot and extract donuts from the panic?

Let me just say this in terms you will understand. You. Suck.

You would NEVER be allowed to play loose and free with agreements like this in the real world. When you start a game, and there are rules of engagement, you can’t just randomly change the rules when a player is “winning,” to switch to the odds your advantage.  In the REAL world, that borders on fraud, malfeasance and market manipulation. In the REAL world, this would go toward earning you things like the award for “The Worst Tech Company in the World.” Oh. Wait. You have already won that a number of times. So, I am guessing you don’t give a rip.

But…because there are folks out there who watch your moves…and report them…people like LetsPlayNintendoIta and me, you are at risk of being such blatant assclowns, that you run the risk of “winning this battle” but losing the war. You may inflict panic, and frustration on a handful of players who don’t know better (or are too stupid…or Bliss Ninnies) who may use donuts to rush, or buy something they thought they could earn by tapping…but, I am here to tell you, you are going to start losing players completely…in numbers that are significant enough to blow up your bottom line.

And all of this, because you can’t be HONEST. Is it really so freakin’ hard to have a way to TELL the players when you make underhanded (or even positive) changes? What about putting Good Old Gil to work when you change things…instead of just sending him to BEG FOR MONEY?

The irony of you playing the game of “Good Corporate Citizen” in your mini-expose’ of the GMO world is not lost on us. You are the good guys…exposing the risks of High Fructose Corn Syrup…while you play loose, and abusive with the rules of your own game.

WHAT CHANGED??? YOU THINK WE DON’T KNOW???  Ha. Ha. Read Below.
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Level 52…Because We Didn’t Have Enough To Do?

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If I was in college…and skipping classes…and had all of the time in the world…I’d love the fact that I just earned Dr. Robert, am a few DNA from the Gas N Gulp, and now have TWO new aspects of a NEW update to mess with, while trying to clear my town of BMs (Bob Mutants) and now have to deal with seeing Burns throw money on a pile.

It would be really, really, really cool.

But, I’m not. So it’s not.

I actually own a company. We just launched three huge update/changes to our content management system, and started a new joint service with another company. I am in charge of a high school reunion and our family golf tournament, both in July, and I am helping to coordinate the latest projects with Emma in Buyijja. Oh…and I am starting league at the country club, and do all of the club communications, their web site, and advertising…which happens to be in the middle of a huge campaign right now.

I have family, friends, recreational commitments, and loads of other interests. In short…I CAN NO LONGER BE BOTHERED WITH EA’S ADHD (Assumptive Disruptive Hellraising Disorder)  SYNDROME. Sheesh!!!

But…for those of you who are…here are some hints, reminders, and tips for juggling Level 52 (both parts) and the clutter/insanity of the Terwilliger’s update.
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LEVEL 52 Update Hits In the Midst of Terwilliger Grinding!

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OK. So I guess the Terwilliger Update wasn’t complicated enough for us.

EA just dropped a new level update- level 52, and it looks like a blast!

Click Below for some Spoilers and Teasers…SPOILERS FOLLOW
If you don’t want to know…don’t click below!
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More Random Premium Stuff…More Reasons to Stay the Course

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Let’s start out with another surprise batch of random Premium Items. I am starting to feel like the update is one big Ginsu Knife commercial. Remember those?  “But wait!! What if we throw in two hand slicers, and an extra knife, along with the orange peeler, the potato julian-er, and the grapefruit filet tool…THEN would you buy???”

Let’s make this clear, EA. Until you give us more land…and give us a REASON to have a zillion rakes sitting around...the answer is NO!!!!

And…for the love of all that is BOB…stop questioning my math on the upgrades. I am going to do two things below the fold; explain why the Premium stuff is mostly drivel and clutter…and explain why you need to stop upgrading past 8-16 (the magic numbers to grinding happiness).

The answers lie below.
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Reaching Goals…Staying on Track, Grinding -vs- Upgrading

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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. 
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More Thank You Notes…and Your Chance At A Piece of History!

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I am feeling blessed today. I know that I downplay my “softer, more sensitive side,” but the fact is, some days I just wake up smiling. Today is one of those days. And the best part is…there is no single reason. I am just feeling content…

Yes. We are now entering the “Grinding Period Phase II” of this update. But, it’s pretty clear that good planning will bring about the rewards we want. But, quietly, and steadily, without much coaxing…WHAT REALLY MATTERS has also been moving upward to our goal…and the best part is, I am seeing a number of new members of our treasured 1% club.

This week, our Grand Prize arrived by Fed Ex…and today, I am taking it to the frame shop for final mounting. It. Is. REALLY. Cool!

Let’s take a look…
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The Power of Community…and Sharing.

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It’s been interesting the past couple of months. What could have been yet another contentious, competitive, mess, has turned into a wonderful, expanded relationship that benefits everyone.

I’m talking about the open, helpful, and amazingly transparent information posts by LetsPlayNintendoITA (also known as Giovanni) our Italian super hacker/fracker/info-whacker.

