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Should I sell cold, fresh potty water? Why don't we write phonetically? Why do I like all this sad stuff? And more!

 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.

H: It's a comedy podcast where me and my brother John give you dubious advice, answer your questions, and bring you all the week's news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon occasionally, apparently! It's been so long since we've been together! I miss you, John! How are you doing?

J: I'm doing well. I feel like since we last recorded a podcast, Hank, the world has turned into a proper dumpster fire, and between the time that we record this podcast and when it is made available for listening, I bet something else terrible has happened. So, I would just like to say, in advance, I am sorry that the world has turned into such a horrible dumpster fire.

H: I- yeah. I have no faith that this- the days that are separating the recording and the uploading of this podcast will not contain something that will make something inside of this podcast seem insensitive and wrong, which is not a feeling I want to have. So let's- yeah. I- It's a bad year. It's a bad year, John!

J: You know, Hank. Do you remember-

H: I think that it's been a dumpster fire the whole time.

J: Do you remember back in, like, March or April of this year when I was like, "It's not an unusually bad year. People are just paying unusual amounts of attention to the badness?"

H: Mmhm.

J: I would like to officially retract that statement. It is that bad of a year. Earth is a dumpster fire. We need to run away from it as fast as possible and colonize Mars starting in the year 2028.

H: (laughs) Sounds great, John. I'm glad that we're on the same team, almost.

J: Well, we're on the same team. It's just that we're on slightly different schedules.

H: Right, well. We'll talk more about that in the final segment of the podcast. I- In my personal life, though, John, I should say that things are going just fine. I feel pretty good. I feel good about our projects, I feel good about Nerdfighteria, I feel good about the Dear Hank and John podcast, so the world can stop throwing garbage in the garbage fire. That'd be great. We could just let it burn itself out. But our little pocket of it I think is good, and I'll be thankful for it if I can.

J: I've just got to say, Hank, that hearing you say that makes it seem like you're just warming your hands next to the dumpster fire enjoying the heat.

H: (laughs) I'm not. I'm not at all.

J: Would you like to hear a short poem for today?

H: Yes!

J: Uh, this isn't that sort of a poem, but I think it's the right poem to read this week. It's a poem by Adam Zagajewski called Try to Praise The Mutilated World.

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June's long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You've seen the refugees going nowhere,
you've heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth's scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

Try to Praise The Mutilated World by Adam Zagajewski.

H: Thanks for bringing us up, John.

J: I like to bring it all the way up, to the energy!

H: It started off on a pretty rough note but you really brought it back.

J: That's what I like to do, man. I like to take it from down, to down even lower.

H: (groans) Well that was a beautiful poem. I... want to answer some questions though. I want to move it.

 Corrections (3:53)

J: Before we get to the questions, Hank, can we just go through a few corrections?

H: Oh, well sure. Sure. We have been away for a long time so we have so, so many things to say.

J: It turns out that when you take two weeks off, uh, you make even more mistakes than usual. Okay, so, first off, a bunch of people from Gillingham wrote in to say that I am mispronouncing Jillingham, uh, but I would argue that it's like gif [like the Peanut Butter] or gif [as in grave]. Both pronunciations are correct.

H: (laughs)

J: I do not know for sure how to say Gillingham and/or Jillingham but I will die in the belief that both are acceptable pronunciations. Secondly, Hank, I believe in our last podcast, you said that there is no city built around a shoe. That is in fact incorrect!

H: Uh, yes, that "there was no downtown area constructed around a very large shoe" was- was the thing that I said could not possibly be, and yet! It is.

J: It is. Megan wrote in to say, "In Freeport, Maine, there is a giant L.L.Bean complex centered around a giant boot. Downtown Freebort is basically constructed around a very large shoe." So there you go, Hank. Also, many people wrote in to say that there are efficient ways to keep your headphone cord from tangling. Uh, I only mention this because one of the ways involved a Dutch word which is vullenskagindaicherbingertje, which I will remind you that mispronouncing things is my thing, and that is the Dutch word, Hank, for the little ties that you use to tie up your trash bags.

H: Like a twist tie?

J: Oh, I guess you could call it a twist tie! But why call it a twist tie when you can call it a vullensicagindaicherbindertje.

H: Good call, John. I agree with you completely. Alexander additionally wrote in to correct me in the last episode. He says, "You guys asked how much less a car would weigh if its tires were filled with helium. Unfortunately it wouldn't make it any lighter. Helium balloons float because they are less dense than the surrounding atmosphere but when you fill your car tires, you have to pressurize them so you actually can drive. As you pressurize helium - or any gas for that matter - its density increases. By the time you pressurize them enough to drive, the helium would be denser than the surrounding atmosphere and wouldn't float even without the weight of the car or the tires." Aw- (super elongated)

J: That's a bummer.

