Previous: 368: Cowboys Through and Through (w/ Roman Mars!)
Next: 370: Solving a Space Murder (w/ Sam Reich!)



View count:6
Last sync:
Where does the word delete come from? How do I maintain friendships in a difficult time? Do humans undergo physiological changes along with seasons? Could a potato take a picture? How do I do stuff at college? Why do we do what we do? What shoes are best at deflecting cleats? What's the deal with tuberculosis? John and Sarah Urist Green have answers!

If you're in need of dubious advice, email us at
Join us for monthly livestreams and an exclusive weekly podcast at
Follow us on Twitter!

 (00:00) to (02:00)

[intro music by Gunnarolla]

John Green: Hello and welcome to Dear John and Sarah.

Sarah Urist Green: Or I as I like to call it, Dear John and Sarah, because I like to follow an alphabetical arrangement of names.

J: Wives, submit to your husbands!

S: Boooooooooooooo! No.

J: It's a podcast where we provide dubious advice, answer all you questions and bring you all the week's news from both Mars, which is a cold, dead rock in space, and AFC Wimbledon, which is a good, dead football club in South London. Sarah. 

S: Yes.

J: When you think about what's going on with AFC Wimbledon,

S: Uhhuh.

J: And when you think about the biggest problem at the club being, let's face it, a lack of investment -- outside investment -- think about what Ryan Reynolds and Rob Mcelhenney did for Wrexham.

S: Yes. Are you putting me on the spot in a public venue in order to get me to commit more of our personal funds to your team?

J: ... Our team. 

S: [laughs] But yes. Sorry. Finish your questions.

J: Don't you feel like people who are in a position to give more should?

S: Welllll, I disagree with the framework of the question. I think the biggest problems facing AFC Wimbledon are climate change and divisive politics. So, y'know.

J: And unequal access to healthcare. That's a big one that you mention a lot.

S: That's right. That's right. So I'm gonna go ahead and focus on those things as a way to make whatever small impact we can. And did I also tell you that I don't offer dubious advice?

J: Oh, you offer good advice?

S: [laughing] I offer good advice.

J: You're in the good advice business?

S: Earnest. Earnest advice.

J: Earnest, good advice. Well lemmie ask you this question.

S: Yes.

 (02:00) to (04:00)

J: Here's a question from Lindsey who writes:

Dear John and Sarah,

I was thinking about the qwerty keyboard layout after a trivia night last week and got to wondering: Where did the word "delete" come from? Did it exist before the digital age? Was it at the same time as qwerty? I can't fathom an application of the word that doesn't involve a computer. 

Not like Lohan,

S: Well, doesn't it have to do with deleterious? Comes from Latin?

J: Yeah, you don't need the word. It is deleterious to your argument, you should delete it. These are related words, absolutely. Though there are [laughs]. I think it speaks to how radically technology has changed our lives within my lifetime that a lot of young people cannot a fathom a use of the word "delete" outside of tech? But are lots of things that were deleted before words were deleted by the delete key.

S: [laughs]

J: Right?

S: Sure. Yes.

J: So the first reference to "deleting" a word from a manuscript comes from around 1600. So whereabouts of Shakespeare. I like to, when it comes to English, to find things whereabouts of Shakespeare. Post-Shakespeare, pre-Shakespeare.

S: Hmmm. That seems very Eurocentric.

J: Well, English is a rather Eurocentric language. Not now, but it was historically.

S: [laughs] I'm feeling spicy today!

J: Yeah. So it's from around Shakespeare's time. We've been deleting things for a long time. Even before we had the word we used to blot things out, destroy, eradicate things, etc.

S: Yes. "To daub, erase by smudging as of the wax on a writing table." So, y'know.

J: Man! Imagine how horrible it would've been to be a writer in the days where you had to daub

 (04:00) to (06:00)

S: Daub. [laughs] Or even on a typewriter. 

J: Even on a typewriter! I wrote on a typewriter.

S: It hasn't been that long.

J: No, I wrote on a typewriter. And it's very hard.

S: But kind of fun.

J: I don't find it fun at all, actually.

S: No?

J: No.

S: Okay, alright.

J: It's not fun for me. I find it very time-consuming. I wrote my college applications on a typewriter. Did you?

S: I did. I did. But! I answered one of the questions by making a collage in Photoshop. When it was new.

J: Are you serious?

S: Yeah. 

J: They had Photoshop back then?

S: It was early, but yes. They sure did.

J: Wow, impressive. 

S: They sure did.

J: Alright, we got another question from Anne. It's a good one for Sarah to answer. 

Dear John and Sarah,

I'm in the middle of a depressive episode. My doctor's suggesting my medication and I'm starting therapy again but I know it might be a while 'til I'm back to normal. Or neutral. 

J: "Neutral" is better than "normal."

S: Yes.

J: Your word was better than mine.
[continues reading]

How do I keep up my friendships in the meantime?

J: Oh god, Anne. I don't know.
[continues reading]

I try to focus on my friends so I don't have to talk so much but they're good friends and they want to know how I am, too. They know about my depression and I don't want to lie but I don't wanna also keep saying, "Nothing new here. I'm still depressed. But I appreciate you asking."

Thanks in advance.

I overthink therefore I,

S: Anne. That's great. Anyway, Anne, this actually reminds me of a conversation that we just had with our good friends. Chris and Marina. Where we were talking about how you cultivate good friendships. And it wasn't just about giving, which is important, but about having that back-and-forth flow. So I understand the real struggle of not being able to maintain friendships. Because it does take work.