LPNITA as he is known on the TSTO forums, is THE guy, when it comes to parsing information and sharing it with the world.  I have joked that he is the TSTO Edward Snowden…sharing the info, no matter what the consequences. But the fact is, the only real consequence is risking his TSTO account, to make the game easier, and more fun for the rest of the TSTO community.

We email. We share. He is one of my neighbors. But, most important, he just keeps his head down…and keeps parsing out the game files to post on the forum, the WIKI, and TSTOTopix.

What’s unusual about this? Let’s compare this to the actions of another blog. the difference in attitude is marked.

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The Three Levels of Tapping Chi… A Help Guide Toward Tapping Happiness

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I have to hand it to EA on one level…this update isn’t boring. Tedious and trying…yes…boring, not so much. We have long asked for MORE to do in the past. We are now being faced with a bit of “be careful what you wish for.”

There is a LOT going on. Leveling up in two areas (soon to be three with the next ACT), keeping your available characters doing GMO tasks to earn money for crafting, while collecting currency to hit the Friend Prize levels, while playing the regular walkthrough quests, and even playing the short, but fun, Premium quests if you buy one of the Premium offerings.

Don’t even get me started on trying to figure out where to put everything.

So…to help you all find your Tapping “Chi,” I have put together this simple HELP GUIDE to make it easier for you to have tapping happiness.
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EA Upgrades…Making It EAsier? Or BrEAking the Bank?

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So…just when we think it is just about grinding, and working the system, there is a big change. EA is like that. EA likes to lull you into thinking, “Hey…if I just figure out the math, and a schedule, I can tap, get a good ROT, and have a life.”

But no.

EA comes along and makes it EAsy to distrust…and even despise EA once again. It is really as if they are working to shed common sense/just playing for fun players, so they only have the most dedicated/addicted/willing-to-spend-money-to-get-everything players. Good business strategy. Crappy understanding of their customers/players.

What is the latest slight of hand/skullduggery?  Read Along…
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Advanced Math for Upgrades and ROT

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I admit it. This event has got me doing WAY more math than I like to do. I hated math. I hated math so much, that once I get past algebra and into geometry, I refused to do the proofs. “For the love of all that is holy…why do I have to do the proof, when I can clearly see that the angle is 28 degrees?”  I’d yell at my sophomore geometry teacher. “BECAUSE I SAID SO…It isn’t MATH unless you can PROVE it!”  He’d retort.

I got a “D” in the class. Which clearly made him mad…as I had guessed enough on the tests to pass…without doing the proofs…and a passing score is a passing score. The MATH proved it!

Fast forward ahead a lifetime, and I still hate math. I do like solving problems with spreadsheets…which isn’t really advanced math, but simply using math to solve problems. Somebody else’s math. As in the nice people at Microsoft who created Exel Spreadsheets.

So…for the time being, let’s just go with “I hate math.” Then let’s make the point with “I hate the math in this update.”  Which I do.

Grinding does not equate to a rich, full life.  It requires discipline, and a ritualistic schedule. I am not a fan of either…but understand the value of both.

What I am going to lay out, took a few hours to put together. But, only because I was doing it between business phone calls, and planning for our next stage of projects in Uganda. So, thanks Microsoft. Go eat BOS, EA!

Here’s why…
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Crafting- The Hard Cold Truth

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There is a reason that his blog needs to exist…if only for a common sense, pragmatic look at the way TSTO plays out in every update. There are those who don’t like bad news…or belittling the efforts of EA. There are some, who are truly addicted to the game, and think of any ridicule of the game the same way an alcoholic would defend box wine.  “Hey! I know it’s not great! But it’s MY choice…and I love it…and I might let it ruin my life…but, butt out!

Even though the motto of TSTO is “life ruiningly fun!” the fact is…sometimes, you have to just step back and say, “Man…this is a lot of work…and it isn’t worth it!”

That time is now…as it pertains to Crafting in this update.

Let’s break this down…with a little cautionary advice.
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The Math of Act II – Hopes and Dreams Meet Pragmatism

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Let’s just start off with a couple of simple realities about this overall update. If you are playing Freem-me-yum…or even Cheap-ee-yum…you aren’t going to even come close to getting everything being offered in this update. And, if you are a complete donut spendthrift, and blow donuts like there’s no end to the sprinkles, you are going to be left with a TON of clutter, and likely not enough room to fit it all.

This is a wonderful life lesson. Hopeful pragmatism, coupled with logic, is the key to happiness. In short…lower your expectations.

Thoreau really walked his talk about finding happiness with less. “Simplify, Simplify” was his most noted quote (although it seems a lot more simple to just say it once instead of twice…and living in a cabin by a lake for two years, to produce one thin book of quotes seems to be taking this concept to the extreme).

George Carlin had a great bit about “stuff” I have said it before…I have too much stuff in my house. It is time to start downsizing, because I don’t have enough time to actually enjoy my stuff.

And so it goes, with the new style of major updates… LOADS of STUFF…without anywhere to put it. This is actually great, because in so many ways, reducing the level of stuff you think you want, reduces the time you need to spend tapping, and increases your happiness, by allowing you more time (Life Currency) to actually enjoy the stuff you keep!

But…again…if you want it all…you are screwed. Life just doesn’t work that way.