H: -dang it.

J: Lastly, several people wrote in to say that the night feeling that I described, this feeling of longing or homesickness for some place you don't quite know or for something you don't quite understand, a feeling that Hank says he's never had because Hank- well, you look into his cold dead eyes and you see nothing but, uh, the lack of soul - uh, it turns out there are a couple words for that, Hank. Just not in English. There is a Welsh word hiraeth, and a German word sehnsucht. There's a German word for everything, of course, and so there are words for it, just not in English. So I am not alone in having that feeling though, Hank. Many people wrote in to say that you are a monster and that I am the only human between us.

H: Well, once upon a time, you believed that you were the only human on Earth, so you're making progress.

J: Oh, man. Excuse me, I have to apply a bit of ointment to that burn.

H: Alright, John, here is our first question. Are you ready for our first question?

J: I am.

 Question One (7:11)

H: It's from William, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, My wife and I foster and train dogs that are local rescue pulls from high-kill shelters in central CA. We get a huge diversity of dogs in different shapes and sizes and breeds, but most of them have one thing in common: they love to drink from the toilet. None of my other dogs, the non-shelter dogs, have ever liked to drink that fresh cold potty water, but despite the never-ending stream of cold fresh sink water, the dogs prefer the cold fresh potty water. Here's where I could use some dubious advice. Should I bottle and sell this cold fresh potty water? Is there a larger human market for cold fresh potty water, just waiting to be tapped?" Oh, good pun there. "Would Dear Hank and John have room for some sponsorship from cold fresh potty water? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. William Cook, CEO of Cold Fresh Potty Water."

J: First off, I just wanna say, as far as sponsorship goes, I will take any amount of money from anyone to sponsor this podcast. I just want a real sponsor. I don't even care who it is.

H: Do you?!

J: I don't even care if it's Diet Dr. Pepper at this point.

H: Man, we could get a sponsor if we wanted one, I think. There's all kinds of podcast networks out there. We're on the lists, John.

J: I mean, alright.

H: We could get it.

J: Let's do it, man.

H: I don't want it.

J: Let's sell Cold Fresh Potty Water--

H: Really?!

J: Send us--what's the going rate for a podcast sponsorship, $8, $10?

H: Uh, well, maybe just in product. Maybe just send us a bunch of cold fresh potty water bottles.

J: You know what, William? We don't really need your money. What we need is your cold fresh potty water.

H: I mean, if your dogs think it's good, it must be.

J: No, it's not good. You shouldn't sell it. And you shouldn't allow your dogs to drink that cold fresh potty water.

H: What??

J: Because one thing that you probably don't know, William, is that every day, whether you like it or not, you are eating your dog's poop, so you are basically eating the pooped out, like, remnants of your cold fresh potty water. You just need to lock the doors to all the bathrooms at all times. That is the solution.

H: I will say that no matter what anybody tells you, you shouldn't drink water out of the toilet if you're a human. If you're a dog, I don't know. It seems like it--It seems like it works for them. They are--they have different constitutions than us, but yeah, in general, it's a surprise, but truth that if you're letting your dog lick your face, you got a bunch of dog poop in your mouth. It's a true fact. It's okay.

J: Ohh, God, I don't even--I don't even wanna think about it anymore. You know I once had a Campylobacter infection, Hank, an infection caused exclusively, or at least almost exclusively, by eating the poop of your pet.

H: Well. It does happen.

 Question Two (9:46)

J: Ughhh. Let's move on to another question, Hank, this one comes from Erin who writes, "Dear John and Hank, Growing up dyslexic, it was always a painful mystery to me why words refused to be spelled in a manner that it would allow me to know how to build them. I realized this is due in part to the way our language was developed, but I really don't care. In every entry in the dictionary, there is a phonetic spelling that follows rules. Why not just use those? Sorry no death or Ryan, Erin."

It is disappointing to me that you aren't named Ryan, Erin, but I'm gonna answer your question anyway. There's a great Mark Twain essay called 'Spelling Reform: A Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling', and if you read it over the course of the essay, it gets less and less legible, at least to me, as the spelling becomes more and more phonetic. There are a couple reasons we don't do phonetic spelling. One is that it's actually less comprehensible than you might think, to see those words spelled like they're spelled in the dictionary, all next to each other. The biggest reason we don't do it, this has actually been attempted before, Hank, with some money from Andrew Carnegie and there was support from Teddy Roosevelt in the early 20th century, to like, reform English spelling, mostly to get the silent vowels out of English. The biggest reason we don't do it is because of the mass of people who already know how to read in current English and who don't want to make accommodations for people for whom reading in English is difficult. That's basically what it boils down to.

