Community Building…Figuring Out What Makes Us Different…In the Kitchen!

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The past week of major summer food intake has prompted a load of responses from readers about the differences in regional favorite foods.  Even in countries that seem to be small geographically when compared to the U.S. seem to have regional or local favorites that are unique and appreciated.

I find the United States to be really interesting…in that the “melting pot” of the world, which is kind of our thing, could also be a cooking pot, regionally. Germans and Scandahoovians immigrated to the Midwest, bringing with them, their penchant for sausages, beer, cheese and heart attacks. Other parts of the country, say the South, or South Central, have specific flavors and dishes that are copied in other places, but never as good as the “home of the…” when it comes to the original recipes.

Let’s do a Community Building Project…

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New Poll- Did Level 43 Jumpstart Your Love of KrustyLand?

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I am really not sure where this will go…as I think there are mixed emotions.  I can’t help but feel that EA has kind of neglected something that could have been an ongoing, “Cool Factor” for TSTO, but was dang near a “one and done” for the year. I remember when KrustyLand was launched…there was MAD EXCITEMENT for something really, really unique. We were obsessed for weeks…and even weeks more after that.
Then…nothing. It’s kind of like being reunited with a long-lost parent. You start BELIEVING that the bum has changed his stripes, and will now be in your life, forever! After a wild summer of “the best Dad ever,” you have to go back to school, and he stops writing…and you lose touch. You are pretty much “over it” until BOOM! He shows up again the next summer. You are happy to see him…to have some more crazy, if short times…but, you know he is going to leave again.

Man. Dark. I really shouldn’t have written this after reading Michael Phelp’s story.

BUT…it does bring up a couple of questions…
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE RETURN OF KRUSTYLAND??

In the meantime…the long overdue results from the 4th  of July update. Man…I am a REALLY neglectful Dad. Won’t let it happen again… really. See you next month….PROMISE!!

OH…and take the NEW poll over on the right side about Krustyland…

July 4th Update- What Didja?

What 4th of July Purchases did you Make?

  • I Bought it ALL!! I can’t help myself…I’m a Completist! - 14% ( 159 votes )
  • I Bought Everything EXCEPT for George - 1% ( 9 votes )
  • I Didn’t Buy George or the Sit and Spin But Bought Everything Else - 1% ( 16 votes )
  • I Only Bought FREEMeYum stuff…No Donuts Were Spent - 55% ( 604 votes )
  • I only bought the Lincoln Memorial I already had the rest of the stuff - 9% ( 95 votes )
  • I only bought the fireworks barge, and the fireworks…because I like to make things go KABOOM! - 4% ( 40 votes )
  • I didn’t buy anything…nada…zilch… - 16% ( 177 votes )

Total Answers 1100

Know Your Place In Life and TSTO…

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It’s really funny how life, can often imitate life. By this I mean that for years…and years…and years…I have had this vision of an episode I saw on the National Geographic Channel, of an aged silver-back gorilla sitting high on a hill above the rest of the band of gorillas. He sits quietly, serenely, regally…and then *SMACK* a little gorilla comes up from behind and hits him on the side of the head and runs off shrieking wildly.

The large silverback seems slightly annoyed, but kind of just looks away. A few seconds later, another smaller gorilla flies into the picture, and hits the big guy on the top of the head, and runs off shrieking.

This plays out several times over the course of five minutes, until the big guy stands up, thumps his chest, grabs one of them and pulls him close, then grabs the other by a leg and pulls him close to his other side. Then he sits down…and just holds them…until they stop squirming. Finally…they all just lie there…relaxing, and reveling in one another’s company.

I know how Grandpa Silver-back feels. I just spent Day Three with my grandsons…at the beach…operating almost out of control, on root beer highs.

It’s my lot in life. I have spent years letting children push me right to the edge of sanity…then reeled them back in to a point of mutual comfort. It’s what I do in my business… and what I try to do with TSTO.

Let’s face it…during garbage time, SOMEONE has to shake it up a bit…and yet keep things in check.
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WTF?? Something is Weird in KrustyLand…

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WTF?  (Why The Face…as Phil Dunphy tried to explain in his Cool Dad segment on Modern Family).  I realize it’s been a while since I have spent much quality time in KrustyLand…but there is something really weird going on there.

I realize fully, that I am supposed to be the “expert” of TSTO around these parts. But, the fact is, I just pay more attention than most, and then pass myself off as an expert.

