"If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun." - Katharine Hepburn
Question #91281 posted on 05/20/2018 11:14 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

What's the answer to the question that you wish someone would ask you here? (Please don't provide the question, just the answer.)

- Optimistic.


Dear Optimistic.,


I sure hope this helps. Please don’t hate me. 

- Brutus


Dear Optimistic.

Tenderly Wise.

-Humble Master


Old friend—

"So I was just hit by a car
My body
I am okay
But not too
Laying in the street"

And then, after he read me that, I laughed so hard that I peed my pajama pants a tiny bit. 

Feel free to guess the question,
Waldorf (& Sauron) 


Dear Optimistic., 

Latrice Royale versus Dida Ritz, season four. I know there was nary a death drop in sight, but it’s the best. 

- The Black Sheep


Dear Optimistic.,

It's not as challenging to speciate the 3 (of 4) major types of hard-shelled ticks we have in the United States as you might think. "Why am I even doing this??" you might ask. Well, not YOU because YOU asked this very insightful question about how to actually do this. But there are a number of tick-borne diseases, some bacterial, some viral, and if you can immediately eliminate the ones you couldn't have because the tick that you found on you and sent in the lab doesn't even carry that disease ... well, you can see how that would be good.

It helps to have an inverted "dissecting" scope with good resolution, but even when looking by eye, here are the characteristics to look for:

1. Check out that anus! 

What's the first thing you look for when looking at a tick anus? The anal groove. The only tick that has a groove in the shape of a big arch (or "inverted U") over the anus is Ixodes or deer tick. That's the one that could transmit Lyme disease (caused by the spiral bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi).



See? Even when the tick has lost its head, you can still make out the arch over the anus. This is an Ixodes.

Your other hard shell ticks, dog tick, lone star tick, are going to have a small "u" UNDER the anus. 

 GetImage (1).png

2. How about the shell?

Ixodes ticks on the edge of the shell away from the mouth are totally smooth. But Dermacentor and Amblyoma have decorative patterns called "festoons," that almost look like teeth or crenelated castle tops. No festoons? It's an Ixodes. You see festoons? Well then let's go deeper. 


GetImage (2).png

3. What does the mouth look like?

The part of the tick's mouth that actually sticks into you is called the hypostome and it's gnarly. A tiny serrated saw that gets in and holds on. The other two mouth parts next to it are technically called the "palps" but for our purposes, lets just call this "mouth parts." 


Are the mouth parts long? Then you know you've got either Ixodes (see above), or Amblyoma. Amblyoma americana is the lone star tick and there's a good reason for that - the adult females have a white dot on their outer shell. But say you have a juvenile (a nymph) or a male - no dot. If the mouth parts look long and straight, you've probably got an Amblyoma. 


If the mouthparts are short, it could either be Dermacentor (dog tick), or the less common Rhipicephalus (haven't seen one of these yet. But it's like Pokemon - gotta catch 'em all!)

4. But Rating Pending, this tick doesn't look anything LIKE those!

It might be a soft-shelled tick. This family Ornithodoros can transmit the really dangerous tick-borne relapsing fever. How do you know you have this? You have a terrible fever, it goes away, then comes back, then goes away then, comes back. Hence, "relapsing." This is also caused by a spiral-shaped Borrelia bacteria (like Lyme disease), but not the same species B. burgdorferi. 

Last important points about ticks!

  • Removal: No vaseline on the butt, no matches or hot needles. Tweezers, gripping firmly and pulled straight out from your skin at a 90 degree angle. That's it. Have you ever tried to smash a tick? Or crush it? You won't squish it with the tweezers. Just pull it out.
  • TONS of ticks? Scientists doing field studies in tick-infested areas swear by duct tape
  • IMG_6469.jpg
  • Oh no! I had a tick on me for, like, a whole day of hiking before I pulled it out! I have lyme disease now! Nah. Transmission studies show that it takes at least 24-36 hours before Lyme disease MIGHT be transmitted. If the Lyme-carrying tick is on there for 72 hours, you have an almost total chance of transmission. But if you notice and remove with a few hours, even within a day? You're fine.
  • "Chronic Lyme disease" is controversial, but not a thing. By which I mean: there is no evidence that Lyme bacteria chronically infect a person. However, it's possible that Lyme disease can result in autoimmune disease symptoms down the line. But if someone suggests taking antibiotics for chronic Lyme, that's not good.
  • "Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever" is most common in the Southeastern states. It got that name because it was identified at the CDC's Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Montana. Yeah, I agree it's a bad name. 

