Final Act III Prize Track Starts – With Cheat Guide

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The worst kept secret launched today.  LetsPlayNintendoIta (we know him as Gio) posted all of the information about this update, including this part of the track, several weeks ago (has it already been several weeks??? Sheesh!) on the WIKI. Once again, this proves that with the WIKI (and Gio), and my acerbic, yet accurate coaching and detail-oriented suggestions, you don’t really need any other TSTO source. Period. 

I would say that we are entering the final 2 weeks of the Monorail update, but with as many glitches and SNAFUs as we have experienced, I would not be surprised to see EA extend the timetable (not to be confused with a turntable) by at least a week. But…they could also just tell everyone who has experienced horrendous outages, bugs, lock-outs and disappearing town parts, to “pound sand.” EA is like that. They like to make it EAsy for EA.

Whatever the case…the CHANGE is upon us.

Spoilers to follow: As always…if you don’t want to know, don’t click below! Continue reading

Level 57 Walkthroughs…Old People Rockin’ It!

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Ok. I’m going to repeat my advice from the first post…I would really just keep your townspeople earning track rather than starting this updates, that ties up a bunch of Earners (the Simpsons and other earners).

However…at some point, you aren’t going to be able to stop yourself, and you are going to want to know what comes next, and who does it.  The good news is, most of it has to do with Old People, and actually has some HILARIOUS dialogue.  I am a bit unnerved by having to have Grandpa off of his bench near the black hole (that ‘s a whole different post), but it is worth it, for some of the Old Guy interplay that takes place.

SPOILERS FOLLOW….If you don’t want to know, don’t click below!
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Level 57 Drops with Some REALLY Old People…

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It’s always nice at my age to pretend that I’m not old. I’m not as old as lots of people…but, sadly I have to admit that I am older than the majority of people. If I am to believe the CIA (and who doesn’t believe the CIA?) then I am more than TWICE as old as the median age of the world’s population, not quite twice that of the United States population…but still…I’m old. 

But not as old as some of the characters being introduced in Level 57 of TSTO…a game that is certainly starting to show its age, and foreshadowing that they may be running down the final clock on its final days.

I have some simple advice, as it pertains to Level 57 that may shock you…
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The Giant Ants Arrive…Final Act II Prizes…LEVEL 57 DROPS!!

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There are points in this game, where I really think the programming/animation staff just kind of gets bored, and starts this internal bet going with one another that starts with something like this. “I can’t believe how stupid some of the players are. Let’s come up with something so outlandish, that only the most addicted or obsessed players will buy it…I’ll bet we get more than half of the players.”  There is then an office pool with all sorts of options as to how many people actually bite on something so stupid and annoying, that their weakness at holding off the Donut Trigger, or that they are playing with hacked donuts, is revealed.

Funzos come to mind. But there are loads of other items that fall in to this category.  The whale is an example of a way that EA figured out who the REAL “whales” are. At 300 donuts for something that just sits there…the whale has become the marker for “dumbass” in my neighborhood. The ants don’t cost 300 donuts…but, they are even dumber than the whale.

Why? Because they just sit there. They are a decoration. At least that seems to be the situation…I’ve already seen them in a neighbor’s town.

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Glitches, SNAFUs and Managing the Limits…Argh!

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There is no EAsy way to say this… The Monorail Update should be the coolest, most fun update ever…and for some it is. But, for a growing list of players (most likely more than 50%) the combination of memory issues plaguing their devices (running the monorail is a memory hog), and dealing with missing items, buildings and whole towns every time they add a new piece of track…is…well…EA at its worst.

I personally have not had any issues other than the RIDICULOUS ITEM CAP that continues to make placing anything new, a Sophie’s Choice of what to remove from my town to meet the caps. But this is small stuff compared to what many are facing.

There are very few solutions. Period.  EA support is useless. The plethora of different symptoms all point to bad server management on EA’s part…and frankly, this could be one of those “too broken to fix EAsily” kinds of things.

But…here are a couple of options that have been tossed around.
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The Hippie, The Heap and Free Track!

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Most of you should (if you were following my advice on scheduling of your tapping) should be getting the HIPPIE and Uriah’s Heap today.  Of course, those of you old enough to remember real hippies or the band Uriah Heep, will get a chuckle out of the juxtaposition of words and change in social awareness that the hippy and the dump bring about.

