What We Do For Love…

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My wife is “going through a new face in her life.”  Or to be more specific, I am.

Being together for almost 36 years, and remaining happy with one another for the most part, while remaining committed to the idea of “being in love,” is an intricate dance of compromise and give and take.

She knows that I am going to chew ice occasionally,  even though it drives her nuts. I’m trying to stop. It’s not good for my teeth. Everyone tells me so. But, I admit to liking the crushed ice (our refrigerator makes cubes and crushed ice),  combined with the last mixed vestiges of whatever drink I was drinking, almost more than the actual drink.

I have taken to drinking loads of water, Crystal Lite ice tea, and the occasional Diet Pepsi.  I’m also trying to give up the Diet Pepsi, after seeing untold videos about what it does to your insides. And yes…I know that the Crystal Lite uses an artificial sweetener that has given rats cancer. But, I am not a rat, and one large glass of ice tea after dinner, isn’t going to grow a tail. But I digress…

The point is…I do things that annoy my wife, but she puts up with them. Mostly.

I will chew the ice…she will give me the “death stare” and I will apologize, and try to chew more quietly. I get it. She is a 4th/5th grade school teacher. Her days are filled with chaos and insanity. When she gets home, she doesn’t like random noises. like drumming fingers, or chewing ice, or whistling. She HATES whistling. It is something I have given up altogether. I was a good whistler…not one of those random whistle guys. But, she hates it. Really, really, really, hates it. So I quit. Cold blowy.

However, after 36 years of being together, if you want to keep things romantic and fresh, you have to do more than just stop whistling, and apologizing for not chewing ice. Sometimes you have to do something that is so completely unusually out of character, that it gives rise to divide and debate amongst friends and family.

This is one of those cases.
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Valentines is For Old Swingers…Complete “Cheat” Guide

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Valentines. I have such mixed emotions about this holiday. For most of my adult life, it is a time of creative panic…”How am I going to top LAST year?” goes through my head a lot. But, realizing that there is no way I can top “the BIGGEST VALENTINE’S DAY EVER” (the day I proposed), takes some of the pressure off.

It seems that EA is going to go for the “less obvious” approach…while doing the VERY traditional thing at the same time. And for the most part, isn’t even trying to live up to Valentine’s Day Updates in the past.

They are making this update (a seemingly, and thankfully short one at that), about OLD love…with OLD people…and OLD ideals. Far less obvious than some teenage crush storyline, or watching the Spucklers procreate yet another Spuckler Spawn (seriously…who wants to see that???).

But…they are also doing the VERY Traditional Thing...especially for EA…
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Valentines Update Dropping – AUTO START

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Word is…(from tstonews.com) that the update is dropping as we speak…

This is NOT an app story update…so check your padular devices!

It STARTS with HOMER (big surprise)…

It appears to be along the lines of other recent updates…with its own currency and prize track.

More as soon as I get it further into it!

Valentines? Bring It On! But, While We’re Waiting…

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OK. It worked last time.

If we rEAlly want an update to hit, all I have to do is make it rEAlly inconvenient to cover it.

So…today…we are getting one of those amazing, clear, beautiful February days we get randomly in Oregon)62 degrees…sunny)…and I am playing hooky, and going to the golf course.

There…if that doesn’t taunt EA…nothing will!

HappyOldGuy
Patric

Lessons in Hubris and Entitlement

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Wow. What a Super Super Bowl!

In our OWN game, TSTO, the whole bit with Gil was admittedly pretty lame, and easy to ignore. I did.

But, man…for someone who played defense in football all through High School and College…THAT FOOTBALL GAME was a lesson in the old adage, “Offense wins games…Defense wins championships!”

But more to the REAL lesson of watching “DubMaster Cammy” get drubbed…was the danger in not realizing that in the end, bragging, overbearing confidence, and classless bravado are entertaining, but you have to be able to back it up…and few can.

But, this was also a strangely satisfying day for companies to use this HUGE audience to send some other messages that mattered…

Yes…the very strange “PuppyMonkeyBaby” ad for the ridiculously unhealthy concoction that is “KickStart.” a highly caffeinated, sugar/caffeine ladened “energy drink,” went too far. And the always hilarious Doritos ads, this time with an expectent mother to be and an  ultrasound, made mothers wince through tears of laughter.

But the winners for me… were two ads from an unlikely source.  Continue reading

Tapped Tailgate-Daily Challenges-FREE DONUTS-What’s Up?

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I get it. At this point in the life ofgame (approaching 3 years since its initial release), you start to have some very unsettling feelings when EA starts acting very “Un-EA-Like.”

When Gil showed up with his TailGate offer…plus a plethora of Big Game (Super Bowl) related stuff, it was “business as usual” for EA. This is pretty typical with events that revolve around REAL world events. If you bought everything that was being offered (most of which is just recycled Tap-Ball stuff), you could EAsily spend more than 400 donuts or more to get it. Pass. Sorry Gil.
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But then something miraculous happened… Continue reading

New Update…New Gil Deal…Auto Starts

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Well…of course as soon as I rote that I was going to play golf…you KNEW there would be an update.

This one is really more of a way to extract donuts from us. A Gil Deal… for a big Tailgate party…for only 200 donuts. Sheesh…

There are also a plethora of retreaded Tap Ball items, so you can make your own Superbowl stadium… Sheesh again! Do they think this is the STUPERBowl???

OH…and there is a Homer Donut challenge…With some FREE stuff…as well a FREE DONUTS…COOL!

There are also new challenges for Springfield Heights…

I will post more on both soon.

Excited…but confusedoldguy,
Patric

While We Wait…Time for a Little Remodeling and Prognosticating

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I have no idea WHAT is going on with the next update, except that there will BE another update soon.

Topix is speculating about a few things, and one of our own community had the same glitch that Gio wrote about here…

As much as I want to believe that an update would be so geeky as to actually be called, UI_DailyChallengeSystem_Main…I am pretty sure it was a mistake, and not a look into the future. But, hey…programmers can dream, right?

What IS LIKELY?? Continue reading

Deep Space Homer…the Mission is Ending

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All good things must come to an end…right?  At least that’s what they tell us. Frankly, I get sick of “them” telling us things about our lives…they are hardly right about things like the weather, elections, Super Bowls, or things that really matter, like the Oscars.