But this one has me stumped.
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Time in TSTO and Life, Really IS Relative…

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If this was PORU (Period Of Regular Updates) we would be expecting an update today. We might even be expecting something that starts with an “M”…as in “Marge Meets the Mono….” Ah who are we kidding?  We all know better at this point.

To recap…the Yard Sale fell on the day an update SHOULD have fallen, but didn’t.  Then two weeks later we get the stinkin’ Yard Sale…a week later an interesting, if kind of tepid, level 43 Krustyland update…and now a week later we are solidly in Garbage Time.  It feels like FOREVER since the best update ever, The Stonecutters, hit. If we are to think in TSTO time, it HAS been forever!

I mean…time is relative…right? If we were to think of life in “fruit fly years” (a full life span being 40-50 days) a single day or less would be comparable to a full year of our lives.

So…being almost 2 years old, and feeling like it may last another year, now that the Simpsons have been renewed, if we were to try and live our lives relative to TSTO, and it would be like a year, every 15 days. So…really, it’s been almost FOUR YEARS in TSTO time since we had a decent update!! (Let’s see…3×365/75=14.6.  So…yepthat’s right.

In other words…if I was a nine-year old, it would seem like FOREVER!!! Heck, I’m 60, and it STILL seems like forever…

Because, again…time is relative…especially when the relatives are grandkids. Go with me here…I’ll explain.
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Mixed Generations, Mixed Talents, Come Together For What Is Important

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As I have shared before, I got started in this silly little game, by way of my grandsons. My oldest two grandsons, Andrew (soon to be 12) and Zach (soon to be 10) lured me into The Simpsons Tapped Out as a way to stay in touch daily, even though they live more than 100 miles away.

Our daily doses of graffiti with one another made me smile. When I wrote the book last year, they thought it was “SO cool” that their Grandpa was THE CrankyOldGuy from the blog, read around the world.

It was part of our daily lives…until the Christmas 2013 Update…and the Horrible WHell. They quickly became disenchanted (they hated spending money on donuts that could be better spent on baseball cards). Then Clash of Clans came along…and a game that was really directed toward “boy energy” drew them away. But, I didn’t mind.

I didn’t blame them…and knew that if our relationship needed a silly little game to keep us engaged with one another, it wasn’t much of a relationship.

But, I had a fallback position…
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TSTO Suspension Lifted…Goal Complete…Special Thanks All Around- Funniest Lines

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PHEW!!! And GoodGawdAlmighty!  You folks blew it up!! I’m not sure what the record is for a GoFundMe project, but this has to be close.

To be honest…I didn’t plan on having to write anything today. I figured it would take us at LEAST 4 days to hit the goal. Silly me. Shivahn continues to work miracles from 10,000 miles away!

So…this means, if I am to make good on my promise, I need to go back to talking about TSTO again…during garbage time, no less, when all that needs to be written, HAS been written.

But a promise is a promise!  Where should I start? Continue reading

The Value of the 1% to TSTO and the World…

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I really don’t know what to say. This CrankyOldPragmaticCynicalGuy is sitting here, choking back tears of mixed emotions.

I am overwhelmed with the immediate response of the 1% of this community (actually a tad lower), and am at the same time, overwhelmed with the realization that you are never going to let me out of this.

I am coming up on a year of blogging soon. A year. In TSTO time, that is a lifetime. That is 6 months longer than St. Tony put in at TSTOTips. That is as long as the wackjobs at Addicts…and I’m NOT addicted. I really battled with how long I want to do this…

Until now.
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TSTO Temporarily Suspended…We have Work To Do

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First of all, I fully realize that most of you are going to say, “Oh no…can’t we just focus on the game?” And of course you know my answer…”No.”

For those of you who are new, and those of you who need reminding, after months of abuse with WHell related updates (6 months to be exact) I was done with TSTO. There were just more important things to do in life. I was SO done, that I decided to take the blog in a new direction. Namely, to DO SOMETHING THAT MATTERED.

At the same time, my daughter Madelyn began an internship in a remote Ugandan rural village, which ended up changing the lives of more than 200 children in a small way, from the Buyijja Village School. Our community (at least 1% of you) raised enough money in a little over three weeks to buy school supplies, books, a playground, and shoes for more than 260 kids who had none.  And it changed my world view…and made me realize that changing the world can and must start at a person-to-person level.