Let’s Take A Look At The KEY Points of the Math In ACT II…
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Act II Cheat Guide with WalkThrough(s) – Updated

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This is the worst kept “secret” in the history of TSTO. OK. Maybe not…but, it’s right up there. The Worst Kept Secret is actually that None of the Ninnies at some blogs actually have anything special to offer by “looking into the files” than our friend and super hacker/fracker LetsPlayNintnendoIta (aka Giovanni), has already unpacked, and placed on The WIKI.

It looks like a lot of fun…and there is another Super Hot character (how do you say, Super Hot in Italian, Giovanni?), as well as some NEW stuff to craft, some new updates for Monsarno, and at the end…WE GET BOB!

That’s right. Just a scant few weeks of tapping…and we finally get who we really wanted in the first place…a FULL character for Sidewshow Bob. Whoohoo!

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

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A Change Is Gonna Come…The Times They Are A Changin’?

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The more things change, the more they stay the same…unless you are EA. Some of you may have noticed that our “hacked time schedule” for Cecil tasks diverted today. At least mine did.  It started with a 4 hour task…and was supposed to be a 2-hour task. Go figure. More on that later…

But, the cumulitive answer there, is that as with most aspects of this update, we know some stuff…and are completely speculating on others. There are a few things that are GOING to happen at 1 AM PDT (9 AM London, 11 AM in Uganda).

Here’s what we know…
SPOILERS TO FOLLOW- If you don’t want to know…don’t click below.

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Sunday…Catching Up, Looking Forward, A World With GMOs

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I love Sundays. Even though they are often punctuated with mild bouts of panic while preparing for the coming week, while trying to appear to be relaxed and nonchalant.  Sunday is generally the day to sleep in a bit, read the Sunday paper (and the big color comics section), have an extra cup of coffee while watching Sunday Morning on CBS…the long-running, perennial favorite, with Charles Osgood. It’s the kind of show where 2 minutes of gorgeous shots of some mountain stream, or a meadow waking up to morning light, can be found at the end of each broadcast, as a reminder that life really is better when you slow down, and just let things happen at their natural pacc.

Humans aren’t really wired that way. And, from most of the reports that are starting to come out, because of our impatience to grow food more quickly and efficiently (in the guise of solving world hunger), we may be on a path that is ultimately starting to modify our DNA in ways that may result in all sorts of strange, new problems larger than those we were trying to solve in the first place.

What is interesting about this update, is that it may be one of the most political in the history of TSTO. Sure…we dance around gun control, and get a civics lesson on graft in community politics. But, like most of the really big issues these days…the ones that could ultimately change the outcome of our future, GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) are kinda sneaky. Just like the old Lucky Strike cigarette commercials in the 50s (touting the health benefits of smoking), the real repercussions are often hidden behind smarmy, misdirecting labeling and promotion.

GMOs are just like this update of TSTO (you knew I HAD to try and find a way to get back to the REAL earth-shattering information that you REALLY wanted..right?).  Well…actually…as with much of the Simpsons’ humor, there are some interesting lessons to be gained by playing this update…while fighting the urge to break your routine, and stuff your face with junk food. That’s right, maximizing your time, patience and routine, is the best way to get the healthiest prize in Act One. The Farmers Market! I got mine last night. And between the lines, and a short discussion on GMOs and diet-I’m going to tell you how! Continue reading

The Biggest Contest Ever…Phase II

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WOW!  OK…that didn’t take long! Just 2 days, and we topped out our goal for school supplies and books for this term! GREAT job!

And best of all…we have some new members to the 1% club! New folks who have donated for the first time…outside of the game…to do something that matters! 

But, as promised, this new super, fantastic, best-prize-ever, warrants a larger target, (no jokes about my pants size please). As those of you who have been with our Buyijja projects for the past year remember, we started with school supplies, and books, then built a playground, and then realized the need for shoes for the kids. It took us a while, but we did it all.

However, as any parent knows…kids grow. Kids are hard on shoes. And the ravages of life on rural dirt paths, blistering heat, and rain season take their toll on shoes. Oh…and did I mention that the school, because of the success of the test scores, has now swelled to almost 300 kids?

TIME FOR MORE SHOES!

So…the CONTEST CONTINUES…and YOU are guaranteed to get something when you donate.
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SHOULDJA? Premium Buying Guide with Bonus Kid Update Kicker…

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If I am honest (and why wouldn’t I be when talking to myself), I have to admit that this has been a pretty chill update in regards to the EA greed factor. It looks like it it may change in Act 2 (there is more scenery), but for the most part, the decisions are really pretty easy.

There are only a couple of “on the fencers” and a handful of “what are you crazies” to select from. But, the devil is in the details (and in the cake, if you are at the bakery).

Let’s Break This Down…This Nightmare Pile Can be Confusing!
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The BIGGEST CONTEST EVER…Everybody Gets Something!

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I know. You’ve heard it before…”Biggest Contest Ever,” sounds a lot like “the lowest prices of the year.” And I confess, as a reformed advertising agency owner, I have a tendency to sway toward hyperbole.