They are usually full of well-informed opinions, that like the Groundhog on Groundhog day, are usually correct about 60% of the time, or about as accurate as tossing a coin to figure out a tie for a caucus in Iowa. But, I digress…

“They” are saying that Deep Space Homer is going to end at 7A GMT, on Feb. 4th…which depending on where you are in the world, is just a few hours away. Scratch that…I should have said, NO MATTER where you are in the world, is just a few hours away…because time zones are relative (as they like to remind me). And even if 7A on Feb 4th is actually 11 PM tonight, Feb. 3rd for me here in PST (Pacific Springfield Time) it is going to end today. So…no matter what THEY say…Deep Space Homer either ends today, or tomorrow for everyone…but at exactly the same time!!

Man…I wish they would explain relative time, and time zones in a way that makes sense. I can never remember if I lose a day or gain a day when going to Australia…which I never have…but want to do so, just before my birthday (which is on New Years), so I can have two New Year’s/Birthdays on the same day on two separate days. But, I think I have to START in Australia to do that. I’ll have to ask them…

But, what is going to change when this is all over????
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When All Else Fails In TSTO…LISTEN

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My wife thought I had lost my mind. OK, let’s be honest, she has known that for a while, but perhaps thought that I was having a psychotic episode.

“What are you laughing at??  HEY! TAKE OFF YOUR HEADPHONES! What. Are. You. Cackling. About?” she opined.

“This is killing me…there is some really clever stuff here, that I haven’t really listened to,” I replied.

“Let me guess…you are watching Stephen Colbert’s hilarious “Trump -vs – Trump” interview again?” she queried.

“No. It’s the GAME!” (I never have to clarify which game…she knows) “The sound effects for some of the buildings are amazing!!”

“You’re really easily entertained…but, OK, play a few for me,” she challenged.

Not wanting to risk her not hearing them in their full, amazing stereo fidelity, I connected my padular device to the bluetooth receiver and my vintage sound system…and cranked it up.

And then, started meandering through my town…playing the FX that go with each building.

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Ugh…It Must Be Monday…

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So it started out just like almost every other Monday… something went wrong as soon as I logged in.  I won’t go into details…but, lets just say that when you own an Internet Services company, you often start every day by repeating “Technology is Our Friend…Technology is Our Friend…Technology is Our Friend…Technology is Our Friend…Technology is Our Friend…”

And it went downhill from there…
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Monorail…the Update that Keeps On Giving…

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I realize that some of you (perhaps many of you), are currently only track grinding for the Five Weekly Free Donuts you get if you complete the cycle each week. But, for some of us, there is a real mission here… MORE TRACK!

As many have pointed out, as we progress into a regular weekly pattern of starting each week on a Tuesday, we remain hopeful that THIS is the week we get more than a couple of straight track (not the mini-halves…or the S-curves), but are oft disappointed in the outcome. There is certainly a “rotten, stingy bastids” aspect to this…and it borders on DB (Dickish Behavior).  But, we will persevere! We will continue to collect and build…

Why? Continue reading

Premature Launch Syndrome? Deep Space Homer…

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OK. There’s really no nice way to talk about this. But, it’s clear that EA may have a couple of glitches rolling through their “space program” that may be causing a bit of “Premature Launch Syndrome” (PLS).

Look. I know everyone (particularly the guys) are very proud of their big, tall rockets. I mean, we worked hard…tapping regularly to make our rockets this size. And, nobody wants to let a rocket as big, and tall, and substantial as that go to waste.  But, when it comes to getting the most out of the launch sequence, it really is far better for everyone if the rocket doesn’t go off prematurely. Right?

Let’s take a closer look (without actually pointing the rocket at anyone’s face).
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Don’t Let the Bear Get Us!!!

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There is a sports saying, “Be Careful of the Bear!”

No…it has nothing to do with “The Revenant” even though the bear scene in that movie has put me off of carrying “Bit O’ Honeys” in my pocket when I walk in the woods.

No…the sports saying has to do with being in condition enough to FINISH the race, or reach the goal line, or cross home plate with an in-park home run, without your legs seizing up from being out of condition.

In short…it means FALLING SHORT.

What does this have to do with TSTO? Continue reading

Deep Space Homer and Barney Premium Cheat Guide with SHOULDJA?

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There is really only one real “Dud Thud” with this otherwise really fun, and thoroughly entertaining Space themed update.

The Dud Thuds (imagine the cartoon sound of a “wha…wha” trombone followed by a muffled bass drum hit), come from the pretty paltry list of retreaded Rigalean clutter that most of already have.

However…ONE HUGE DEAL is the rebate on Barney. Yes…I am a bit torqued that everyone who didn’t already pay for him is now going to get him with a HUGE rebate…but, then again, I bought him back when he was only 175 donuts, so I don’t feel as bad…But, either way, Space Barney is cool. And he comes with the simulator…NOT to be confused with the shuttle in the hanger. Both Barney and the simulator earn stars…which help you get all of the skins and stuff in this update.

So…SHOULDJA??? Continue reading

Homer Deep Space Update – Cheat Guide with Walkthroughs

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I have to admit it… EA seems to CARE these days. At least enough to keep the game fresh, fun, and playable at all levels. In addition, they seem to have taken a hint that Freemium Players count to…because MOST “Freemium” players are really “Cheapium” players, and DO drop some dough for a donut every once in a while, if they feel the game is equitable. And now, with even more ways to get Free Donuts, in exchange for fun, creative content...it IS!

And Deep Space Homer is just that…fun and creative! It is loaded with content, funny lines, and ways to keep you having fun, without the repetitive nature of a major update, and unending bashing of the “pest of the month.”

It is pretty straightforward…and only lasts for a couple of weeks. PERFECT!  Nice job EA!

So…Let’s take a look at this update…from the inside out (as in, from inside the files a they have been spilled onto the hanger floor, by Gio and the WIKI). Continue reading

New Update Hits…SURPRISE from Space! Deep Space…

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Ha!!! My casual reverse psychology worked!!!  I said not to expect an update until next week…and this, being Thursday, my regular Men’s Day at the golf course.  But…I fooled them! I didn’t play today (because we are half-flooded from the rain).

So…an update just hit…and it looks like a BLAST!

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What’s Coming Next?? Ask the Wiki?

