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Is there a secret planet opposite ours? Is strawberry flavor fooling us all? How can we be better listeners? Why do people ghost other people?

 Intro (00:00)

Hank: Hello and welcome to Dear Hank and John
John: Or, as I prefer to think of it, Dear John and Hank.
HANK: Uh, it's a podcast where me and my brother John answer all your questions, give you dubious advice, and bring you all the week's news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon. Hi, John, how are you?
JOHN: I - uh - (stutters and laughs) you're so sad!
HANK: (laughs)
JOHN: That was the saddest intro I've ever heard! Uh, our -
HANK: I did my best.
JOHN: You know, it's, uh, it's never a funny comedy podcast, but this particular episode of Dear Hank and John is going to be particularly un-funny because Hank's beloved dog, Lemon, uh, has just died, uh -
HANK: Yup.
JOHN: and also, uh, because, uh, I have just learned, in the last hour that the brilliant novelist Harper Lee has died. One of my favorite writers. And, um, yeah! So don't expect any funny today.
HANK: Yeah, um, it was always a comedy podcast about death, and now it's just a death comedy – uh, a death podcast about death.
JOHN: Now it's just a death podcast about death. Now it's just all death all the time. Uh, speaking of which, Hank, before we even get to how we're doing, which I think the answer is universally terrible, I have to say that there's an important correction to one of our previous episodes. And this comes from Matt, who would like to inform us that in fact, despite it being the shortest month, February is not the deadliest month, at least in the United States. August and September share the title for the least deadly month, with the August death rate being the lowest while September is the lowest by total deaths. February is fourth in total deaths and third in deaths per day! So –
HANK: Wait, wait, wait –
JOHN: So, we are still in the thick of the - the death season.
HANK: One of - one of the things you said didn't make any sense there at the end. It's fourth in death rate and third in deaths per day. Oh –
JOHN: No, it's fourth in total deaths and third in death rate.
HANK: Oh, this is too confusing for my brain right now. In - in any case –
JOHN: All I can tell you, Hank, is that February is a terrible time to be alive.
HANK: Well, it is –
JOHN: Because your chances of dying are exceptionally high.
HANK: Yeah! Yeah! It's very – like, it seems, it seems very unlikely to me and I would like to know why! Except that it's cold and people are like "eh!"
JOHN: Yeah?
HANK: Had enough! Had enough of thing.
JOHN: No, I mean, I am inclined to agree. Uh, the, the best time to be alive is, hmm, probably August. Uh, maybe September, depending on how you calculate it. But January and February are just overwhelmingly the worst. To, uh, give you a little bit of context: in February, the average number of deaths per day in the United States is 7,081. In September it's 6,051.
HANK: Wow.
JOHN: That's more than a thousand deaths per day less!
HANK: Wow! That's a big difference! That is not just a big difference in numbers –
JOHN: I know!
HANK: – It's a big difference in actual numbers of people. Not just in numbers but in percentage. Um that's... that's very strange, and also I'm kind of surprised by how few people die per month.
JOHN: Well, in the United States.
HANK: But still! That's – I don't know, there's 300,000,000 of us. It's surprising that only, only 6,000 people die in any month.
JOHN: Well...
HANK: Uh, what do, what do all the people who work for funeral homes even do?
JOHN: All I can tell you, Hank, is that I can not wait for August.
HANK: [Laughing] Oh right. Well I, I uh, my favorite month is September. So I guess that plays out in the stats as well
JOHN: So, we just have to pause briefly to commemorate the life of Harper Lee, author of "To Kill a Mockingbird". Harper Lee, who wrote, "There are just some kind of men who-- who're so busy worrying about the next world, they've never learned to live in this one..." And who wrote, "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." And Harper Lee who also wrote the single greatest line of dialogue in American literature, "Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passin'."
Hank, she was one of my favourite writers, especially when I was a young person. And when my son was born, we gave him the middle name Atticus, partly because of the historical Atticus, but partly because of Atticus Finch the great hero in the novel 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. And, uh, my publisher, Julie Strauss-Gabel, after Henry was born, sent Harper Lee, uh, some copies of my books, and uh Ms. Lee very kindly sent one of them back: a first printing of "Looking for Alaska," that she signed on the title page, "Welcome to the world Henry Atticus, Harper Lee." 
HANK: I feel like that was our short poem already. I hope you don't have another one, because –
JOHN: But I have a short poem about dog death.
HANK: Oh really? You found a short poem about dog death?
JOHN: Of course I did, Hank.
HANK: [Laughing] Oh my goodness. Alright I'm going to take my headphones out. You do it and I'll be back. Just sort of yell when you're done.
JOHN: Okay. Uh, today's short poem  is by Mary Oliver, a great uh lover of dogs and also a wonderful poet. This is from her book, "Dog Songs" and the title of the poem is "If You Are Holding This Book."
You may not agree, you may not care, but if you are holding this book you should know, that of all the sights I love in this world, and there are plenty, very near the top of the list is this one: dogs without leashes.
HANK: [Laughing]
JOHN: "If You Are Holding This Book" from Mary Oliver's book, "Dog Songs."
HANK: I could handle that one.
JOHN: Alright, I tried – There are some sadder ones but I didn't want to make you cry in our comedy podcast.
HANK: [Laughing] It's so, so funny! It's such a funny podcast, John!
JOHN: Oh, man.
HANK: I'll tell you what, uh, It's weird, It's very – My emotions make no sense and they continue to surprise me, and I'm learning about myself through this process. Uh. and what I'm learning is, I ain't no rational being.
JOHN: [Laughing]
HANK: That's not what humans are, so uh it's something else and it sucks.
JOHN: Yeah, I'm really sorry uh she was a great dog and... it is, I mean it's a grieving process and I think no matter what kind of grief you experience, the main... one of my conclusions from grief is that grief is super weird.
HANK: Mhmm. Mhmm.
JOHN: Uh, and that if you try to judge yourself within the process of grief you're only going to complicate matters because it's complex and weird and I would argue that there aren't a lot of wrong ways to do it you just kind of gotta let yourself be yourself.
HANK: Alright, well I will take that advice, John. Do you want to talk about anything else before we answer a question?
JOHN: No. Maybe we should start off with a question about death.
HANK: Alright, that sounds like the kind of thing that might happen here on Dear Hank and John.

