Mini-update… Apu and

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Another mini…really mini, update has hit. Apu starts and finishes… an 8 hour quest line. Followed tomorrow by another quest tomorrow…leading up to a DONUT offer, of some sort on Christmas.

Nothing huge…and builds up to what seems like another money grab. But, maybe I’m just being cynical. Which wouldn’t surprise even me.

 

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like SNAFUs-Mas!

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I have to admit that I found it interesting that the kids at EA scheduled the last tunnel to drop over the weekend. We all know that programmers don’t work on weekends.  In fact, if we are to look at patterns of bugs, SNAFUs and mess-ups with each release, we are inclined to believe they don’t work much at all.

But…Zutroy was scheduled to hit after completing the 19th tunnel…which for almost everyone was, Saturday or Sunday. But, the big issue has been…he didn’t show up.

Forget the fact that he speaks some sort of gibberish, when he does show up, and has about as much to do with Christmas as a dude with a huge gun and no pants (no euphemism intended). And forget that you are also supposed to get the Fever Cabin…which ALSO has nothing to so with Christmas, or the holidays, and mostly just sits there and smokes (lazy…lazy…programmers). All of that aside…PEOPLE WANT THEIR ZUTROYS…and they want them NOW!!!!

I haven’t seen this much panic over something that doesn’t matter since…well…almost every update.

But to me…the most puzzling aspect of this update, is that some that is WORTH getting…is fleeting. At best.
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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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Fever Cabin, Zutroy, Glitches, and SNAFUs…and the Zutroy Walkthrough

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Man…talk about a confusing weekend. I admit that I have been “off my game,” both figuratively and literally with all that has been going on. But, I really didn’t think I would be so oblivious, as  to not realize that the final tunnel was supposed to bring us two…that’s right, TWO odd, and not remotely Christmas-related rewards.

Let’s start with Zutroy. He appeared in exactly ONE Simpson’s episode…for all of about 15 seconds (last temptation of Homer (S5E9), and was random, even for the show. According to the WIKI: Zutroy is an illegal immigrant who worked at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant and temporarily replaced Charlie as danger emissions supervisor. The character is thought to be inspired from Mike Finch as both Zutroy and Mike Finch have a tattoo of a gear on their shoulder.

Which is all fine and good…except, I have no idea who Mike Finch is. Little help? Little help here?

ANYWAY…Zutroy is supposed to show up after you compete your last tunnel of Phase 1…as in the 19th tunnel.  I did. But he didn’t show up right away…but then he did this morning.

HOWEVER…LOADS of you are reporting that he DIDN’T show up…and you DIDN’T Get the OTHER random weird thing…The Fever Cabin.

Let’s talk about some solutions…and see if there are any suggestions…and then take a look at the Zutroy Walkthrough, for those who already got him.
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Christmas Clutter, Korn and Fun!

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We are deeeeeep into the final throws of Christmas prep. Today is the Miller Family Christmas get-together. My side of the family comes together to exchange gifts before the holiday, so we can all spend the Christmas holiday with our immediate family.

Of course…we have been dealing with all sorts of crazy with Deb’s Mom, and there is no real resolution there. This will be a nice break from two weeks sitting in the ICU, hoping for a miracle, which is unlikely to come at this stage.

BUT…this morning…before we took off for the gathering…I did something REALLY IMPORTANT…

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Something Kristmassy This Way Comes…

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If you haven’t figured it out yet… these blogs…and I do mean ALL of them, pale in comparison to the information found on the SimpsonsWiki.

Yes…we add our twists, and editorial flavor to the mix…but if you want the BEST source of straight information…go to the wiki. You won’t have to put up with any of my whining…or the Bliss-Ninnies simpering silliness…or anything remotely resembling the trollish insanity of the forum. It may take a while to get there…but it is almost always accurate.

So…when we look at Wiki, we see a TON of TEASERS about what is coming after the 24th. And kids…it doesn’t look like Christmas anymore!

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Countdown to Baby Jebus and Rating the Christmas Clutter

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If I look at the bottom of my Winter Prizes Part 1 tracker and do the math, in just a couple of hours, we will be down to 6 days until this FIRST part ends, at 9 AM (Pacific Springfield Time) on December 24th.

If I do the math, and look at the Calendar, I am in pretty good shape. If you have been on track, you should be a bit ahead of the calendar (as am I), and be close to 11,000 points, and have a pants-less Santa walking around, shooting your town up.  And, you should be in the “this is cake” mentality, for getting the Nativity Scene before Part 1 ends.

Let’s break down the math, once again…and take a look at why you would even WANT the nativity.
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Level 48 – Complete Cheat Guide…with Walkthroughs

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Ok…let’s face it…when there is something crazy going on like a huge update like the Christmas one we are currently doing, another update is kind of annoying. About as annoying as a snotty little “Tween” who gets off on torturing smart, but un-hip kids.  Oh well. Life is like that.

But…Janey IS FREE (just game cash)…so you have to go for her.

