H: Hello and welcome to Dear Hank and John.
J: Or as I'd prefer to think, Dear John and Hank.
H: It's a comedy podcast about death, where me and my brother John answer your questions, give you dubious advice, and bring you all the week's news about both Mars and AFC Wimbledon except this week, we're not gonna do that, 'cause this is being recorded in advance. How are you doing, John?
J: I'm doing well, thanks for asking, that's so sweet of you to be thoughtful like that. The other thing that we need to say, Hank, is that in addition to this podcast being recorded very far in advance, we're taking a week off after this week, which is, you know, good news for people who don't like dubious advice but bad news for people who love AFC Wimbledon and get their AFC Wimbledon news only from Dear John and Hank, which I know is a pretty significant portion of fans of the podcast, most of them, I assume, listen to the news from AFC Wimbledon. Just follow me on Twitter or follow AFC Wimbledon on Twitter to find out what happens, whether the Dons did indeed qualify for the playoffs.
H: Oh, so this is happening like, right at the, like, most important moment in the history of this year's AFC Wimbledon.
J: And arguably the most important moment in the history of AFC Wimbledon, potentially, because potentially, we have a 25% chance of going over to league one and becoming the greatest third tier soccer team in not just the history of England, but the whole history of the universe.
H: Oh, that's exciting, John. Well, I'm doing well as well, and we're gonna answer some questions, does that--oh, no, you've got a poem! You've got a poem! Poem! Poem! Poem!
J: Hank! Hank! Hank! Usually, we have a poem at this part of the day.
J: Well, do you want one?
H: Yeah! Well, as much as I ever do.
J: I thought we'd read another poem from Frances Cornford, Hank, the poet whose husband was named Frances Cornford. This one is called The Guitarist Tunes Up.
"With what attentive courtesy, he bent over his instrument, not as a lordly conqueror who could command both wire and wood, but as a man with a loved woman might, inquiring with delight what slight essential things she had to say before they started, he and she, to play." It's a little dirty, but you know, I figure we can handle it.
H: Yeah. Alright.
J: Alright, Hank, should we answer some questions from our listeners?
H: Uh, yeah.
J: This question comes from Lisa, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, My fiance is starting a start-up. He has funding and everything, it's super swell. This isn't his first time doing the start-up thing, but it is his first time doing it in a serious relationship. He's already starting to feel pulled in multiple directions, like going to bed together, getting up together, doing all the work, staying in shape, plus normal day-to-day eating, cooking, cleaning stuff, and feels stressed because he doesn't feel like he's working enough. It is true that if he were working more, the products would get out the door faster, but it's also true that if he burns himself out in the process, it's moot, as busy well-rounded businesspeople in succesful relationships, what words of advice would you have for us?"
H: I love the idea of a successful relationship. Every day of my relation--it's full of success.
J: I love the idea that we are well-rounded businesspeople. I don't know anyone in my life who is less well-rounded than Hank.
H: Whatever do you mean!
J: I mean, you spend--you regularly send e-mails at 3:15 in the morning.
H: Uhhhh I mean, 'cause it's a part of my roundness. It's--you gotta go all the way around if you wanna be round!
J: Yes, Hank is an extremely well-rounded individual, as long as you are only measuring work output.
H: Yeah, it happens at all times. I--oh, yeah, I don't know, it's gonna be a hard one for me, because I don't know that I'm that good at this, actually.
J: I don't think you're at all good at it.
H: I do work out at least twice a week. I sometimes make dinner, like two or three times a week, I watch, like, maybe an hour or two of TV a day, and I read probably one book a month, so I feel like I do okay.
J: Yeah, but I mean--yeah, okay, that's fine. So what is your tip? Where, I mean, you are somebody who has a lot of starting up of companies that have become successful and now you have to run them while also starting up new companies to fill some gaping hole in your heart that only apparently more business ideas can fill. So what is--what is your advice?
H: Uh, well, I kind of think it's a bit of a shame that this is how it's structured now, that like, you have to dedicate yourself 100 hours a week to one thing in order to compete with all the people who are, you know, dedicating themselves to something for 90 hours a week, because that's the only way to get ahead and that's how your, you know, your investors are looking at you for your output, and to get the product out, and I mean, it is such a struggle, and like, my life isn't like that because in the end, I don't have investors, I am responsible to my employees, I am responsible to myself, and I am responsible to my audience, but like, in the end, like, if something, if there's a reason why I can't do something, I can say that reason, and it's not someone who is paying me or has this like, you know, this sort of very interesting relationship that funders have with founders. So, I don't--I get to make a lot more decisions, I feel like, than the average business owner, in terms of how I spend my time, but um, but my suggestion--but the main thing is--here's my tip.