For those of you NOT familiar with real hippies or the band, let’s start with the fact that both came from London in the mid-60s.  While it took San Francisco and the summer of love and Height Ashbury to make hippies “cool” (for about a two years), it actually all started with a fashion look on Carnaby street that was adopted by the Beatles, and several other bands who found the “Peace through free love and drugs” movement to be alluring enough to don silly clothes and make Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Short story is…Hippies kind of passed out of favor, as they figured out that you still had to make money, and that beaded necklaces and crystals on a leather lanyard, sold at a “Renaissance fair,” aren’t really going to pay the rent.

Oh. And the band Uriah Heep is still around…but like most of the other bands of that era, have changed band members more than a hippie changes his underwear. A LOT more. I can’t even remember a single Uriah Heep song…but then again, it was the 60s and 70s and I don’t remember lots of stuff from that era.

So…what does this all tell us?  That it’s TIME TO START TAPPING FOR MORE FREE TRACK!!
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Increased Project Caps Today…as well as a SPECIAL THANKS

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Just a reminder that the Project Board Caps are increased to 14K today and will remain at 14K until the final day of this act (Sept 3rd) when it will bump to 15K. This should help you get closer, if not finish up the Act II Prizes (Hippy and Uriah’s Heap)…and allow you to move into the “bonus round” to get Free Track.

Of course…getting more track, may just make your game run worse…or you may need to store some other items before you can place the track (as I did) because you have reached your overall item cap in the game. Sucks. EA gives…and EA taketh away.

So…let’s move on to something that MATTERS… Continue reading

Monorail 3rd Questline Starts with Minor Changes

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With everything else going on in the game this week, good and bad, it almost slipped by me that there is a new Quest-Line starting on 08/30. It doesn’t really start with much in the way of anything that changes the game, except just being a bit annoying in the over-use of one of the primary earners (Homer).

But….as it turns out, I WAS RIGHT about the Project Limits…and again...the RODENT was wrong. Just thought I’d point that out. I’ll also post the new numbers about that as well.

SPOILERS FOLLOW…remember…If You Don’t Want To Know, Don’t Click Below. 
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Sooooooooooo Close! Let’s Top This One Off!

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Ok…first of all… THANK YOU to ALL OF YOU WHO CONTRIBUTED!

There were 56 of you (so far) who decided to keep the hopes of our school kids in Buyijja alive. of the thousands of people who came here for information about TSTO…and asked for advice and help… 56 of you proved to be more.

I sent the bulk of the money needed to Emma this week…but we still need to top this off to hit our total goal.  Let’s get it done.

We have written a LOT about a company that doesn’t seem to get it… a company who treats its players like expendable chattel…and thinks nothing of it. I would suggest once again…that rather than spend another dime supporting EA, that you use even $5 that would have gone to a digital bauble, which obviously can be manipulated and deleted without our consent…to DO SOMETHING THAT MATTERS.
Let’s finish this off today.

Thanks.

Dear EA…You REALLY Don’t Get It

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Dear EA,

Your recent decision to severely limit the number of items that a player can actively have in their towns, is so ridiculously counterproductive to good business practices, as to render any further trust in your corporate decision process impossible.

You may scoff at this initial premise…but, after you see my reasoning, I do believe that you may want to consider the removal of any and all employees who were involved with this shortsighted and disastrous process.

Let’s Break this down in a way that even your management team may understand (I’ll use small words and speak slowly, so they can follow along).
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Marge Gets Muscular…Shouldja with Walkthrough

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Let me begin by saying that I HATE the fact that Marge is usually “Marge-In-Alized” in the game.  She is, without question, my favorite character in the Simpsons. She is wise, sexy, fun, and the glue that keeps things together in an otherwise matchstick mess that is constantly on the verge of combustibility.

At best, she is treated as a second class character in the game, and her skins are pretty random.  I bought the Tennis Marge skin, because she looked hot…and I wanted a real tennis court in my town. I was only kinda happy…in that they made her actions mostly indoor…and the ones that were outdoor, were rather unattractive (nobody looks good “crabbying”).

But…NOW…WITH THE NEW RESTRICTIONS FOR ITEMS being placed on everyone…you REALLY have to want something, because you are likely going to have to store something to be able to place what you buy.

Is Marge and the Shapes Offer Something Worth Buying? SHOULDJA???

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NEW BUILDING/DECORATION LIMITS ARE REAL…Dammit

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Never let it be said that I don’t admit it when I am wrong (unlike the Rodent who is still clinging to a 7500 DuctTape limit when I am clearly getting more than 9500 a day). I was wrong.

For a few days now, people were reporting that EA had started not only warning players that they had too many buildings and decorations, but actually STOPPING Their ability to add new buildings and decorations.

My reply?  Pfffffftttttttt…. I’ve been over 7K total for months and months…INCLUDING one of those random warnings last week. I advised people to “fergitaboutit!”  and just keep building.