Lurlleen?  Not so much…but then again…who can resist her? Homer couldn’t. Ned Couldn’t. Heck…almost any man in Springfield couldn’t. And besides…she’s a musician and a songwriter and blonde…three of the four things that I find absolutely inescapably magnetic in a woman (as well as boobs).  Did I mention that my wife actually has all four traits?

Anyway…if you want to know who to keep free and when, while you are trying to maneuver the gift grabbing in the Christmas update…Click Below.

WARNING …SPOILERS FOLLOW. If you don’t want to know…don’t click below!
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Level 48 is Dropping…Just Because Lisa Needs a “Friend” – UPDATED

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Out of the blue…just seconds ago… I got a LEVEL UP message for Level 48.

I am also getting into my car to go back to Portland to be with Deb’s Mom at the hospital. AND…I have to get out the emails for our winners…to get addresses, to send the KORN.

Why does EA Hate ME??  LOL!

It STARTS with LISA and building the Gold Navy store (which cracks me up, for reasons I will share in a while)…nd it’s a 24-hour build. And you get JANEY!

WHO is JANEY??
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Uncle Patty’s Korn – WINNER(s)

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This is one of those situations where once I started looking at the list of entrants, and knowing what the money was going toward, I found myself questioning my original intentions.  This time of year, I am almost always completely overwhelmed with traditions that start the first week of November, and don’t end until late January.  Caramel Corn is only one of the traditions. And, as I mentioned in the previous posts, the Korn is highly coveted and something I will undoubtedly be doing until the day I am too old to stir a huge pot of steaming caramel over an even larger bowl of popcorn.

But, as I looked at the list, almost every name infinitely familiar, I was torn by the Christmas spirit…as well as pangs of guilt.  You have all done SO much for the children of our adopted Ugandan town, that I just had to do something more.

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At the Corner of Murder and Snipe…the Bell Tolls for Thee

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Sorry. I know that is kind of convolute headline, but I am feeling poetic this morning. What it all comes down to, is a couple of reminders of fun and helpful little tricks that will keep the game moving forward during this update.

One brings out the happy in me…the other, my darker side.

First the happy one.  The Elf Bell.
One of the annoying traits of this update is the lag time that SO MUCH action has created. When you hit your Toy Workshop in the morning, or after a 4-hour shift of gift making, the game can all but crash when you go to clear all of the presents that appear.

However…just a couple of rings of the Elf Bell…and *Badda-Bing!!* (or should I say… Badda-Bong?) the gifts are all cleared. Love it. And who doesn’t like the sound of a ringing bell?

The second one is more subtle…and dark.
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A Much Needed Smile…

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It is never easy to have a loved one in the hospital. Deb’s Mom has been in ICU for 11 days…and things are still very tenuous. It has obviously kept me “off of my game,” and without much sleep. But…the Christmas update continues…and I will do my best to keep the site “TSTO-Engaged,” as we work through the range of emotions. (TSTO Tip: RELAX. You are going to get everything…it is easy so far. Tip #2…most of it isn’t that great. So…chill.) 

So…today, when I am searching for the answer for ways to help my family through this time…I need a recharge of the batteries too.

And, this morning I got one. 

Emma surprised me with some pics of a surprise weekend celebration with Shivahn’s school (the one that YOU all helped to pay for), and her smile gave me the boost I needed!
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Revelations on the Last Sequential Day Until 2103

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It just passed an hour ago…something that is truly “Once in a Lifetime.”
There are only a very rare number of these “sequential number events,” and mine just passed…in the blink of a digital second.

You ALL have another shot tonight. But, if you use military time…sorry, you missed your shot.

I’m talking about 09:10:11 12/13/14 …the Very Second that time is sequential down to the second.

And it won’t happen again until January 2n 2103.  01/02/03

But, even then, having a SIX Sequential Number Pattern won’t be in effect, because there won’t be an hour/minute/second that proceeds it.

So this second of my life was REALLY special. Right?

It was…but not for the reasons one would think.
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Breaking Down the Numbers…Remain Calm

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I’m not going to start with an admonishment along the lines of, “Why do you want this stuff? Most of it is crap…” I promise. But I will start out by pointing out that for most of us who have played for one and maybe two Christmas updates, a LOT of the “prizes” are reruns…and we already have TONS of this stuff sitting in storage. (to date, I have 22 Nut Crackers, 14 Candy Canes, 2 elf homes, a workshop, 10 bells, 14 lamp posts, 6 hot drink stands, 12 lawn angels, and a complete set of snow people stuff…ALL in storage!)

Personally, just like my real decorations, circumstances have created a lack of time to deal with much decorating yet…but, I have been able to get up a few of the “vitals.” It’s the same way in my Springfield. Last year I was heck-bent on earning and placing everything I could get my hands on (think Bingo ladies running wild at a Church Christmas Bizarre that puts everything on sale for 90% off). My town was CRAMMED with Christmas bells, and angels, and stands, and elf houses, and workshops…it was beyond tacky. But this year, I am short on time and short on land…so, no go.