- Rating Pending (who is already planning on doing a seminar at some point called a "tick talk" so don't worry, he's ready to go, pun-wise. Alternative titles include "Check out that anus!")


Dear you,

Ahh, thank you! I had no idea what it would look like (the ultimate test of faith, eh?), but it ended up being just perfect and I couldn't be any more in love with it.

-guppy of doom


Dear Doctor,

I guess, really anything on this Amazon wishlist

-Tally M.


Dear Optimistic,

Of course! Thank you very much!




Dear Optimistic,

In no particular order...

This set of subway maps.

This other set of subway maps.

A map showing the current location of every Amtrak train.

A spectacularly good election map from XKCD.

A graphic design adjustment to the US map from XKCD.

A note on a particularly common map style from XKCD.

A map of life expectancy by county across the US.

A mapping tool from 538 with nationwide mortality data.

Maps of the geographic popularity of the 50 most-watched musicians on YouTube.

A map of flight paths taken on the year's busiest day of air travel.

An interactive map of worldwide ocean freight shipping in 2012.

A map of the historic lands of indigenous cultures in North America and Australia, with links to resources on each culture.

A map of per capita worldwide civilian gun ownership.

A story about how gerrymandering of election maps can be prevented.

A map of who would have won the 2016 US presidential election if "did not vote" were treated as a candidate.

A great Twitter thread (with maps) on how if New Orleans were fictional it would be dismissed as completely unrealistic.

A map of what happens when two developers get into a petty rivalry.

A map of what happens when ArcGIS goes wrong, as it inevitably does.

A map determining the actual "middle of nowhere" in the 48 contiguous states.

A... map, I guess.

A Twitter thread (with maps) on housing rental costs across the US.

A map of the death penalty's status worldwide.

A gif map of Chinese political history.

A map of refugee destinations by country.

A map showing how a change in national borders a century ago can still be used to predict current election results.



Dear Optimistic.,

So first we found the cause of the mysterious plague plaguing the sewers (spoiler alert: it was the noblewoman's illegitimate son who needed zombies to dig for a lost amulet of immortality). Along the way we parried with a housewife-turned-assassin who had venomous nails, played bunco (a game involving chance, drinking, and spit), and set up our half-orc hostess with a guard we ended up not fighting.

Then we traveled to a nearby duchy to find a stolen amulet. We talked to lots of fish, got trapped underground, got eaten by (and escaped from) a weird frog-creature, fought off a plesiosaur, and stopped a plot by the royal adviser to replace the duke. And we finally found the amulet (the librarian claimed Bloody Ben was the thief, but it was the librarian all along! Bloody Ben just wanted to learn how to read).

Then we got hired to stop a necromancer from raising the dead in a war-torn village. Turns out the necromancer was a nice old lady who was assigning zombies to help build bridges and assist all the widows, and the paladins who hired us were self-righteous do-gooders in the pocket of a monopoly trying to grab the villagers' land. We ended up racing them through the booby-trapped maze to the zombie on-off switch, and then our priest (who didn't like zombies) "accidentally" flipped the one-time-use switch. We were not welcome in that village anymore.

Our next stop was the swamp. After stopping for some jambalaya pizza and Cajun hospitality, we delivered some controlled substances to a Southern witch in exchange for sun glasses, were magically shrunk, used the controlled substance to unshrink ourselves, fought off the witch and her two crocogators, and freed a long-lost uncle (who had been shrunken and trapped by the witch).

Stopping briefly in the monopoly-controlled town, we entered the mountains to return a couple star-crossed lovers who could only see each other while touching. We ended up being ambushed by invisible sunglass-wearing dwarves and escaped into the world beneath the mountains. We met a friendly beholder (floating head with eye stalks who could kill you in seconds) who thought he was a hobbit, won a dance-off with some underground cowboys, and met a fish-folk linguist in a prison gift shop. Now it looks like we may need to fight our way out of the prison and do it fast if we want to join an underwater lake fish-folk cruise. We'll see how it goes tomorrow.