Figuring out how to not feel like you're being lazy, when you are in fact taking care of yourself, is about valuing that. It is about valuing the other things in your life. And because of this I have a kind of unhealthy way of looking at it but it is the only way I can manage to do it where I think of the things, like taking care of myself, taking care of my relationships, as projects in the same way as I think of my businesses. And so I'm like creating a happy, pleasant home environment that I enjoy and that is constructive to me is, itself, an important venture, an important project that I am taking on, and one of the big projects of my life, and like one of the most important things that I will do with my life. And looking at it that way allows me to not feel like I'm not working enough when I'm doing something that isn't traditionally considered work. That's what I got.
J: I like that answer a lot. I do think that adulthood for me has largely been about prioritization, and then to a lesser extent, about weight gain.
J: And then the third thing that I would say that adulthood has been about for me has been, uh, eschatological anxiety. I've had a lot of worry about the end of me, and then to a lesser extent, of the species.
H: Oh, well. We got there early, John.
----- Question ? (7:40
H: Alright, we've got another question. This one is from Carly Grace, who asks:
"Dear Hank and John,
Bob Ross said multiple times that he's painted over 30,000 paintings, and I want one. He also said he's donated over 2,000 of them. Where are those 28,000 other paintings? That's a lot of paintings! I imagine if he had like five paintings they would each be worth huge sums of money, but because this man painted so many, they might not be worth that much. Sentimentality? Sure. But because there are so many, can I just pick one up for $20? Where does one find a Bob Ross painting?"
J: Hank, I do not know the answer to this question. Do you?
H: Uhh, I kind of know the answer to this question, in that if Bob Ross painted 30,000 paintings, which he said that he did and I'm going to trust that he did, I, they all have homes. People like them and they have them and they're on their walls and they do not want to sell them. Because it is very hard to find a Bob Ross painting.
J: It is.
H: And you can buy them, but they are expensive. They're like $10,000, or like, thousands of dollars at least. And there are also, like, a lot of various kinds of Bob Ross paintings, and some- he did a lot of smaller ones. Before he was a person on TV he would paint like gold panning pans, when he lived in Alaska, and so those are like, ya know, very valuable because he did them a long time ago, versus smaller canvases versus- and like I think a lot of them were given away to like friends and family and students and donated and then purchased in fund drives by PBS people, and the people who have those want to keep them. And there are a lot of Bob Ross fans in the world, and having a Bob Ross painting on your wall is a really cool thing to have, so amazingly enough, you can have painted 30,000 paintings and still have people want to pay lots of money for them. Pretty crazy!
J: It is, although to be clear I don't think there are 30,000 Bob Ross paintings in circulation. I think a lot of those have been lost, or maybe he painted them over, who knows. We don't have a great idea of how many Bob Ross paintings are currently in circulation.
H: Yes, and certainly less than 30,000 or even 28,000, because probably, like, when he's saying that, this is Bob Ross saying "I've painted a lot of paintings, that is how I am now able to do this quickly and well." But a lot of those paintings were probably just scrapped.
H: And like, "I don't like this, I don't like this, I don't like this." And that's part of the process of being a creator, is often times as John certainly knows, you do not publish every word you write.
J: I have published fewer novels than I have written.
H: And I'm sure that that's true for Bob Ross, that he painted a lot more paintings than ended up being in the hands of other people.
J: It occurs to me belatedly that lots of people probably don't know who Bob Ross is. He was a painter who painted on public television in the United States, and encouraged the idea that everyone had sort of the ability to paint, and helped us sort of like see something that regular people did, not just that was done by geniuses in ivory towers.
----- Question ? (10:50
J: Hank, we have another question. This one comes from Paul, who writes:
"Dear John and Hank,
Over the past year I've watched my favorite soccer team, Aston Villa, become the worst team in the English Premier League. I am from the US, and I have been a fan for about 5 years, but since the second tier of English football is not televised in the states, and Aston Villa will certainly be relegated within the next few weeks (bad news, that "will certainly be relegated" must be changed now, Paul, to "has indeed been relegated") is it wrong to swap my favorite teams? It feels disloyal after closely following them for years, but I have no other choice if I'm going to get my English football fix."
J: So here's my answer, Paul, and I'm interested to see what Hank thinks about this question (just kidding, he has no opinion). First off, you can watch the championship, the second tier of English football on TV. It's on BN Sports. Not every game is televised, but lots are. It's not necessarily an HD broadcast, but it is a television broadcast, which frankly, I would kill to watch AFC Wimbledon every week. And I am not exaggerating. I. Would. Kill.
No, I wouldn't.
H: People die all the time!
J: Yeah, I mean you know. I'm gonna need like, more context of who I'm killing, and why I'm kill- no. I wouldn't kill.