BUT…I KNOW none of this is going to stop any of you from freaking out about “not getting everything” that is being offered in this update. So…here is a bit of a common sense look at how to remain calm…and still get everything you want (notice I didn’t say need).

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SHOULDJA? The Christmas 2014 Edition- Phase 1

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The upside of the major holiday/event updates from EA, is that there is usually loads of Freemium stuff to earn, and loads of convoluted twists and turns to keep you busy. Throw in some server outages and some programming SNAFUs, and you have a TON of attention diverted.

It is my experience, that EA seems to sell the most Premium Crap (PC), when there is either a huge lull in the game, and people are so desperate for something new that they hit the Donut Trigger (DT), or when there is such a frenzy of excitement for a great update (Stonecutters) that they seem to almost want to reward EA for their hard work.

The Christmas Update SO FAR is neither of those… I qualify this by reminding you that there is a LOT of Christmas/Winter update still to play out.

So…yes…if it seems that MOST of the PC that has been offered thus far, has been retreads from the previous two Christmas events…
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It’s Carmel Corn Time… You Can Win Your Own!

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Fred gave me this idea…and I’m going to run with it. I’d like to say that this entitles Fred to a free batch…but, that wouldn’t be fair to everyone else. Sorry Fred.

As I wrote about last year…this time of year I make my famous “Uncle Patty’s Mountain of Korn.” Every year, has a different label…depending on what was going on that time of year. But, one thing remains the same; it is one of the most addictive foods known to mankind.

My family treats it like crack cocaine. The fact that I make it just ONCE a year…period…makes it even that much more coveted.

And NOW…You can have the chance to win your own batch!
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Christmas Update- Troubleshooting and Random Weirdness

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As per usual…the fantastic (note that the word fantastic is a derivative of the word fantasy) documentation from EA has made this update a little strange to navigate. There is some “General Clunkiness” in the interface…which seem to be causing some serious screen lag time, as well as some bugs, glitches and SNAFUs, that are challenging to say the least.

I am going to cover a couple of the most frequently asked below…
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A Quick Reference Page for Everything You Need

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This thing is starting to get convoluted enough to warrant it’ own Complete Reference Guide page. This way…you can find everything you need to know about Christmas with one click…. M’Kay?

Check back regularly…as I will continue to update the page as the update continues to progress, as most updates are wont to do…and I want you to be updated on the TSTO Christmas/Holiday update. Right?

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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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Upcoming Tunnel Guide 10-19

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I am personally having a load of fun with the tunnels. But, admit readily, that part of the fun is being able to prepare for who to keep free…and I owe it all to the SIMPSONSWIKI.COM  As always…they may not be first to post something (the hacker/fracker/ bliss-ninnies prefer to do that…even if the info is incorrect), but it is almost always spot on.

The next tunnel adventures begin with some WHell Redemption!!! WhooHoo!!

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Server Connection Problems in the UK

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Yep…it’s been a nightmare. There has been nothing official reported…but, my guess is that the server in the UK is getting a denial of services attack or something big enough to make connecting near impossible through WiFi…which rely on DNS/IP connections.

There have been some “solutions” reported…using your 3G/4G…but be aware that you are running off of your data plan. So if you don’t have unlimited data, it could get a LOT more expensive than the cost of donuts…

Please report any solutions you see…it can help everyone.

Understanding and Using Feds With Neighbors

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I have to admit, there is just a tad bit of ambiguity involved with the whole “Fed” thing. The implication, and action of using Feds in this update, is that they are beneficial to you and your neighbors. And yet, the message at the end of collecting them in your town is, “PHEW!!! Good job you got rid of them!!”

It is confusing…just like the Federal Tax code, or REAL immigration issues. Is it beneficial to allow aliens in your town…especially if they are going to do the thankless job of providing cheap labor in your toy factory? Well…yes…mostly, unless they become so prevalent that they create a lack of work for citizens…which prompts them to scream, “They tookerjobs!” as they did in one hilarious South Park episode. So then the Feds come in, and with our without support from Congress (who has that long to wait???) solutions are brought about, and balance can be restored. Feds. Gotta love ‘em…can’t drown ‘em in the river.

LUCKILY…FEDS in TSTO are FAR easier to figure out. HERE’S THE SKINNY…
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A Bit of YouTube FUN! Preview for Tomorrow’s Show…

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OK…this is short and sweet, because I am in the middle making the first batches of caramel corn…

But I saw this, and LOVED it!

Take the time to watch it a few times…one of my favorite openings in a long time.  Then…go back and Freeze Frame the town as it flashes by…there are some HILARIOUS bits buried in there… Like the ghosts in the Chinese restaurant.

Have a great night/morning… I will be back tomorrow!

http://youtu.be/ZTwCSlEsvKE

Patric

Upcoming Tunnel Guide – Five through Nine

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There is more and more QCS (Quest Crossover Syndrome) ahead, as there are loads of ways that the tasks use many of the same characters.  So…planning ahead is IMPERATIVE.