This is what sets us apart from the other TSTO Blogs. They are one dimensional. We are anything but.

Maddy returned. But the work needs to continue. In fact, one of the “shining lights” of that experience, a beautiful three-year old girl, needs our help right now.

Am I going to hold you “hostage” again until we hit our goal?
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Level 43 Changes from the Changemaster General

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Welcome to level 43, and judging by the comments I have been reading on the other posts, you either love this update or hate it!! Personally, I am on Team Krustyland. I have been having some good fun with this update, and at least nobody can say there is not enough land in KL to put the new stuff!!
So let’s start with the changes.
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SHOULDJA? Level 43 Premium Content Overview

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As mentioned in my most recent post, and agreed upon by several readers, there is something being floated around TSTO township that feels like a shift is about to happen in the direction of the game.

This update, is the first REAL update for KrustyLand in…well…like forever. There have been some Friendship Prizes…a couple of “dual use” add-ons, and the ability to finally do something with the hideously out of place Valentines decorations that cluttered up Springfield proper.

However…this REALLY feels MORE like an extension of the YARD SALE in some respects…actually in MANY respects. So this post has to be more than just a Should You Buy for NEW stuff…but really needs to include a “Should You Reconsider Buying” some OLD stuff.
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TSTO Taking a Page from Family Guy? Feels like Forced Premium to Me…

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One of the huge complaints I hear about Family Guy Quest For Stuff, is the way they FORCE you to get premium items, in order to finish updates.  It was in fact, one of the reasons (among many) I stopped playing the game.

With the Level 43/KrustyLand update, there appears to be a bit of forced gouging going on…and it starts with the demon spawn, known as Sherri and Terri.  It makes sense that these two should introduce a double whammy of forced buying. They are, after all, Demon Spawn.

I will give TSTO a partial pass for now…but, there is a trend here that feels like programming and accounting are in cahoots, to make a big change in the game.
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Level 43 Update- Princess Penelope- Complete Cheat Guide

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Once again, I have to point out two obvious things about the following post.  It is going to ruin the surprise for anyone playing the game straight…and NOBODY saw it coming. Wabbit magic powers…once again…exposed as myth.

The most important thing to say about this Cheat Guide…is that it also points out a couple of the aspects I made mention in my last expose’…namely, that ANYONE can be a “TSTO Blogger” if you know how to use Google. Someone (usually those with tons of fake donuts, or those who hack the game files) are so eager to post the results…that they are up within an hour or two of the update.

Such is the case once again. Cheaters will be cheaters…

SPOILERS TO FOLLOW…
If you DON’T want to KNOW…DON’T LOOK BELOW!!
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UPDATE ALERT… Krustyland Level 43 – Princess Penelope

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Well folks… Maybe threats an Crankiness have paid off….

Woke up to a KRUSTYLAND UPDATE…and Level 43 (OK…I had a late night!)

KRUSTY STARTS….
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A Good Weason to Expose a Wascally Wabbit…

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Perhaps it is the fact that I am running on fumes this morning…still in recovery mode from my golf getaway, so my temper is on a “hare” trigger so to speak. But…I am SO VERY TIRED of the kind of garbage that goes on in the TSTO Blog-o-verse…that I am going to take this period of garbage time to blow up their dump.

There is no doubt about it…that out of the Pantheon of TSTO bloggers…there is one in particular that ruffles my fur, repeatedly. It’s not the content of what she writes…it’s the erudite manner in which she portrays herself as specially anointed. When in fact…she is no better, and in fact a heck of a lot worse than a great number of the “unwashed” regular players.

Yes. I know I am going to take heat for this. Her minion of sycophants will come running from the woods with clubs and torches to defend her, as they do during the hilariously boorish Sunday Night Open Threads (usually dominate by a small handful of the same trolls, week after week). But, I’ll take that chance.

Because frankly…she, and those like her…make it so damn easy to point out the ironic ambiguities of their very nature in the Blog-O-Verse.

Case in point…
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The Internet of the Future

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The Internet is no longer the future.

Don’t get me wrong, it used to be. It was ground breaking, earth shattering and the coolest new way to find new people to hate, as well as new people to love. Also, inventive new sandwiches.

It’s just gotten kind of stale.

The Internet of the future is the NEW future.