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As one of our community pointed out, there have been “teasers” on the WIKI for quite a while regarding what is coming next…or at least COULD be coming next.

As has been the case with EA for years now (and it is amazing to me that it really has been years), there have always been loads of erroneous content in the game files that go unused. But, sometimes, the clutter aligns, and there are some obvious clues as to an entire New Update that could fire any day!

The first real EA clue, of course comes from EA in the form of the teaser it had with the current update download in the app store.

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So let’s take look at what’s in the files, that may align with the teaser… Spoilers May or May NOT follow!!

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Bonus Bear Time Anyone? – UPDATED Update Hits Stores!

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OK. The clock has run down to zero in the prize section…so, you can’t earn Gerald any longer.

However…as is the norm with EA…there is no “Normal” way of ending an update.  There are still bears roaming around town… I can tap them…and I can earn the “Bonus Bear Gift” (because I already earned Gerald).

And…I just played another round of “Where’s Maggie?”

There is no update in the stores. There is no auto update firing. Everything is still covered in snow, even though the dates on the server clearly had the even ending at 8A GT (midnight PST).

Yes. We are officially in update Limbo.

UPDATE….
There is a NEW UPDATE HITTING THE STORES…
What does it bring if you update now?? (and yes…you can delay it, for a bit if you choose). 
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Final Hours…And the Unibrow Baby Starts a Bit of Mayhem

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As I mentioned last week, I finished the Bear Bopping to get Gerald, and started his quest line, while finishing up the Mini-Episode tie-in. It was all pretty easy to finish both…but, there were some questions that came up  in my mind.

Mostly…why is Gerald such a little sh#t???

When you do the traditional “Googling” (I still love that this is an actual verb now), you come up with a HUGE range of stuff…as well as some really random stuff about a “GUY called Gerald.”

It’s worth a look, as well as a recap of what to expect in the next few hours/days.  Continue reading

Final Countdown…Grinding to Success?

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I am now officially in the “hate it” camp when it comes to the song. “The Final Countdown.” It is part of a commercial that has been running non-stop for weeks and weeks, and I didn’t like the song in the first place. But now, Geico has decided that the band “Europe” was probably desperate enough for any exposure, that they could trot it out as a lark. And it is WAAAAAY overplayed.  But, I digress…

We are talking about deadlines, and goals, and rewards here… Right?

Let’s break this into two parts…the update, and expanded goals that matter.
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Big Jay Walkthrough

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I am getting a kick out of the dialogue in this one… Reminds me of SO MANY conversations we’ve had with our college-age kids.

This is pretty straightforward, and as I said before, is mostly just a way for EA to get us to spend some of the donuts we have won.

SPOILERS FOLLOW- If you don’t want to know…don’t click below! Continue reading

Tie-In Update Is Live…mostly…kinda

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There is a rumored (because I don’t have it yet…I’m calling it a rumor) update that hit(s) this morning. It is an episode tie-in featuring Apu and Sanjay…called
“Much Apu About Something…”

From what I can gather from spAnser’s tease/release on TSTONews, it mostly appears to be retreads from past 4th of July updates, (Cool Brown House, Liberty Bell, Lincoln Memorial, Liberty Lisa) but does have a Springfield Police Tank…and a version of Sanjay’s son Jameshed, just called, “Jay.”  OK Then.

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UPDATE………  I had to shut my padular device all the way down to get the update to trigger. It autostarts…

Here’s how it starts….
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Finding Maggie…and Pragmatism

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One of the rewards/benefits/curses of old age, is that you have lived enough life that you often approach problems from a far more pragmatic and realistic approach, including setting aside emotion.

A recent study came out that stated clearly, that as you age, time becomes FAR more important than money, wealth, possessions etc.  Big surprise. It goes hand in hand with the doctors who remind us that nobody on their deathbed ever says, “I wish I would have worked more!”

Of course…that is a simplified version of reality, because I am going to guess that there are more than a few people who are on their deathbed, BECAUSE they didn’t work hard enough or smart enough, and found themselves in cheap government housing, with no heat, and not enough food, in the dead of winter. Bleak. But, you see how I can get now that I am old and pragmatic!

Anyway…it really comes down to understanding the VALUE of your time…and all of the things that you could do…while you wait for the next chance to do something…which, of course, is what you do while you wait at 16-hour intervals or more, for the chance to “Find Maggie.” For up to three donuts.
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Bonus Video…The Longest Daycare

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Sometimes I need a nudge. I’m old…and I’m like that. 

In this case, it was one of our community, telling me that ROSA appears in “The Longest Daycare,” which at first had me red-faced, because I didn’t know that…and then had me red-faced, because it wasn’t true!

So…I was right about ROSA…she doesn’t appear in any Simpsons episodes that anyone can cite (please prove me wrong…I’d like to think that EA isn’t that lazy). But, it took me searching the web far and wide, and finally stumbling across the short film, “The Longest Daycare” to finally make sense of a TON of things in this update that remind us all, that the youngest among the Simpsons, is the most clever and resourceful.

Ayn Rand plays a big part in this feature short…

But, mostly, it’s all about Maggie.
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Where’s Maggie? The Best Rewards Aren’t Donuts…With Cheat Tip

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I’ve been pretty hard on the EA programmers in the past. No. Really, I have. I know it. It’s because I know what they are capable of doing, especially when combined with the writers at Gracie. And that they so rarely actually go above and beyond, to deliver.

But, in the case of the final chapter of the “Act Maggie” aspect of the Christmas Update (Ok…they really didn’t need to tack it on erroneously), they have done just that.

The storyline is hilarious. The Gateway Video that explains an alternative reality for Springfield blowing up is brilliant… and the GAME that we get to play in the end, are all very clever pieces of a very fun, rewarding ending.

So…just like every good piece of advice from a friend/relative/Dad, the worst thing that you want to hear is, “I know you are capable of more!” But, in this case…the usually lazy-ass programmers have both redeemed themselves, and set a new standard. We KNEW they could do it…

Watch the video…(best with a good set of speakers or headphones)

Then PLay The Game!! (once you finish part 22) Continue reading

Where In the Simpsons Is R.O.S.A??

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OK. I admit it. With So-o-o-o-o-o-o much content to draw from after more than 27 years of material, it is unconscionable to think that the programmers and EA would actually stoop to not only making up a character who has not appeared in the Simpsons, but go so far as to all but plagiarize the content of another Prime Time Cartoon show…

But…unless I am really missing something…that is EXACTLY what has happened.