J: Work. Like any relationship.

S: And for a friend, they're not gonna get a lot of satisfaction out of just talking about themselves if they're a good friend. They do want to hear about you.

 (06:00) to (08:00)

J: Right. But they don't wanna just hear about how you're doing, right? Like, that's not the only part of a friendship.

S: That's true.

J: So I've been going through a rough patch, mental health-wise also. I've had an adjustment of medications. I'm in a not-dissimilar boat, it sounds like, Anne. And so I've been observing this as well and thinking about it. Because I have this similar feeling, which is like, I should probably just retreat. I'm unpleasant to be around. And so why wouldn't I just take a step back and not engage with people? Because I make their lives worse when I'm engaging with them? And that's not quite real. Like, that's something that's happening inside of my mind that may not be their experience of it.

S: And you had a good friend who recently took you for a kayak ride. So, like, do something, y'know?

J: Yeah, so, he knew that I was kind of in a bad spot and he wasn't like, "Let's call and talk through your feelings," because he knows that the feelings-- I mean, I agree with you, Anne. It's pretty monotonous, right? Like, you wake up and you feel the same way you did yesterday and the way you felt yesterday wasn't good. And the way you feel today isn't good. And you feel like probably tomorrow's gonna be the same. And like, there's nothing to report. It's just. It's like, painful but in a very uninteresting way. Is how I feel about it, anyway. But the great thing about my friend being like, "Hey, let's go for a kayak ride." I didn't want to. And then initially I actually was like, "I can't do it that day." And he was like, "Great. Let's do it next week. I can do any of these four days." And I was like, "Alright."

S: [laughing] Awww maaaaan.

J: But then it was so good for me. And we didn't just talk about how I was doing, although we did talk about that. And he was able to empathize and listen and everything, but we also talked about lots of other stuff. Like, what the river looked like. And plans for a big trip that he wants to take. And all kinds of other stuff. We talked about his work. We talked about my work. We talked about family.

 (08:00) to (10:00)

J: It's just sort of, like, when you're doing something together, even if it's a walk in the park or something, you can just talk about the trees.

S: Yeah, or even something that doesn't involve talking, necessarily. You could--

J: Go to a movie.

S: Go to a movie, do a puzzle that involves some talking but like, "Have you seen the one that has two arms, two legs, and a little nobby head?" Y'know? Like, it's more like referencing something.

J: Is that how you describe puzzle pieces? "Two arms, two legs, and a little nobby head"? 

S: No. Some of them. Sometimes they're people. The ones that have two arms, two legs, [laughs]

J: [overlapping] The ones that have two arms, two legs, and a little nobby head? That's how you describe 'em?

S: [laughing] Yeah, yeah. Yeah. 

J: What are the major puzzle shapes? Tell me the other ones.

S: Oh god.

J: I wanna know!

S: [laughs] All legs?

J: All legs! Four legs. "Have you seen one that has four legs?"

S: Or all arms, I guess.

J: All arms. You think of them all legs. What else? This is great. This is gold.

S: What? No. I don't know. I'm just... anyway. But 

J: [overlapping] There's that's one kinda piece...

S: [overlapping] You could do, like, a yoga class together?

J: Sure. If you're into that kinda thing, Anne. But if you're anything like I am when I'm depressed that's gonna be a reach.

S: [overlapping] You could go to a free event at your local library.

J: Gallery opening. Go to a reading at your local library with a local author.

S: [overlapping] Talk about the art you don't like. Y'know?

J: Yeah.

S: There's lots of things I think you can do that can deepen a friendship while not necessarily involving talking about your feelings.

J: And we know all that stuff is hard. We don't want it to sound like it's not.

S: No, no. It is.

J: We just think it's worth doing.

S: Yeah.

J: There's also a puzzle piece -- and I don't mean to run past your question, Anne -- that I think of as being shaped like one of those throwing stars?

S: Yeah, that might be all legs, though.

J: Oh, you call that "all legs."

S: Maybe.

J: You know, there was a massive argument in the Tetris community. As, like, classical Tetris became a bigger deal, over how we were going to describe the pieces. Because everybody in their own world had developed their own descriptions of the piece shapes?

 (10:00) to (12:00)

S: Ohhhh. What are they?

J: Well now it's been sort of systematized to "square," "I piece," which is the long bar, "J," which is like that, and... is it... "L"?

S: What's the... boop boop? [sing-songy] Boop boop boop boop. Boop boop boop.

J: That's a "Z piece."

S: Yeah. Z. Yeah! Or an N.

J: But there's more than one Z piece, right? There's the one that goes Z and then there's the one that goes the other way.

S: That's on its side.

J: I can't remember what they call that one.

S: Z and N.

J: Maybe. And then there's the T piece. Which is three down...

S: The one that looks like a T.

J: Yeah. That's the good one. T piece is overwhelmingly my favorite of the Tetris pieces.

S: Is it?

J: It is.

S: Yeah. Okay. Well, cool.

J: God, I love Tetris.

S: Yeah. You could play Tetris with a friend. 

J: Yeah, play Tetris with a friend. Yeah.

S: Online. You don't even have to go anywhere.

J: They have a game called Tetris 100. It's like Fortnite but for Tetris.