Technology is advancing, nerds are prospering and I predict that in just a few short days/weeks/months/years/decades (I will edit this sentence after it happens to appear right) the Internet will have morphed into a super information network of unimaginable power and asininity. It’s gonna be dope.

Also, new ways to “like” things.

Now, let’s take a look…

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Dear EA…Apathy Turning to Anger…Because of Apathy

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Dear EA,

Congratulations. In one short twist of the knife, you have squandered almost every single shred of positive momentum that you built with the Stonecutter Update.

Remember me?  I am the one who went out on the limb (and at my size and age that isn’t a safe thing to do), to tell your fans that the Stonecutter update was the BEST Update EVER!  Me! The guy known for trashing your lazy asses for repeating the greediness of the WHell THREE TIMES!

But now you have gone too far… you are pimping out your writers, to make up for the fact that you have NOTHING to offer… Continue reading

Community Post – FUN-da-mentals of Tapping

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If ever there was a period best described as “Garbage Time” in TSTO…this is it. In fact, this may very well be the largest, stinkiest, pile of garbage time we have experienced in months. No new content…not even a new “Friendship prize” (I guess we can take EA off of our “friends” list).  And just a bunch of really random, old, stuff…most of which was originally free…that can be yours for the low, low, Yard Sale Price of a TON of donuts!

Oh well… so. I am glad to pass along a Community Post by our Changemaster General, Adam…so I can stay away from spewing and fuming about EA…so close to a nice, relaxing golf weekend.

Thanks Adam…for a reminder on the FUN aspects of TSTO. Even during garbage time…
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Rituals and the Value of Friends in TSTO and REAL Life…

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The concept of friends is a complicated thing in this day and age. With the advent of social media, it has never been easier to find friends, form relationships, and perpetuate social interaction, without ever actually meeting one another face to face.  Nothing makes this fact more obvious, than spending a weekend amongst real, live, friends, some of whom you have known for more than 50 years.

The social aspects of TSTO rely on “friendships” in many aspects of the game. Without friends, many updates and their residual prizes can’t be completed.  The Quid Pro Quo during the active periods overpower the subtle social aspects that happen during Garbage Time.

We are in Garbage Time. There is nothing really substantial to be won or lost by visiting your friends…but the fact is, that’s what REAL friends do.  Just ask “tjbmurph.”  This longstanding neighboreeno has a way of letting me know almost every day, that she is thinking of me.
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Summer Re-Runs – Religion in TSTO and Life…”You gotta serve somebody…”

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OK…I get it. By now, you are starting to FUME with the realization that I am not here…but am actually enjoying the weekend, almost as much as EA is enjoying their stupid garage sale vacation.

BUT… I am willing to pay my penance for having too much fun.  In fact…I am going to a place of beautiful place of worship, followed by a long evening of communion with like-minded souls.  If you are interested in joining us…we will be HERE. 

Yes. I am having fun…enjoying one of the most beautiful places on earth. But, I am NOT too busy to bring you another of my favorite chapters from OUR BOOK, as a small token (some would call it a tithe) of my appreciation for your attention on this Holy Day.

Give thanks. Ask God to Curse EA for being lazy. Whatever floats your metaphysical boat. But…enjoy the following, Free of Charge…and Free of Guilt!
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TSTO Summer Re-Runs…Part II- Life and Regret in the Real World

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As I said in yesterday’s post…I’m cool with Summer Re-Runs. It gives me a chance to binge watch a bunch of Netflix series…like Orange is the New Black, and some thing called Mixology. Oh…and I play a whole lot more golf… which is where I am this weekend. Today I am here…

So…while EA plays the Re-Run Game…and I am doing my best to break 90 in weather that is supposed to be in the high 90s…and offer up another of my favorite chapters from OUR BOOK.

I’ll be back on Monday. EA will be back on…well…whenever they raise enough money to pay for the programmers to have an extra muffin at break time.

This one is kind of reflective…but, it is one of my favorites…
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Debate Topic: End of PORU or a Mini EALP? Yard Sale Rated…

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Let’s begin this discussion by pointing out some stats. You know how I loves me some stats.

Last year at this time, we were DEEP into the Period Of Regular Updates (PORU), in which ran from Late March 2013 clear up until the release of the dreaded Christmas update…with regular content updates hitting at least every 2 weeks, and sometimes more often.