J: So I would say, my experience following AFC Wimbledon from afar, which, I'm lucky if they have one televised game per year, is that it is still very fulfilling. And I'm able to watch Premeire League soccer and enjoy it even when Liverpool isn't playing, as a neutral fan. So I think you can have a second team. Sometimes I think it's good to have a second team, it's nice to have a rooting interest, but I don't think you should leave Aston Villa behind. Not least because I think they are very likely to head back to the Premiere League within the next couple years. So I wouldn't leave Aston Villa, but your support for Liverpool is always welcome.
H: Alright, that's all I have to say on that myself.
----- Question ? (12:55
H: This question is from Krista, who asks:
"Dear Hank and John,
I recently went through natural childbirth without drugs, or uttering even one single curse word. So I consider myself pretty tough. However, the other day I pulled out a hangnail, and it pulled too far. Every time I move that finger, I think, 'Ouch, that HURTS!' Why is this very small stupid injury so troublesome?"
J: (laughs) I mean...
H: I don't know!
J: The idea of enduring natural childbirth without the benefit of obscenity just seems unthinkable to me. I know that wasn't the question, but I just want to say that for the record. I have witnessed childbirth on a few occasions, and the thought of not having profanity at your disposal in that time of need just seems unfathomable.
H: Yeah, Iiiiii also am amazed. But now I do know, though, John, that when I get a really bad hangnail, I'm basically experiencing the same pain as childbirth. So.
J: I don't think that's accurate.
J: Um, Krista, I will say
H: Duh - Krista seems to think so
J: Yeah, the only thing I'd Krista is your fingertips, uh, have a lot of nerve endings...
H: That's true!
J: So that you can, you know, feel things and that maybe why it hurts so much. I can't imagine that it hurts actually worse than childbirth not least because, uh, my wife is in the next room, and just came out from that room to look into this room to look at me very sternly...
J: To make clear that childbirth is very painful - much more painful than a hangnail. Yeah.
H: Yeah, there may be a matter of scale of, like, going into the experience saying this is going to hurt very badly versus "there is this thing that is going to happen to me all the time and it's stupid, and, why, why. Why does this hurt so bad, uh, is a useless tiny tiny tiny thing, and it shouldn't. And so you think "can one like, why. This is dumb.
J: Duh hum haha. Alright Hank, let's move onto another question.
J: This one is from Megan, who writes, "dear John and Hank, what do you think are the top five best things humanity has ever invented."
J: This is a great question.
H: Should we? Should we do the fun list or the real list?
J: No, I think we should do the real list, what are the top five all-time things that humanity has invented.
H: Uhh, language!
J: Mmmmmm, ah, that's a good one. That's a good one. And now, there's a question of like, do you count, like, fire; which we didn't invent, but we did master in...
J: And it's proven very useful.
H: Well, you could say that we invented the processes...
J: Right and...
H: in regards to the creation of fire
J: Like we didn't really invent penicillin, so much as we discovered it...
J: But it's been huge. However, I would not rank penicillin as in the top five.
H: No, me neither.
J: I would rate language at the top five, I think it's a good one.
J: Alright Hank, this is my, uh, sort of twentieth century, actually nineteen
J: Actually, nineteenth century nomination for the top five: the steam engine.
H: Um, good. I was actually to say- um, yes. So, hmm- I- can we put the steam engine together with the electrical generator? Could that be one?
H: Because that definitely...
J: I think we almost have to.
H: I mean, like...
H: Steam engines were good and useful, but like...
J: Yeah, and elecricity slash- slash the steam engine.
H: Connecting them to generators. Yeah. That's-
J: Yeah, okay.
H: And those were very different times and happened, you know, in different people and different places, but like, that's- that's a good one.
J: Mhm. Um, what about, uh, what about, uh, sanitation slash, uh, sewers slash toilets.
H: Yeah! I think that, I think that's a really good one. I think the- yes. That'll, that basically allowed for cities to work.
J: Yeah, it's one of my top five just because I'm such a big fan of, uh, of not- not cholera.
H: Mhm, mhm. I think, uh, I think we would be remissed to leave out, uh, the invention of taking a seed, uh, that you want to grow and putting it in the ground intentionally for it to grow there.
J and H: That was huge.
H: Yeah, agriculture...
J: Agriculture is a big deal.
H: Agriculture and all of the, uh, all of the processes of, you know, that go along with agriculture of selecting the things that went well, that- and having, you know, and planting those more and then selecting the things that went well over and over again through generations, uh, has been a really big one, uhm.
J: Yup. We've got one more.
H: We've got one more?
J: I think that we're- I think that we're on the same page about what the fifth one has to be.
H: Uhh...is it-
J: Let's just say it on three. Ready? One, two, three, vaccines!
H: Bowling pins!
J: Haha oh! Bowling pins are great, but I think vaccines are an even bigger deal than the personal computer.
J: I would be alright without the personal computer. I don't- I mean, we wouldn't have this podcast.
H: That's for sure.
J: But, I don't think I'll be alright without vaccines.