 Question 1 (7:47)

JOHN: Alright, so the first question of the day comes from Abbie who writes, "I'm the only child of a single parent who is dead. My father and I were extremely close and his death was without a doubt the worst thing that's ever happened to me, but  it does mean that in this terrible economy, I am a 26 year old with a low paid artsy job who owns a beautiful home in inner London, outright, and lives alone. I sometimes struggle to deal with other people's reactions to this as many people are confused by my rare situation and ask me how it happened and answering is very awkward and I've also found that some of my friends struggle not to sound jealous or bitter about it. As you host the best comedy podcast about death on the whole internet," Thank you, Abbie. "I thought you might be able to help. Do you have any dubious advice for me?"
HANK: (Laughs) Oh God. Well, it's good to answer questions that are you know, universal. Everyone deals with these issues. Of just, having this particular situation. It's a uh very surprising and unusual circumstance that you find yourself in. But I think, in a lot of ways, one that actually isn't that unusual. You know? The ridiculousness of capital. You know? Of the... of course I believe... to some extent, in the market and in the existence of capital. I understand that it needs to exist. But it is very strange how so many... how we all have very different amount of things and that allows uh... you know... it makes... well I think the easy way to say it is: if you have more stuff, when you have more assets, your life is easier. You can make different choices. You can, you know, it is easier to do the things you want to do. 
JOHN: Right, of course, but I'm sure that Abbie would in a heartbeat give up her house in London to have her relationship with her father back or to have her father living again. And I think that's one of the things that makes it so complicated and I mean, when we were talking earlier about how grief is inherently complicated, that's one of the things that's complicated about it, is that, you know, when you talk about someone who's died leaving you a legacy, you know. Part of that legacy is a physical house and that is a great blessing. It doesn't make the death any less horrible, it doesn't make the loss any less horrible, and you know I think the only way to deal with those awkward situations is to acknowledge that they are awkward and just to be like "Yeah I know it is weird and I feel weird about it too but this is what happened"
HANK: Right, right, and its almost as if, like its all a thing that we know. Like its a thing that we all know to say like "I wouldn't give up a loved one for wealth". Obviously like that's a thing that we all know. But to have gone through it is a different thing and to have learnt that lesson the hard way. Umm and so there's also a, there's some awkwardness in, not just inequality in material wealth, but inequality in experience and it can feel very scary and very uncomfortable to talk to someone who has lost something that you know is unusual to have lost at the age that they are, and that other people do not have that shared experience, and sadly that will get less common, it will be less the case as you get older. 
JOHN: Yeah it will become progressively less weird, but yeah I think that its, I always feel that with those awkward situations, really the only way to deal with it is to acknowledge the awkwardness.
HANK: Uh huh, yeah [mumbling] It's funny actually, is how I started this sentence. The night before we were taking Lemon into the vet to say goodbye, we went to get donuts - because that's how we were feeling - and so we went to Krispy Kreme. We were actually out, we were just picking up some food to take home and we were like 'Oh God, we're right next to Krispy Kreme' so we went to Krispy Kreme and the guy gave us our donuts and he said 'So how's your night going?' and we were like 'Ooh, I'm not gonna answer that question' [laughs] and - he was a very nice guy - he looked at me and was like 'Well, I hope it goes better' and I was like 'Thank you' because it's very strange, you know, the vast majority of time people are like 'How you doing?' and you're like 'Good' but I could not bring myself to say good, and he handled it very well, I felt like - in a way - I handled it well. But I was always kinda like, do I look like the kind of person who goes to Krispy Kreme at 9 o'clock at night because I'm having a good day? That's not, that's not who I am.
JOHN: [laughs] I don't know, I don't think it's inherently depressed to go to Krispy Kreme in the evening, I don't think there's any right time to go to Krispy Kreme.
HANK: [laughs] I suppose, I suppose. I definitely did feel like, well this is not a thing that I would normally do, but it did not make me feel better, I'll tell you that.
JOHN: It's funny how that works. I find that when I eat poorly it makes me feel better only while I am swallowing the food, and then, within 5 minutes, it makes me feel much worse.