S: This question comes from V:

Dear John and Sarah,
Do humans have any physiological changes we undergo as the seasons go by? Every spring my cats shed their winter fur by the handful and it got me to wondering whether we have anything comparable. Maybe I'm forgetting something obvious? Or maybe there's something really subtle that happens? I know that the question of whether humans have pheromones is a complicated one. But is there something that reliably, measurably changes about the human body in any particular season? Is there a human equivalent of growing a summer coat? Or are all ours artificial, like tanning or shaving, or very real but not universal, like seasonal depression?
Axial tilt and antlers,

S: I mean, I of course think about the reproductive system. Which isn't quarterly but more monthly. Or roughly so.

J: But it's not seasonal in the sense that it doesn't respond to heat and cold and wetness and dryness, does it? [chuckles] I mean, maybe it does. I'm not an expert, y'all.

 (12:00) to (14:00)

S: [laughs] No, but I mean, I guess, like... seasons, yeah. So it has to be about weather adaptations, but not...

J: But the other thing to remember is that seasonality, as we conceive of it, is not universal. Right? In Sierra Leone people don't talk about summer, spring, winter, fall. They talk about rainy season, dry season.

S: Rainy and dry, right.

J: That's the case in a lot of the world. And then you have a place like New Y-- [laughs] I was gonna say New York -- Los Angeles, the New York of California, where... I mean...

S: Is it, though?

J&S: [simultaneously] San Fransisco. 

S: [laughs]

J: You're right. You're right. Yeah, you're right. 

S: LA's kind of, like. The Miami...?

J: The Miami of California?

S: ...of the West Coast? No.

J: I think of it as sort of being the Indianapolis of the west.

S: [laughing] No, no, no. That's, like, Sacremento. Anyway, let's move on here. Yeah, so seasons are reliant on Earth you are.

J: [overlapping] In LA there are no seasons. And people in LA will tell you that there are seasons. They'll be like, "Oh, no, it's, like, six degrees warmer. We have different winds," or whatever. There are no seasons, functionally.

S: But the human body does adapt to your environment. You know what I'm sayin'? Like, I remember when I went to summer camp in Alabama growing up. And I get there and because I was so used to air conditioning I was suuuuuper hot in the beginning. And then by the time I left I had, sort of, adjusted to the extreme heat and humidity. So much so that when I went home into my air-conditioned house I was freezing

J: Interesting.

S: Yeah. So. I mean, I think you do get used to... I don't know.

J: I don't know, man. I've lived in Indianapolis for 15 years and just today I was walking through that sideways freezing rain that we have? 

 (14:00) to (16:00)

J: Y'know, where it appears to be coming up from the ground because the wind is so extreme. [coughs] Sorry, I started crying.

S: [laughs]

J: 'Cause I'm so upset about wintery mix in April. It's not fair! 

S: Well, it is April. April is the cruelest month.

J: Oh god, it's so true. What did he mean by that? Do we know?

S: We'd have to look it up. Where winds, and... something. Winds and wheels.

J: Boy, you...

S: Shoot. Lively and lush.

J: Your poetry memory is just incredible.

S: No it's not.

J: So beautiful.

S: April... 

J: It's the beginning of The Wasteland, right? I don't even remember what poem it's from.

S: Yeah. "'April's the cruelest month,' thus begins one of the most important pieces of modern poetry ever written"! TS Eliot's The Wasteland. From Part I: The Burial of the Dead

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
S: [attempts Starnbergersee pronunciation three times as Starnsburgersee]

J: No, you gotta take it way out, just like you did the first time.

S: Starn--

J: Like, where you don't know what you're talking about

S: Coming over the Starns-burger-see.

J: Perfect.

S: [laughing, continues]
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.

J: Now it gets German so we're gonna stop.

S: Yeah, we're gonna stop there. "April's the coolest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land."

J: That doesn't seem that cruel. [laughs] Seems like good news.

S: [overlapping] Well, but it is. I think about contrast. Like, breeding something beautiful out of the death and darkness.

J: Yeah, but what is that cruel?

S: Because the good and the bad are so closely juxtaposed. You go from wintery mix to, like, glorious, beautiful spring.

 (16:00) to (18:00)

J: Mmm. Okay.

S: That's my reading.

J: Having listened to you read that so beautifully my big conclusion is that there must be some physiological changes because, at least according to TS Eliot, one of the major poets of the 20th century, winter kept us warm, covering Earth in forgetful snow, and summer surprised us. So we had different physiological reactions. One, paradoxically, of warmth in the cold, and the other of surprise in the summer. So, the answer to your question is "yes," and I will not be dealing any further...

S: Maybe Hank could follow up in the next episode? [laughs]

J: No. No. I don't want an answer from Hank. I want an answer from us. Hank is not available.

S: Okay.

J: [reads]

Dear John and Sarah,
On the internet a seemingly common joke about a low-res image is that the pic is potato quality. But could a person take a picture with a potato? Like, layer on light-receptive chemicals on the surface or the inside of a potato and take a picture? Is it possible?
My cat says hi,

J: It's a camera obscura, right?

S: I think they mean a print, not "can a potato become a camera?" But could it become the surfa-- could it be a medium onto which a photo could be rendered? Right?

J: Let's skip the question.

S: Okay. [laughs] You can include that, Tuna. Sarah, we respect your question and we don't know. [laughs] It's a great question.

J: It would be really cool to print a photograph.

S: I'm feeling Hank's absence.

J: I'm feeling Hank's absence in a big way. 

S: Again. I'm sorry.