I get it…it took them three years, and more than 115 characters to FINALLY get to Maggie…but are we already so “out of characters” (not) that we have to start just making them up in a game based on a show LOADED with characters???

Let’s see if what I am saying holds water…or hydraulic fuel…as the case may be…
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Bearing with Bears and Boorishly Belabored Bopping…

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I didn’t post anything yesterday, for a very good reason. Namely, I couldn’t think of anything worthy to post during this really tedious segment of Bear Bopping.

We really are stuck with very little to do, except bop bears. We have done the math…visiting neighbors only generates a small number of the much-needed pacifiers, for a TON of effort (68 per 24 hour period).  It is far more efficient to just wait a bit for the bears to show up in your town…and bop a few (8 pacifiers per bear…5 per hour).

The Bears ARE CUTE.  Really. I LIKE the bears…far more than any other kind of varmit or vermin to invade our towns. And NOW…you can buy a PERMANENT BEAR Representation for your town!!  Whoohoo! But is it worth it??

Let’s take a look at what you get.
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Out of the Mouth of Babes…the Kids Are All Right!

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What is evident in the Simpsons, and often of the world in general, is that the younger the person, the more they are inclined to wisdom and simple linear reasoning that rises above the claptrap, rhetoric, and insanity of politics and societal malaise.

It is no different in TSTO. Maggie, with her quiet, sucking, observations and actions, amazes us all with her common sense approach to problems. While others must walk (quickly) toward a task, Maggie just grabs a balloon and floats over the landscape calmly (one of my favorite animations).

Maggie has been long awaited. And I have to say, that EA has taken the time and effort to make her arrival (and that of some of her other wiser punkish peer) worth the wait. The dialogue is hilarious. The conundrums they face are as fun as the solutions. It gives you hope for the future…

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Mrs. Sinclair – All About Ann or Stella!!!!!!!!???

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Mrs. Sinclair…soooooo funny! Really!

As is often the situation in TSTO, the game has focused on a narrow, side-bar to the expanded story in the episode, A Streetcar Named Marge (S4E2).

In short, Marge wants to be in a play and needs to put Maggie in daycare. She chooses the Ayn Rand School for Tots, on the recommendation by the play’s director, and also because it is the only daycare not being investigated by State Officials.

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But, then the REAL fun (and the tie-in to this update) begins! Continue reading

Homer Shrugged…the Ayn Rand School Explained…kinda

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Most of you are now approaching, or have acquired the Ayn Rand School for Tots.  I’m sure most of you understand the subtle message that Homer is giving us when he finds out that threatening to blow up the town again has a way of opening doors (and destroying bar tabs). But, how many of you can honestly tell me that you understand the Ayn effect on Homer, and why I have chosen to place the school near the orphanage?

Ayn Rand…hero to Libertarians and ultra-Conservatives, is renowned for shaking the world of political philosophy to its core. And she is best known to me personally, for making me want to gouge my eyes out, rather than try to complete her almost 1,200 page “classic.”

Atlas Shrugged…what a steaming load of crap. Continue reading

Act Maggie Math – With Calendar – UPDATED

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Well…

The GOOD News about this “Act Maggie” part of the update, is that it is very simplified. There are no MerryMakers to tap. There is no Crafting. There are no leveled/upgradable buildings.

Oh. Wait. For some…that may be the Bad news!

We already had loads of people complain that they lost their chance at 20 donuts, because they didn’t finish the 5 day tasks in 5 days…before almost all of the Christmas stuff changed over to Maggie stuff.  But, I suspect, that we are also going to be just a tad bit bored, and very sick of “imaginary bears” by the time this ends…on JANUARY 19th!

There are some fun characters…but it is going to take a ton of Bear Bopping to get them all. And as there are limited ways to get Bears to Bop, you are going to have to be diligent about clearing them regularly.

Let’s take a look at the prizes and the calendar… Continue reading

Act Maggie – Premium Guide – Shouldja? With Walkthroughs

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As with every aspect of TSTO, there are always ways that EA opts to beg for money from the players. This makes sense. EA is a company. They don’t run on fake pastry. They require real money to pay the bills, payroll, and hosting costs. That said, I am still a firm believer that companies are rewarded for good service, creative offerings, and logical returns on your investment by your purchases.

So…do the offerings in this level earn your approval enough to get you to pull the donut trigger?  In short… SHOULJA???

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Act Maggie…Complete Cheat Guide with Walkthroughs

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This update begins differently, depending on if you have Maggie or not…but quickly catches up when Maggie appears. Either way, the good news is, You Get Maggie! (if you don’t already have her).

I’m not really sure what prompted the programmers and writers to take such a complete hard left (or right, depending on your political leanings) turn away from the Christmas Update, but this feels like it was just tacked on to a different incomplete update. It’s like they already had this great update idea to introduce Maggie, and couldn’t figure out how to keep the Christmas update going…so they just tacked the two together.  But…I guess that happens when you bring petting zoos, babies, and mutated animals into a Holiday story (you don’t want to be the pooper scooper guy in that scenario!!).

You’ll see what I mean.

Spoilers Follow- If you don’t want to know, don’t click below!
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The Year that Was…and Shall Be!

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I love this time of year. It is a time to look back on what was, look forward to what is coming, and make resolutions and wishes for how things should be…before you break the resolutions, and try it all again next year.

Looking back on 2015, I have to admit, that as much as I am known as a CrankyOldGuy, it was a pretty darn great year!

TSTO…as a franchise…had a couple of stumbles. But, in comparison to 2014, there was a LOAD of improvement in game play, tools, and general fun. Comparing even the worst of 2015 (some of the lame tie-in updates) and a great deal of 2014 (several incarnations of the WHell…until we all revolted), it was a far better year for fun and ROT (Return On Tapping) investments of “Life Currency” (time).

In addition…what started pretty much as an idea to do something nice for some school children in a remote Ugandan village, has now blossomed into a full-blown, ongoing effort to change lives, improve education and the health and well-being of the school and the village of Buyijja.