 Question 2 (13:40)

HANK: All right, I have another question John, if you're up for that.
JOHN: I'm ready.
HANK: This one's from Daniel, who asks "Dear Hank and John, whenever I'm having conversations with a friend about a problem they're having, I often find myself suggesting solutions to the problem instead of just listening. I find it difficult to tell the difference between when someone wants me to suggest solutions and when someone just wants to be listened to. What are some tips to become a better listener?" I feel like I do this a lot, and John has given me advice on this very topic and so I am gonna shush.
JOHN: [laughs] Yeah, because God knows you talk too much on this comedy podcast. Umm, yeah I mean, I can only give the advice that my chaplaincy supervisor gave me many years ago and that I've tried to hold close to me every since, which is don't just do something, stand there. It is incredible powerful to listen, and to listen empathetically and so when I'm trying to listen to someone I'm always trying to pay close attention and then also to reflect their feelings and experiences back to them. We've talked about this in past comedy podcasts, but empathetic listening can sound a little bit stupid when you're talking about it in the abstract, so for instance if you had a friend who's saying 'you know I'm feeling really afraid of abandonment because my boyfriend is talking about moving to Korea' you might respond by saying 'It sounds like you're feeling afraid of abandonment.' Ideally you'll do it in a slightly more sophisticated way than that, so the person who you're talking to isn't like 'Did you just literally repeat what I said?' But, in my experience, even if you just literally repeat what they say, it's still helpful. They'll be like 'Yes, exactly!' and there's just something about having someone else validate your feelings that's very powerful.
HANK: Yeah, and I think that a lot of times people are talking about their problems because they need to hear them. They almost need you to be there so that they can feel okay talking to themselves, and that's really weird, but we don't feel okay talking to ourselves a lot of the time and also to help tease the feelings out because, as I have found in the last few days, it's very difficult to know what you feel all the time.
And so sometimes you just need to talk about it just so that you can know. And sometimes I wanna get a therapist even though I'm a pretty well adjusted person just so that I can have a person with a blank slate and be like 'Okay, I'm just gonna hit you with all this stuff' you know, you don't know anything about me, I don't know anything about you, let me hit you with all this stuff so that I can at least, like, hear what this sounds like to a person who isn't in the middle of it.
JOHN: Right, yeah that's one of the big benefits of having a therapist. I don't think that you have to have mental problems to go to therapy, I think, you know, going to a psychologist is very different to going to a psychiatrist. I would recommend it Hank, I've been in therapy pretty consistently since the year 2000 and my life has gotten consistently better over those 16 years [laughs]
HANK: [laughs] Correlation and causation, always the same.
JOHN: Yeah, but then again I don't wanna mess around with anything because the correlation is so strong.
HANK: Yeah, yeah totally.

 Question 3 (17:15)

JOHN: But it's... I know it's magical thinking to some extent. I have a question Hank, it's from Mallory, it is a fascinating question, I do not know if you will be able to answer it, but I find it very beautiful. She writes 'Dear John and Hank, my grandpa and I have been in a very heated argument for about 2 years. He believes there is a possibility that another planet exactly like Earth could be in our orbit on the opposite side of the Sun, making it impossible for us to ever see it and for it to ever see us. He saw this in an old movie once. I'm no astronomer but I did take some courses in college and I don't think this could happen. Could this fictional planet exist?' What a great question!
Hank: Well, well, first Mallory, I have to say I'm glad you took at least some courses in college.
John: Yeah, she didn't, Mallory did not say she took astronomy courses, but she did take some courses.
Hank: There was at least one course, maybe two, that were taken during college.
John: Ah, man, I took anthropology. I took pre-calc.
Hank: Those two. I took some courses. Ah, I-I, uh, first I'm glad that your grandfather and you are able to have this spirited debate. I hope that it's, that it's, uh, it's a pleasant one, and, uh, it's, it's also nice, uh, I think, when you're having a debate to know that you're right, which in this case you are. And, uh, but even, but, but, it's also important to recognize sometimes you're like, "I know I'm right, I know I'm right. I don't know why I'm right, but I know I'm right." And, yes, Mallory is right, and the reason we know--
John: Ah, dang it! I was hoping for a secret planet!
Hank: It's, it's unfortunate. And the reason I know I'm right is not because I know all the reasons why I'm right, it's because I, I have faith. I trust th-that the people who, uh, who study the universe have thought of this thing that was apparently in a movie a long time ago, and have checked, uh.
John: Oh, so you don't, so you don't actually know that it's impossible.
Hank: I do know that it's impossible, but Mallory doesn't because she only took some courses in college.
John: [laughing]
Hank: Uh.
John: Can you explain to me why it's impossible, please?
Hank: Uh, we, uh, have a pretty, pretty good, uh, pretty good grasp on the gravitational effects that all of the planets have on each other.
John: Oh
Hank: It is true that gravit-- that it's gravitational effects on Earth would be, would be, basically, invisible. Um, but, but there is, there's a bunch of different reasons, as with ah, ah, lots of cool things in science, ah, that we, uh, that we figure out. A bunch of different arrows all point to the same things. So we know how planets form, and we know that it would be extremely difficult for a planet to form this way - for two globs to perfectly pull all of the stuff from the planetary accretion disk into these opposite points. Um, if there were even very slightly different masses, they would eventually come together, which is what happens and why there is only one planet in each of the orbits, despite the fact that there is a gravitational point at which you could put another Earth and that they would go around each other. So there's that reason, there's also that, you know, we have studied the Earth, we also have things that sense - that are not on Earth, so you say 'Yes, it could be there and we wouldn't be able to see it' but we have eyes in other points in the Solar System. So there's lots of different reason why this is not a thing that could be. But, it's a fun though experiment and also, uh, you know, we do - there are a number of weird gravitational points like that, and we do utilize those. They are gravitationally stable points and there are asteroids in those places that are sort of like stably following us around, but, uh...
John: But not Earths.
Hank: No big objects, no - yeah no other, no other Earth - which would be amazing because it would be really easy to get to.
John: Yeah, that's what I was thinking. We could get to our secret Earth! Well, Mallory, I don't think you should tell your grandfather about this, I think you should just continue the argument. I don't think that you should...
Hank: Yeah. Well, it's a lot better than the arguments that, uh, I have with my family members that I disagree with things on [laughs]
John: I was like - 'Are you gonna say that we are having arguments with out grandparents, because they're all dead.' But Hank's still fighting it out, he's still fighting it out with Nanny and Pawpaw about whether or not gay people should be allowed to get married!
Hank: Global warming is real.
John: They may be dead, but Hank is not done with that argument!
Hank: [laughs] I'm kinda not.
John: [laughs] You know, I will say, at the end of her life, um, our grandm- the New York Times started, uh, posting - back then it was Civil Union ceremonies - for LGBT couples in the wedding section and at the end of her life, my grandmother did say 'Well, I think that's a nice thing'
Hank: Wow.
John: Yeah, so, that's a long journey to travel for a, you know, 87 year old woman.