J: I know. We really need Hank here. 

S: We need a science person.

J: It would be really beautiful to print a photograph on a very thinly-sliced potato. I would be into that.

S: Okay. This question comes from Cate[sp?]:

 (18:00) to (20:00)

O Glorious Greens,
I am doing my first year of college and I don't know how to do anything. I don't feel like I can commit to anything. College, not college, invest in a job, have a job just for the money. I guess just things that come from deep desires and goals. I have neither of these. I try and let myself be pulled by the winds of my values, but largely it's just wincing my way through with Lexapro. Please advise.
Not a crab,

J: Yeah. So.

S: So, don't... I mean, I think Cate has accurately identified the human condition?

J: Well certainly the human condition of being in your first year of college, right? Like, "I don't know how to do anything and I don't feel like I can commit to anything" is still how I feel a lot of the time but it's how I felt basically all of the time when I was that age. Where there's this infinite number of things you could do.

S: Too many things.

J: Way too many.

S: Too many clubs.

J: Too many jobs! Too many majors.

S: Classes. Yeah.

J: Too many classes. Too many opportunities that aren't classes.

S: Too many passionate people around you?

J: Right, and then you have some percentage of people who know exactly what they want to do and they want to be doctors or lawyers or whatever and they're taking all of the doctoring classes.

S: Or that's what they say and have decided. They don't actually know.

J: Maybe they don't.

S: Some of them do.

J: I've never been one of them. I don't know what it's like to be them.

S: [laughing] Well, but we know plenty of people who decided at some point in life that they wanted to be a _____ and they do all the things to become a _____. And then they become a ____ and they're like, "Oh. Is this all there is?"

J: [overlapping] "I don't like that as much." I know. I mean, I'm married to one such person and one such person is married to me, I think.

S: Yeah.

J: So it's difficult. It's really difficult but I think what's difficult about it at that age... in some ways, like, it's a bummer that I will never be a doctor. Right? 

 (20:00) to (22:00)

J: Like, in some ways it's a bummer that I will never a TB researcher because I discovered my passion for tuberculosis inquiry later in life. And also because I suck at chemistry. In some ways it's sad that I will never be a Mr Beast-style YouTuber who makes fast-paced stuff for the people.

S: [humming in the background as if disagreeing]

J: It's sad to me. I would love... Sarah.

S: [disappointed hum]

J: I would be happy. If only I had 100,000,000 subscribers.

S: Okay, I think we're getting away from Cate. Oh, I forgot. You're dubious, I'm earnest.

J: Exactly. You got confused. So my point is that as you get older, in some ways that stuff is sad. In some ways it's really a relief? Because that's sort of, like, infinite possibility that was kinda crushed when you were, like, 19, where-- "God, I could get any of these things. Which one should I be? I don't know which one to be." Was sort of terrifying and overwhelming. I don't have that anymore. 

S: Right.

J: Because I know the things, approximately... I don't know all of them. But I know most of the things I'm gonna be.

S: Well, yeah. Life can surprise you, though. And what I like about your description, Cate, is "I try and let myself be pulled by the winds of my values," because they are winds. They are winds that come up against reality. And not, just, like, a cold, hard reality, but the reality of your college situation. And what you need in terms of whether you need to earn income, whether you have time to join ____ club, or do whatever. And so all they are is winds. That are informed by whatever you end up doing. But at a certain point, like, I mean, I would almost embrace how random those decisions are. 

 (22:00) to (24:00)

S: Because maybe you throw a dart [laughs] at the list of activities or whatever, and are like-- You John Cage it. And say, "I'm gonna do-- I'm gonna join whatever club I close my eyes and put my finger on the screen to." You know what I mean? Or, "Whoever asks me at the student center..." Y'know?

J: But, when it comes to big questions like, "Should I go to college or not go to college? Should I stay in college or leave college?" I do think that it's not totally an act of randomness, right? Like, I think you've got to kinda play the odds a little bit?

S: Yeah, well, Cate is doing Cate's first year of college.

J: "I don't feel like I can commit to anything. College or not college."

S: Right.

J: So they are making that decision.

S: Yeah. Yeah, that's true.

J: So.

S: Yeah.

J: Yeah.

S: But sometimes you just have to make one decision. To build on others. And be okay with it not necessarily, like, being the most thoroughly considered...

J: Well, and be okay with it shutting out other options.

S: Right.

J: Because actually shutting out other options is an essential part of growing up.

S: But it's scary.

J: Yeah, it sucks. It's scary but it ends up being good news most of the time, I think? And, as you say, there's actually a lot of life left. We have a friend who worked in advertising until he was 40 years old and then become a nurse. And is a great nurse. And that's sometimes the way that it goes in life. So I would just encourage you to... I mean, I always wanna say "stay in school" because that's the way I was taught, but I dunno if that's always the right call, Cate. We're all just doing our best here. But nobody knows how to do anything and you're not alone in that feeling.

 (24:00) to (26:00)

S: But sometimes-- wasn't it Sister Corita Kent, the art-making nun, who said, like, sometimes you have to choose a place to stay and then stay there for a little while?

J: Mmhmm.

S: Y'know? And Corita Kent was talking about art, as a way to plant and some kind of practice. And then commit for a short time long enough to see where it goes.

J: Right. Because no matter what, the first year of college is really hard and the second year is easier, and the third year is easier than that, and the fourth year is easier than that. I think it's find a place to trust, and then stay there a while?