Well…ironically, this morning, I got the REAL DEAL message…and my ability to add even a snapdragon from my storage was halted…and I had to concede.

It sucks. Period. I LOVE the lushness of my landscaping.  I LOVE my neighbors who do the same, and even use tons of random bits and pieces to construct elaborate 3-D buildings and decorations that aren’t “Standard TSTO Game Issue.”

It REALLY makes the game one more step toward…Boring and Homogenized. The reason??  EA’s crappy server management and architecture programming that makes running the game a memory hog.  When you add something as cool as the monorail, they HAD to know it was going to create a ton of issues, due the the fact that it is highly animated, and very, very unique to each player.

But nope. Apparently the folks who manage the Database didn’t get the memo.

Here’s My Solution…which isn’t really much of a solution…but is really kind of like life at my age, and want to start thinking about a simpler life.  Continue reading

Staying On Track…and Doing Something With It

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We are once again into a bit of a “grinding phase” as it pertains to the update. As we saw with Springfield Heights, the emphasis with this new style of update seems to be far more weighted toward tapping…and not much in the way of content/writing.  The only real wrinkle, is that because there is so little character dialogue, it’s EAsy to forget that there is anything going on besides earning track and depot parts. Most, because there isn’t.

If you have planned out your track/depot earning day well, you will find yourself with a LOT of time on your hands. That is actually a good thing. Really.

It should give you time to plan out how you want to place your track, and start the making even the half (third?) size monorail a permanent part of your town…integrated and not just plopped.

Plopping for me isn’t an option. I hate seeing neighbors with “Ploppy Towns.”  I use this term as “Plopper” the atomic spider pig we got in the super hero update, is know to do some serious Plopping…if you you catch my drift. And if the wind is just right, you can catch a whiff of his plopping.

In other words…I am disappointed that so few of you are taking the time to make your monorails look cool…and are just plopping stuff, willy-nilly onto the land. It looks “plop-craptic.”  You can do better.  But, I digress…

Let’s take a look at a daily plan for maximizing your earning and design time. Continue reading

Testing the Limits of the New Limits…With New Calendar

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Well…it seems that there is something off in the game, or at least that is what I am seeing in my own game.  While it was reported in the game files (according to Gio) that the limit would be 7500. it seems to be at least 9500… and maybe as high as 10500.  I didn’t think to track yesterday’s Project Activity… but, I KNOW I was able to turn in far more than 7500.  So…today, I was expecting to get slammed with the “overage penalty” and get less than 7500…but NO.

TAKE A LOOK AT MY PROJECT REPORT…then let us know what you are seeing!

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GOLFING in TSTO Just Got Real…kinda…mostly.

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Anyone who reads this blog regularly, knows one thing about me. I am a bona fide golfaholic. I only started playing in 2007, but I have probably played more golf in the past 8 years, than loads of people who have played a lifetime. It is my “escape” and the kind of challenge that keeps me working at improving like almost nothing else in my life does (to the chagrin of my wife, who would like me to improve in dishwasher loading).

I wrote an extensive article about how TSTO and Golf are similar back in January 2013…almost everything in it still applies. I love the game. Read the post here.

And THAT is why I am so excited to be personally rewarded by EA for my suggestions and hard work for the betterment of the game.

Here’s my reasoning…

There is really only one episode in the more than 25 years of Simpsons episodes that has golf featured in it (putt putt golf doesn’t count). It is “Scenes From the Class Struggle of Springfield” (S7E14). This episode has nothing to do with the Monorail, which would make the inclusion of the golf course in this update kinda random.

However, as I have ALSO written about here, EA purloined my idea for how to execute the monorail from an article back in JUNE 2013...copying it almost to a tee (a golf tee) in execution of individual track pieces that could run along the streets.

It is my belief….that EA…out of guilt, or perhaps just waving the “we can do whatever we want flag” in my face…decided to “reward me” by adding a golf course to the game. And you can probably guess the results from there!

Did I buy a golf course? Continue reading

The REAL Deadline is Upon Us! With an Inside Look At Rodent Central

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No. This isn’t one of those “the end is near” placards being carried by a crazy old man through the forest fire haze that has enveloped the Willamette Valley where Eugene and the REAL Springfield sit side by side.

No…this is a plea for you to help us finish our round of books and school supplies for this term BY 6PM TONIGHT (PDT).

There are LOADS of good reasons…but, if you need a little more of a push…YOU COULD WIN THIS WHEN YOU DONATE!!
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Act II Prizes Shift…Limits Are Back…Time to Golf?