This was followed by a hideous combination of infrequent updates…and several incarnations of the even more hideous WHell concept, that didn’t end until Level 40 on April 30th.  This is what we affectionately term as the EA Lazy Period (EALP) where they just kept retreading the same kinds of updates…with expensive and maddening ways to keep us tapping.

Well…after what seemed to be a solid return to PORU (6 updates in a little more than 60 days) has seemingly devolved into CLASSIC EALP tactics. Lazy coding…with expensive price tags. BAH!

It’s time to examine the “Wealth of GREAT OFFERS” they are giving us at their version of the Yard Sale…
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TSTO Summer Re-Run… Fat Tony’s Bubbles

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First of all…I get it. I really do. Sometimes, after working your buns off for an extended period of time, you JUST NEED A BREAK.

EA decided that taking time off after a couple of good updates was just fine. Their version of “re-runs” is to haul out a bunch of random clutter…and try to sell it. I guess the programmers need beer money.

My idea of a Summer Re-Run, while I take a break, is to run a few of my favorite chapters from OUR BOOK. I know…that seems like a cop-out. But, if ever there was garbage time, this is it. And if ever there was a need for a Golf Weekend. This is also it.  I don’t need the beer money…so this re-run is for free!

This one was written around the time that Halloween 2013 hit. And I STILL love the visual. And Tony STILL rules his world from the bubbles in his hot tub.
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Summer Yard Sale Anyone? Anyone? Really….Anyone?

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Really?  Really EA? THIS is how you repay us for being happy that you were finally being cool with your updates and giving us all of that great Free-Me-Yum content?? What? You say you have a business to run, and paying your employees with digital donuts isn’t going to cut it?

What??? If we buy enough of the old stuff…you MIGHT reward us with a REAL UPDATE…

Why you… I oughta…

I am not really that surprised by this “update” which isn’t anything more than getting money into the coffers at EA, to help pay for the vacation packages for the fat cats that plan the game. Someone has to pay for the donut programmers, and all of that. I’m fine with it. It IS A BUSINESS after all…

BUT HERE’S THE REALLY ANNOYING THING ABOUT THE YARD SALE…
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Let’s Play a Waiting Game…

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It would appear that we are once again in “Garbage Time,” that period between updates when we are just hanging around…smiling politely, making small talk, and wishing that we were doing something else.

Many of you (those who come here just to glean TSTO info and take off to tap wildly when there is a new update) won’t even read this far in a post that isn’t specifically TSTO related. Most of the good folks in the community will.

As a Dad to five, and Grandpa to four, I am an expert at playing little games that keep the kids occupied while we wait for the “main event.” Hours of “are we there yet?” can be avoided by simply keeping your minds occupied.

So…here is a little mind exercise to keep us all engaged.
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Simpsons Facebook Page Teasing Just ONE (mono) THING…

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OK…you know how I HATE to pass along rumor and innuendo…but HOLYFREAKINSHIRT…this is hard to pass up.

Clues…or just messing with us, because they can…it don’t make no nevermind…because LYLE is around. Too random to be anything but a hint of things to come…
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Sometimes a Feud is Healthy…

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I have to admit that I cracked up at the latest revelation regarding the longstanding feud between the Spucklers and the Burns families.  I looked all over the Google…high and low, even under The Google’s flab pockets (people don’t realize just how bloated the Google is)…but couldn’t find any show references to the fued.  There were LOTS of Spuckler feud references (the Spucklers feud with everyone)…but none with Burns.

But that doesn’t stop me from loving the feud. A good feud keeps one on one’s toes. And if anyone needs anything in this world, it’s the ability to be able to be on one’s toes. You just never know when they are going do a remake of “Flashdance.” But, I digress…

The Burns-vs-Spuckler feud may actually be an original TSTO storyline. Which would be pretty cool…

Here are the details…
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Short Stories

RYAN-COMEDYSometimes I have great ideas.

That wasn’t really meant to be a tag. I shouldn’t have cut it off there. I meant to say “Sometimes I have great ideas, but they’re just short little ideas.”

Better.

I have these baby ideas that, with a little love and nurture could grow up to be big strong ideas, or even President. I just don’t have that kind of patience. Or time. Also, babies smell funny. So here they are. Very short stories. Lil’ itty bitty stories.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I’ve realized why everyone writes post-apocalyptic stories these days. They’re super easy. I thought of like 20 of them today. Dystopia is fun.