 Question 4 (22:40)

Hank: Alright, this one is, uh, this one's from Orry who asks 'Dear Hank and John, how do artificial flavours - such as strawberry flavour - pass as strawberry flavour when they taste nothing like strawberries? Does something trick in - does something in it trick our brains into thinking strawberries taste like that or are we just used to calling it strawberry flavour because everybody does?' I have a, uh, surprisingly complicated answer to this question - John, do you?
John: Uh, I have a theory about it.
Hank: Okay.
John: So this is my theory: sometimes, when I am drinking an ice cold, refreshing, I-don't-understand-why-they-continue-to-refuse-to-sponsor-me diet Doctor Pepper, um, I will take a sip of that diet Doctor Pepper and I will enjoy it greatly for a moment until I realize that it is - in fact - diet Mountain Dew. But my brain is so heavily expecting the flavour that it knows to be diet Doctor Pepper, that my brain initially is like 'That's some good diet Doctor Pepper - wait! Wait, that is diet Doctor Pepper at all!' So that's my theory, is that you are essentially tricking your brain with the color? And that you're also tricking your brain with the sweetness.
Hank: Yeah, you're tricking your brain with a bunch of things and I think that absolutely does happen and I - also for me it is a guess, it is not something that I know anything about. But I do know some things about flavour chemistry because it is something that I studied some when I was in college - I took some courses - and, uh, remarkably, so when we first were isolating all of these artificial flavours - which are the things that we use in candy almost exclusively - we pulled out all these flavour compounds that have very strong smells, and they smell very good to us. So we pulled them all out and a lot of them tasted like 'Oh, this tastes like a thing, we'll use it as the thing' A lot of them didn't taste like anything though, they just tasted good. So it was a flavour that we liked, but it was one of a dozen different compounds that was in a strawberry or in a watermelon or in a blueberry or something. So it was one of many compounds and it was just part of the subtlety of the flavour. But when we concentrated it and stuck it with some citric acid in some sugar - which is the stuff that makes... that's like the primary flavour components of sugar of course are like the actual tastes of sweetness and sourness and then you have these smells that go along with it that are enhanced by those things, you get all of these chemicals that taste good, but don't taste like anything. So, we had them, they're inexpensive to synthesize and we like them but they're just, like, chemicals. So, like, they're named by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, they're not by, you know, the long history of people naming things and being like 'That berry grows in straw so let's call it a strawberry' or whatever. So, like, they didn't wanna call it like Ethol Methol Glycide flavoured candy, so they called it strawberry flavoured candy.

 Commercial Break (26:02)

John: Today's podcast is brought to you by Ethol Methol Glysol Rye Candy. What is it called? What did you call it?
Hank: [laughs] I don't even think I said it right, I, uh, Ethyl Methylphenylglycidate, is uh...
John: Today's podcast is brought to you by Ethyl Methylglythyl cydeldate. Delicious, but it doesn't taste like strawberries - but you're gonna like it! And we're gonna make it red, you're gonna love it.
Hank: [laughs] Yeah, uh, alright we're doing this - uh, today's podcast is, uh, is uh, is brought to you by, uh, too many sad things. Too many sad things, there's a lot of them and just let them pile on top of you until you can no longer function or even move.
John: And, of course, today's podcast is brought to you be delicious, refreshing diet Doctor Pepper. Diet Doctor Pepper - not sponsoring me since 2007.
Hank: This podcast is additionally brought to you by Malloria, the actual planet Malloria which was found just behind the Sun in the exact same position as the Earth, but not by anyone because it's hiding there and has been and will always be hiding there. Just an opportunity for us to consider what could possibly be if the Earth had it all to do over again.
John: [laughs] Hank, is that really the name?
Hank: Yeah, well the girl's name was Mallory... who asked the question.
John: Oh, so you named the planet Malloria - that's very beautiful.
Hank: thank you, I figured it's what her grandfather would want.
John: I agree, I agree. I just thought of a joke that's too dark for the podcast - that's really saying something.
Hank: [laughs]

 Question 5 (27:40)