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Well…don’t say I never do anything for you. I decided that staying up until 1A to write about the changes was WAY better than trying to get up at 4A and being late with the changes…so, I went out to hear some music, have a couple of Gin and Tonics, and watch the clock count down, just like the Big Ball on New Year’s…except there is no ball, and it is 1A and not 12 Midnight, and everyone mostly knows what is going to happen.  But, I digress…

The only thing that was up in the air for me, was if there were going to be increased earnings for the new currency…and if we got some more track right away.

Let’s take a look…it’s just past 1A PDT!

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GREAT News…Good News…and bad news about Track and being On Track

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WOW!...what a difference a  day makes in my attitude. I was kind of dreading what I thought was a severe limitation in creativity, by the “EA Track Dispensary” after I did the math, and realized that even with the daily limit for blueprints being bumped to 9K per day, at best…I was going to get two or three pieces of track before the Next Act reset on Sunday.

On top of that…I knew that the trigger for track was going to go up by 1K required after each track piece was earned.

Then TWO REALLY AMAZINGLY FUN THINGS...and one bad thing…HAPPENED!!
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Calendar Dates for the Monorail to Put on YOUR Daytimer!

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When we look forward, it’s important to remember that calendars are our friends…even if it seemingly adds to the stress of our daily lives.

However…my feeling about knowing what’s coming, is that it also allows you to PLAN what to do in a rational, pragmatic way. LIke knowing when to set your possum alarm…or when to clear the pop bottles…or take time for a real life.

Let’s Take a Look At the Overall Monorail Event Calendar
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Act 2 Cheat Guide with Earning Tips

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As I reported earlier, Act II hit early. OK. Not early…just sooner than I remembered. Don’t worry. I have now put all of the important update dates on my iPhone, and Siri NEVER forgets. Ever. Until you delete an alarm after you forgot to delete an alarm, and she wakes you up at 3:30 AM for the flight you took LAST week, but hit “recurring” by mistake when you set the alarm.  Silly, silly, Siri.

Anyway…the update was SUPPOSED to hit today…and BOOMIt did!

And speaking of BOOM…there are some funny effects that shake your screen, big time, during some of this walkthrough. I’m not going to spoil the fun... but I WILL tell you what is going to happen/with whom/when.

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Heading Down the Track to Confusion…Act II Starts Limits Bumped

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All right. I admit that I have not been a “detail guy” this past couple of weeks. WAAAY too much going on. But somehow, I missed that ActII (which brings us the Plastic Depot and some new currency (Plastic Bottles) actually hits TODAY...while the primary Monorail Prizes (where we collect the big prizes, track, and station pieces) isn’t set to roll over until SUNDAY at 1AM PDT.

So….as the Plastic Depot offers payouts that are considerably higher…and yet we are still limited by….OH…WAIT!! SNAP!!!! THE LIMIT IS NOW 9,000 per day!!!! Whoooooohooooooooo!!!  But, uses a lot of the same characters for redemption… Sheesh! This is getting crazy!!!

Let’s figure this out…. it is now going to be EASIER to Catch Up and Get Some FREE TRACK!!!  Continue reading

Getting Back on Track…

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So…it seems that like Springfield Heights, The Monorail Update can, and will turn into a grind pretty quickly.  We are just crossing into week two, and we are already in a pattern of “tap/clear/tap/clear/track/tap/clear/station” that is offering a handful of track…without a ton of satisfaction.

We can IMAGINE the goal…in fact some of us (including me) have already done the math to figure out if we are going to win enough Freemium track, to build the monorail layout we want, in the time allotted.

Well at least ONE of our goals is easily achievedthe OTHER, MORE IMPORTANT GOAL…is going to take some focus and commitment!

Let’s compare both…
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It’s All About Remaining Calm…and Staying on Track.

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This update, as much as I LOVE the working monorail…is already starting to feel like a grind.  It can wear you out, if you let it. But, is nowhere near as addictive/crazy/tapcentric as Springfield Heights (remember Springfield Heights?).

If you work your day…and set your timers…the actual Time Spent Tapping (TST) can be greatly reduced, while staying “on track” to get the big reward, WITHOUT spending donuts.

But there ARE some things that are driving me a bit tapcrapcrazy right now. Mostly having to do with track…which is what this update has really come down to.

Let’s take a look…
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Premium Items Or Something That Matters…You Decide!

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I guess timing is everything…and I have to admit that my timing of late has been off a bit.  Last week, I made it clear that I wasn’t interested in continuing a “TSTO ONLY” blog…and that continuing our fundraising for Buyijja was of paramount importance to me.