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4th of July Review – Highs/Lows/Retreads – Looking Forward to Next Update

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I have to admit, that after the amazing update that was The Stonecutters, I knew that anything that followed would have a tough time keeping my attention. It’s why the opening acts at a great concert don’t come on after the main acts. I mean, who would stick around to hear The Fenderbenders after the Beatles just played a 3-hour set?

The Fenderbenders are just a local cover band. They play well…they are entertaining in their own right…but you always have that feeling like you have heard it before. Because a lot of the time…you have.

I felt the same way about the 4th of July update…but, in some ways, it’s what I needed, after weeks of incessant, if compelling, tapping and challenges during Stonecutters.  However…in some ways, the 4th of July update had the feeling like “the band” (EA) was just phoning it in. There were a few pleasant surprises…but loads of retreads, that threatened to turn the update from a great concert to a karaoke performance.

But WHAT SHOULDvWE EXPECT ON WEDNESDAY??  We’ll get into that as well…
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Community Post – Mortified

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I got another email from our dear friend across the pond, Loobs. She of the Fluffy Wet Slippers. I have to admit, her lack of guile is intriguing…But, I am pretty sure that hanging out with her in a public setting could be dangerous for all involved.

Read on. You’ll see why!
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Why you SHOULDN’T buy Sit N’ Rotate…and, why you SHOULD.

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This is an interesting take from our Changemaster General, Adam.  He sent it along by email (which any of you can do if you have an idea)…but I thought I would expand it a bit to more of a Should/Shouldn’t debate…He makes some great points…but I have some to follow as well.

Strap in… it’s a debate worthy of the size and price of the Sit N’ Rotate…
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58 Thoughts You Have While Playing The Simpsons: Tapped Out

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It’s garbage time…for sure.  While we wait to see if the Magic Continues with new updates every two weeks…we languish in a sea of semi-boredom.

Action online is diminished, and most of the other blogs have resorted to the old stand-bys…”What did you do with?”  “Did you buy?” “What is going to happen next?”

Boring. And again…I don’t have time to play that game.  How many variations of “Where did that come from?” can there be? Well…at least 3 or 4 others I suppose…

But, Community Member, BeDrizzle passed on a really clever BuzzFeed post either by a couple of staffers there, or someone called, “Will Work for Donuts.” But Louis Peitzman… who by his picture, appears to be someone who needs more sun, and less screen time, used his account to post it. Check out his page…he has some pretty funny lists!

The original post is funny…but DAMN…the diatribe of comments are even funnier!  We run a pretty mellow community here in comparison!
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Community Post… FREE DONUT MONEY!

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Kerry, one of our favorite community contributors has a GREAT WAY to earn Money…FREEMIUM STYLE! You can use your money for donuts. buying shoes for and school supplies for kids…or just for your own needs!  This is pretty cool stuff… and it’s FREE

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Using Google to Make Our Community REAL

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Back in December, we started a little project in order to help put some places with the names we were seeing regularly on our site. As this is a community, we thought it would be a fun way to show that we are truly a GLOBAL community.  The result was a few weeks of frantic “pinning and posting” for short essays about “My home town,” that was both fun and fascinating.

But being the kind of guy who ALWAYS wants to know MORE about most anything…I started using Google Earth to poke around a bit more. I know…I know…the headlines are full of stories about the NSA snooping into our private lives…but the fact is, when it comes to complete privacy, that ship has sailed YEARS ago!

But, I’m fine with it…in fact I think it is pretty cool…
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Looking Forward past Independence Day…Change is Good

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It should be relatively obvious to all of you that a couple of significant changes have taken place over the course of the past 60 days. The most obvious, is that Ryan has had a couple of new changes in his life, that has greatly diminished the time and motivation to Tap, or write about Tapping, or much of anything Tapping related. I am happy for him. The job and simply moving on with his life are GOOD Changes. We all support him in his desire to not be here…and will simply be happy when he pops in with some Komedy, or a Komment here and there. Life goes on…and tapping should be a small part of a Life Well Lived.

I on the other hand, I have had an amazing life, very well lived…and much of that satisfaction has come due to my ability to know when something is fun and adds to the flavor of my life, when it isn’t, and when it needs a tweak to help it along. In golf…it may mean more practice, a new grip, a new technique, or playing less to enjoy it more (a unique concept that works in all sorts of things). In short, in my 60 years, I have learned that TRUE happiness comes in life through accepting and practicing moderation. When I see that I am getting too jacked up about any one aspect of my life, at the expense of other aspects I think are important for my happiness and the happiness of those I love…MODERATION must be applied.