S: Yes! Yes. Find a place to trust and try trusting it for a little while.

J: Yeah. So that's what I would say, is if you can find a place to trust, or even if you glimpse the possibility of being in a place that you might be able to trust in the future, do try to stay there for a while.

S: Yeah. Good luck, Cate.

J: You're gonna need it 'cause 99.99% of life is luck. [pauses] Is that a good way to go?

S: [laughing] No.

J: It's true, though. Can I ask this question about being a....

S: Yes.

J: ...a moth?

S: Sure.

J: Because it'll-- do you know my favorite joke?

S: [laughs] Yeah I do.

J: Have you heard the one about the moth?

S: I have heard it. And I'm sure this audience has as well. At least once.

J: Goes into a podiatrist's office?

S: Yes, I've heard.

J: Oh. Do you remember what the moth says?

S: "The light was on."

J: Well, you skipped the whole setup and went straight to the punchline.

S: [gleefully] I know!

J: It's almost like you don't want me to tell the joke again.

S: [laughs] I ruined it. [laughs]

J: Sarah writes:

If we're all just moths flying toward the light and no one knows whether we're really making decisions or just responding to stimuli, why do I constantly do things that are not helpful to me? Why do I stay up an hour later instead of going to bed when I'm tired, or drink soda instead of water when I'm thirsty? And why is it that sometimes I do drink water or go to sleep on time, but not always? 

 (26:00) to (28:00)

J: [continues reading]

Are there just a ton of metaphorical lights shining on us all at once? Which light is the one that makes me feel like I have to be doing something every minute of every day? Because I'd like to turn that one off.

J: Well. The thing about the moth joke--

S: So many Sarahs today.

J: I know. The thing about the moth joke, Sarah, is that it's a little bit of an oversimplification. Like a lot of jokes. I don't think life is as simple as we're always just flying toward the light. And also I think you're right that there are lots and lots of lights, right? Like, the TikTok corporation is a light. And it wants you to fly toward it and that might be why you stay up later one night than you do another night. And the Dr Pepper-Snapple-Keurig corporation is a light and they want you to have a soda instead of water. In fact, they sort of want you to doubt that water is safe. So that you will consume more and more Dr Pepper-Keurig-Snapple beverages. And at the same time you're getting lots of other messages that tell you that, like, you should drink water. And you should go to bed at 10 pm. And so I think that the ways that we're responding to stimuli are extremely complicated. We need to remember that and remember how much uncertainty there is in all of this. Like, the other day Hank was at the doctor and the doctor was like, "Yadda yadda yadda, how are you feeling? Do you understand how your ulcerative colitis medication works?" And Hank was like, "No. I don't. And I'm not convinced that you do, either. Because we are trillions of chemical reactions happening all at the same time and I'm not sure that we have a full understanding of the situation in which we find ourselves." Hank's... he's stopped talking about being a person? Which I think is really interesting. And he's started referring to himself as being "whatever it is that I am."

S: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I think of this... I have a little bit of a different view of this question.

 (28:00) to (30:00)

S: Because I think we tend to do whatever's easiest, okay? So-- And sometimes-- And, like-- But you do have-- You can set up your life so that the easier thing to do is what your goal is. Okay? So, like, I plug my phone in at night in the bathroom so that I can't scroll in bed. Number one. And so that when my alarm goes off I have to get up and out of bed and then it's easier for me to stay up than it is to hit snooze and get back in bed. And then do it again because it's that getting up that's so hard. So after the band-aid's pulled off-- So, like. I also know that, like, opening a can of La Croix is easy. Is easier than, like, getting out a cup and, like, putting some ice in it and putting some water in it. So, like, I filled some empty bottles with filtered water and I keep 'em in the fridge. And, like, I made that. And, like, this-- I don't mean this as like, the key to life is dadada, but I do think that we tend to do whatever's easiest.

J: No, I really appreciate those life hacks, Gwyneth Paltrow.

S: [laughs] Oh, come now.

J: Do you have a-- hey! I can't believe you're getting an IV right now, that's so on-brand for you. Does it have, like, vitamin E and aloe in it?

S: No, it's sour cream. [laughs]

J: [laughs] Actually it's just burritos. It's just sorta, like, munched-up burritos. So I agree with that, but here's the thing, Sarah. Like, even when you do that you are flying to the light. You did not invent the idea--

S: But I'm admitting--

J: --that tap water is better for you than a La Croix. You did not-- and better for the Earth. It's actually more better for the Earth than it is better for you. You didn't invent the idea that, like, you need to be separated from your phone in order to sleep better.

S: No, right.

 (30:00) to (32:00)

J: And so you're still flying to a light. 

S: Yes.

J: My argument is that you can't separate your so-called, like, rugged individuality, your consciousness from the rest of the shared consciousness of humanity or at least of your particular community.

S: Yeah. No, I see that. But I think acknowledging how impressionable we are--

J: Yeah, yeah, yeah totally. And then trying to be thoughtful about how we're going to be impressioned.

S: Right.

J: Trying to be careful about it. 

S: Right.

J: That's why I listen to Goop podcast every week.

S: [laughing] You're so--

J: I do! So that I can get a different worldview. Actually, that reminds me that today's podcast, this episode of Dear Hank and John is brought to you by Goop! 

S: Is it?

J: Goop!

S: Oh.

J: Yeah. It's our official sponsor.

S: Oh gosh.

J: We will accept money from, I mean, anybody. Especially for the fake sponsors. 