Many of you responded in kind…and then the MONORAIL HIT…and I got sucked back into trying to figure out the nuances of the update, and help people along.

We hit our first goal for the water tank…but the the fact is, we have been WAY off of our usual mark (because I have not been pushy…even though many of you said you LIKE hearing about the projects)…and Now We Are Faced With Yet Another HUGE Task…with a short calendar.

Or. You can get another digital bauble that doesn’t mean jacks-quat.

EA has made a very odd choice with the Monorail…to make the stuff that matters to the build, FREE…while making something that doesn’t matter in the least, pretty damn expensive.

But the REAL issue, is that there is simply a far better choice to be made on your money…AND YOU COULD WIN SOMETHING VERY, VERY, COOL…and VALUABLE...if you make the Right Choice.

So…this is indeed a classic choice of Free Will. 

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Project Bonus Planning… Numbers to Keep You On Track

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Now that we have established that you can only collect an aggregate number of 4500 blueprints per day (overages/underages carry over from day to day), it’s important to know how to plan for the Bonus you earn for doing projects.

It is likely not going to be an issue…unless you are inclined to doing a couple of HUGE projects…just to get it over with.

But, there are a few days, that will require more than 2 projects to earn the bonus….and will reward you with more bonus!

Here’s the chart…so you can plan your week (end).

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Looking Down the Tracks…and Why You SHOULDN’T By Krusty’s Station

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You knew I was going to throw a blanket on the Premium offering of Krusty’s Station…right?  But, it’s not for the reason you think. It’s because the reason most people are buying it is for the wrong reason. And knowing what is coming down the track in the future, I am telling you to PASS…And it’s ALL about the track. Really.

I get it. People get jacked up…and want to FINISH as soon as they can. But, trust me…sometimes waiting…and taking your time…is far more rewarding. Really.

Hold on. I’m still talking about the track. It’s ALL about the track. And for some people, finishing this update is a matter of making a loop of Monorail track with a couple of stations. Not for me.

Find out what I am talking about…Let’s take a look!

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Monorail…Working the Numbers In Spite of The Limits- UPDATED

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It seems that calm heads have prevailed…mostly. We have something that resembles a definitive answer on Project Limits (with final testing tomorrow to finalize)…and it is an interesting wrinkle that **SURPRISE** favors EA once again.

This isn’t the WHell. It isn’t some horrible rigged system that favors one player over another, and it may actually be a minor social commentary on “Chillaxing” and enjoying your REAL life a bit, not forcing us to tap our brains out when we could/should be doing things with our Life Currency that are worthy of the term “Living.”

There are some very clear rigid rules…with a minor twist on redemption, as this portion of the Monorail update plays out.

Let’s dive into the facts…and some Solutions and Methodology to stay on track.

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Building Your Monorail…Why This Is The Coolest Update Ever…

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As I have mentioned before….growing up (and as I continue to grow old) I have been a model railroad enthusiast.  I don’t currently have a layout…but that is going to change this year, as I have boxes, and boxes of model railroad cars, equipment, and decorations that have been waiting for the right time for the grandkids to share in the fun. This is the year.

I have always been fascinated with designing and building my own towns…and augmenting them with things that move. It is the primary reason that I have continued to play TSTO, even though, up to this point the “things that move” have been relatively static.

Not any more. The monorail is the culmination of almost everything I could have asked for, in that it can literally be placed almost anywhere in Springfield, or Springfield Heights…and it not only runs…but can take you on a close-up tour of the layout. VERY, VERY COOL!

Let’s take a look at some of the options we have coming down the pike (or around the track as is the case).  You may be surprised how many different ways your monorail can run!
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Limitations Problems on Projects…And Who The Heck is Cobb?

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I am pretty much going to go with the fact that apparently, Sebastian Cobb’s work ethic is a TON lower than mine.  I am more than willing to keep doing projects…but this lazyass freak keeps stopping me…to say that he needs a breather.

And we are having a helluvatime trying to figure out his pattern.

Anb now…it seems that what we noticed about the limitations of the daily Project Board, may in fact be a GLITCH!!!

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OH…MY! You mean EA actually has another mistake in their programming that could be making things difficult for us to actually stay on course… a GLITCH!!
Whodathunkit!!

At least that is what is being reported on the EA user’s forum….

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Monorail Act ONE- Complete Cheat Guide with Calendar

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I have to say, if there is one thing I don’t like about this update right now, it is that I actually have to WORK so hard for track pieces.  I’m sure it will change before too long…but if EA is smart (and who really thinks they are?) they will allow us to just BUY bundles of track for donuts. I for one would bite. Hard.