However…this one REALLY IS THE BIGGEST EVER…because the contests have just continued to ramp up, with every new level of generosity from those involved. No. I’m not talking about EA/Fox/Gracie…the unholy-three-in-one. I’m talking about the gracious, generous giving, by the more than amazing 1%ers of this community.

It’s always gratifying to see support for our projects…but even the 1%ers have realized that the “giving” improves a ton, when there is something exciting, and cool on the line as a potential prize. Case in point…the Well Project was stalled…big time…until FRED donated an amazingly cool, original Simpson’s Script as a prize. BOOM! Well completed.

But…before we get to the next SUPER, AMAZING PRIZE (yes…I capped it for the lazy readers), let’s take another look back on the past year…and why this really is not only the BIGGEST CONTEST EVER…but one of the MOST IMPORTANT points in the history of our projects.

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Something Random This Way Comes…Bart Regression Mini-Update

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EA…really?  Every Wednesday…something random, to keep me away from real life.

This time…we have a very random (just pops up and starts…keep Bart Free) mini-something, called “Regression Aggression” and is related to the upcoming Simpsons Episode (The Kids Are All Fight).

So far…not much too do…except interrupt your characters from earning BOS/GMC (bad) and getting a chance at a freemium mini-vehicle (good), with a  very random offering of Premium Halloween Skins for the Kids. (Weird).

Let’s take a look…
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When Playing Turns Into Grinding…Half Glass Full View

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Life is a blast. Really. As long as you keep it perspective, and don’t let any one facet dominate your days.  We are a funny lot, we tappers. We are always looking forward to the “next” update, when we are in garbage time, as we are sure that it will be the “best update ever.”

However,  recently, the major updates have turned into a new breed of update, with loads and loads of prizes to be won (some actually worth winning), but longer and longer periods of time, spent in a tapping grind, of repeating the same actions.

But…surprise…I’m going to pay EA a compliment (I know…nobody expected that).  This game play methodology is WAY, WAY, WAY (way?) better than the kinds of updates that we worked through a year or more ago. Remember Whacking day?  It went on forever…and I mean forever. And it was VERY one-dimensional. You whacked snakes…or placed snake eggs. That was pretty much it…for 37 days (after the extension).  And anyone who has played for more than a year, can tell you about the horrors of the WHell and all of the derivations thereof. It. Was. Awful.

So…now…we find ourselves starting at least a full week of GRINDING. But at least you have options. Yes, it seems like there is a penalty for missing deadlines…but, the fact it, they are pretty small penalties.  And, when you sift through all of the clutter of random, useless buildings and decorations, there are a couple of pretty, dang, cool things coming up…that will make the Grinding part, seem short and inconsequential.

Let’s take a peek at the Highs and Lows…with our “Half Glass Full” glasses on…shall we?
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A Dearth of Pods When Trying to Be A Good Neighbor

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I always liked using the word, dearth. It is a confusing word that doesn’t sound like what it is. Unlike a word like plethora, which just sounds like a lot of word, when describing a lot. Dearth SOUNDS like it’s heavy and full, and loaded with something big. If you said, “that lady has a dearth of junk in the trunk!” you’d actually be saying she has a small or nearly empty trunk.  Weird. I know.

Anyway…back to the issue at hand…the dearth of seed pods to share with your neighbors.

What can you do about it?  What SHOULD you do about it?  And, why should you care? Oh…and another useless vehicle?  Does EA think we have a dearth of common sense?

Let’s break this down…
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Projecting Cecil’s Tasks…While Have A Normal Life. CHEAT GUIDE

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Ok. As with all of the recent updates, there is a TON of time management and messing about with schedules, in order to be able to maximize your ROT (Return On Tapping), and have a REAL life.

It takes a while, and some sleuthing/logic/pragmatism to make sense of it all. But, between my logical pragmatism, and LetsPlayNintendoIta’s file poking (hacking is too strong a word for this…it was more of a gentle poke or two), I have a system in place that should allow you to plan for the future, while still having a semblance of a normal life.

And all without using the term, “Lil” once! (seems that bliss-ninny rodents slur their speech when trying to say the word “little”…whether they are using it as a verb, adverb, modifier, or noun).

Let’s get to work…the faster we make sense of the Patterns In This Update…the easier it is to work REAL life around it.

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Using Unicorns for The Best Return On BOS and GMC-UPDATED

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People have been bugging me for days now…OK…a day, to make sense of who to keep free for the GMO/Cletus Quests so you can keep the rest of your town WORKING FOR Big Farm, Monsarno.

It seems like a difficult thing…but the fact is, once you spend hours and hours and hours checking out task lists, and future task lists, and comparing the two, and it’s EAsy. Right? Hey…it’s what I do. Parse useless information that you could figure out yourself, but wait for me to post. It’s how our relationship works. Right?

I am a rare guy… some would say as rare as a Unicorn. But, I’m not a unicorn. Not like the unicorns that I have uncovered in this update…things that are rare, but useful in the long run.

What is a unicorn in this update?  Read on.
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Maximize Your BOS-GMC Payouts- Tasks, Upgrades, the Future?