H: Yeah, there are a number of examples of things that we could do more easily, but we have this cultural knowledge that continues to span throughout--and like, is just so difficult to change, because by the time it's time to change, you would have to change all the people who currently exist, and even if it would benefit greatly all the people who will exist in the future, the people who currently exist kind of are the ones who have the most say at the moment, because they currently exist, so they just continue to screw over all the people from the future, and that is true, and it is also why your keyboard is laid out in the way that is not the most efficient way for a keyboard to be laid out, and yet, it will never, ever change.

J: It's also why you calculate, you know, in miles instead of in kilometers.

H: Yes, and also why power--er--minutes are 60 in an hour instead of a 100, because what? What? What?!

J: Oh, I quite like having 60 minute hours, because then, you can have a 60 second minute, and you can have 24 hours in a day, it's all just so easy.

H: Right, it makes tons of sense to just--

J: That way also, you can have 365 days in one year.

H: Well that--

J: Which is so convenient.

H: That, John, is actually defined by the solar system, so we can't change that one.

J: No, no, no, no, no, no, no. No, no, no, no, no. We can fix that. We can do something about that. We can address that problem.

H: Just speed the Earth up a little bit.

J: Well, isn't it--

H: Speed it up.

J: Yeah, I just--I--we need to either have 100 year--100 day years or 1000 day years. One or the other. The Earth can pick the proper rotational speed to make that happen.

H: There--

J: I mean, Hank, we can put a man on Mars, but we can't like, shoot rockets from one corner of Earth in order to make it spin slower so that I can have a 100 day year?

H: Well--first of all, haven't yet figured out how to put a man on Mars. Second, I did read a book one time in which they sped up the rotation of a planet by slamming comets into it, which is pretty cool.

J: Yeah! That would work!

H: Yeah, totally. Let's do that!

J: That's what I'm proposing! I would like a slightly faster year. Let's have some comets hit us. I bet that's what's gonna happen, Hank.

H: Alright.

J: That's what's gonna be the horrible news story between now and Monday, and I'm gonna seem so terrible for having made that joke.

H: Yep. Yep. We'll have--we won't even be able to upload the podcast, John. This question is--

J: People will be like, it was so insensitive that he made that joke about the actual end of human life on this planet which did actually end Monday afternoon.

 Question Three (13:47)

H: Alright, John, here's a slightly more serious question, I believe, from Sarah, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, I'm currently in graduate school getting a PhD, and trying to tell people about it is my problem. Usually, when people ask me what I'm studying, I tell them neuroscience and then they have this visceral reaction like, oh my God, you must be so smart, I could never do that. They seem to feel like they can't talk to me about about what I'm studying, which is sad for me. Any dubious advice on how to make my field of study sound more approachable and not so daunting?"

J: I mean, I'm pretty intimidated by the study of neuroscience, I have to say, but once you get up to a certain level, every field of study is intimidating, right? Like, I can talk about political science to you, but I can't really talk about political science to a political scientist, because they're just too knowledgeable.

H: Right. Yeah, I have found, because I have a weird job that people will often, if I tell them what I--like, I'm a YouTuber, and they're just made of questions, to be a little more specific, and so instead of saying, like, I'm studying neuroscience, you can talk exactly--tell them exactly what you're studying at the moment, like, "I'm studying how chemicals in the brain affect our sleep cycles," or whatever you're doing research on or studying at the moment, and that is suddenly, like, oh, that's not--that doesn't seem like brain surgery, it seems like oh, interesting, tell more more about the chemicals in my brain that affect how and when I sleep. In the same way I usually, instead of saying, "I'm a YouTuber," I say, "I make educational videos for students and teachers," and then they're like, "Oh, I understand what that is. I understand the value equation there," and also... I don't have to talk for an hour straight about how the economics of online video work.

J: Wait, is that really what you say? You make--you say, "I make educational video for students and teachers."?

H: Correct, yes.

J: Do you know what I say when I'm asked what I do?

H: What do you say?

J: I say I work for an educational video company.

H: Oh, wow.

J: Because you know what everyone says after that?

H: What?

J: "... Oh." And that's the end of the conversation, it's great.

H: Well, sometimes it's nice to talk about what you do a little bit, you know, have a conversation.