I am loving the way this one plays out. While some would argue that they stole the design for the basic execution from an update article I wrote in June 2014, The rest of the execution is wonderful so far…if you know a few of the nuances to help MAXIMIZE your Dump Load.

And we have uncovered a few Tips and Tricks to do just that.

But before we go too far…ANOTHER GLITCH REPORTSomethin’ Ain’t Right with the last update/task countdown. We have had reports of weird Krusty task book commands, as well as an Apu of the same flavor…asking for a REALLY random number of actions… I assume that EA will fix it. Soon. My Apu is in perpetual 4-hour-shift-mode.

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Doing the task doesn’t seem to do anything except make you have to do another one…Weird. OK. Back to the Cheat Guide.

Click below for walkthrough….Math Calendar…and Tips for Maximizing Your Yield

As always…SPOILERS FOLLOWIf you Don’t Want To Know, Don’t Click Below!

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Monorail…General Overview- Part One…Bigger Than You Think

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I have just started diving into the meat and potatoes of this update (just when I thought I was out...they drag me back in), and I have to say…HOLYFREAKINSHIRT! It. Is. Huge.

It took me about two minutes of scrolling through spAnser’s tstonews.com site to even see all of the stuff that is on the game server.

MOST Of it is going to take time to unload. There are a handful of Premium Items that will unlock as the game progresses (including a golf course…yay!) abut there is even more details as to how the actual Monorail will work. And guess what…the basic concept looks a HELL OF A LOT like the one that I mocked up over a year ago. Yes. I will be pursuing royalties from EA. LOL!

Let’s take a look at what appears to be the Game Basics. They are a combination of Springfield Heights Logic…with a touch of innovative, NEW thinking, including ways to convert garbage to stuff that can build the monorail.

BUT ONE HUGE QUESTION REMAINS…
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Monorail… Let the Dumping Begin!!

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I can’t believe I’m saying this…but I’M SO EXCITED!  The Monorail…from one of my favorite episodes ever is actually here…at long last!

There is going to be TONS of information to cover, as this is a HUGE change to the game…OK…huge for TSTO. But, the bottom line, is that our waiting is over. We are going to get the Monorail!!

Let’s Get Started…

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Monorail…The Waiting is Over…IT’S HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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This just in from spAnser and Gio (the two most reliable hacker/frackers in the business)…The Monorail is ON THE WAY.

What that means…is that it is loading into the game content server…and will start showing up in the APP Store “sometime soon.”  How soon? Don’t know…because spAnser’s auto-bot at tstonews.com is so choked with information that it is just circling and circling and circling.

EEEEK!! It’s downloading right now. 

CHECK YOUR APP STORE. If it isn’t there as an update, Shut Down YOur device completely, and log back in.

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We’ll see. Should be interesting.

Check back for all of the latest info as I unravel it…

ExcitedOldGuy

Coming Up On…Holyfreakinshirt! Really?

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There’s no way to escape the facts. Like it our not, I have dedicated two years to blogging about this game. Two years that I’ll never get back.  Come October 1st, I’ll have been playing this “Silly Lil’ Game” (copyright Blissful Rodent), for THREE years. Three years that I will never get back. Argh.

I don’t regret it. Mostly. At least not much of it. But sometimes, even the BEST Restaurants (the metaphor we used when we launched) have to change up their menus.

Looking back, it is clear that after the “we” became “me” it was a lot harder to get motivated to care. But, I did…but mostly after we started turning this thing into something different,  compared to the other TSTO blogs that started and continue to linger, at around the same time in TSTO history. ”

But, “nobody wants to hear about that ancient s#%t” as Mike S. so profoundly stated in one of his rant emails to me. And, he is right. We’ve rehashed the history enough, to the point where I am bored with the “legend” of Tips and the evil empire of Gamezino, and all of the drama with Addicts. Writing it out just makes me feel even sillier.

So…where does that leave us?  And by “us” I mean the greater we…the community…the folks who come by daily to read and share…but mostly read.

Change is inevitable. It is the only constant in life. And whether you know it or not, I have been conducting an experiment over the past 60 days, knowing that this day was going to come.

I am kind of surprised by my conclusions. But, then again…nothing in life is really that surprising.

Here’s what I have figured out…and what is coming. (And no…this has nothing to do with the monorail).
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Monorail? Let the Speculation Begin…er uhm…CONTINUE!

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I have been hesitant to jump on the “monorail” bandwagon, mostly because a bandwagon on a monorail would be extremely dangerous.  Even the drummer would have to have his drums secured firmly to the ground, and even then, the chance of falling off of your stool with Homer at the controls would be a high possibility.