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To say that there is a “right way” and a “wrong way” in this update is about as easy as pinning the world’s problems on any single entity. Oh…wait…that IS easy...it’s mega-corporations in cahoots with life-long politicians to rig the system in their favor…no matter who gets hurt. Which, of course is ironic, given the nature of this update.  But, I digress…

This is a complicated mess…and takes a TON of clear, pragmatic reasoning to figure out, as well as knowing who the real players are. And no…I’m not still talking about politics.

To maximize your BOS (bags of sh*t) and GMC (genetically modified corn) payouts, with any HOPE of crafting some of the bigger prizes (and again, patience is a virtue here), you HAVE to plan a strategy…one that works with your lifestyle, and tapping habits. Or. You. Will. Fail.  or make a poor choice...Like I  Did.

But…if I have learned anything in business…it is that you have to be able to adapt and change when you make a mistake, or see another course of action that is more profitable. I am MAKING A CHANGE IN COURSE...and I think that many of you already figured it out, but were too polite to call me out. That’s cool… I WANT people to question my actions…I am just playing along, just like you. No tricks or special insider info (except what deep throat LPNIta posts).

But, enough wallowing…let’s break this down…and save a TON of you from making my same mistakes.

Let’s start at the beginning of HOW and WHO…as you have suspected all along, it’s in co-opting otherwise good people to do the bidding of an unsavory huge corporation.
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Terwilligers Update…MATH MODIFIED, and Looking Forward Into the Files

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I’m going to say this once more…between LetsPlayNintendoITA’s WIKI posts, and my pragmatic (some would call it bordering on Cranky) posts that lay out the truth…you don’t need any other blogs or references. Period.  But, I admit to being a tad biased…and really old and tired.

But…once again, by way of the AMAZING parsing of basic info by LPNIta on the WIKI for this update, and being able to read between the lines with math, facts, and reality, much of what I have posted, as well as ways to look forward to the future of this update, has been validated. HOWEVER some of the MATH is Changing, or I am back-peddling, or simply giving up . Mostly just back-peddling, as I do further research. Which is a GOOD thing. 

The math, as I said is daunting if you are Free-me-yum player, and want it all. The good news, is most of the stuff that you can win/craft/buy is filler, clutter and crap. Yes…that is the GOOD News. But there is some really fun, quality stuff coming…as long as you are smart enough not to get sucked into bad financial/GMO planning.

Let’s take a look at what is REALLY going on now…and What is In Store for the Future…
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Your Questions Asked and Answered…EA Tricks and Skullduggery- UPDATED

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WOW… I said that this update, the one that is ultimately going to give us a Full Character out of Sideshow Bob (and some of his family) feels like it was PROGRAMMED by SB himself.  And now, after spending almost 24 hours playing…almost non-stop (skipped golf), I have to tell you, I was RIGHT.

Sideshow Bob is one of the most devious, smarmy, two-faced creeps in the entire Simpsons pantheon. Every time you think that you are seeing a “good side,” he pulls some evil trick, to make your life miserable (or kill you).

Before you ask….I looked. Bob is nowhere on the roster of top EA management. I suspect that if he is indeed working on this update, he is doing so from some dark, dank, hole…with loads of CIA/NSA computers at his disposal.

Let’s just say it. THIS UPDATE IS CONVOLUTED and CRAZY…with more questions than answers at this point.  But, I am going to take a whack at telling you a few of the things I have figured out…as well as open things up to you for answers, or more questions.

Let’s start…
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Terwilligers Act One – Math of the Game Update with Calendar- UPDATED

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As always, the way to enjoy a huge update like this, is to understand the math. Nothing makes you panic more, or blow donuts on rushing (or buying needless “helpers”), like not understanding the patterns.

It would appear that for the most part…the Math is Pretty Easy...mostly.

It is going to require common sense…and realizing that “wanting and getting it all” may end up costing you some donuts, some relationships, and certainly some sleep.

But…then again, maybe not.

Here is the basic BreakDown for ACT ONE (remember, there are three acts).  It is likely, that just like the Superhero update, we will see a carryover between the acts in some manner if you don’t finish.

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Terwilligers- ACT ONE – Cheat Guide – With Walkthrough

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Let’s cut to the chase…I am now dubbing LetsPlayNintendoITA (I call him Giovanni because we are email buds), not just the Edward Snowden of TSTO…but the Julian Assange of TSTO…kind of an Edward Assange…or something. Both are hackers. Both are reviled and revered. I choose to REVERE LPNITA…because he serves a tremendous service to all of TSTO…he finds…he leaks…he makes my job easier. And he is an Equal Op sharer of info. No favorites…he posts it everywhere! 

And so it is…I have the first smattering of a Cheat Guide with walkthroughs for those of you who want to know what is coming next…and who to keep free.

I warn you…it is pretty basic, as EA has taken to making it harder and harder to get much information, until the update chapters go live.  This one is divided into at least three chapters, and likely (like Superheroes) has a one week kicker at the end.

SPOILERS FOLLOW…as always…if you don’t want to know, don’t click below.
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The Terwilligers- Basic Game Play Info

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Well…it looks like EA is really ready to PULL OUT THE STOPS…and make it EAsy to love TSTO again. Mostly.