H: No! I mean... antibiotics are a really big deal too.
J: Yeah, no. I like antibiotics. But I think vaccines are a bigger deal.
H: I'm not sure which one I think is bigger. I'm not sure which one I think is bigger. I guess, you know, vaccines probably bigger than antibiotics. It's hard! I don't know!
J: Yeah, they're both great. I'll tell you what, when people ask me, like, what period of the past I would like to go back to, just, none. None. Because all of those periods in the past, terrible.
H: Terrible, full of...
H: Full of not garlic bread.
J: Just like gangrenous, horrifying, anaesthia-free surgerys.
H: Yeah, gimme, yeah... (groans in disgust)
H: Give me... Give me podcasts. Give me iPhones.
J: You know what I was thinking about I love recently, Hank? Toothpaste.
H: Ah yeah, I like toothpaste, too. I think it's a good, I think it's a good job.
J: And fluoridated water, there's so many things that I love about 21st century living. You know another thing that I think is an unappreciated invention? Photography.
H: Oh yeah, man, yes...
J: Idea that we could use light and time to create an image, it's just a fascinating idea, that we never, we never had that idea for like 99.9% of human history.
H: Right, and the, you know, for historians, it's so huge. Because what we paint and what we draw, and what we sculpt is very, you know like, it's never... it's often times not accurate. We're trying to create pieces of art that have lot of contexts, with regards to the hist..., like, the moment that they are created in. But we lose all that context. Whereas... But with a photograph, at least we know that this is the thing that, and you know there's context there too, but like, you can see what things look like, how people dressed.
J: to an extent even with the photograph, you're seeing a staged image and that's something that's hard to remember because photographs feel-- There's this great essay about this by Susan Sontag on photography where she talks about how you know photographs seem real, but of course, you know, they aren't. Or at least we need to like interrogate their realness. But I'm just completely bowled over by the photograph and we take it for granted because we live in this world that's super-saturated with images where people-- most people around the world have images in their homes, on their walls. We take images for granted now, access to images is all very new.
H: It is, and very cool.
Do you want another question?
J: Sure, I could just talk about inventions all day, but yeah, what's another one?
H: Uh, we got one from Lorena who asks, "Dear Hank and John, how do you ask for a surprise party? I want one, but it wouldn't be a surprise if I told someone that I wanted it. Your dubious advice is needed."
J: Well, Lorena, the first thing that you do is you just ask your friends to listen to Dear Hank and John.
H: Right, uh-huh.
J: Because you have a pretty unusual name Lorena, not unprecedented certainly but fairly unusual. So Lorena's friends and/or family: she wants a surprise party. Give Lorena a surprise party and make it truly surprising. Don't make it on Lorena's birthday--
H: That's right!
J: I mean make it a surprise party.
H: I think this goes for everyone who knows anyone named Lorena.
J: That's right, all Lorenas love surprise parties, that's a rule.
H: And if you throw a surprise Lorena party, send us your pictures of it, we'll put them up on the Patreon... especially if they are the wrong Lorena.
J: Just like shower your Lorenas around the world with stunning parties.
H: If it's like 85 year old, your grandmother named Lorena gets a surprise party, I'm into it.
J: Yep. Yep. She just like comes home at the end of the day, long day doing whatever 85 year olds do when they go out, comes home, there's like 300 people in her house, chanting "LORENA, LORENA, LORENA" I'm sure that 85 year old grandmothers love that kind of thing.
J: Hank, are you a surprise party fan?
H: Uhhh, I don't know that I've ever had one.
J: I had one, I hated it.
H: And I feel bad because it's totally possible I have and I forgot.
J: No, I ahd one, I remember it was before Sarah and I started dating. It was a very well-intentioned surprise party, the problem is I don't like parties, and I certainly don't like having them sprung upon me. I have to work myself up for several weeks to prepare for any kind of social engagement, so to walk into a restaurant thinking you're going to have dinner with just one person and instead you're going to have dinner with 18 of them, it just made my stomach hurt.
H: And I think also at certain like, there's an age at which it doesn't make sense because you're gonna celebrate the person's birthday party no matter what, and so you're not gonna have a surprise birthday party cuz they know that there's a birthday party, but like after a certain age then you start not necessarily having a thing every year, and so the surprise becoems like easier to pull off-
J: Lorena doesn't mention a birthday. That's why I think the surprise party has to be not on a birthday because then you see it coming, it has to be a truly random surprise party.
H: Mmhmm, mhmm. What I'm worried about John, and I think this is a legitimate concern, is that no one who knows Lorena is listening, or that they think that we're kidding and we're not.
J: Well, but Lorena is obviously gonna tell people "oh, you really need to listen to the newest episode of Dear Hank and John, it's such a fantastic podcast about death."
H: If you're not listening to it, you're a bad friend.
J: And then they will get sucked in.