S: Well, I'm glad I've already eaten quite a bit today. This podcast is also brought to us by The Word "Delete." It existed before the personal computer and it shall probably exist-- probably not after the personal computer but--

J: Ooh, that's a good one. You don't think so?

S: Hmmm. I don't know.

J: Now, this is exactly the kind of, like--

S: TBD. [laughs]

J: This is the kind of natural, friendly conversations that sponsors always want. 

S: They do.

J: So you're welcome to the delete key for giving you that kind of high-quality ad read. And of course today's podcast is additionally brought to you by Not Knowing What The Heck You Are Doing In Life: Not Knowing What The Heck You Are Doing In Life, y'know. For somebody--

S: It's underrated. [laughs]

J: I dunno. I think it's appropriately rated. I think it's difficult. But I hear you.

S: This episode of Dear John and Sarah is also brought to us by April. The Cruelest Month.

J: Yeah. It really is. You've a great voice for radio.

 (32:00) to (34:00)

S: Thank you. So do you. You know it, though.

J: D'you think that you could sneak in a reading of that Frank O'Hara poem?

S: Which one? Having a Coke With You?
J: Yeah.

S: Into this episode?

J: Do you think we're, like, far enough in that we're not going to get copyright struck on it?

S: Hm. No, I don't. I've talked to Margaret O'Hara. [laughs] The sister of the very talented poet and curator Frank O'Hara. But I encourage everyone listening to go google, right now, Having a Coke With You by Frank O'Hara and read it. It's lovely.

J: Alright, Sarah, before we get to the all-important news from Mars and AFC Wimbledon I wanna ask you a football question from Farin, who writes:

I have somehow been talked into refereeing peewee soccer games despite the entirety of my football knowledge coming from listening to this podcast. 

J: Well that's all you need, really, Farin. As long you know who Ayoub Assal and Ali al-Hamadi are, you'll be just fine. [continues reading]

Our first games of the season went pretty well and then our second games were won by soggy pitch.

J: Ugh, that's just the most-- in both peewee soccer and League Two soccer it truly is one of the most formidable enemies. [continues reading]

Here's the question: What shoes should I wear to better protect my toes from being squashed by cleats so many times while still being able to run fast enough?
I sing Bruised Little Piggies,

S: That is tough!

J: Don't you think you should also wear cleats?

S: Yeah, but--

J: Wear soccer cleats.

S: But cleats don't protect your toes, really.

J: Here's what I would do: I would go into your local shoe provider and I would say, "I want cleats but I'm not a soccer player. I am a referee. And so I want cleats that have some thickness on the toe." And then the other thing I would do, Farin, is I would try to stay away from those players. [laughs]

S: You know what I might do? I might take some Crocs...

 (34:00) to (36:00)

J: What now??

S: And then customize them? [laughs]

J: What??

S: I don't [laughs]. We gotta [laughs]. I was kidding. You have to wear 'em in sport mode of course.

J: Of course. I thought that you gonna earnest advice.

S: No. [laughs]

J: And suddenly you're like, "Oh yeah, you should--" I was thinking that you were gonna say-- Alright, so here's an argument where you could use Crocs. Cut out part of the top of the Crocs and then, like, glue it on top of the soccer cleats. So you have a little more protection on top, maybe?

S: You could metal plate some Crocs.

J: What if you just went in with full Dr Martens? Y'know? And you were just a Dr Marten referee?

S: [overlapping] It's not really easy to run in those, though.

J: But you're a referee. 

S: Yeah.

J: As I'm sure you're finding out, Farin, the key with being a referee is just being in the right place so that you never have to more than a light job.

S: I would wear whatever shoes you can run the fastest in. And just stay away from those children.

J: Do you remember when our beautiful son was a referee in peewee soccer games?

S: He was great!

J: He was a great referee but he was also somewhat suggestable. So, like, if one of the parents would scream, like, "That's a corner kick," he'd be like, "Well, I mean, that does seem like the way to minimize the stress of that parent. We're gonna say that's a corner kick." But he was. He was really good and he was super supportive of the kids.

S: Yeah, he was great.

J: He was just a little intimidated by the parents. But then who's not?

S: Yeah. Yeah.

J: Yeah. Well, we wish you luck, Farin, and congratulations on refereeing. It is the most underappreciated but really vital facet of the game of soccer.

S: Yes, hats off.

J: Yes. We respect you even if maybe some of the parents will yell at you.

S: Mmhmm.

J: There was, I remember, in that same league -- when Henry was playing, not when he was refereeing -- I remember there was one moment where one of the opposing coaches -- you were actually the coach of Henry's team -- but one of the opposing coaches started yelling at the linesman, saying that something had been offside. 

 (36:00) to (38:00)

J: And finally, after being berated and berated and berated the linesman's epic comeback was, "I'm fourteen."

S: [laughs] Was the perfect, perfect response.

J: It's the most precise. It's like, "I think you need to shut your mouth, old man." Alright, H-- Alright, Hank. What's your name?

S: [laughs]

J: Is it Hank?