There are LOADS of items coming…but no new land to place them. Not so EAsy...especially after the raft of SuperHero items and Huge Mansions from the last two smaller updates.

But…what we are seeing, is telling us that this is a HUGE update, that is going to unfold SLOWLY…and without the ability for the hacker/frackers to see too far ahead. Again…I like that.

This is an App Store Update.…so make sure to shut down your padular device COMPLETELY (all the way down) before checking your app store. AND it may not be in the “new update” section, but may merely show as “update” in your “purchased” apps. OK?

Let’s take a look at what we know so far…
SPOILERS TO FOLLOW…If you don’t want to know…don’t click below!
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NEW UPDATE…It’s Soon To Be a Terwilligers’ Place! – Update Has HIT!

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New update hitting JUST HIT the game servers as we speak…
With a LOAD of buildings and farming equipment…

But what this has to do with Terwilliger Place, the once-swanky retirement home in Portland, Oregon, I don’t know. Oh. Wait. I just remembered, Terwilliger is another Matt Groening homage to his childhood in Portland. His parents lived not far from Terwilliger. But, I digress…

The BIG news is…BOB is a real character…and he brought a ton of his family with him. The Whole Fam Damily in fact!

It looks like “Captain Bob” is in cahoots with Monsanto… er…..uhm… Monsarno… and when you do business with Big Ag…you can expect to have to spend Big Bucks (donuts) to do so.

APP STORE UPDATE… Check your device App Store…(I don’t have it yet)…and we don’t really know when it is going to hit everywhere.

There is a new currency…new stuff to bop…or spray…or something.

Click Below for details!
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Shouldja? Premium Stuff for Level 51

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I am torn on this one. You know that. I am not a fan of getting everything, just to get it. Especially when it rewards EA for being lazy and confusing. And there is nothing more EALPish (EA Lazy Period) than resorting to a character who is very much dead…and ignoring it…when there are so many other things they could do (like finally acknowledging the fact that Kimoko and CBG are MARRIED).

But, I know that a ton of you pulled the Donut Trigger on Frank Grimes…because he was there. Let’s take a look on whether or not this was a reasonable and rational move.

And, if you are still on the fence about “bringing back the dead” (not even cryogenically like Walt Disney), we’ll look at this as a SHOULDJA?
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What Changed with Level 51? What Didn’t…What Am I Making Up?

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I have to admit it…I have been playing this game so long (Oct 2012) that I have lost most interest in all of the tweaking that EA does from update to update.  I have learned that most of it doesn’t matter at all, but SOME of it actually adds some fun to the game, but is not announced.

I have no idea why EA chooses to be so horrible in its communication with its players. Some of the stuff is worth mentioning. They could have a character (like Gil…but not such an assclown) who pops up to tell us what has changed.  But they don’t. THAT would be a good change.

Instead we rely on folks like LetsPlayNintendoIta to post what he sees in the game files across the forum and other sites (the guy is everywhere). But, let’s be honest…most of this stuff is boring.  So…just to add a little fun, I have a huge list of changes that took place with this update, and have added some that are completely made up.  It’s up to you to figure out what is real and what is not.

But fear not…it will change again in the next update, so there is no reason to get your panties in a wad (which has been added as a task for Smithers).

OK…here we go!

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Level 51 – Living a Useful Life After You Die…

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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.

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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.

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Level 51 Complete Cheat Guide – with Walkthroughs

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I want to be excited about this update…but the sun is out, and my golf clubs are screaming at me to get my work done (they do that- I opted for the “smart club” feature), and I am torn between letting the other sites care about this stuff, while we work on SOMETHING THAT MATTERS... but then, I am reminded why it is important to keep you informed…because you are just going to keep asking me stuff one way or another…so I might as well just give you all of the answers as fast as I can find them.

But rather than draw this out, into several posts (like some sites do), I’m going to give you EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW in ONE POST…mostly.

But…before we do that, let’s talk about the MOST IMPORTANT CHANGE that happened with Level 51. MR. TEENY has been demoted! I don’t know what he did to deserve it…it could be that he didn’t fetch Krusty’s cigars fast enough…or he was roller skating on the hardwood floors again. But, I suspect it has  MUCH more to do with EA’s EALPish ways. They were having glitches with Mr. Teeny’s/Krusty’s single task of “Walk Mr. Teeny.”  Did they fix the glitch?  Nooooooooooooooooo…. they just made Mr. Teeny impotent, instead of important (I know…there are like ten jokes I could have gone with there).

Mt. Teeny is now a NPC (non -playing character). You still have him. He just doesn’t do anything. And it blows. Thanks for nothing EA.

OK…enough complaining. Complaining takes time…and now my clubs are YELLING at me! On to the Cheat Guide…about two Dead Guys.

That’s right…both characters in this update are actually DEAD, as far as the Simpsons show is concerned. I honestly don’t get why they are bringing back dead characters…and then killing off the actions of a live one (sorry…still torqued off about Teeny), but it seems that you can have a grave, and still have a flourishing life.  At least with Maude they kept it “real.”  This is just confusing. Like being alive after being dead…or near dead…or something. Wait…that gives me an idea for another post. More on that later…

SPOILERS TO FOLLOW…if you Don’t Want To Know…don’t click below!
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NEW UPDATE RUMORED/HITS…Level 51 gets Grimey…Monroe?