I like typing in caps when I want to EMPHASIZE a word. I know. Some people think I am YELLING…but, I’m not. I’m just trying to make sure you READ IT!
But, I digress…

Let’s cover the next Five Tunnels
SPOILERS FOLLOW…. If you don’t want to know…don’t click below!
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Quest Crossover Syndrome Strikes Again for Christmas!

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Ah…the Bastids at EA are once again messin’ wit’ our domes! They have made a  cute, funny, mess of updates, quests, and tunnels into something that is ACTUALLY designed to nickle and donut us to death!

Sneaky…sneaky…sneaky bastids!

When you get caught with a single character being pulled away for multiple quests… say, a Main Questline task, AND an EARNIG Task, and maybe even a Riddle Task…you have decisions to make.

Let’s break this down.

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Christmas 2014 – Complete Cheat Guide Phase 1

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Once again, let’s start this cheat guide with a disclaimer, and a bit of a taunt. I don’t hack/frack…at all. But, I am more than happy to exploit those who do. In this case, there are a ton of sources who have reported bits and pieces of this information, but without question, the “Mack Daddy” of information continues to be the SimpsonsWiki. They are rarely wrong…and if you “just want the facts,” they are a great source.

This update is proving to be LOT of fun, with very few glitches…and relative ease of play. But, there are also clear indications that if you don’t tap at least every 4 hours, you may have a hard time getting everything without spending donuts.  I started a bit late, and am a bit behind…but have a sense that I will catch up without donuts. However…I’ll live either way…there are a handful of “prizes” that just don’t jack me up that much. So…I’ll just play and have fun.

Here’s the Lowdown on the Christmas/Holiday/Winter update.
SPOILER ALERT- If you don’t want to know…don’t click below!

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Phase One Countdown Calendar

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There are some really odd things going on…like people reporting that they got the Nativity Scene FIRST…but what most of us are seeing is something that is pretty much the same as everyone else…

For the most part, it is interesting that they have timed this to end on the 24th…just like an Advent Calendar. We ALWAYS had one as kids…every year. My Mom still sends them to all of our kids and the grandkids. It was fun…every day…opening the little door, to find the treat, or the surprise picture. The 24th was almost always the Nativity.

But we don’t earn a prize every single day with the basic countdown…so, it’s not really the same. But the Nativity is a nice way to remember something about the holiday, other than Black Friday.

Staying on track to get the Nativity Scene by the 24th seems to flow LIKE THIS…

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Christmas 2014 – Basic Overview and Tip Guide – UPDATED

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Let’s start with some obvious things that jump right out.  First, this seems like kind of the perfect combination of Stonecutters, Halloween 2014, and a handful of other updates that kind of run together for me. In other words, it has the potential to be one of the best updates ever. Not kidding.

There are NO WHell elements that I can see at this point…and those are the operative words “at this point.” Because one of the BEST things about this update, is that EA really seems to be COMPLETELY messing with the hacker/frackers…and are staging all sorts of elements in this in time delay fashion. So…once again… STOLEN DONUTS TO RUSH…just don’t work. Bwahahaha! You go, EA!

So far it is pretty simple, but there are some little twists and turns along the way that make it challenging.  You are going to have find space to put all of the stuff you are going to win. This is starting to play out like Halloween…on steroids. Lots of stuff to win…and lots of it pretty big. So…clear some space (like put some of the Clash of Cones Crap in storage).

Let’s move on to the Basics
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Christmas 2014 Clash of Elves?

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Ah…well…as I said, this thing hit as I was on the freeway to Portland, to attend a funeral of an old family friend…with my Mom. After countless computer support questions (her sound hasn’t worked for a year…turns out she had the volume on the speakers turned off…you get the idea), we headed off to the funeral, without wi-fi…so it took more than 20 minutes to download in my pocket. Yes. I am ashamed…but Coach Rotramell was a hoot, and he would have understood.

ANYWAY…

The update hit. It looks like a LOT of fun…if you liked aspects of Clash of Clones. It is also being released in stages, which is obviously the way we should expect updates to work from now on.

Nuts and bolts to follow… details and cheat guide coming soon (after I can find enough sources from which to purloin).

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Christmas is Here…really…really soon.

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As predicted…the bastids at EA waited until just as I am heading off to a funeral service. ARRRGH!

Merry Freakin’ Christmas…

The game files are loading. Check your App Store for the update… looks like a LOT of recycled stuff…along with new stuff. So…get your donuts ready.

I’ll attack this later tonight…

 

for more  go to tstonews.com

spAnser’s site.

HAVE FUN!!

Hohohohohohohohohohohohohoho!

Patric

When Wishes and Reality Collide…

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Update on the Update (that hasn’t hit yet)?? Sorry…but that’s all I have right now.

This could be one of “those days,” where having too many balls in the air finally catches up with me.

It is jam-packed in every fashion, and I will be “off the grid” for most of the time that any update might happen.

