The Math of “Getting It All” in Springfield Heights


Well. You knew it had to be daunting in some respects…right?  I keep saying this, but I’ll say it again. “This is not an update…it is an extension!”

It is meant to take a long time…and trust me. It’s gonna. 

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New Premium Stuff…and Managing Your Real Estate for the Future

We are seeing the pattern here…the 1% of the folks who apparently pay for Premium Items in the game, are going to be taunted every week with a couple of “limited time offers” that will help keep EA’s coffers full.

This week…it is the “Health Spa” and the “Plastic Surgery Center.”  These things really do expire….which is fine by me.


But, another problem will start to arise if you start buying all of this stuff, PLUS want to maximize your upgradable buildings to acquire REVPs. You will soon have more clutter, more redundancy, and basic “this place is boring” look and feel, unless you DO THIS ONE THING.

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Pills, Mats, and Coffee…The Key to Land Expansion in Springfield Heights


After hours of back and forth, deciding what I ultimately wanted to  do with the amazing new land options offered to us by Springfield Heights…and with an afternoon without golf, a reunion, a family commitment, and about 17 NetFlix episodes I wanted to power watch at my disposal, I decided to grab some coffee, a bowl of yogurt and fruit, and handful of taco chips (to offset the yogurt), and dive headlong into figuring out a FAST PATH for Getting All of the Land being offered.

As it turns out…once again, Time Is Relative.

Fast. It’s a term as elusive as the word, “Simple.” What should be “simple” and “fast” in the world of TSTO, often starts that way, and then devolves into a mire of tangled convolution to mind-numbingly twisted, it could only be designed by EA.

But…hey…I have coffee and time… how bad could it be. Right?

Let’s find out…
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Springfield Mansions in Springfield Heights…A Lesson In Class Structure


As soon as I knew I had a ton of new land, the first order of business was to clear some of the residual (and residential) clutter from my town. After months of cramming stuff into the only land available, EA gave us a couple of new strips in the regular game, and then a HUGE quadrant in Springfield Heights.

So…order #1…open up some land in S.H. and then start putting the plethora of mansions we have received over the past few updates where they belong…with the other mansions. (This took a full day of tapping…which I will cover in another post)

Let’s face it folks. Just as in real life, the Class Structure exists. When you go into any town or city, you see a clear demarcation between those who are on the other side of the tracks (if we had tracks…or a monorail) and as is often the case, those in the hills, with the best views of the city (unless the hills are infested with Hillbillies and meth labs…as is the case in certain parts of the South).

In this case…it isn’t so much a case of being IN the hills (as the name Springfield Heights implies) but being ACROSS the hills…which actually creates the line of demarcation between the “haves” and the “have to work for the haves” in this case.

BUT THERE IS A PRICE TO PAY with some of these “nouveau rich” and “family money” types who tend to inhabit the upper climes of every city.
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SHOULDJA? Limited TIme S.H. Stuff…and the Flying Car

Let’s start with the fact that at least this time around, we have another major update that was actually featured in real Simpsons episodes. In fact…at least six of them!  (according to the WIKI).

Also, we find out that Springfield Heights is actually the REAL location of Mr. Burns’ mansion…which causes a dilemma for all of us who have had it in our Regular Springfields (no…I’m not moving it).

But…as is the case with all major updates, we are being tempted to reward EA for their exemplary work on Springfield Heights, by purchasing Premium Items with Donuts (money).  There are only a couple of them, however they are set to expire Tues. the 28th at 1AM PDT.

We are getting so much Freemium stuff…do we care enough to thank EA?

Let’s take a closer look….
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The Greatest Gift of Springfield Heights…


I woke up this morning with a new sense of contentment as it pertains to TSTO (the rest of my life is a completely insane confluence of stress…trying to keep up with “Summer Deb” is killing me!).

What actually happened was a couple of reminders from Community Members, as well as the realization that once again, a huge portion of Free Will has been handed back to us. I like the freedom to be as creative as I want. And there have been a couple of really restrictive programming restrictions that have driven me nuts in the past, that have seemingly been lifted.

For the first time in months, I am actually excited to start “working in my Springfield” again…

Here’s why…
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Unraveling The “Storage Problem” in Springfield Heights


They really don’t want you to rush. Really.

This is supposed to take some time…not become the latest reason for divorce or lost work days. And, EA is making sure that if you are really impatient, you are going to have to wait out some “hard stops” in the game, as you wait, and wait, to update and upgrade.

It feels a bit ambiguous…and as usual, it isn’t very well documented. But, it DOES make sense…and can be worked out...if you are patient.

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Springfield Heights…Building Basics and Tips for Happiness!


OK kids….time to take a chill pill (they’re the green ones with the speckles on them that taste like pop tarts).