John: okay Hank, we have another question. This one's from, uh, Kelsie who writes "Dear John and Hank, I recently moved to a new city and I'm in the process of making friends, however the people I'm meeting make significantly more money than me and like to hang out at bars and restaurants. I can't afford to go out multiple times a week, how do I continue to explore these burgeoning relationships without draining my bank account? P.S. feel free to mention death in your response." Thanks Kelsie, I appreciate that. I will mention death in my response. Here's the first thing that I would say Kelsie. If you can just find a way to get to August, you'll probably live to January.
Hank: [laughs] Well that's good. It's, uh encouraging news.
John: I don't know, I don't know why you're so worried about your weekly spending when the first priority needs to be getting out of February.
Hank: Yolo!
John: [laughs] Ah, so here's what I would say. Uh, this is always difficult and it's complicated, and I think it's one of the reasons that we now live in a culture in the United States where people overwhelming spend most of their leisure time with people who are in similar socioeconomic brackets. Um, and which is a, which is a, I think one of the biggest social problems that we face as a country. But what I would say is don't go out multiple times a week. Go out once a week and then encourage your friends to come with you once a week to do something that is cheap. Like, go to a park and, uh, you know, play...
Hank: Feed pigeons.
John: For some reason the idea that came into my head, Hank, was to play a game where you throw eggs back and forth to each other but you try not to have the eggs break. But...
Hank: Wow. Oh, so they're, are they in fourth grade? They're fourth graders.
John: No, no, I mean, not only is Kelsie seemingly not in fourth grade, what with going to bars and, and et cetera, but also, um, that isn't that inexpensive of a game. Because of course the eggs cost money.
Hank: [laughs] Eggs are pretty cheap. Just don't get the free range ones.
John: I mean, yeah, they're cheap, but you don't
Hank: Get the sad chicken eggs.
John: You know, if you're watching, if you're watching your weekly budget you don't wanna just go throwing raw eggs at people. 
Hank: No, I agree. Uh, though, though compared with the cost of a cocktail in New York City you could probably get about four dozen eggs for that.
John: [laughs] Did I ever tell you about the first time I went to New York City with my best friend Todd? When we were in high school? My best friend Todd came...
Hank: No. Did you have insufficient funds?
John: Uh, no, that was Canada. My best friend Todd is from a very small town in Alabama and grew up in a trailer park and had never been to New York City before and we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and we were at the restaurant there with, uh, with my parents and Todd saw that two eggs were 9 dollars - it was 2 eggs scrambled - were 9 dollars. And Todd said to the waiter in his thick Southern accent 'For 9 dollars, I wanna suitcase full of eggs that I can take home with me!'
Hank: It was a different time.
John: Well, now Todd is an extremely successful dermatologist but I suspend that, uh, he still won't pay 9 dollars for 2 eggs.
Hank: No, I understand that perspective. I, uh, back to Kelsie's question - I believe I didn't say that wrong, did I? It is Kelsie?
John: It is Kelsie.
Hank: Uh, yeah, I think... I think particularly in big cities this is a huge issue because big cities are optimized to, uh, to provide for every little slice, every little demographic slice and, where I live, there's just nothing you can spend much money on so everybody is sort of on the same page for the most part and, uh... But in New York City I think you really like - there are so many different, you know, economic brackets and the city is optimized to, you know, to function for each of them individually. I cannot imagine having to figure this out, but there are... hopefully you, uh, 1. Can, when you do these things manage to do it not so conspicuously on a budget 'Oh, I'm just having seltzer now. 'Duh, I'm taking a medication that means that I can't drink anything that costs more than 20 dollars a glass. Um, that sort of thing - and don't be afraid to lie about that, about little while lies.
John: Yeah, I agree.
Hank: John and I are big fans of those. And then, uh...
John: I love a good lie.
Hank: And then, you know, also be like 'You know what I think is super fun? Is Settlers of Catan' and, uh, bring them back to your place where I'm sure there's loads of space for a large game-playing table because it is New York City, and everyone knows...
John: Oh man, when we lived in New York, Hank, we entertained in our apartment, in the 2 and a half years that we lived there, we entertained in our apartment once. We had friends over to our apartment one time.
Hank: Oh God. It's so hard.
John: And it was horrible because it was so small and it was so cramped. We were trying to make breakfast and our, uh, our kitchen didn't have any drawers which is, you know, inconvenient when you're cooking for 2 but when you're cooking for 6 it's just, ugh, it's just such a pain. Let's move on to another question so that I can forget about my New York City kitchen.

 Question 6 (33:02)