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Just got a tip that there is an update hitting soon…LEVEL 51!

spAnser…the uber-hacker/fracker, just sent out an update alert…game files are a changing!

Click Below for Info
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Using Garbage Time to Change Lives…

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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…

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Opening Day, Holy Day, Final Hours…Holyfreakinshirt !

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Ah…it really is SPRING!  Easter Sunday is behind us…I went to church with my mom, wife,  sister, one of my nieces, and two very squirrelly toddlers.  We went to the Episcopal cathedral in Portland…and contrary to the hopes of a few of our readers, I did not burst into flames when receiving communion.

In fact, I was awash with “genetic recall” of Easters of my youth, by singing (belting out) some of my favorite Easter hymns, accompanied by the huge pipe organ,  a brass section, tympany, and an amazing choir.  It is the cathedral after all…the Bishop was there…and one of my favorite hymns, never felt so poignant or holy…
The strife is o’er, the battle done;
the victory of life is won;
the song of triumph has begun:
Alleluia!  

And tonight is the NCAA Finals…from a bracket that has been “busted” several times since the first games a couple of weeks ago. Hardly anyone in the 192 person bracket contest at CBS headquarters in NYC picked the final 16 correctly…much less the final 8, final 4 and final 2. Oh…except for my daughter Katie! Who won almost $1,300 already!  Yikes! So fun!

In Semi-TSTO Related News, today is also Opening Day in MLB…so I have Duff Man flying around Duff Stadium in tribute!  One of my favorite animations.

IN MORE TSTO RELATED NEWS…

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

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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!

 

Of Easter Bunnies, Ambiguity, and Faith…

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This time of the year always brings about very mixed feelings for me. The crossover seasons of Passover and Easter are always interestingly similar, and yet almost diametrically opposed in their origin. As a youth, I was torn between the rigors of “Christian guilt” and “Free Will” in ways that kept me in a perpetual state of looking over my shoulder to see if God was really watching. Of course, now that I’m old and jaded and have survived an NDE that pretty much made me chuck most organized religion out the window, I take some solace, tempered with a sense of sadness, that faith and religion have taken such strange twists of late.

There seems to be more ambiguity than ever from fundamentalists of all sorts of sects and flavors. The basic tenant of every religion is to love others the way that you would have them love you. Nowhere in any of the holy scriptures of any religion is there a list of people that it was “OK to hate,” much less discriminate against or kill. We are asked to love unconditionally. And that means…WITHOUT labels, division, or other ways to claim “better than,” in misdirected judgement.

I suck at that. I admit it. I know better. I work hard to overlook and forgive…but, I admit to being quick to anger when I see stupidity, greed, prejudice, and hubris in the world. Impatience is not a virtue.  But there is so much work to be done…with so many assclowns making it difficult.

I have come to the conclusion that organized ANYTHING is a bad idea. The more we become organized into factions of commerce, acquired faith, politics or social organizations, the more complicated it becomes to get anything done.

So, when it comes to celebrating the crucifixion of a man who lived to love unconditionally, I get just a tad angry when others take actions of hypocrisy in His name.  We humans are one confused bunch.

For this reason…I am more happy than ever to celebrate yet one more act of unconditional love and trust…by a community that has come to transcend the silliness of a game, and has accomplished yet another “miracle” for people they will likely never meet.

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Real Estate Pricing for House Farms Just Went Nuts…Updated with Numbers

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As I am not a House Farmer, I didn’t really notice or care about the Big Hubbub that has been brewing on the forums. A veritable hullabaloo of horror has been blasting through the bricks of this old establishment since the recent changes in house pricing has been instituted to make House Farming impractical.

It’s an interesting tactic by EA, and certainly does raise speculation as to what they had in mind when they did it.

For those of you not versed in the fine art of House Farming, it is actually a pretty simple concept. If you buy a TON of houses, and cluster them onto a small portion of land (yes…it is ugly), they can generate a TON of cash, if you are willing to “harvest” the return regularly. It helps a person make big bucks, as well as push through the XP needed to get bonus donuts for each XP level.

I personally never really cared one way or another. I hate the way it makes a Springfield look, but really paid no never mind to those who did…because it was a ton of work to farm/collect/build/expand and manage the “farm.”  No skin off of my nose.

But…it seems that EA is working to force people into their version of how the game should be played (buying donuts, instead of finding them, earning them etc.)  and is taking this step to make it more difficult to pull off.

Let’s break it down…
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And Now…A Word For Our Sponsors!

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It has been a much longer than anticipated task.  Just when we thought we were done, we weren’t. Life is like that sometimes.

No. I’m not talking about the SuperHero Update…I’m talking about real life, and our latest project in Uganda.

I realize that those words make about 99% of you say, “Wow…when is he going to stop talking about this place?”

1% of you know the answer to that. Not any time soon.