J: Aw, man, I dislike talking about what I do so much, it makes me so uncomfortable, like, you can see my physical body, like, close up like a flower at nighttime.

H: I don't wanna--I don't wanna cast blame, but it's possible that you just don't like talking to people.

J: Mm, it's true that it's not my favorite thing to do. It's not my like, number one hobby. My number one hobby is definitely being by myself, making up stories.

 Question Four (16:20)

Alright, Hank, we've got another question, this one comes from Sam, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, I work in the theme park 'Nickelodeon Universe', which is located inside the Mall of America," So Sam has just described my actual hell. "In order to evoke a youthful ambience in the park, our IT department plays a variety of pop songs extremely loudly through the speaker system," It's getting worse. "There are 15 songs that play on repeat," I... don't know if I can go on, "and these songs are changed about once every three months." Three months! Oh god!

H: Oh my God!!

J: Do you have any dubious advice on how not to lose one's mind when forced to hear the same fifteen songs nine hours a day, 40 hours a week? I estimate that I have heard 'Boom Clap' from The Fault in Our Stars soundtrack about 4,000 times in the past three months, which seems a bit excessive."

H: Oh, wow, I mean, this needs to be investigated.

J: I like that song.

H: This needs to be investigated by like, a--an agency of the government in charge of the health and safety of workers.

J: Yeah, doesn't OSHA have some regulations about the number of times 'Boom Clap' can be played in one 40-hour work week?

H: My wife actually had a similar experience, she worked in a souvenir shop for a summer and listened to the same Jimmy Buffet album every day for an entire summer, and she, when Jimmy Buffet comes on in restaurants, as often does happen, she leaves. She gets up, and she goes away. If people sing Jimmy Buffet songs in karaoke, first, she spends about 13 seconds staring directly into their soul and making them--like, casting a spell upon them, and then she walks out of the karaoke bar to stand outside until it's over.

J: Well, now I know to sing (bleep) next time I do karaoke with Katherine.

H: Oh my God, don't even say those words! She won't listen to the podcast anymore. Nick, bleep it out! Nick, I'm serious, bleep it. Bleep, bleep it all.

J: What about (bleep).

H: Bleep it. Bleep it.

J: I once had a great conversation with somebody who worked in the airport, the Indianapolis airport has a like, Hoosier specialty shop that sells like, Indiana related gear, and in that Hoosier specialty shop, two movies play on a loop, the movie 'Rudy', which is about a football player at Notre Dame University, which is here in Indiana, and the movie 'Hoosiers', which is about an Indiana basketball team. And I asked them, you know, like, does that play every day, and they looked at me and they just delivered the next four lines of dialogue in the movie.

H: That's great.

J: And so initially, I was like, what you just said made no sense, and then I heard the characters in the movie saying that, like, off to my left, and I was like, "Oh my God," so anyways, Sam, we're sorry. Maybe it will help to think of the fact that it's not Jimmy Buffet and it's not Hoosiers and Rudy on repeat. Maybe that's the only help we can give you.

H: I mean, so what I would say, Sam, is if and when you're ready to leave this job, or maybe even before then, maybe if you are at the point where you're saying I will leave this job if this doesn't change, if that point ever comes up, I would go to your direct supervisor and I would say, "I think that it would help employee retention, and I think that it would make our--it would make Nickelodeon Universe more successful if we diversified our soundtrack, because employees, I hear them constantly complaining about this. They might not becoming to you with it, because they might see it as potentially harming their jobs, but I think that it would increase productivity and employee retention, which are two very important things to all managers, if we diversified our playlists," and I think they might listen to you, and you might even get a promotion out of the thing, and if not, then just move on and go to a different job.

J: I would take that all the way up the ladder. Forget about your direct supervisor, I would e-mail the CEO of Nickelodeon and say, "Nickelodeon Universe in the Mall of America has a crisis." That would be my first sentence. My second sentence would just be all the lyrics of 'Boom Clap' and then I would write, "In closing," and then I would write all the lyrics of 'Boom Clap' again and then I would write, "Sincerely, Sam."

H: That's a beautiful--that's a--I mean, it's not a terrible idea, John, and to Sam, I would just like to say, to finish this question off, "Boom Clap, the sound of my heart, the beat goes on and on and on and on, and boom clap, you make me feel good, come on to me, come on to me, now." Okay, we're done.

J: Alright, I hope Charli XCX doesn't sue us for copyright infringement. Charlie, I will remind you that when I met you in Los Angeles, we had a nice conversation, please don't sue us.