Hank: This question is from Dikista(?) who asks "Dear Hank and John, I'm in need of some dubious advice from 2 people who seem to be in stable, happy relationships. I'm a 21 year old woman in college attracted to male type, but it seems that nothing-"
John: Well, that's your first mistake.
Hank: [laughs] "It seems that nothing is working out for me relationship-wise. I went out with this guy once and I thought it was going really well and he said he was looking forward to another date and then suddenly just cancelled and I haven't heard from him since then. My more 'hip' friends," Hip is in quotation marks here "have told me that this is called ghosting, where you just stop talking to someone to show disinterest. BUT THIS MAKES NO SENSE TO ME AGH!"
John: Oh God.
Hank: That was all in caps "Why do people take this seemingly easy way out when it seems like it's just better for everyone to tell the person you're not interested? We're adults for goodness sake!"
John: Oh God, I never wanna be single again. I can't even give an encouraging answer to this question because inside I'm just cringing at all off my memories of dating. It's just so uncomfortable when you don't know if you're going to spend the rest of your lives together.
Hank: (laughs)
JOHN: The whole process is uncomfortable. Even when you've been in a committed relationship for two years it's still a little weird because you're like, 'is this forever, or are you just gonna be here for a while... and then you're gonna de something else?'
HANK: Yeah. You've always got that option. You've always got the thing. The choice, it's always a choice. Until you go and you say- you stand in a fancy building and you say 'Hey, God. God, I want you to hear this'
HANK: 'We're not gonna breakup' and then God's like 'I heard you'. And then it takes a little bit of that constant choice out of the matter.
JOHN: Although, I have to say, Hank. You did not stand in a building, or in fact say anything to God.
HANK: No, we didn't talk to God either, no, yeah we said nothing to God.
JOHN: (laughs)
HANK: That's true.
JOHN: You guys just stood in a field and promised to stay married.
HANK: It's true, well, we said it to our god. Which was our friends and family.
JOHN: That's fair. Anyway, point being Hank and I are terrible, terrible, at giving dating advice.
HANK: It's true, but I have watched this. I have a lot of young friends who are in the 2016 dating scene, which is admittedly very different from my dating scene, which was just: grab onto and hold the first woman who will listen to 'They might be giants' with me and never let go.
JOHN: That's the true story of who Hank got married.
Hank: So as I've watched this happen, both on the ghoster's side and the ghostee's side, I think what kind of happening is that it's kind of a side effect of the tiny commitment of the text message. Which is that it's a really insignificant social act to text someone.
And it is also kind of- everyone recognizes that. Everyone recognizes that this isn't a big deal, you texted me, no big. But because there's this really low commitment form of communication, any other form of communication seems really intense. Like if you were to send an email to this person it would be really strange, and a 'why are we establishing a business relationship here?'. And if you were to call them people would be like 'oh, woah woah woah woah, back down there, tiger'. What are we? Married? Calling me on the phone?
But additionally, to this very low impact, this is the only way you can communicate. And basically I see that it's not a big deal if I don't text back because you are just texting me and it's a low impact form of communication. I think also, every single text message is- like when you get one, you have to make the choice whether to text back or not. And if that choice isn't obvious, then there's always that 'well, I can put this choice off'. And not texting is a non-choice. It is a 'wait 'till later to make this decision choice'.
While texting is an active kind of commitment, and active choice that you are making, and choices are kind of exhausting. Especially when you have to make lots of them. So you're increasing the number of these choices you have to make, and I have watched- what I would rather do is just not make a choice right now. So I'm gonna push this off until finally the choice gets made for you because they're like 'oh, well I didn't text them back for two weeks, it'd be real weird to text back now'. But you never really made that choice.
So I think that there's a lot of- like, this isn't about not being interested, um, necessarily. Of course sometimes it is absolutely about not being interested. But often times it's not just 'I'm not interested' it's 'I'm choice exhausted, and I don't know, there's a lot going on and I don't wanna necessarily add this because it's not the 100% slam dunk thing that I imagine might/could happen someday'.
John: Having heard you, Hank, old man your way through this question, I have come to a revelation that is even more terrifying than the revelation I came to  when I realized that I myself was middle age which is that I now have a younger brother who is also middle aged. Like, while you were answering that question you left early age and you entered middle age.
Hank: It happened? It happened? I should have used the word 'millennial' at some point.
John: I heard it happen and I'm upset. We need to move on.
Hank: Well, no, I should just go full on and become a baby boomer and be like, 'You young kids need to make decisions and be more careful with each other's opinions of each other' and I don't know why middle aged people are from New York.
John: Oh my God, Sarah and I had the best time a couple weeks ago. A friend of ours who will remain nameless was using a tinder-like dating app and allowed us to choose whether to swipe left or right on their behalves and, I mean, I totally get it. It was so fun. But let's move on to one last question before we get to the-
Hank: Do you not think that I had good advice? Do think it was all bad and that-
John: No, I mean I think my advice would be to listen to your hip friends rather than Hank Green. [laughs]
Hank: [laughs] I just watched, it's so hard to watch young people date and it just seems very difficult and very different from-
John: Yeah, I think it was always hard. I think it was always hard. I think it was always complicated, but it does to our eyes certainly seem more difficult and complicated than it used to.

 Question 7 (39:47)

Okay Hank. One last question before we get to the news from Mars and AFC Wimbledon. This question is from Bethany who writes, 'Dear John and Hank, last year my fiance and I travelled to London from Canada for vacation and of course we attended an AFC Wimbledon game to show our support."
That's awesome. Thank you, Bethany. Everybody in South London, and everybody who visits London should really go to an AFC Wimbledon game. I myself am going to one in a week. Uh, but more on that in a moment.
"The game was incredibly fun to watch, but the best part of the experience for me was joining in with the crowd as they sang various songs to support the Dons and taunt the other team. I've never been to a sporting event where there was so much singing and camaraderie like there was at the Wimbledon game and I'm just wondering. How did this tradition of singing at football games come about? I've never seen anything like it at sporting events in Canada."
It's true, you don't hear a lot of curling songs. Or even hockey songs, you know. Hockey's mostly about cheering or making a lot of noise to make a lot of noise rather than about singing specific songs. That's mostly true in American sports as well. You know, I think as far as I know the tradition goes back a hundred years. Some of the songs that are sung are many generations old, but I don't know where singing at soccer games started. It is, however, a huge part of what is so enjoyable about going to a Wimbledon game, or really any game with good support is that there's this energy in the crowd that is almost... the game is almost irrelevant to the energy. Like, one of my favorite moments, you can look this up on YouTube Hank, I think it was Aston Villa fans. There were like, 1200 Aston Villa fans playing away to Manchester City and they were losing like, seven-nothing and they started- First off they sang one of my all-time favorite football songs which is "You're nothing special. We lose every week."
But then they started singing "Let's pretend, let's pretend, let's pretend we scored a goal!" And then they sang that, like, three rounds of it and then all 1200 of them just went nuts. Screaming, jumping up and down, hugging. It was amazing. They weren't even watching the atrocity that was happening on the actual football field and for me that is what makes sports special and interesting and especially makes soccer so interesting is that it has that passion that extends way beyond whatever the results of the game are. And I really would encourage everyone to go to AFC Wimbledon games. I would also say it's only 35 dollars a year to become an owner of AFC Wimbledon. You can go become an owner of the team just like I am at the Dons Trust and that's really cool too. You get lots of perks. But it is a really special experience and one that I will get to enjoy next week Hank because I am going to an AFC Wimbledon game, yeah, next week, against Oxford United, I think.
Hank: Well, I am so excited for you. Is Oxford United good at football?
John: Let me look up and make sure it's Oxford United first before I answer your question. It is Oxford United. Now, let me answer your question as to whether they're any good. At this point, Hank, every game is incredibly important but Oxford United is not just good, they are very good. They are currently third which means that they are in one of the automatic promotion spots. The top three spots in the League all get promoted up to the third tier of English football. AFC Wimbledon, currently in tenth, but they're only three points out of sixth. So...