Let’s take a look back.  Continue reading

Festivus for the Rest of Us? Final Days of Act II

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After weeks of “Holiday Merriment” I have to admit that I am really, really, really ready for something else. I do like Christmas…mostly. But, let’s be honest about it…what should be a celebration of new chances for peace and understanding, has devolved into a crazy commercial time, trying to juggle time with family, friends and football. The last one shouldn’t even be in the mix, but with a full roster of “garbage bowls” and pre-playoff jockeying in the NFL, there is always a distraction available.

It is the main reason that I wanted (and am excited to have won) the Comic Book Guy Festivus skin. Festivus, is for the Rest of Us, according to Frank Costanza, George’s Dad on Seinfeld.

When the episode first aired in 1997, the concept of Festivus seemed ludicrous to me. Now…as I creep to within hours of my 62nd birthday, it starts to make sense… Continue reading

New Years Is Upon Us…Out With The Old!!

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Hey…wait a minute!  Out with the old? Just because it’s a New Year?  I resemble that remark!!

Yes. My birthday is on New Year’s Day.  Yes. I was one of the first born in the year of 1954.  Yes. That makes me very old, indeed. But, “Out With the Old?”  Heck…from what I hear from my fellow AARPers and Boomers, 62 is the new 60! (We are getting more pragmatic with age).

But, it’s OK. I don’t mind getting old. It certainly beats the alternative. And as long as I stay busy, and continue to make myself valuable to any and all ventures I undertake, you can’t just “throw me out.”  Really. No…really!

I mean, who would take the time to write about the New Year’s Mini-Questline that hit today…called “Out With The Old?”

Homer Starts…and continues…and requires you to care to keep logging in every half hour or so…
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Weekly Challenges Week IV Cheat Guide

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OK. I have to admit it. I am becoming addicted to the EAsy free donuts that EA is giving us for some pretty EAsy weekly challenges.  Even the laziest of tappers has to be having a hard time passing up Free 20 Donuts a week!

Alas…this may be the last week…at least until the next major update…so Do the Challenges…Get Yer Donuts!

Spoilers Follow- If you don’t want to know, don’t click below!
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Merry Christmas

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Family…friends…and a holiday beard.

Our favorite time of the year!

Our best to you and yours!g

Patric, Debbie, Maddy, Ali, Ali’s Ryan

New Gil Deal… Really?

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I’m on the road today… So I can’t really give this thing proper treatment from my phone…

But I’ll give you the basics below the fold…
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Everything’s Coming Up Maggie!

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That’s right. After more than 3 years…EA has finally seen fit to give us MAGGIE! Whoohooooooo!

It has been leaked repeatedly…but, it is a big enough event that I am willing to re-leak the leaked info once again. Not sure if that is a double negative or not…but it doesn’t change the fact that below the fold…you will see what is in story after 8A GT (Midnight, Pacific Springfield Time).

Spoilers to Follow…If you don’t want to know, don’t click below!
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The Very Regular Irregular Tree Stand SNAFU- UPDATED

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Ah…as the sun breaks on day TWO of what should be a simple fix, we have no fix. That is the benchmark of an EA SNAFU (Situation Normal All FU$&ed Up). Days and days to fix something that would take a competent programmer minutes, in the “real world” where companies care about customer support.

Yesterday…half of the known TSTO universe reported that when you went to do the first challenge of this week’s weekly challenge (Craft and Place Xmas Trees Slightly Irregular), that if you already had it (as most people did, because it earns Mistletoe/Holly), the game didn’t recognize it…and you couldn’t get credit for doing the task.

Well…it’s DAY TWO…supposedly EA is “working on it” but things have gotten even weirder and funnier!!

UPDATE!!!!  CHECK YOUR DEVICES…There is an update…that fixes the challenge SNAFU… Seems EA reads!
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Korn and Cookies…It’s Not Too Late!

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First of all…WOW!!  I am blown away by how quickly we were able to raise the funds for the first round of Solar Lighting for the Buyijja Village School! This Community Rocks!! 

All of you who donated should have an email with your Korn and Cookie Recipes (check your email). If you donated and didn’t get one, please contact me at tstofriends@gmail.com

For those who donated in the first few days, I sent along a Bonus Link to be able to download music from The Claymation Christmas Celebration. You can find out more information about that project, and my involvement in it HERE.

But…It’s Not Too Late!! You can be part of this amazing effort, and still get your rewards… Continue reading

New Monorail Station Brings Good News and Bad News

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This time of year, I think about the wonderful old lady (who was most likely younger than I am now), who took care of us when we were little.  Mrs. Andersen was our next-door neighbor, and was from Norway. Every year at this time, she would make a huge stack of Lefse, which is kind of like a very flat potato tortilla…and she would smother each one with butter and sugar. I loved them.

She had this wonderful, thick Norwegian accent…and often said, “OOFDA!” when something bad happened. She was a wonderful lady, who was very much a part of my early childhood memories.

I know what she would say about getting the chance to buy the new North Pole Station for the Monorail! Let’s check it out! Continue reading

Weekly Challenges Week III – Cheat Guide – Updated

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Hey…it’s worth 20 Free Donuts. “Nuf said.

This week, as always, you have 7 days to do 5 days of tasks…so you really don’t have an excuse. Right?

And…at this point there is a HUGE BUG/SNAFU with the first challenge. With no current fix…

Spoilers Follow...If you don’t want to know…don’t click below! Continue reading

Math Tips for Keeping Your Sanity with Upgrade Cheats

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As with other major updates as of late, the Three Acts pretty much fall into three categories; Crazy, Grinding, Rewarding.  Guess which one we are in now?

Yep.

Act II very quickly devolves into Grinding for Mistletoe…and grinding and grinding…

They have done what they do every time, which is to make the Primary Prize just difficult enough, that you are going to be freaked by how slow your progress seems. Don’t Freak Out…  If you started collecting on the first day…and set your alarms to make sure you cycle through the updates, the math is doable…

But, it wouldn’t be an EA update, if EA wasn’t messing with us. And they are. Some of the ways that used to be EAsy are gone…but, we have a bit of  a bonus in others. Let’s take a look…
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Act II Math Guide with Calendar

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Once again…I have to thank Gio and the Wiki for all of his hard work. The best thing about Gio, is that he is pretty damn thorough, and may take a day or two to get everything up…but when he does, he gets EVERYTHING up!

This update seems more challenging in that the final goals are higher, but there are more days for this one to play out…and a handful of ways to get hunks of Mistletoe, this Act’s Currency.