This “update” ISN’T an update…it is an extension…like Squidport, or Krustyland. It isn’t going away. It is going to wait for you, and wait for you, and wait for you. There are NO rewards for “finishing” it all quickly (and you probably can’t), and there are only a handful of “limited time” offers that will cost you donuts. In short…RELAX!!(take another chill pill…but no more than one per hour)

However, there ARE some things you need to know, that will help you RELAX (if the pills don’t do their job), that will help you enjoy this new twist a bit more.

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HUGE Update Hits…Time to RELAX!!!!!!!!!

Well…it is official. EA is tracking my daily calendar.  Only someone who is tracking my every move, would KNOW that I was on the golf course when this humongous…bigger than life…amazing update launched.

And it is.  REALLLLLLLLY big!  But…what you need to know is that this isn’t just a limited time update…it is a whole new place, with a whole new currency, and it isn’t going anywhere. IT IS HERE TO STAY…just like KrstyLand (but you can see it…and don’t have to go on a bus to get there) or Squidport (except it is not loaded with a bunch of cheesy carny stuff).

So…while the pace of this thing (LOADS of tasks are 2 minutes or less) makes you want to tap and tap and tap, feverishly… the fact is, you can RELAX and play at your leisure, because It’s NOT TIMED…and It’s NOT GOING ANYWHERE (did I already mention that?).

Let’s take a look at the basics…and then follow it up with a load of details
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Level 55 Complete Cheat Guide and Weird Ghost Balls Effect…


There is a scene in the classic (and really scary) George C. Scott movie, “The Changeling,” where a ball, on its own…tumbles down a long set of stairs to let him know that he is “not alone.”  George, in defiance, takes the ball to a bridge miles away in the city, and tosses it into the river.  As he is walking in to the front door upon his return, the ball ambles back down the stairs toward him again…bouncing…on its own…and coming to rest at his feet. Creeeeeepy… I get goose bumps thinking of that movie.

Before we move on to the Level 55 Walkthroughs, there is a new twist in town, that made me think instantly of the “The Changeling.”  As of this update, any random balls that have been left in your town, will now start bouncing their way to the entrance of the Tap Ball arena…and then just hang around there. Bouncing. Bouncing. Bouncing….until you collect them. It’s creepy. I knew that the fans did this…congregating if you waited long enough. But, this is just weird.

I have a strip of road in front of my entrance, that keeps my players “doing their thing” when they are in Tap Ball character. Now the balls are playing along. And yes…I realize that there are enough double entendres in that sentence to keep Loobs busy for a week.

BUT…We are here to talk about Level 55…and the walkthroughs…
So let’s get to it!
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Level 55 Basics…Plus New Friendship Prize


Nothing like an update in mid-afternoon to mess with you. I’m sure EA thought I would be golfing…but I wasn’t. I was GOING to golf…and then the update hit. See what I do for the community??

The update is kind of one of those, “Not such a big deal” updates. It doesn’t offer a whole lot in the way of stuff…and most of the BEST stuff is Premium. Go figure.

Remember…it isn’t a timed event, so you don’t actually have to do any of it if you prefer to wait until after Tap Ball is over next week. But, there is so little to it, with very few conflicts, you might as well start it.

Here are the basics…
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Level 55 Drops before Tap Ball Kicks!

That’s right folks… Level 55 is here, out of the blue…in the middle of the afternoon. How like EA can you get?  Ok…it is pretty EA, even for EA!

Declan Desmond, The Homer, Herb Powell, and some other fun stuff is on the way.

AutoStarts with Skinner…and a GIL offer to buy the Homer for just 82 donuts… OK. Maybe.

Then COMIC BOOK GUY starts things off.Then you are asked to build the Woosterfield Hotel…with Declan Desmond for only $1,060,000 (hope you saved some dough after buying all of that land!)

It’s a 24-hour build…so check back in a bit, after we unravel what’s next!

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ultimate Friends List. Are You Worthy?


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

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

I was pumped.
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The Biggest (not kidding) Contest Ever…Along With Great News

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

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

Read on…
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A Basic Primer on “Living Wide”

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…


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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And the Winner Is…


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

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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Level 51 – Living a Useful Life After You Die…


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.


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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Using Garbage Time to Change Lives…

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!


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! 

With Our New Music Video!


While We Wait…Taking Time to Say THANKS!


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


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?


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 “” 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


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.


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Getting Back to the “Normal”…Water


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


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


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!


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!


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.

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…


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.”


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!


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!


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



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.

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Tap Ball Ends… Weird Glitches Remain…Speculation Begins

Well…OK. I said it was going to feel like the end of a 1-0 15 inning baseball game finally coming to an end. But this one is even weirder…because there are lingering artifacts and a handful of little glitches that are hangin around.

At least in my game.

Let’s take a look…
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