However, it seems that we are finally going to get SOMETHING that resembles the much-vaunted and highly anticipated MONORAIL, sometime in the near future.

History is on our side… as some of the biggest updates in the history of TSTO have hit in August. OK. So…one of the biggest…KrustyLand. Oh. Wait. KL actually hit on July 31st…but that is almost August and certainly makes my point, that this is at least the right time of the year for something big to hit. Point made and taken.

So…what should we expect???

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Level 56 Complete Cheat Guide

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Well…that took 24 hours of tapping to pull off…but I was able to raise the funds to be able to start the update. Luckily for me, my peeps seem to be able to pull in close to a million a day, if I really make sure everyone is busy, and running on 4-hour tasks.  Not what I had in mind…but, it turned out to be a blessing…because, it gave GIO a chance to post all of the walkthrough info on the WIKI.

I used to feel bad about “purloining” info from the WIKI. But then I realized that most of the folks who post there, are hardcore hackers anyway (as are a handful of the other blog owners). I don’t hack… But, I am not above purloining (man I love that word. It sounds so much nastier than it really is).

Thanks GIO… you get all of the credit.
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Level 56 is Here… Play it If you DARE!! Wait…Free Donuts?

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It cracks me up… EA is like the old saying about God…”The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.”  TSTO is like that. We are constantly reminded that life has its ups and downs, and that EA, in its infinite overarching power, has the ability to make our lives happy or miserable. And sometimes…both at the same time.
Imagine my excitement at seeing not only a NEW UPDATE this morning…and then a message that EA is giving us FREE DONUTS!!! For the “trouble” they put us through. Not sure I even know what they are talking about…but, hey. Free donuts?  OK.  And the 15, combined with the 2 I get for leveling up (used to be THREE you cheap asses!), almost make up for the fact that I just spent almost all of my cash on land…and don’t have enough to level up!

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Nice. EA gives, and I spend it away…

BUT…THE UPDATE IS HERE. And it looks like a lot of fun…with a character that hardly made it into the show…at all.  CLICK BELOW FOR DETAILS.
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New Springfield Heights Stuff… Something That Flies!

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I admit it…as I have said before, I like stuff that flies. I’m that guy that buys the little, cheap remote-control helicopters and hover crafts…because they give you a sense of defying gravity. It is a way to say, “Screw You Gravity!” the force that generally makes my my life miserable. “Gravity is not my friend,” is a phrase that I have adopted, and even taught my four-year-old granddaughter. Gravity makes us sag in places we didn’t even know we had…and keeps us from running 4.7 second, 40-yard-dashes like we used to when we were in college. But I digress…

The fact is, as I have related before…almost nothing in Springfield really flies to my satisfaction  Radioactive Man comes close…as does the Hawk we got two 4th of Julys ago…both fly nicely. Then there is the news helicopter…it flies like it’s supposed to, even though it can be annoying.

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SO…WHAT CAN YOU GET THAT FLIES FROM THE NEW SPRINGFIELD HEIGHTS OFFERINGS???
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The Redcoat Is Coming!! (and going) – Cookie Kwan Super Fun Task!

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When I was young, before I launched my career in marketing and media, I had a job at a Fred Meyer Garden Center. They sold plants, supplies, and some pets. It was a weird combination to be sure. However, it was not unusual for department stores of that era to sell some pets…guinea pigs, hamsters, turtles, birds and fish. Because I had to work those sections, and did most of the ordering, I had to learn all about the “stock,” and became fascinated with tropical fish.  Over time, I started building my own fish tanks and terrariums in commercial sizes (55-100 gallons), and started a small side business that leased plants and fish tanks to businesses. I called the business, “Tanks A Lot.”  I wish I was making this up. I am not.

What does this have to do with TSTO? Not much. Except that with the discovery of a one of Cookie Kwan’s permanent tasks, I was taken back to the days when I would spend hours after work, watching the fish swim, and interact.  At one point I had more than 500 gallons of various fish varieties in my house, and bred some of the more exotic lake cichlids for resale. But, I digress…from already digressing…

With the expansion of Springfield Heights, most of us have already grown weary of the cycle of 30 second/2 minutes/8 minute tapping to get real estate and earn REVPs.  I have kind of “tapped out” after earning the Lake Springfield…which I find cooler than the other more elusive and gregarious prizes yet to be unlocked.

But, today…out of boredom, I tapped Cookie’s “Advertise Springfield Heights” task, and was became mesmerized… as in “Fish Tank Mesmerized.” Some could even call it, “Fish-merized!” 