This is one of those times when I really wish the Hacker/Fracker/Bliss Ninnies really COULD “look into the files” way ahead of time…because I have a sense that the Christmas update will drop sometime today…and I am not going to be around to write about it.

I have two, year-end conference calls this morning…then I have to hop into the car (OK…walk…hopping looks silly for a man my age) and head to Portland for a day with my Mother which includes going to the funeral of an old (very old…) family friend, and helping her put up her Christmas lights.  I won’t be back until late tonight. Which means…if an update hits…I won’t be able to do or say much about it until much later tonight.

If the universe cooperates…we will have one more day of reprieve.  But, as we have all found out, when the Universe and EA collude, there is rarely anything resembling convenience involved.

So my friends…this could be it. A day when you will be forced to seek information elsewhere.  EEK!

I hope that things don’t resort to that…as I KNOW you are loyal to this place exclusively…(I’ll wait for the laughter to die down). But, I understand! An update is an update is an update…and we ALL want something new to help get the turkey taste out of our mouth.

Have a great day…I’ll check in as I can!

Flying Ducks and Family Colors – Stewart Gets a New Name

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Ah…stuck in limbo once again as we await the next move by EA.  Thanksgiving is over…Christmas is yet to begin (tell that to the insane shoppers from Black Friday and Gray Thursday), and winter has yet to show anything but the slightest hint of making its presence known (tell that to the poor people in Buffalo, NY).

But this week…no matter what happens in the game, my attention is on the duck.  I got Stewart the Duck last night. I wasn’t really trying very hard…as I have been “distracted” with real life lately. But, when I got him, I immediately renamed him.

It’s fitting. From this day forward, he shall be known as…

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Thanksgiving Over…Christmas On The Way?

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OK. We know that Thanksgiving is over as of Midnight PST… and once again, it seems that EA has figured out that TSTO is really being driven by Europeans. Sorry to say it…but come on. I’m not going to stay up until 1 or 2 or 3 in the morning, to see what happens.  Sorry.

BUT HERE’S WHAT I KNOW…

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Ryan’s Take… “It’s Hard To Believe It’s Been A Year!”

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2013 saw a very interesting end to summer and one of the oddest autumns of my life. Patric and I both began our blogging careers separately at first and it seems very quickly that we teamed up. I’d like to say “the rest is history” but it wasn’t quite that simple.

Like so many things in life, it felt overwhelming at the time, and each bend in the road felt so significant, each experience like it would be one I would remember for a lifetime. The truth of the matter is that the individual posts, phone calls and comments all blur together during the “before period.” It was a crazy enough time in my personal life, and then writing the book and later launching this site became a full-time gig for me. Tunnel vision kicks in and it becomes hard to see the forest for the trees. It messed with my head a lot in the beginning.

I started growing my beard out. It was a “playoff” beard for the period of writing the book. I was proud of what we were doing. It was a massive undertaking, it was something I had always wanted to do. Don’t get me wrong, if you had told me two years ago I’d spend even a single afternoon writing about a game about The Simpsons I’d look at you like you had a second head.

It all happened by some glorious accident. Being in the wrong place at the right time lead me to Patric and later the right place, this place. 
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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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Cyber Monday Deal – Truckasaurus…REALLY?

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There are days when EA must think that we are so mind-numbingly stupid, that it defies logic. This is one of them.

Forget the fact that they have trotted out their “Rebate Deals” which aren’t discounts…because they force you to spend full price on old items to get some donuts rebated back (Even HOMER thought this was crap…). Now they are offering a “Special” HUGE ugly…silly…”Whale” of a deal in the Truckasaurus.

It is big. It is silly. It is ugly. It doesn’t do anything but snort and shoot flames when you touch it…and it looks COMPLETELY out of place in a town that is trying to be remotely realistic.

Don’t believe me?  Watch this video.

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Staples Center Showing Up Today…

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It’s interesting. Again, none of the Hacker Frackers actually had a good idea of what this looked like. They knew it was coming…that’s about it. I wasn’t really sure what it was going to be…and even imagined some sort of takeoff on the Staples Center Arena in L.A.  But…of course it isn’t…

It is Dr. Nick’s new digs for plastic surgery, and Krusty is his first customer.

The “24-hour build” has been done away with…most likely because of delays from the Peace Meal glitch (I never did have to do the family get-together…weird).

But the real problem is….
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Stuck in the Middle of TG Dinner…EA SNAFUs abound

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There are several types of SNAFUs being reported today…most of them having to do with not being able to get past the “Thanksgiving Peace Feast” or a Combined Simpsons/Flanders meal.

Here is what is being reported…and some possible solutions.

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TSTO BLACK FRIDAY DEALS…that aren’t. REVISED and Updated

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OK. I’m not even going to waste much time or space in this…but EA has once again mixed up the concept of Black Friday, and is offering a LOAD of Combo Items from the past…AT FULL PRICE. **UPDATED- With a Rebate! Whoohooooo! 