 Question Five (21:11)

H: Alright. That was great--that was a beautiful question, John. This one's from Russell, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, I find myself in a situation I have never found myself in before. I'm on a long distance bus journey overnight and am in desperate need of a bathroom break. However, there is a person next to me and he is sleeping. Should I wake them up and ask them to move, climb past them and hope for the best, or just suffer in silence? Your take on this situation would be greatly appreciated." Thank you, and I'm sure you appreciate the timely response that is clearly not a problem for your current journey that you, I assume, are still on.

J: Yeah, it took--he asked this question nine days ago, so I am concerned about Russell's health, just from a, like, waiting for the answer situation. Like, he's probably died of bladder explosion in the interim nine days, but--

H: Which is a thing that can happen.

J: Oh, of course, you can die from anything, Hank. Literally anything can completely end your experience of consciousness at any moment, but of more concern immediately to Russell is the fact that yeah, you just need to wake up that person and crawl over them. I like to sit in the aisle so that I'm the person that gets crawled over instead of the crawler-overer, because that always feels less awkward to me, but I don't mind being woken up. I understand that's part of the deal, like, I signed on to that when I signed on for this bus trip.

H: Yes, absolutely, that is--that is the case. I mean, if it's a thing where you can try to get out without waking them up, that's fine, you can try to do that, but if not, just, "hey, I gotta go to the bathroom." They don't wanna be sittin' next to a pile of pee either, so just do it.

J: That's a great point, Hank, they don't want to be sitting next to a pile of pee, which is what Russell presumably would have turned into had his bladder exploded.

H: It's just a--yeah, they don't want any--nobody wants that clean fresh potty water or that not clean fresh potty water.

J: Oh, God, can we just--let's move on. I--this used to be a podcast about death. Now it's just a podcast about potty humor.

 Question Six (23:16)

Our next question comes from LeAnn, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, My best friend is getting married in October. The closer the wedding gets, the more often I hear questions like, "Am I making a mistake marrying him?" As her friend, I value her feelings and want what's best for her, but I'm not quite sure what to say. My question is, how can I help her decide whether or not to marry him?"

H: Well, you know what, John, I saw this question in the podcast notes and I was like, I'm not touchin' that one with a ten foot pole, 'cause I know nothing about these peoples' lives.

J: I mean, I also am not very well acquainted with LeAnn or her best friend or the person--the other person in this equation, but I do have advice. I mean, isn't this podcast ultimately about giving advice based on extremely limited amounts of information, advice that is, in all likelihood, not helpful. Like, isn't that literally our business?

H: Alright. You go, go for it, boy.

J: Alright. So. The thing about marriage is that it's until you die. So I actually think that even if it's a matter of like, sayin' let's hit the pause button here, because I am suddenly not sure that I wanna get married, I think that's way better than hitting the pause button like, one hour into the marriage. Like, I'm a big fan of the pre-marriage pause button, but the best piece of advice I can give, Hank, is go on one of those stupid two-day engaged encounters. I don't know if you did that with Katherine before you guys got married, did you have any kind of pre-marital counseling or anything?

H: No, we had seven years of dating.

J: Well, yeah, but I--I mean, Sarah and I were together for a long time, too. Not seven years, but for quite a while, and like, I was rea--we were reasonably sure that we wanted to marry each other. That's why we'd done the whole like, purchase of the engagement ring, will you marry me, yes, et cetera, but I found this two day engagement encounter, which I did not want to do at all, to be incredibly helpful, because I think really like, when I look back and Sarah and I have only been married for ten years, relative pittance in the scheme of things, but when I look back at where we've been successful, I think most of the success that we've had as a married couple has been because we share each others' values. It's not really about--it's not as much, as I thought it would be, about romance or any of that stuff, it's mostly about, like, sharing values. So that would be where I would start with the 'do I really wanna marry this person?', but I also would say, just don't be afraid to hit the pause button here. There's--it's much better to hit the pause button now than to try to hit when you've got like, you know, four years of marriage under your belt and you've got a legal contract to dissolve.

H: Agree. Yeah.

J: Or I'm wrong.

H: Yeah.

J: That's very dubious advice, because I do not know these people.

H: Yeah, I remember you telling me some things about that experience where you were watching other people go through the process of being like, oh, oh, some people really don't have it together.

J: Yeah, I just remember this one couple where they had a huge fight in front of all of us because they had never discussed whether they wanted to have children.

H: Oh, it was like, the first time they had the conversation?

J: And like, that's something that you should--that's somethin' that you should discuss before you go to your engaged encounter.