 News from AFC Wimbledon (43:52)

So, we're just gonna jump right into the news from AFC Wimbledon. AFC Wimbledon, Hank, played Luton Town last week. Now, of course, you remember Luton Town because of their significant role in AFC Wimbledon's history, I assume. 
Hank: Sure, yes, of course.
John: You don't, do you?
Hank: No.
John: Hank, in 2011, just 9 years after the club formed, or reformed, AFC Wimbledon was in the fifth tier--
Hank: Right
John: --of English football.
Hank: Yes.
John: They were an amateur team not yet in the football league. You couldn't play them in FIFA, and they made it to the playoff final. The game at the end of 90 minutes the score was nil-nil. At the end of extra time, the score was nil-nil. Then there was a penalty shoot out, and 19-year-old goalkeeper Seb Brown saved two penalties against Luton Town to send AFC Wimbledon up to the football league and back to their rightful spot, uh, in professional English football. That same Luton Town, a couple years later, got promoted. So, now, uh, we get to play them twice every season, and AFC Wimbledon played Luton Town, uh, last week and won 4-1. Hank, they won by three goals, which is great for goal difference, and two of the goals were scored by our Montserratian international--
Hank: Who?
John: --the Montserratian Messi, some call him--
Hank: [Laughing]
John: Do you know who Lionel Messi is?
Hank: Yes, yes. I have heard that name. He's a tennis player.
John: Ah ha, you're kidding right?
Hank: Yes--
John: OK, thank god.
Hank: --I am.
John:Um, yeah, uh, so, I call him the Montserratian Messi. The Montserratian Messi scored two goals. AFC Wimbledon beats Luton Town 4-1, we're in tenth place. Uh, I have to say, I am starting to properly dream.
Hank: Uh, so how-- where are you at in the thing? Did you say, by the way, that the Montserratian Messi is Lyle Taylor, or did you just not say that name ever? Because I feel you should at least use his name and not just call him--
John: I don't, uh, at this point, I don't think it's necessary to say his name. I think we all know. I think we all know.
Hank: Well I did, so that's a, kind of amazing.
John: Who the Montserratian Messi is. There can only be one, and it's Lyle Taylor.
Hank: Kind of amazing that I know that.
John: Yeah, so AFC Wimbledon - to repeat myself Hank - are 10th. They are 10th in the league right now.
Hank: Okay, I just didn't hear that part, sorry.
John: Okay. But because different teams have played different numbers of games, if AFC Wimbledon win all of their games - there's, like, 16 games left so obviously that's not gonna happen - but, like, if AFC Wimbledon won all of their games and if all the teams above them won all of their games, AFC Wimbledon actually would make it into the playoffs. So, uh...
Hank: Okay, great.
John: [coughs] I'm getting a little choked up here, as you can tell, but yeah, I'm starting to dream. I am truly, I'm dreaming.
Hank: I'm dreaming with you John, I'm gonna have a dream - I had a dream last night that I had a bunch of tattoos, and a really nice body.
John: [laughs] I mean, I might get an AFC Wimbledon tattoo if they get promoted this season. I'm sure my wife would be delighted.

 New from Mars (47:02)