Oh. Wait. So that means that if you didn’t want something in the first place…but now you can get a “rebate” on it, you are going to want it even more???

I KNOW you’re smarter than that…

BUT WAIT!!!!! THERE’S MORE!!! (Says the guy who grew up watching Ron Popeil hawk the Veg-O-Matic).

THESE ARE LIMITED TIME OFFERS!!!!!!!! YIKES!!!!! YOU MUST REALLY WANT THEM NOW…BECAUSE THE DISCOUNTS ARE EVEN MORE FLEETING!!!!!! (Like the “Call In the Next 20 minutes graphic that flashes on the commercial…and can be called anytime…for weeks).

Here’s the secret to REAL Black Friday Happiness…
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What’s In YOUR TG Dinner?

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Americans are notorious for celebrating holidays with a huge meal. We love our holidays…and we love our food…which is why the “Holiday Season” (which starts somewhere around Halloween and ends after New Years), is brutal for adding pounds…and adding to the reason that Americans are notoriously obese.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at some of the stats…
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Thanksgiving Turns Gray…

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Well, it’s official. Thanksgiving has finally surrendered in the battle against Black Friday, to remain at least a semblance of its former day of giving thanks.

The assclowns who name giant marketing days have come up with a new term, Gray Thursday,” and it’s intent is anything but gray. It should be labeled Green Thursday…as in bringing in the Holiday Cabbage…Greenbacks…Green with Envy shoppers. And frankly…it blows.

And TSTO has joined in the “fun!”

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EA Messin’ Wit’ Us…Thanksgiving Style. Stuck?

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Several of you have made note, that you seem to be getting “stuck” after the first quest, in the updates chapters that are triggering sporadically over the Thanksgiving Update.

First. You are not alone.
Second. There is nothing you can do.
Third. It is clearly just a MASSIVE sign of another EALP (EA Lazy Period).

Here’s the skinny….

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Reminder- New Chapters in Thanksgiving Firing Today…

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REMINDER

Both the Thanksgiving Dinner Preparations and The Thanksgiving Meal chapters of the Thanksgiving Update Trigger at Midnight, (Pacific Springfield Time- 8A GMT for you Blighters).

Just a handful of tasks to run… Lisa and Ned trigger them…so keep them free!

Here are the details if you want them!

“Covercraft” From A Musician’ View…

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Last night’s Simpsons episode was hilarious, and it was even more hilarious for those who have played in a band, or toured, or played a “big gig” at a local or regional festival (music, food, or any other assorted themed).

I bought the Guitar Central store, and admit to being kind of confused that the story line of the update, is almost completely counter to the story line of the episode. The episode was better…and actually had loads of inside music jokes.

I’ll do my best to give you the lick for lick details, without completely ruining the episode for those who want to watch it later.

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Reminder…”Gear Up For Savings” Is Active Today

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Just a reminder that the next chapter of the Thanksgiving Quest is active today. “Gear Up for Savings” went live at midnight PST (Pacific Springfield Time).

You’ll find all of the walkthrough specifics, HERE.

Have fun. Don’t waste your money.

I’m playing catch up today… but will get a post out this afternoon about Last Night’s Episode. Promise.

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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Revisiting Thanksgiving 2013…and Why I Was Cranky

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First, thanks for all of the kind words of support. This has been a tough weekend for Maddy, Bret and Bret’s family. I appreciate the words and prayers.  I am not inclined to write something new right now…

However, I have had several folks ask to see the rant I did about last year’s Thanksgiving stuff…especially the Casino.  I have to admit, reading it now, it cracks me up.

It was a funny time…just before Ryan and I pulled the plug on Tips…and we were concerned that a number of readers were getting upset about the fact that I was so…well…Cranky.

As I joke, I went into “therapy” and promised to write two versions of every post…something that lasted about two weeks, because even MORE people started whining that I was being too nice…and they LIKED my crankiness. Go figure. 

Anyway…here it is…in it’s unvarnished beauty. And for the record, I feel the same way, and never bought the Casino.

Published Nov. 18th, 2013.

I have to admit, I am a traditionalist in many ways.  It is partially why I got out of advertising after owning an agency for more than 17 years.  I hated this time of year, because we had to create the Christmas ads long before the actual season started. So by the time Thanksgiving came around, I was happy to reset my seasonal watch and start to actually enjoy the real holiday season, not the one that I had been creating in the weeks well before Thanksgiving.

BUT…I am going to try something here…

Some of you only want the TSTO game facts…and to be Happy! Others don’t mind it when I let my “Honesty Flag Fly” and go off on Cranky rants.  So I am going to split this up…I’ll start with the “Happy,” and end with my version of the truth…with a warning.

THANKSGIVING- The HAPPY VERSION

Hey!!! It’s Thanksgiving! Look at all of the GREAT STUFF we can get for a LIMITED TIME! Funny ironic dialogue, with some really KOOKY ambiguous stuff to help us remember WHY WE GIVE THANKS!!

WHOOHOO!