So…where does that leave us with TSTOFriends?

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Looking Forward into the Future…M.O.N.O.R.A.I.L.

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As I have mentioned in several past articles, I am not one of the TSTO blogger types who claims to “look into the game files” to foresee the future. That is hacking. Period. And as the owner of an ISP for broadcasters, with banks and banks of servers of my own…I’m not a fan of others “poking around illegally” for the “fun of it.”

That said…I am a great believer in common sense, pragmatism, and intuition. Mostly the intuition part.

And, if I look at recent trends…and some subtle hints from EA…I have every reason to believe that the MUCH DESIRED MONORAIL is in our future.
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Best Update(s) Ever Part II…the KBBL Connection

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I should have been upset I suppose. It was as if the writers and programmers had conspired to reach deep into my soul and twist around my guts a bit, just to let me know that they could. But once things started to unfold, I was left with the reality that they were actually honoring me for my fortitude, and rewarding me in the only way they knew how…by tying so many aspect of my own life together with this past month of updates, that I had no choice, except to call this IKEAIIOMB (I Know EA Is Inside Of Me Because…).

As I outlined in the first “Best Update(s) Ever” chapter, there are loads of reasons to call this past month the best, most fulfilling time period in the history of TSTO. But, it’s actually #’s 6 and 7 on the list that really coalesced to make it clear that IKEAIIOMB.  The radio station and the elephant.

AHA!!! You may yell (you are, after all of these months, still prone to yelling “Aha” when you think you have found a mistake in my logic). “AHA!” (you say again, not to be deterred). To which I say, “Not So FAST, Bub!” (I call everyone “Bub” when I am about to cut them off at the knees). “I KNOW what you are going to say…”

And I do. I’m kinda creepy that way. It’s an aftereffect of the NDE. But I digress…

The fact is…you were going to say, “BUT WE GOT THE ELEPHANT BACK IN FEBRUARY…and we JUST GOT THE RADIO STATION! HOW CAN THEY POSSIBLY BE CONNECTED???”

To which I would reply, “PLEASE turn OFF your CAPS key!!!” And, then “Because, they are tied together in one of my favorite episodes ever, and I didn’t remember it until the radio station became a prize…and Maddy saw an Elephant!!”

Before you shake your head in confusion, ( I can see you…I TOLD you I was creepy that way), just sit back and let me spin a tale that will explain it all. Once you see that EA is doing this ENTIRE Update for ME…it will begin to make sense. Really. I promise.
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A Tale of Shoe City… Generosity Between Friends.

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I realize that we have a load of new readers after this last update. That’s swell. But, as I did in April and May, I am going to suspend the TSTO blather for something MUCH more important.   A TSTOFRIENDS THANK YOU!!

As regular readers know, after becoming thoroughly disgusted with EA and their abject abuse of trust, lack of fair play, and forced gambling from Christmas through the Easter updates (6 months!!!), I was done writing about TSTO.  And then, an amazing thing happened.

Yes…I used a bit of emotional and literary blackmail to get the job done…but I tasked our readers to DO SOMETHING MEANINGFUL with their money (rather than hand it over to EA)…and to help my daughter Maddy, raise funds to buy shoes for the students of the Buyijja Village School in rural Uganda.

More than 100 of you responded… and as “penance” for achieving our goal (and a LOT more), I promised to write nothing but positive reports about EA for 30 days. Luckily for all involved…EA came up with a great update that made my job easy.

FAR EASIER, as it turns out,  than it was to actually GET the shoes (for more than 250 kids) in a city of almost 2 Million people…with no central market…and then having to transport them more than 60 miles across rough jungle roads.

It is an amazing story…and YOU ALL MADE IT HAPPEN! (at least those I am happy to call true friends!)
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EPPP Confidential: EA is Changed from Within from the Outside

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EPPP Confidential- Part IV

As Jeanene’s eyes opened from a fitful slumber, she realized that she was still cloaked in almost total darkness. The slit of light emanating from under the door was just enough to illuminate faint outlines of books, stacks of office supplies, and boxes of unused “Wite-Out.”  In an instant, her heart was racing with the realization that she was still in the utility closet at the far end of her office as EPPP at EA headquarters. But more important, she was still bound to the fancy Aeron Herman Miller office chair that she had unmercifully connived away from the three EPPs before her. Several strips of duct tape were not only pinching the flesh of her hands and arms, but were also undoubtedly completely ruining the sheer blouse she had been wearing under the Eileen Fisher business suit she had bought from Nordstom to celebrate her promotion.