H: There are also lists on the internet of like, questions you should talk about your prospective spouse with before the matrimony occurs. And if you aren't comfortable talking about those things with your prospective spouse, then that's not a good sign.

J: Yeah, I mean, there's all kinds of ways to be married, and I don't pretend to be an expert in it and lots of people have, you know, great marriages. I don't believe that like, there's one right way, but I do believe that sharing values, mutual generosity, those are really important and have been like, huge for us in the last ten years.

H: Agreed. Agreed and also, you know, being able to talk openly and honestly with one another I think is pretty important, if you're gonna be on a team with anybody doin' your whole life together.

J: Well, I wasn't gonna touch that--I wasn't gonna touch that cold refreshing potty water question, so I'm glad that we both got one that the other didn't want to answer.

 Question Seven (27:22)

H: Okay, well, here's another one that's definitely for me from Joe, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, My name is Joe, and I'm 16 years old and I live in the United Kingdom and I love coffee. When I woke up this morning, I did the usual ritual of making myself a cup of coffee and while holding the coffee up, I inhaled deeply to smell that wonderful drink. While doing this, I thought of a question: could I get a caffeine buzz just from inhaling the steam of my coffee? The particles that make up the steam make their way into my lungs and are diffused into my bloodstream. Also, I'm not sure if it's relevant to the question, but I drink my coffee black with no sugar." It's not relevant to the question, but thank you for letting us know. You got any thoughts on that, John?

J: Um, I assume that, since you can vape caffeine, like, using a vaporizing vapor pen or whatever, that you can inhale caffeine, I just don't know if you do it when you drink in the water vapor from your coffee.

H: So, there are two different mechanisms. A vape pen actually crea--like, vaporizes the water but does not--it does not evaporate it, it does not turn it into steam, and so the--they are basically just really tiny water droplets. Now, I should say, don't probably do this, because it's not well studied, but the caffeine remains dis--

J: Oh, that's--we're gonna get more letters about that than we've ever gotten about anything.

H: But the caffeine remains dissolved in those water droplets and thus can't get it to your lungs. When it turns into water vapor, though, the caffeine does not remain in the water droplets, and that's what's happening when it's leaving the top of your cup, so you're not actually smelling the water. What you're smelling is various volatile organic compounds that are in the coffee and there have been studies that have shown that the smell of coffee, those different volatile organic compounds that are goin' into your nose, can trigger the release of proteins that might help shield you from the effects of sleep deprivation, at least that happens in rats, so the smell of that liquid wakefulness might perk you up psychologically and also physiologically, but it is not the caffeine that's doing it, which is really weird and interesting to know that coffee has more than just the caffeine going for it, and smelling is does you some good.

J: I actually know someone who can't drink coffee anymore because of health problems, but who brews a cup of coffee every morning and smells it.

H: I mean, can't you just smell the beans, though? Wouldn't that be cheaper?

J: I don't know, I'm just telling you what she does.

H: Oh, alright, that's fine.

 Question Eight (29:53)

J: I don't judge people for trying to get through this veil of tears. Hank, we've got another question, this comes from Austin, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, I was just thinking about how I, along with a lot of other people, I think, really enjoy sad movies and sad songs and sad books. In a lot of cases, particularly in music, I like them more than things that aren't sad. Do you think this means I like to be sad? I don't think I like to be sad, so why do I like all this sad stuff?"

H: Well, John, as you may be an expert in this, as a person who has created some media that people intentionally read knowing that it's going to make them sad, but I have--recently we recorded an episode of CrashCourse: Philosophy (plug) about this, and the sort of philosophical problem of like, why humans go out of their way to make themselves experience negative emotions, whether that be a horror movie or a tearjerker, and there are a lot of interesting thoughts on the subject. Do you have any?

J: Probably not as interesting as like, the thoughts of the major philosophers, but I do have a couple. The first thing--and, Hank, correct me if I'm wrong about any of this stuff, because this is all just guessing based on my own experience, but the first thing is that I don't quite think that sadness is the opposite of happiness. I think we've created a bit of a false dichotomy when we think of sadness as only a negative emotion. Now, sadness can be an intensely negative emotion, but sometimes it's just sadness, and sometimes I think it's helpful to feel sadness. In fact, like, I used to be on a drug for my OCD that caused me not to really be able to feel sad, like, it was very difficult for me to cry and stuff, and I didn't feel like I was my whole self. I felt like this part of me had been taken away from me, and even though it wasn't necessarily a part of me that, you know, like, I don't enjoy feeling sad, but I missed having that part of me, and it was an impor--it felt like it was important to me being me, and it felt like there was a real loss in not having that. But I will say, I mean, when I wrote The Fault in Our Stars, I thought that, you know, it would be a book that would be read by nerdfighters and people who knew or liked my previous work, I never never crossed my mind that it would be so popular, just because it seemed to me so sad. Like, I mean, I hope that it was funny and fun to read and everything, but I knew that it was going to be pretty sad for a lot of readers and it didn't seem like something that somebody would choose to go through, but I was totally wrong.