Nothing says THANKS FOR THIS LIFE like Casinos, Parade Balloons and Sailing Ships! YAY!!

And…the COOL STUFF ONLY COSTS 400 DONUTS!! Get Out Your Credit Cards…you don’t have to pay the bill until after the holidays!!

OK………….. SPOILER ALERT…………….if you don’t want to hear a Cranky Rant…
PLEASE DO US BOTH A FAVOR and DON’T CLICK READ MORE… but if you do…just remember, I warned you.

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Thanksgiving – The Definitive SHOULDJA Guide

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I’m not in a subjective mood today. The idea was to write a “SHOUDLJA” about the Thanksgiving update. But, we just got word this morning about a tragedy in my daughter’s boyfriend’s family, that has me not only distracted, but really “not feeling it.”

While we wait, in that awful limbo between finding out about something, and being able to help, I find it is best to stay busy. Which I will do. But, again…please be aware that my opinion of buying digital baubles…in general…is being tainted by my emotions this morning.

BUT…the blog must go on. Right?

So…a Thanksgiving Update Shouldja it shall be.

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Thanksgiving 2014 –Complete Cheat Guide With Walkthroughs

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As always…I am shocked at how fast the hacker/fracker types get this stuff posted. They show absolutely no shame in doing so…even though breaking into the game files is illegal. But, I am equally unashamed to steal it from them, and repost it for all of you. What are they going to do? Turn me in for plagiarizing their hard work as thieves?  I think not.

It’s something to be Thankful for…because it saves me a boatload of time. So…whatevs (do the young people still say whatevs?).

This update is the second in a row (a trend forming?) that has staged parts, that are triggered by dates, and don’t allow you to just rush through them.  I like that. It kind of renders STOLEN DONUTS useless in rushing.

But…if the Southpark expose’ on Freemium games is valid, then the 1% of players who spend money on the game, will have PLENTY to choose from, as 99% of the content in this update is Premium.

On to the Walkthroughs

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Thanksgiving 2014…and the first Glitch of the Season..that isn’t a glitch.

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After a weird start with Homer’s bad joke about Black Friday… we jump right into Flander’s quest to enlighten the world about Thanksgiving…as Puritan Flanders….which is placed into your inventory. You will also get Sacagawea Lisa skin…if you didn’t already have her.

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LISA and Homer start an entirely unrelated quest…one to get Lisa a reed for her Sax-a-ma-phone.

IMMEDIATELY…we are faced with a problem of Too Many Homer quests…as both Ned and Lisa require Homer to move forward. I know. This gets confusing quickly…

But…the confusion is short-lived. The Homer-Lisa part is only two quick quests, before stalling to make us wait.

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Thanksgiving Update Drops Like A Thankgiving Balloon…

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Nothing says Thanksgiving like a bunch of balloons and your mother-in-law.  Why? Because they are both gas-bags!  (*rim shot).

OK…my mother in law isn’t a wind bag. But, that’s beside the point…
Mrs. Bouvier is here…to remind you that you don’t do anything right…and aren’t good enough for her daughter.

There is also a TON of premium offerings…at full-blown premium prices…(EA’s version of the anti-black Friday)

MORE TO FOLLOW… Check back soon!

Another Milestone…EEEEK!

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I get GoDaddy renewal notices almost every day. We manage more than 160 markets of radio station web sites and content, and most of our clients use GoDaddy as their primary hosting service.

But today, I renewed one that wasn’t associated with a radio station. It was just labeled, “Deluxe Hosting package” with “Web Hosting Add-On Resources.” But, I knew what it was. I remembered setting it up last year, when the concept of “starting our own blog” and leaving the old place to wither and die, became reality.

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Why the Drive-In Movie Is the Best Halloween Artifact Ever

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When we look back at Halloween 2014, there is going to be one item that stands out as the seminal memory from Halloween 2014.  It is without question, the Drive-In movie. If you didn’t get the Drive-In, I pity you.  If you have never BEEN to a Drive-In movie…well…I REALLY pity you.

The Drive-In movie is a uniquely American phenomenon that provided the very best in family entertainment, with the clear choice of pants being optional.

Let me explain…

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Level 47 Update – Complete Cheat Guide With Walkthroughs

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As per always, I start with a disclaimer:
I don’t condone cheaters, hackers, frackers or any other sort of rapscallion who steals information off of the game files. However…once that information is stolen, it can often benefit others…or completely ruin a good thing (think Edward Snowden).  For that reason, I am always hesitant to post the walkthroughs.

However… I KNOW that you guys like to know what’s going to happen before it happens (the last update must have killed some of you!). So, I will do so.

There are walkthroughs for all three Level 47 characaters… Freddy, Cashmir, and the Waiter with the Chowder problem.

SPOILERS FOLLOW… If you don’t want to know….DON’T click below!

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Add Friends and Neighbors for Level 47 and Beyond!

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OK…time to start a new thread, kids!  Halloween 2014 is pretty full!