Follow along…if you can…she is one busy lady!

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Comparing EA Profits with Something that Matters…

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EA just released year-end profits statements for Fiscal Year 2014/2015, and Q1 Fiscal 2015. The good news, is that it would seem that The Simpsons Tapped Out isn’t going anywhere soon. There is WAY too much money, and promise of MORE money to be made, to dump “this valuable asset” anytime soon. With Groening and Company signing up for another two years worth of seasons (at least), and getting the pay squabble with Harry Shearer figured out (poor Harry…only $300K per episode? Boo…hoo), it looks like the franchise will be alive and well for at least another two years.

Yay.

I have been blogging about TSTO for almost two full years (come mid-August), and as I have related, I enjoy the community aspect, but have long ago tired of the constant drain of time and resources to be a “TSTO Expert.” I am infinitely thankful to folks like Gio (LetsPlayNintendoIta) for providing much the basic information that the “Drive-By-Info Grabbers” are looking for. Without him, I’m not sure I would have continued as of date, as my own time (life currency) has become really tight, and the game became infinitely complex and kind of annoying.

Was it all worth it?

LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS...
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Ice Cream, Ice Cream, We All Scream For…Donuts???

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The summer is here…and the temperatures in these parts are in record highs…we are in the middle of “oppressive heat” that is bumping over 100 degrees for a string of days…so ICE CREAM! WHOOHOO!!!

Oh.. but wait. It’s another Gil Donut Grab?

So…what they are asking us, is to part with one block of sugary carbs (donuts) for another stack of sugary carbs (ice cream).  This much sugar CAN’T be good for you. Really.

But…we are also getting reports of MORE BUGS with this update…and another COMPLETE UPDATE OF THE GAME being reported.  It is starting to feel like the expansion into Springfield Heights is not exactly working out the way EA wanted it to…

OR IS IT??

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The Dark Side of Springfield Heights and Addiction…

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I get it. I really do. After blogging about this game for almost 2 full years now (I DON’T put this on my resume or even my LinkedIn account), I admit to being concerned when I see “the signs.”

This is a community of friends…and as a REAL friend, you often have to deliver bad news, for the sake of your friend’s well-being. This is one of those times.

A GENERAL WARNING to all of the TSTOFriends Community:
EA is not your friend. Just as gravity is not the friend of the morbidly obese (it isn’t so much the mass, as what the mass being pulled constantly downward does to your body), Springfield Heights is a reminder that there can be a dark side of TSTO, if you are inclined toward addiction.

A SPECIFIC WARNING TO ALL OF YOU WHO ALREADY HAVE MORE THAN 200,000,000 REVPsHolyfreakinshirt!!  Really???? Do you realize how much tapping you have done in the past 5 days???????????? GOOD LORD!! PUT DOWN THE PADULAR DEVICE!!

Case in point…
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The Math of “Getting It All” in Springfield Heights

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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…

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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

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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.

HERE’S THE WAY IT WORKS…
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Springfield Heights…Building Basics and Tips for Happiness!

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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.

HERE ARE SOME BASICS…
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HUGE Update Hits…Time to RELAX!!!!!!!!!

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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…

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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

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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!

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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!

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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?

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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

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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”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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When Success Breeds a Need…

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

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

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

Different strokes for different folks.

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

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The children of Buyijja… they are the real winners!

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

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

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

And the WINNER IS…
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Reaching Goals…Staying on Track, Grinding -vs- Upgrading

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

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

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

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

I am here to tell you when that magic number really is…enough. 
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Level 51 – Living a Useful Life After You Die…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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!

 

While We Wait…Taking Time to Say THANKS!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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10 Keys to Happiness…TSTO Style

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

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

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

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

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

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Connected at the Pixels…But, are we more?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But, this morning…I couldn’t shake the feeling that something has happened in the evolution of the species…
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Sharing Good News During Garbage Time

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

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

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

Meh…

The GOOD NEWS???
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Getting Back to the “Normal”…Water

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

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

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

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

And, he’s right.
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Looking Back to Look Forward Part II

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

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

Let’s see….where were we?
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Thanks To You, The 1%ers…and the Contest Winner(s) Are Announced

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

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

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

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

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

And now…I will.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow along…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Why This Site Survives…

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

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

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

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

This week…we once again, proved that we are WAY different than other TSTO blog sites.
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It’s Time to Redefine the Word, “Hero.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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LEGO Simpsons Creations!

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

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

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

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TSTO Friends Community: AboutChoo!

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Ok so here’s the deal…

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

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

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

TSTO Community World Map and Downloadable Travel-Brochure

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

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

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

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