Trying once again to scream, she realized that “The Voice,”(now more than an accomplice and mentor on the phone, and very much a real person in flesh, blood, and intention) had been careful to tie the Diane von Furstenburg silk scarf, that had completed her ensemble days ago, around her mouth and neck firmly. Furthermore, she knew that the personal supply closet, in which she now sat, was well beyond hearing distance from the outer offices and anyone who might come close enough to rescue her. But she had to try…

“MMMMFFFFFRRRRMMRM!!!” was all that she could manage.

“What have I done to deserve this?” she thought to herself, tears welling up in her eyes. But of course in the very next instant, she knew exactly why she was here, and what she had done to deserve her plight.
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Of Communities and Playgrounds…a Special TSTOFriends Report

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As most of the regular readers here know, I am prone to “going woo woo” every once in a while. This is a term my family coined almost two decades ago after my NDE experience…when I started sensing something “unusual or strangely fun” about our state of reality. It happens a lot…I don’t talk about it much. But, sometimes, it is just too fun to ignore, and I have to share.

And in this case…it is a perfect opening to also once again say THANK YOU.

You see…I am definitely a “CrankyOldGuy” about a lot of things. As a former linebacker in football, and flanker in rugby, I mostly show emotion through evil laughs, and determined screams. However, I can be moved to tears.

And it happened when I opened the first look of the Stonecutters update.
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It Takes a Community…the Payoff…Part I

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The world became very real for me this past month, as we as a community reached out, beyond the confines of or TSTO borders, to try something amazing.

Knowing that my daughter Maddy was alone in a very strange land, and had discovered a small village school in such abject need, that she was motivated to help, also motivated a number of you.

In all honesty, I really didn’t know what to expect…but I set the goal high. Maddy made it clear that the primary needs for more than 200 kids in the rural village school of Buyijja, were extremely basic, but dire. These children, almost 70% of the orphaned by HIV, TB and other communicable diseases, were without school supplies or text book, and most were without more than a single tattered piece of clothing, and had no shoes.

We took on the challenge to get supplies and books…and hoped to raise at least enough for a few dozen shoes.

I cajoled. I promised. I offered a special “Inside Story of Chester Dupree” if you donated… and you came through.
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Promises Made and Kept – Special Thanks to the Few for the Rest

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Call me stubborn (it would be one of the nicer things some people have called me in emails and un-posted comments over the past few days), but yes…I REALLY DID hold out until every nickel of our $2,000 Goal was complete.

AND, IT IS…WHOOOOOOOHOOOOOOO!!

Everyone who donated received the promised “Secret Behind Chester Dupree” post. Everyone. Those who gave $5, those who gave as much as $150 (there was more than one), and everyone in between. Because, I was grateful for every ounce of support, no matter what the figure… because if I have learned nothing else from this experiment, it is that poverty is a relative thing. There is poverty of the bank account, and as I suspected…poverty of the soul.

But as promised… after this post, I will write nothing but glowing reports about TSTO for at least thirty days. In fact, I’ll even start right now with a REVIEW OF THE LEVEL 41 UPDATE…
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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 EPPP Confidential – History Repeats

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TSTO EPP Confidential Part III – History Repeats

Sandy Hoofmeister couldn’t believe her luck. After weeks of watching the man of her dreams from afar, (or at least a corporate arm’s length away for propriety), she was finally sitting here, in the huge leather couch in Ted Baumgartner’s office, stroking Ted’s hair affectionately. She couldn’t be happier…even if Ted was passed out, and snoring; a direct result of the half bottle of single malt scotch he had consumed hours earlier.

The sun had begun to creep into the windows of Ted’s office, and Sandy knew that at some point very soon, perhaps in the next hour, Ted would wake, and they would have to address how they were going to keep their little secret from the rest of the staff at EA.

Fraternization between superiors and underlings was expressly forbidden, and yet it was common knowledge that any number of the wives and girlfriends to the executive staff had started out as their personal assistants. And she had wanted this more than she had wanted anything else in her life.
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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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