Put your Origin Username in the Comment Box if you want new friends.  No. We aren’t going to break this up into people who don’t want graffiti and those who do…that’s just SILLY!

Tagging is fun…and let’s your neighbors know you’ve stopped by…right?

Doling Out The Eggs…Who, What, When?

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This is one of those updates that can really create problems if you want to be an upstanding, thoughtful and fair neighbor. And don’t we all want to be just that?

If you have played…and built up your collection of friends and neighbors, it is even more difficult. Why? Because EA/TSTO is being REALLY chintzy with the eggs.  I tap plenty…believe me. I just got the hovercraft…a couple of days ahead of schedule…so I AM tapping regularly. But, I am only averaging 10-15 eggs a day. Once in a while, I’ll score big…and get as many as 20…but most of the time, it remains just barely above single digits.

Oh…and I have 100 neighbors. I shuffle some around here and there…but for the most part, I maintain 100. Let’s see…100, divided by 15 eggs.

That…presents…a….problem.

So how do I deal with it?

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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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Toilets Two Worlds Apart…Two Solutions

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I woke up this morning with the muscles in my neck and shoulders aching. This is a rare occurrence, even at the age of 60. I am strong. I am in relatively good shape. But this was my first introduction into the world of “Toilet Yoga.”

Don’t expect to see “Groupon” specials for Toilet Yoga online anytime soon. I don’t recommend it. Oh…and I made it up…with the help of the folks who made the old toilet seats I had to change out as part of our “get ready for company” preparations.

I had to change out two toilet seats. “No big deal,” I said…”should be a 20 minute job, tops.” And then I realized that the two seats (which we had installed about 7 years ago at the same time) both had corroded plastic washers and nuts that were very difficult to reach. The “special toilet loosening tool” I bought at Lowes did not work. At all. The socket wrench did not work. At all. Pliers only broke the edges off of the plastic nuts….and still…they didn’t move. Finally…using a combination of a wrench, as well as pliers, I was able to muscle the bolts off, and change out the seat…a half hour later…in the FIRST bathroom.

The second bathroom, upstairs…is a small guest bathroom…with the toilet crammed into the corner…beside the sink…under a counter. As in very little space to move. I am a big guy…big shoulders…big arms…the bathroom is small.

The bolts were even worse…and I was having to do it “blind” as I could not wedge myself close to the bathroom bowl to see what I was doing.

This was not going to turn out well.
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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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Turning Giving Into a Game…and Giving Credit Where It’s Due!

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It’s time to give credit where credit is due. And in the case of our community’s work to help the children of the Rural Ugandan Village of Buyijja, the list is small…but growing.

I have said before that the majority of the gifts of love given to these projects are coming from less than 1% of the overall number of readers who come here. After doing some math…and seeing MULTIPLE names on several projects, it is far less than 1%.  But for the sake of alliteration, I will continue to use the 1% figure.

The reason is that during the huge hubbub that surrounded the “Occupy Wall Street” a couple of years back, the big deal was that less than 1% of the population controls most of the wealth in the world.  I have quoted “giving facts” before as well…the fact that 85% of all donations are given my less than 5% of the population.

Here’s the deal…I don’t know how much money any of you have…but I know that a handful of you don’t have much…but continue to give. I am amazed and humbled. To date…this community has raised close to 8,500…and we are approaching the halfway mark toward another $4500. AMAZING…

But again…WHO is giving…often repeatedly…must be noted. It is easy enough for us to see how much digital stuff our neighbors have. It’s easy enough to see what kind of digital dollars they have amassed. But, in this case…nobody has been given proper due for DOING SOMETHING THAT REALLY MATTERS.

That changes today.

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Why I am still tapping…

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On October 1st…just a little over three weeks from now (and still not done with this silly CoC update), I will have been a regular tapper for TWO YEARS…

I’m not really sure what to say, as the emotions involved are truly mixed.  I don’t even want to begin to imagine the hours I have dedicated to this silly game.  There have been hundreds of posts…tens of thousands of comments moderated…an almost 300 page BOOK…and more personal tapping time than I care to admit.

All of this was done while running a company that services more than 160 radio markets, being a husband, father and grandfather, and playing far more golf than any active man of 60 deserves.

I have almost quit at least 4 times over the past 6 months. The futility and “time sink” (drain if “Life Currency”) has taken its toll…and apathy becomes my worst adversary. But…there is a reason that I still tap…and write…and moderate…

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Dear EA… You Need Help. Let US Give You An Update Idea!

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It seems that of late, I am getting a reputation for being TOO cranky about EA and TSTO. I am reminded to “Stay on Topic,” which means, “you have derailed this site from its original purpose…giving us TSTO information and entertaining us with TSTO related posts!!!!”

Moi? Au Contraire!  I just happen to dislike this update. So shoot me…with one of Lisa’s pointy little arrows.

If you love this update, so be it! Go for it! Have a blast!

But, the reason I dislike the update, is because EA is OFF TOPIC… and there is no good reason for it!

Here’s the proof!
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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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