Let’s see how many, earn you what, and when you can expect to get them…
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ACT II- Cheat Guide With Walkthroughs

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Ah…Act II is upon us! Let the passion play of greed, revenge, and more revenge unfold!

It is a bit like a Shakespearean play, in that the more our characters try to learn from the Christmas season, the more they seem unable to act like normal, civilized human beings to one another. Oh. Wait. I guess that is “normal” these days. Ask The Donald.

There are TONS of things happening in the next few days…with Mini-Quests, and Side-Quests, and all sorts of things leading up to Maggie-Quests taking place across the next two weeks. I am going to do my best to break this down chronologically, but there is going to be some crossover, as the programmers all seem to be working on different calendars.

Let’s start with the basics…followed by the WalkThroughs.

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

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Counting Down…And Rewards for Those Who Get It

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Tonight at Midnight PST (Pacific Springfield Time) and 8A GT tomorrow for you near or in England, Act II begins.  

We are 1/3 of the way through the overall update…and ALMOST finished with Phase I of Something That Matters...

Here are some tips to be prepared to get off to a quick start for the next Act…
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Shouldja Premium Guide and Final Hours of Act I Tasks…

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I was pleasantly surprised to get Patches and Violet last night. I was counting on having to do some serious tapping for the last couple of days of Act I, and then realized that when you finish the Gingerbread Mansion, you get a HUGE chunk of bonus hats (2420 +100 bonus) which put me over the top.  They are cute…but I admit, their cough-ridden dialogue makes me want to turn my head away when I read it. And then I feel guilty… Merry Christmas! 

I have been doing everything I can to avoid the “Christmas cold/flu season.” I have a bit of a cough…but that could just be from inhaling caramel corn smoke for two days, and not from reading Patches and Violet’s dialogue. But, it goes without saying people…PLEASE…when you cough or sneeze….cover your mouth!! I saw a bit on CBS This Morning yesterday that said that particulates from a sneeze can travel 26 feet!  Holyfreakinshirt! No wonder Mall traffic is down! The only virus I can catch from online shopping is malware. But, I digress…

To the matter at hand… We have a little  less than a day and a half left in the first act, and at the stroke of midnight PST (8A GT) a few Premium Offerings will disappear…along with your chances to finish the “bonus” round of Act I.

Let’s take a look at what is going away…and ask the question, “SHOULDJA?” Pull the donut trigger??
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Unto Us a Child…

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This time of year, no matter what your chosen religious persuasion may or may not be, you would have to be under a rock, in a remote part of Antarctica (and there are rocks there…starting to poke out of the newly melted ice caps due to global warming) to not know the story of the birth of Christ.

The entire verse, from Isaiah 9:6 reads: For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

So I guess it is no wonder that in a world of conflict, fueled by religious and political differences and ambiguity, that most people kind of forget the Peace part, and choose the government part, and forget entirely the unconditional love and forgiveness part that came along when He was older.

However, when it comes to TSTO…the CHILD that has been long-awaited, is actually going to appear soon, bringing with her a wide assortment of strange quests, and frienemies, that will make us scratch our heads, and laugh.

I do that a lot these days. In a world like this…You have to laugh. Really.

Let’s take a look at what to expect…

Spoilers to Follow…If you don’t want to know, don’t click below!
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Patches and Violet…The Final Act I Reward with Math Tips

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I know some of you are feeling frustrated with the stress of the holidays. 52″ or 60″ big screen? Will Fed Ex deliver on Christmas Eve? Why didn’t I just do all of my shopping with Amazon Prime? Can I cram myself into my Christmas outfit now that I have “Pre-Functioned” on the Christmas treats? Will I ever get enough Santa Hats to get Patches and Violet?  And finally…WHO ARE PATCHES AND VIOLET???

Well…in spite of dealing with rain on a Biblical level…I have all of my Christmas shopping done, the Christmas lights (including Pooh Piglet and Friends) up and glowing in the wind and rain, all of our inside decorations done…and I have been spacing out the making of Caramel Corn batches, so I don’t have to do a huge marathon session on Friday before our annual Christmas family gathering on Saturday.  So…I have time to do some research about Patches and Violet!

Who are they? Are they worth the effort? Why do I care???? Continue reading

New Challenges, Dates, and Measuring Success

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What a  weekend… Water anyone?

If anyone has been following the weather news lately, they are seeing loads of video of floods and deluges of rain falling in the Pacific Northwest. In some years, they would call this “Normal Oregon,” but, we are are now waaaaaaaaaaay past the regular rainfall averages for the month, and because of the extended dry conditions over the past year, the water seems to be taking it’s sweet time to be absorbed into the aquifer. This results in a lot of standing, flooding and rushing water. So far, Eugene has been pretty untouched. But, loads of coastal towns, and even parts of I-5 have been washed/rinsed and put away over the past week.

Oh. But the ski resorts, and California are loving it. Which is fine…anything that actually helps end the drought is a good thing! We are used to rain here. It keeps things green…or rusty. But, you do have to wear safety gloves when putting up Christmas lights…which I was doing again this weekend.

SHEEESH!!! (I hear you saying)…When is he going to get the TSTO stuff that we come here for? (I hear you whining)…I thought Oregonians took pride in rusting instead of tanning…get on with it!!! (I continue to hear you bellow! Man…get out of my head!!!!)

OK. I get it. On to TSTO… Continue reading

Let There Be LIGHT!

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I just got done SKYPING with Emma, and he confessed that he has had something on his “wish list” for a while now, but was reluctant to tell me about it, “because you already do so much for the school.”

As it turns out, along with the huge increase in students for the Buyijja School, has come a new problem above and beyond the normal issues with added school supplies and teaching materials.  It seems that a number of children are coming from remote areas to get a chance at hope for a better future. These children, along with a rotation of teachers, have occasionally been spending the night at the school, as there are limited “couch surfing” opportunities in the village.

With no electrical service, generators or other forms of electricity, there are no working lights, or any facility to charge cell phones or digital devices used for communication.  They have resorted to lanterns, which are not safe in the dry African jungle climate.

Emma has sourced a company that will install Solar panels on the school…and is willing to do so in two stages of $1,500 for each stage.  We need to start with a deposit of 1/2 as soon as possible ($750 plus processing fees for the crowdsourcing).