Hank: Yeah, I'm sure, I'm sure. Alright, you wanna hear the news from Mars...?
John: What's the news from Mars this week?
Hank: Alright, well, as you may have heard, we gotta make - when we get to Mars we gotta feed ourselves and one way to do it is just to bring all the food with us, but as we learned from The Martian, if you bring all that food and then suddenly you need to spend another 6 months on Mars, you gotta take your Thanksgiving Dinner, cut up those potatoes, plant them in the Martian soil and become, you know, become the greatest botanist on the planet. And, it worked fantastically in the book and the movie so NASA is actually looking to simulate growing Mars potatoes in Peru - the home of the potato, by the way, if you did not know where potatoes come from, South America, surprisingly - somewhat surprisingly, just because it is such a big part of what we consider European cuisine but not since... only after the Columbian exchange, as they say here on Dear Hank and John.
The, uh, the partnership is between NASA and, I'm not kidding you, Lema's International Potato Centre which is a thing that exists. There are many many many many different varieties of potatoes, we do not see the vast majority of them here in the US grocery stores but there are 45 hundred varieties that are registered at Lema's International Potato Centre, and hundreds of them - including some genetically modified ones - will be used to, uh, sent through a series of tests to see how good that would be at producing potatoes, not just potatoes for one generation but potatoes for many generations of potatoes on the surface of Mars. That is... we gotta deal with the amounts of... you know, the soil will need to be cleaned up before it is - if we're on Mars, the Martian soil will need to be cleaned up to some extent before this is done. But, you know, you gotta test for salt, the amount of light that they need, the amount of water that they need - it's best if they use less water and produce more potato. And there's like radiation concerns but they're at least confident that some of these potatoes will pass through these tests and we will have the right stuff for going to Potato Land with, and by Potato Land I mean Mars. and that's what we're gonna call it.
John: Well, but someday it will be known as Potato Land. All of our potatoes will be grown on Mars, we'll just, uh, eat nothing but Martian food. Earth will be for humans, Mars for potatoes.
Hank: [laughs] If there's only one food John, it should obviously be potato.
John: I mean, if you're only gonna have one food, potatoes is not a bad option. Okay, so before we go we need to answer a few things from previous episodes, that have been brought to our attention via our email address First off Hank, Mel wrote in about cereal 'In your latest podcast John confessed he put water on his cereal.
"This intrigued me because I hate milk. I thut - I thought putting water on cereal was generally unacceptable and that nobody would actually try it, but hearing that at least one person in the world has not only tried it, but does it regularly, I thought I had no reason not to try it myself. So, this morning, I had water on my cereal and, as advertised, watered cereal provides the same softness that milk does without having to add actual milk. This has saved. My. Breakfast. No longer will I suffer the grossness of milk or cut the roof of my mouth on dry cereal. I don't care if I get judgmental looks in the morning, I can finally enjoy cereal in a way I never could have before. Thank you for revolutionizing my mornings. Sincerely, Mel' You are welcome Mel!
Hank: Well, it's hard for me to argue with that John, it's hard for me to say that you are the monster that you are after Mel has had this wonderful life changing experience but -
John: We've also gotten about 400 emails from people who are disgusted by me.
Hank: [laughs] And an awful lot of comments because you made a whole video about this. We've also got a message from Till, who says that not only are there feral cows in British Columbia and Hawaii, but also in Hong Kong and yes - Hong Kong, there are feral cows in Hong Kong. I'm not even kidding you. Jeff made some corn dog cake for his kids and it wasn't bad. He attached a picture of his kids and they do, indeed, look very happy. Amanda writes in to say that she works at a food bank in Alameda County and thus knows all about how long food lasts after its sell-by date and, indeed, macaroni and cheese is perfectly fine, in fact dried pasta is usually good two years after the sell-by-date. And she includes a PDF from the Alameda County food bank that is a guide for how long you can eat things after their sell-by-dates. Remarkable.
John: We're gonna go ahead and post that, as well as some pictures of feral cows in Hong Kong to our Patreon page, which you can access even if you don't donate but feel free to donate. And, uh, yeah we are, uh, so you can see both of that - I though it was, I have to say, having read Amanda's email, I was dead wrong about food and how long it's good for. And, as she says, 'John, you have fallen prey to what the food manufacturers want you to think about food safety, but is really about wanting their products to be at peak flavour.' So, that's really important and an interesting point, and one that I will bear in mind for the rest of my life. So, we all learned something today Hank, but what else did we learn?

 Outro (52:39)

Hank: Oh... we learned that sometimes when your team doesn't score any goals and is being absolutely ripped t little tiny pieces by the other team, it doesn't matter and you can still have a good time because, really, it's about camaraderie and, uh, and singing songs and being together and believing in the same things.
John: And we learned that strawberry flavour is, uh, not strawberry flavour, but it is delicious.
Hank: Ethyl Methylphenylglycidate. We learned that John has a strategy called empathic listening, which has something to do with Deanna Troi from Star Trek.
John: [laughs] We also learned that Hank doesn't really listen to me when I'm talking on Dear Hank and John. [laughs] Oh, man.
Hank: [laughs] Wow.
John: And, lastly, we learned that, uh, grief is complicated and that you shouldn't judge yourself for it but that you should just go on.
Hank: Yeah, you shouldn't judge yourself if you need to get yourself a donut, just go get a donut.
John: Yeah, just enjoy an evening donut. Speaking of which, Hank, 2 different employees here at the Indianapolis offices of Dear Hank and John, brought in Friday donuts, so we have 3 dozen donuts for just 9 people.
Hank: Oh gosh. That's...
John: It's an absolute donut bonanza here today and I'm so grateful to everyone. I look forward to seeing if I can eat ten donuts by myself.
Hank: Alright, donut disaster. Donut disaster 2016, it happened. Oh I should also mention that Dear Hank and John now has an intern, thanks to our lovely support at Patreon we have been able to bring on a paid intern, her name is Claudia and Claudia will be helping out with Dear Hank and John in various ways. So if you ever interact with Claudia... I don't know why you would but she'll be helping out, mostly she'll be helping out us, we will still be doing all the public facing things. Actually this voice that you're hearing now is actually Claudia's impression of me. I'm not doing this at all, that's what the intern does, she's just doing both of us.
John: Yeah no it was Claudia introducing herself. Yeah, in fact the whole podcast has been hosted by Claudia, she's doing both of our voices. She's doing a great job, I'm really impressed. The best part about her doing this podcast is that she's so successfully made it not funny.
Hank: Yeah, it's really a remarkable spot-on impression of two guys really just struggling with being interesting and their own mortality and not really caring at all whether the things that they say on this comedy podcast could ever be considered on any planet... Malloria or Mars or Earth... funny
John: [laughs] Malloria is my new favorite planet. OK Hank we really have to go. Today's podcast was edited by Nicholas Jenkins and possibly Claudia I don't know, our theme music by Gunnarolla, my voice is giving out, and as we say in our home town...
Both: Don't forget to be awesome.