H: Yeah, um, in philosophy, I think that it may be known as the problem of tragedy in aesthetics, and there's a lot of schools of thought that there--that this is like--and one of them is that this is a way to maybe experience an emotion that is very similar to but not quite the real thing.  When you're experiencing it, and I think that that--there's like, a spectrum of that, but when you're experiencing it in media and in a play or in a story, and that--but at the same time, like, I also sometimes feel like it is very much the real thing when I'm experiencing it myself, but obviously, you have a different reaction to a scary movie than you have to something like that actually happening to you directly, and so it's a kind of like a way to get your mind to go through the motions without actually experiencing the truly negative horrible thing, and then there's just the idea of catharsis, which is just an--it's like, you get to like, get it out of you and do the thing and have the emotion and maybe that helps you connect with or feel--I'm just not the right person to talk about this with, John, I don't have--

J: No, I think that's an interesting idea, though. I think catharsis is an interesting idea. I also do think that there's an element of a sad movie or a sad book that allows you either to go through the motions without having quite the same negativity of going through it in real life, or alternately, that allows you to kind of like, glimpse back to a time in your life when you did have some tremendous loss or some horrible thing happen, but it kinda like, gives you a lens of looking back at it that makes it possible to look at. I mean, there's some things that are so traumatic or so difficult that looking at them directly is just kind of too painful, that it becomes impossible to look at them directly, and so maybe it's a kind of lens backwards that gives you the ability to actually look at it and think about it and hopefully process it a little, but I don't know. Neither of us know, is the short answer, Austin.

H: Correct, and I think that it's a question people have been talking about for thousands of years and will continue talking about it, so you've tapped into something that is sort of a fundamental weirdness of the human condition.

 Question Nine (35:00)

We've got another question from Akilah, this is a hard one, John, are you ready for a hard one?

J: Oh my God, there haven't been any easy ones today, except for the one about potty water.

H: This is--Akilah asks, "Dear Hank and John, My mother recently got diagnosed with Type II Diabetes and even though I know that Diabetes runs in our family, I find myself blaming her actions for getting the disease. This is because I feel it's the most effective way of getting her to lead a healthier lifestyle. (She's rather resistant to change.) I felt that I've been acting with her best interests in mind, but Hank, your video has made me seriously question my attitude. What do you think is the best way of getting her to be healthier without making her feel guilty?"

Ohh, I don't know if anybody saw my video about this, but I made a video on Vlogbrothers recently about how, in particular with a disease that one already has and cannot do much about, it can sometimes be kind of destructive to tell people the simple ways that you might think that they might be able to heal themselves, whether that's going gluten-free or veg--or like, eating a vegan lifestyle, or weird other dietary practices. That might not necessarily work for them but does kind of make the person feel as if you are saying that they could, if only they could enact this simple thing in their lives, get rid of their disease, and thus, you kind of feel like maybe their disease is their fault and maybe that makes them feel like their disease is their fault.

J: That is indeed what your video was about.

H: You wanna keep going, John?

J: Oh, no, no, no, I was gonna let you take on the question. It seems difficult.

H: Okay. First, I think you should remember that while, like, this is something that I hear a lot, people, you know, we talk about how, like, the different causes of diseases, and sometimes forget that the number one cause is just random chance, so while lifestyle contributes to diseases, lots of people are unhealthy their whole lives and never get Type II Diabetes, they--like, we're all just rollin' the dice.

And while we can work to improve our odds, blaming someone for their disease, especially once they already have that disease, even if you're just blaming them in your own head and not out loud, is basically wrong and it's definitely destructive to your relationship, so I--it's not a thing that you should do. But we want the people we love to be in the best possible health and it can be really frustrating to watch people go against the suggestions of their doctors, but change is super hard and like, knowing that your body is betraying you and that now you have to live your life in a way that you don't want to live it because of this betrayal, it sucks, and it might be really, like, mentally challenging and cause a lot of strife in your loved ones' lives, so I feel like empathy tends to be the best support strategy. Understanding why it's difficult and that it's difficult and hopefully through your appreciation and support of this person making it easier for them to make healthy choices and knowing that--and helping them know that this isn't a burden on you, but it's a fulfilling act that you are helping out this person who you love because helping someone you love is a wonderful pleasant thing to do.