To Boost Interest… I am going to give every person who donates at least $10 a Special Christmas Treat.
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Weekly Challenges…Free Donuts!

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So…you are already figuring this out, but the weekly challenges are exactly like past updates. 5 challenges with 7 days to do them, and  20 Free Donut Bonus if you finish them all!!!

Yay!!

For the most part, they are pretty simple, and EAsy. Gio posted these on the WIKI, so they are public knowledge…

Spoiler Follow…if you don’t want to know, don’t click below!
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Christmas/Winter Update Cheat and Tip Guide with Walkthrough

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I hate starting something with a word like “cheat” when we are writing about something as fun, and happy as the Christmas/Winter update. But, the fact is…when we hack the EA servers, or even follow the posts of those who do, we are in a sense cheating. But…using the old excuse, “Everybody does it” (hey…it’s starting to work for pot, right?) we will go ahead and keep posting insider information gleaned from those who like to “look in the files.”  The good thing about this…and a final excuse for “bending to peer pressure” is that after years of this, EA just doesn’t seem to care. They seem happy to let us explain their strange, and convoluted programming/game ideas.

And so we shall…

This update is fun. There. I said it. It has a lot of the same elements as other major updates (weekly prizes, crafting, earned prize tracks etc.) but it also has some interesting twists on old themes.

There is a LOT to parse out in the “Tips” department…and still a lot of questions to be asked (5 Gifts a day? Really? Come on!!). But, for the most part, it is starting to fall together.

Let’s dive in. As always, SPOILERS FOLLOW…If you Don’t Want To Know…Don’t Click Below! 
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Updated Christmas/Winter Info…LOADS of New Info!

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Well…once again, we are going to be debating what to call this update. EA/WIKI is calling it the Winter Update. I am labeling it as the Christmas Update, as opposed to the “Holiday” update…because that seems to just make everyone mad. And we certainly don’t want the “Why do you hate Christmas???” whacks to come out…most of them are armed. 

So…I’m going with Christmas. Mostly because most of the stuff is Winter/Christmas related…and the update seems to be ending shortly after New Years. Clear as a snowball made from a mud puddle?  That’s the Holiday Season we have come to love!!

But, the most important reason for this post, is that Gio (LetsPlayNintendoIta) our Italian friend who loves to share what he finds when he pokes around the EA servers, has posted a Plethora of Predicted Content, and it looks like a hoot!!

Let’s take a look! Continue reading

Christmas Math Act One…with Calendar and Gift Etiquette

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There is a LOT of math going on in this update. Christmas used to be so simple. Ask Santa for ONE gift…then pray like hell that Mom and Dad can afford to “help Santa” get what you wanted. I never really understood the whole “Santa needs some cash, in order to help pay the elves, who have a really strong union” argument that my Dad always passed along when Mom told us that “Christmas is going to be tight this year, so don’t ask for too much from Santa.” But, I digress…

So…now that Christmas has devolved into a giant storm of math, and tapping, and giving naughty or nice gifts, and collecting santa hats from MerryMakers who make a weird, random, raspberry sound when you touch them…well, it makes sense that you may need some help.

I’ll do what I can…including a calendar to help you stay on track.
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Get New Friends for Christmas!

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As with all of the major updates…you NEED FRIENDS to make it fun. Friends give you presents… presents give you currency…currency can be used for more stuff!  So… Friends = Stuff!

Looking for friends?  Place your USERNAME (your TSTO screen login name) in the comments below!

 

Christmas 2015 Act One Basics and Tips!

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This looks like it could WELL have been worth the wait!!
It is starting off with a BANG (that’s the sound of fuse boxes blowing out, from Homer and Flanders doing a “Light War” on their houses.

Back and forth….in 30 second bursts…until… oops…oh…my…MerryMakers show up…along with a LOAD of new and old Premium and Freemium stuff.

And then the fun begins!
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Christmas-Winter-Holiday Update Is LIVE!

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Yes. Right away, I’m pandering, and hedging my bets. While there is an official name for this update, I prefer not to start the whole Christmas -vs- Holiday -vs- Winter Solstice debate right now.

I’m too busy trying to figure out the details of this update, and seeing just how many new bugs, glitches and SNAFUs have been introduced to the game…as that is “situation normal” that happens every time EA does an update.

THIS IS AN APP STORE UPDATE… check your store…and download from there.

More details below…
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Waiting For Christmas…and waiting…and waiting…

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On the off chance that there is actually something to the “mojo” that happens when I post about an upcoming update is real, I am doing that again.

I did it last week…and we got an update, we just didn’t get the update that we wanted! So this time I’m going to be a lot more specific.

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Springfield Heights Part II – Walkthrough and Cheat Guide

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Ah. Now I remember why I stopped playing the Springfield Heights part of my game.  There are so many bits and pieces to doing even the most simple task, that you are pretty much wrapped up in a constant bargaining process of acquiring parts to move on. And MOST of what you can acquire, is huge and gaudy. But, hey…this whole part of Springfield is supposed to represent the top .05% of Western society…with loads of falderal to reach a point of abject ostentatiousness.

And…every once in a while, a veiled reference to the oligarchy of the illuminati who pull all of the strings from their “Mountain Lodge.”

The funniest part of this update, is the highlight on the strange, servile worship that Smithers has for Burns, as well as the role marketing and advertising play in keeping the riff raff consumed with doing the daily work to earn the “big prize.”

Trust me. To earn the “big prize” (the Mountain Lodge) there will be LOADS of coffee, arm chairs, and yoga mats collected…so you can earn and collect smart pads and golden statues…so you can do more tasks…to earn the right to make your buildings bigger and more ostentatious. It’s a vicious circle, once you hit the treadmill of success…

Let’s take a look!
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Springfield Heights Delays Christmas…Details to Follow!

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As I stated in one of the “When is Christmas Coming?” posts, yesterday, I had a killer day of clutter and commitments. I was not near a computer for much of the day (I was doing a Christmas concert of carols with golf lyrics for our club, in front of 120 ladies), and had to do the post about the SH update from my phone. Not optimal.

But, the long and short of it is…Christmas has Been Delayed in the Name of Commerce!  Which is ironic, as Commerce has pretty much scuttled any real notion of what Christmas was originally about.