S: Uhhhh. It's. It's, uh. Sarah. Last time I checked. [reads]

Dear John and Sarah,
Could you put your combined knowledge together to explain how my grandmother has the tuberculosis germ but is surrounded by antibodies so we don't have to have a heck of concern? Any time I hear about this I nod like I understand. But I absolutely do not. Why are people dying of tuberculosis while this 85-year-old, fragile white lady is just chilling with this deadly germ in her body?
Tuberculosis and terror,

J: Well. That is a big question. And to say that we fully understand it, I think, would be inaccurate. Because there's a lot that we don't fully fully understand about tuberculosis. But here is what we do know: About a quarter of all humans are infected with tuberculosis like your grandmother is. And almost all of them will never get sick. The reasons for this are complicated. Generally, if a tuberculosis infection-- You're right that your grandmother has this, it's called a tubercule, where there's a little bit of tuberculosis that's inside of her that her body can't kill and so instead all these white blood cells have surrounded it. Almost like a tiny golf ball that has tuberculosis in the middle of it but that tuberculosis won't ever be able to get out because it's surrounded by all these white blood cells. That's the idea, anyway. And she may have many tubercules. 

 (38:00) to (40:00)

J: She may have many of these things. But at any rate, over 50% of the time that someone is gonna get sick from tuberculosis they get sick within a year or two of the initial infection. And so most people who will become ill with tuberculosis will become ill within a couple years after being infected. And the risk factors for becoming ill are things like malnutrition, having a really severe immunocompromising condition like untreated HIV, for instance. And there are other risk factors as well including some about age and poverty, is a big risk factor. So the reason your grandmother is good, probably, is because she's had this infection for a long time. It's been in a sort of state of balance for a long time. And once something is in a state of balance for a long time it's pretty hard to upset that balance. That's not to say that she could never develop active disease because she could. If she were severely immunocompromised at some point, if her body went through a lot of physiological stress, then it's possible. But it is very unlikely and it's not something that you really need to worry about, probably. And that is, you're right, a stark, stark contrast from the experiences of the tens of millions of people who will get sick with tuberculosis this year. And I do think that we need to really consider why it is that we are able in the rich world to live with such a low burden of tuberculosis while other communities are not able to do that.

S: Look at that earnestness.

J: Oh, I'm very earnest about TB. 

 (40:00) to (42:00)

J: I'm almost too earnest about it.

S: Yeah. Yeah.

J: Because I'm trying to bring some voice-y-ness, some humor to my TB work but all I feel is anger.

S: Right. It comes from a good place, John.

J: Yeah. Alright, speaking of coming from a good place AFC Wimbledon were in a good place earlier this season.

S: They were. I'm sorry.

J: We're so bad. We were ahead 2-1 in the 92nd minute. Went outside... We had some friends come over and I went outside to greet them, went back inside and we'd lost the game. [laughs]

S: Oh. Gosh. The pain!

J: Then we played Stevenage and we decided to take on a different strategy. So we've been 1-0 up in most of the games that we've ended up losing but we decided to take a different strategy of going 1-0 down. Which I was completely in favor of. We let in a goal in the fourth minute and I was like, "Obviously we've, y'know, back in the locker room Johnnie Jackson explained to the boys that we need to let a goal in immediately because the other way isn't working." And then Ali al-Hamadi, my favorite player maybe ever. I mean if he leaves over the summer I don't know what I will do. The only time I have ever been tempted to hide spending from you is I am tempted to pay Ali al-Hamadi's wages. Quietly, without you knowing. I am tempted. I'm not gonna lie about it. It's just important for me to tell the truth. That said, he scored a goal to tie the game and then through a really unfortunate error we gave up a goal and we lost 2-1. And we are not technically safe from relegation yet. And we also haven't, y'know, like, we've lost 13 out of-- or failed to win 13 out of our last 14 games. And I'm a little worried. We need one more win or some results to go our way in the last four games of the season. Or else we could not be a full-time professional team in the football league anymore, and that's a really really scary thought. 

 (42:00) to (44:00)

J: And it would be truly catastrophic for the club. And we just... We have to figure out a way to make that not happen.

S: Yeah. And it's all on the shoulders of these lads who feel it. They feel the pressure.

J: They definitely feel it. And I don't blame them. I mean, they definitely feel it. It's not all on their shoulders.

S: That's true.

J: It's also on everybody's shoulders. But yeah, there's a lot of pressure on them and they feel it and that doesn't make it easier and I don't envy the situation that they're in. And a lot of them are so young! I mean, a lot of these-- y'know, Ali al-Hamadi's 20.

S: I know.

J: Jack Currie's 19. I mean these are--

S: That's why I called them lads.

J: Yeah, they're lads.

S: They're lads

J: They're just little lads.

S: Mmhmm.

J: What's the news from Mars?

S: Well, I don't have news from Mars but I do have news from the pottery lab.

J: Oooh!

S: I'm trying to figure out what to call my new little space for making pottery. It's unheated so I've been waiting for it to get warm enough. I like pottery. "Pottery studio" is a little too formal.

J: It's a little pretentious.

S: "Pottery lab..." too clinical. "Pottery barn," kinda funny.

J: Kinda funny but.

S: Pottery Barn. Potter--

J: I get it.

S: I dunno. Yeah. [laughs]

J: "The pottery lab" is what the pottery studio was called at our high school.

S: Was it?

J: So whenever you say "pottery lab" I always think of--

S: The pottery lab.

J: --that little pottery room.

S: Yeah. It was by the chemistry lab.

J: I know. I got kicked out there.

S: Yeah. [laughs]

J: [laughs] I was expelled from school in that very room.

S: So I'm gonna update you on what I'm up to now.

J: Yeah, great.