As it turns out, the water project was one of the most challenging of everything we have taken on for our “Sister Village” of Buyijja, Uganda. While the bathrooms were certainly far more expensive, and ongoing books and supplies far easier to obtain, digging the first well in the area…by hand…turns out to have been something to celebrate upon completion, like no other project.

And we are going to…
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In the Middle of Super Hero Update – Who is MY Super Hero?

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I have been distracted of late. While there is a lot of “tapping” and not a lot of content in TSTO right now, we still have more than eleven days left in this update. From what we can tell at this point, the primary Issues 1-3 may end at Midnight on the 24th, and we will get a final week of SUPER FUN (and a chance to spend a boatload of donuts) on the stuff we didn’t earn in Chapters 1-3.

It’s interesting when you see the word “Hero” in the media these days. Certainly there is more to it than folks who have a super-power…although, I admit that thwarting criminals with a Pie-Bomb is creative, and a statement about the dangers of too much sugar in the diet.

I admit to being inspired by acts of courage and compassion that seem outside of what I consider to be called “predictable human behavior.” When we read about an heroic act by a firefighter or policeman, some chalk it up to “just doing their job.” Doctors and nurses fall into this same category, saving lives on a daily basis, with a super-power ability to be humble. I don’t agree when the deflect praise, but that is the standard answer we get from these men and women almost every day. The same goes for those who serve in the military. who do jobs that a very small percentage would do…unless forced into service.

We see acts of heroism from the private sector far less frequently. But, even then, it is the kind of act that is often an almost automatic reaction to the situation…and one that we would hope we would all do in the same circumstance.

To me…real heroes…the kind this world needs, are not the “I was there…and did this once,” kind of folks, but those who selflessly sacrifice to change the lives of others…every, single, day.

We have some heroes right here…at TSTOFriends. And I want to point them out…before another silly, “Super Hero” day goes by.
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When is a Hole NOT Just a Hole?

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Looks can be deceiving. Really.

If you look at the picture above, you see a young man, standing on a big pile of red dirt.

“Why is he digging?” you might ask.  “Where is he? We are getting pounded with our 4th straight week of snow and ice…he looks very warm!”  you might observe.

“And…what does this have to do with Pies and Death Rays?  I thought this was a TSTO Blog?” some of the sillier, ill-informed and narrow thinking of you might comment.

Well…again…looks can be deceiving.
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While We Wait…Taking Time to Say THANKS!

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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!

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10 Keys to Happiness…TSTO Style

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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).

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10 Things I Didn’t Know Until I Knew Them…

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I will start by admitting that I am not a true Simpsonsoligist.  I love the show…and have watched it pretty much since its inception (except during most of 2000-2010), but I don’t immerse myself in minutia.

However, in almost every episode recently (which all seem to have elements of looking back into the past) I pick off one or two things that makes me go…”Huh…I didn’t know that!” (kind of like watching the “who died” portions of awards shows).  Then, I dive headlong into Googling the details.

The most recent episode, “Walking Big and Tall” had a few of those moments.

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Tell Them What They’ll Win, Vanna! Vanna?

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I am pretty darned pumped about this prize.  I have to admit, I wish I could enter.  I love this kind of stuff.

When a script is done for a show like the Simpsons, it goes through all sorts of revisions. Everything from basic rewrites, to tightening up lines to fit editing/animation, can change the script until there is a final draft copy.

This one, was written by one of the best-known writing teams, in the “Golden Era” of the The Simpsons.

And it can be YOURS!
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Best TSTO Contest EVER…Send EA a Message!

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Enough “playing nice.” I have tried. I really have. TSTO fans get upset when I am too critical of the game, or the lazy, lackluster nature of some of the updates. But, dammit…sometimes CrankyOldGuy rises up out of my inner being, and takes over the sweet, placid façade I wear most of the time that I am bloviating about the game.

But…this most recent “update,” was a slap in the face.  And getting slapped in the face will generally bring about two types of actions. You can wince in pain, and cower up against the wall, and “take it.” Or, you can slap back with something that brings the “slappee” a bit of their own medicine.

Let’s start with the fact that EA is lazy. They took the time to write topical and timely humor about the Super Bowl, and tied it to a funny bit of Stonecutter mythology. It seemed like we were going to get an update…that was worthy of us waiting for almost two weeks for something bigger and better than the Level 49 update.  We were expecting hearts and flowers, and some Friendship Prizes that would help us need our neighbors again… But Nope. JUST ANOTHER ATTEMPT TO GET US TO SPEND MONEY ON GARAGE SALE ITEMS AGAIN.

Well…it’s time to send EA a message…and hit them in their big, fat wallets.

Well…I’m not waiting around for them. I’m going to launch the BEST TSTO CONTEST EVER…and this is something you’re GOING to want to win!
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Connected at the Pixels…But, are we more?

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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…
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Sharing Good News During Garbage Time

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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???
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Getting Back to the “Normal”…Water

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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.
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Looking Back to Look Forward Part II

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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…

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

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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.

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Why This Site Survives…

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

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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.

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LEGO Simpsons Creations!

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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.

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TSTO Friends Community: AboutChoo!

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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

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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

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