Dear Optimistic.,

It's only been out for a handful of months, so I don't know that you can call it the best platformer of all time just yet, but it's probably the frontrunner for the game of the year. The controls are so simple (just three buttons for jump, dash, and climb), the pixel art is so simple, and yet they contain multitudes. Every new level brings a new challenge that completely changes the way you play the game, and each builds on the last. The B-sides expand on that even further, and the C-sides give you the perfect blend of brutal difficulty and sheer elation when you complete them. (For most of the C-sides, you might not even touch the ground more than once or twice.)

And the best part is that it only costs $20! I bought the game back in January and have probably put 60-70 hours into it, which is tremendous value for just $20. It hasn't stopped being fresh and interesting, no matter how many times I play. Lena Raine's music is fantastic, and the B-side remixes are spectacular as well. I've listened to Kuraine's remix of "Summit" (No More Running) close to a hundred times at this point. Still just as good as the first time.

The best part might be the cost, but the most important part is how candidly it treats anxiety. I don't really suffer from anxiety myself, but this game gave me so much insight into how it must feel to have your brain working against you as you try to go through life. The cut scene in the gondola lift after Golden Ridge has stuck with me ever since I've seen it. It's powerfully affecting, and it changes the way you look at people.

So while it may not be the greatest platformer of all time, it's up there, and it's definitely worth your $20. It would be worth five times that. Make your way over to Steam, or the Nintendo Store, or wherever, and pick yourself up a copy of Celeste today. You won't regret it.

- D.A.R.E.


Dear Optimistic. ~

Shoot me an email. I’ll get you delivery instructions.

Note: Dark is far better than milk. High quality preferred.

~ Dragon Lady


Dear Optimistic.,

His panicked spouse screamed "back here!" as we stumbled through the dim surroundings of their house. He was supine on the ground, vomit and froth eschewing from his nose and mouth. "I don't know what happened - I woke up and he was just wasn't breathing right." We dragged him from the corner of the room and started the familiar cadence of chest compressions, my partner connecting the defibrillator and turning the monitor on. "He's in V-fib." I'm the one that has to decide what the rhythm is and treat accordingly. Ventricular fibrillation is the first one they teach after "normal sinus rhythm" and I haven't seen it in years, but the treatment is simple: electricity - lots of it. I charge to 200 joules and over a few milliseconds deliver enough electricity to operate a lightbulb for long enough to read this post. The firefighters show up and take over CPR, freeing me to suction the airway and drill into his bone to push medications. We're lucky; he's young. His heart bounces back after the first shock and he starts trying to breathe on his own a few minutes later. When we roll him out the front door he has a breathing tube, gastric suction tube, and multiple medications running in. We're more than just "ambulance drivers" and I am not a firefighter. For the first time in weeks I feel like I match what my job title is: Paramedic.

A few weeks later I follow up, our patient is discharged home with advice to "take it easy," which is about the best outcome you can hope for. Most of my patients that are dead when I show up stay dead. This man had a lot going for him. He got CPR early, too few do. It took me hours to finish documenting my care, but unlike the last time, I'll sleep well after I do.

Have fun storming the castle,

-Il Guanaco


Dear Optimistic.,

You're welcome.



Dear Optimistic.,

8:00 - The Leftovers
9:00 - Mad Men
10:00 - The Wire

8:00 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
8:30 - Nathan For You
9:00 - Seinfeld
9:30 - Curb Your Enthusiasm
10:00 - BoJack Horseman
10:30 - Rick and Morty

8:00 - The West Wing
9:00 - M*A*S*H

9:30 - Cheers
10:00 - The Muppet Show
10:30 - At The Movies

8:00 - Breaking Bad
9:00 - Game of Thrones
10:00 - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
10:30 - The Colbert Report

8:00 - The Office (USA)
8:30 - Flight of the Conchords
9:00 - The Simpsons
9:30 - Community
10:00 - Arrested Development
10:30 - 30 Rock

8:00 - Going Deep with David Rees
8:30 - Jeopardy!
9:00 - The Great British Bake Off
10:00 - Chopped

8:00 - Bob's Burgers
8:30 - The Good Place
9:00 - Parks and Recreation
9:30 - Saturday Night Live

-Art Vandelay