My guess…and this is just a guess mind you…is that EA had Springfield Heights Part II waiting in the can, but weren’t going to release it until a later date. Then, after what can only be described as a horrible THOH update, EA decided that they had to do something better, or continue to suffer the wrath of players and bloggers everywhere!! So…they held it back for week, so they could come up with some prizes that were worth actually the time and tapping involved, unlike THOH.

Or. EA is just being EA…and doesn’t really give a rip about continuity, calendars, or tradition.

Whatever the case… we are stuck/blessed with a whole bunch of new Springfield Heights tasks, content, and a new character.

And surprise, surprise…. it isn’t all bad! 

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Man…Really? Springfield Heights Returns

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OK. Not wild about posting this. Instead of a holiday update, or a winter update, or a Christmas update, we are getting another Springfield Heights Update.  Come on. Where is the snow?  Where is the Happy? Where are the elves???

Nope. Instead… we get Cookie Kwan.

It’s an in-game update…not app store.

Some info below the fold… Continue reading

While We Are Waiting…

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Ah…the old adage, “Idle time is the Devil’s workshop” (at least I think that is the adage…it might be more like Idle time is the Devil’s rumpus room…or something). And as we are just hanging out, and WAITING for EA to bring us a new update, I am free to talk about anything I want to. That is indeed, trouble.

Maybe it was, “Idle hands are the Devil’s waiting room.”  That would make more sense…for sure. I mean, there is nothing worse than being stuck off in a corner, trying to kill time, while something big is about to happen.

It makes people do and say things they probably shouldn’t… Continue reading

Christmas Is Coming…But When?

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Ah. It’s that “Most Wonderful Time of the Year!” Almost…kinda…mostly.

Not sure what it is about this holiday season that has me behind the curve. I am usually one of the first to get the Christmas Lights and Pooh and Piglet out and lit up (that Pooh can really pack the Honey Beer away). But, here were are…on December 1st, and I am still looking at the calendar for a “when to launch” date.

I hate to admit it. But, I think the world has me confused. Black Friday started about a week before it was supposed to, as did Cyber Monday. It’s like the whole world was on a TSTO schedule, where dates and tradition fly out the window.

But, Good Old TSTO is going to bring us the Christmas Update Soon!! Whoohoo!  Now… we just have to figure out when.

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HolyFreakinBirthday! Kinda…mostly…

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As a few of you have pointed out, December 1st is kind of our “birthday” as it were. I say, “kind of” because Ryan and I were already blogging a ton for TSTOTips, and also adding regular posts to TSTOAddicts, well before we started this independent blog. And that’s really what is was all about in the beginning…independence.

I admit it…I am not a “team” kinda guy. I have owned my own companies since I was 22…and that is….40 years ago!!  (HOLYFREAKINSHIRT!!! Good…Lord…I’m Old). There is no “I” in team. And while I like working with people…I’m not a fan of working under them. There is no I in We…but there is gratification in, “I did that.”  Go figure.

But, almost nothing I have done in those 40 years, has been so strangely tangential, as this silly blog, about an even sillier game, with such surprising results.

Anyone who is paying attention (and many of you have been with us since day one) know that I have come close to throwing in the towel innumerable times. It just seems like such a horrible waste of time and energy, with so many ways to spend that valuable life currency.

And every time I do…I realize that in the two years I have been doing this (18 of the 24 months as a solo act), it has morphed into something that gives me more joy than I could ever have imagined. The community is real. The camaraderie and shared sense of EA frustration is real. The friendship is real. But, most important, unlike any other TSTO blog (and most blogs in general) we have morphed into Something That Matters…
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When Fat is Funny…A Guide to Holiday Eating

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“For all of my life, I’ve been an obese man trapped inside of a fat man’s body…”

This is the classic Homer line from the episode on which the best part of the Thanksgiving update is based, “King Size Homer” (S7E7). It is so very true of so many people I know (yes…I am looking in the mirror…and it’s really hard to type when you are seeing everything backwards).

This time of year, we continue with the American tradition of overindulgence for the sake of celebration, that starts with Halloween, and doesn’t really end until St. Patrick’s Day in March.  Don’t believe me?

Thanksgiving is an American Holiday, and it assures that we have at least One MAJOR EATING/DRINKING Day for 5.5 months in a row. It starts with Halloween (Candy binging), Thanksgiving (Everything Binging) Christmas (Candy, Caramel Corn, Drink, Food), Football Bowl Season (anything that will fit into a bowl, and goes with copious amounts of beer), Valentines (more candy and expensive romantic dinners out), and yes, even St. Patrick’s Day (more beer, and fried food…mostly dyed green).

And when the Simpson’s get involved, the Fat Guy with a Purpose takes over…This is where King Size Homer comes in. Continue reading

Offering Support for Those Who Offer Hope

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As anyone who has started with the spark of an idea, and then watched it burst into light knows, with every success comes new challenges.

In the year that we have been helping our adopted village school in Buyijja, Uganda, we have seen countless successes, with the occasional challenge, and have always risen to overcome obstacles that could derail our long-term plans.

We are facing a new challenge, born almost entirely from the successes we have achieved.  And, it surprised even me…

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Level 59 Cheat Guide and Walkthrough

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Again, I hesitate to call these Cheat Guides…but the fact is, they draw TSTO cheaters from all over the place and boost site hits, which in turn, adds to the AdSense payments, which help me pay Emma in Uganda. So…there is a method to my madness. 

The writers seem to have spent all of the time they saved hardly writing anything for THOH for this update. It is LOADED with dialogue, and has multiple parts to it, including a brief repurposing of KrustyLand. I know…weird…right? Remember Krustyland?

Anyway- I have included both the two (2) primary walkthroughs, as well as the premium walkthrough, which as I suspected, isn’t as good as the FREEMIUM walkthrough (nothing involving a cubic zirconia rarely is).

SPOILERS TO FOLLOW….If you Don’t Want To Know…Don’t Click Below!

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Level 59 Drops with a New Italian Kid Criminal…

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As predicted by Mark…and suspected by many, we have been blessed with SOMETHING ELSE TO DO!  Whoohoo…

Level 59 has dropped, and we get a New Character...a Prison Bus (again…what the heck is the writer’s obsession with Prisons????) and a new walkthrough to keep us busy when we aren’t tapping Nightmares.

Some details below… More to follow!
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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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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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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!

 

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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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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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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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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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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