S: So John and I have been planting some trees this spring and I wanna make some ceramic markers that are going to identify what type of tree they are. And I'm gonna make some samples so we can see how sturdy they are. Are they a shape?

 (44:00) to (46:00)

S: Does a shape indicate the tree and then there's a key? Or do they have to say what they are?

J: Ohhhhh. That's interesting. Now, lemmie ask you -- and you know how I like to turn your projects into bigger projects.

S: Yes.

J: But is there a way that we could also expand this to have a few of those markers in the forest?

S: Ohhh.

J: That's behind the pottery lab.

S: Right.

J: With existing mature trees so that we could know this an ash, which are increasingly rare, sadly, in Indiana. This is an elm. This is an oak. This is a sugar maple, whatever. I think that'd be really cool

S: Yeah. Yeah.

J: I think the trees would appreciate it, too.

S: I hope they would. I hope they'll like it. It's like an accessory. [laughs] It's like a nametag.

J: I just think it's always nice for trees when you give them something that isn't made of wood, y'know? Like, ceramics are made out of dirt. 

S: Here's some baked dirt.

J: Here's some baked dirt. And that will make you feel better than if I have-- Whenever I see a wooden sign identifying a tree I'm like, "This is a bummer for the tree."

S: [laughs] Yes.

J: They know where that came from. So, I think it's great that it's ceramics.

S: It's like cannibalism. [laughs]

J: It's close to cannibalism, right? It's close to feeding your chickens chicken nuggets.

S: Yeah, yeah.

J: And I don't like it. So I love ceramic tree identifiers. How many shapes could you make, though?

S: Infinite.

J: There's a lot of different trees here.

S: I know, I know.

J: There's like 20 or 30 different kinds of trees.

S: It would be unfortunate if it required a key, y'know? Like, they should probably be able to be understood by anyone who understands English, right?

J: Anyone who's prancin' through the forest? I feel like it should be a pretty limited number of people, frankly.

S: [laughs] 'Cause they could just be attractive, colorful things that have meaning to only some people.

 (46:00) to (48:00)

J: 'Cause it could be both. Yeah, and then you just hand out the key.

S: 'Cause there's also colors.

J: You hand out the key to visiting artists or friends or whatever. 

S: Right.

J: Because yeah, you could do both color and shapes. So blue square could be sugar maple and, like, red square could be red maple.

S: Mmhmm.

J: Mm! I love it. I forgot that you can color pottery. Now, that does that involve any wood?

S: [laughs] Color. You could color pottery. What do we do, John?

J: We call it "staining."

S: Glazing.

J: We call it glazing.

S: [laughs] Glazing.

J: Yes. There's a process.

S: So that is the news from my pottery-making space that needs a name.

J: If you have any good names for the pottery-making space let us know.

S: It is an old shed-type building.

J: It is a shed from 1890 that is unheated but very nice.

S: Yes. Well.

J: I mean, as places without electricity or running water go. [laughs]

S: [laughing] It has a hose hookup.

J: It does have a hose hookup.

S: Yeah.

J: So it's pretty fancy.

S: If you have any ideas for what I should call it please, please propose them.

J: Yeah, write to us at hankandjohn at gmail dot com. Also, I'm lookin' for a name for the shed where I work. Which is, y'know, maybe 50 feet away from that shed.

S: Right. But yours is gonna have heat and plumbing.

J: It will. [sing-songy] Gonna have a bathroom! I'm pretty excited

S: Well, and we've been calling it "The Writer Shack."

J: Yeah, that's not right.

S: But it doesn't feel right. And also after we fix it up "shack" won't be the right term for it.

J: Yeah. And if you've watched any of the format videos you might've seen this place, or watched the video where I made pottery. 'Cause we used to make pottery there. But if you have a name for that shed other than "The Writing Shed," which just doesn't work.

S: Yeah. Writing shack.

J: I don't really think of it as a shed anyway.

S: No.

J: It's like. It's just a small...

S: It's like a little cabin?

J: It's like a sm-- It's like a cabin... slash studio apartment.

S: [laughs] Yeah.

J: It's like a 300-- 

 (48:00) to (49:25)

J: It's like a tiny house. It has everything you need for a house.

S: It's like a detached...

J: Tiny house. It's like a 300 sqft tiny house.

S: with a bathroom and a kitchenette.

J: Yeah. Or will. Will have that.

S: And what are you gonna do there?

J: [pause] [exhales loudly] Uhhhhhh.

S: [laughing] Oh John. You don't have to be too philosophical about it. He's gonna write. He going to do the internet.

J: I'm gonna try to put one word in front of another and not log onto Twitter.

S: Yeah. He's gonna make TikToks. He's gonna exercise his format.

J: Yeah. Gonna use the format for sure.

S: He's gonna eat things.

J: Yeah. Yeah.

S: Drink diet Dr Pepper.

J: Attract mice. Yeah.

[outro music by Gunnarolla begins]

J: Well thanks to everybody for listening. We are so grateful to have you here with us and so grateful to all of y'all for your questions that you can submit at hankandjohn at gmail dot com. Sorry we didn't answer more questions, as always. This podcast is edited by Josef "Tuna" Metesh. It's produced by Rosianna Halse-Rojas. Our head of community and communications is Brooke Shotwell. We had no editorial help this week from Deboki Chakravarti and boy could you tell! [laughs] But she and Hank's brilliant minds working together will be back next week. And in the mean time thank again for listening. And as they say in our hometown:

J&S: Don't Forget To Be Awesome.