J: Yeah, I think the main thing is empathy, I mean, it's incredibly hard for people to make sudden, massive lifestyle changes. There's lots and lots of research on how hard it is, how rare it is, and it's important to understand that, even when somebody wants to make a change, that, you know, their doctors have asked them to make, it's incredibly difficult to do it practically, and you know, sometimes, it isn't difficult, but for a lot of people, its' very very hard, and so I think, unless you're being empathetic, I don't think you're increasing your chances of like, success in getting somebody to make systemic change. I don't think shame works, I don't think yelling at people works, and in many cases, I don't think it's, like you said, Hank, I think that it's, you know, it's pretty destructive in the end.

I actually have a little bit of personal experience with this, although it's very different, which is that, as you know, Hank, I have this disease called eosinophilic esophagitis, which is like an autoimmune disorder of my esophagus that causes my esophagus to be a little bit strictured and sometimes food gets caught in my esophagus, and it's very bad when that happens, because if I can't get it up or down, I can't swallow my own--like, my own spit, and so I throw up like every two or three minutes for hours and hours and hours until I eventually get an endoscopy at the hospital.

It's a real bummer, and it's a day-ruiner, you know, like, it doesn't--it's not ruining my life, but occasionally, it ruins days, and I went to a really good specialist recently, like, one of the best eosinophilic esophagitis doctors in the country, and he was reading over my chart for a while, and he looked at me and he said, "Have you thought about not eating steak anymore?" And I was like, what? And he was like, have you thought about not eating steak, 'cause it seems like 90% of the times you've been hospitalized for this, it's been after you ate steak, and I was like, huh. You're right. And he was like, "I mean, I'm not tellin' you how to live your life, man, but I would cut out steak."

But like, that's a relatively easy change for me to make, you know, like, it's not saying, like, okay, you now need to stop eating all processed foods and all sugars, right? It's just saying that I shouldn't eat this one thing, and even then, I sometimes resent it, but I will say that since I stopped eating steak, my life has been way better.

H: It's funny, because I don't even like red meat. I have a very hard time understanding why anyone prefers steak to chicken. I mean, it's just clearly the best meat,

 Commercial Break (40:50)

Which is why, John, this podcast is brought to you by forbidden steaks!, where you can acquire steaks, but only if you're not supposed to eat them.

J: This podcast is, of course, also brought to you by Boom Clap. Boom Clap, the hit song off the Fault in Our Stars soundtrack. The Fault in Our Stars movie, by the way, excellent and now available on Netflix.

H: Oh, ooh, and you can hear in that movie, a song that will make Sam run away from the room screaming. This podcast is also additionally of course brought to you by death by bladder explosion. Death by bladder explosion: not preferable to waking up the person next to you.

J: And lastly, this podcast is brought to you by cold fresh potty water. Cold fresh potty water: available now at

H: Yes, two things. Two things you can get at that website, and I have full confidence in our business model.

J: Oh man. Thank g--we're such good business-people, it's amazing.

 Question Ten (41:55)

Hank, I wanna answer a couple more questions before we get to the news from Mars and AFC Wimbledon. This question really struck something--it struck at something deep in me. It came from Daniel and he wrote, "Dear John and Hank, I'm sincerely--" it's actually just to me, that may be why I liked it so much. "Dear John, I'm sincerely thrilled for you and your soccer team as you all experience such historic highs. Although I myself have no more interest in sportsball than Hank. However, your enthusiasm has finally inspired me to ask for a clarification on a term I hear you use in reference, I think, to Lyle Taylor: The Montserratian Messy. Can you explain to a non-soccer fan what a Messy is?" Hank, do you know the answer to this? By the way, he spells 'Messi' m-e-s-s-y, because of course, he thinks it's the adjective 'messy'.

H: I know he's a human being. Yeah, Messi is a human being who is very good at soccer, is my impression.

J: That is correct. So, Lionel Messi is an Argentinian soccer player who plays for the club of Barcelona. He is probably the best player in the world right now, you can Google him if you want, it's M-e-s-s-i. That will help you find him. I would encourage you to watch a YouTube video called "Lionel Messi Never Dives," which, while not strictly speaking true, does show seven minutes of people hacking away at his legs and him refusing to go down, because he loves being with his beloved soccer ball so much. He's an incredible player, and so often, you'll hear people refer to soccer players as "The Welsh Messi" or "The English Messi" as a way of saying, well, he's not the greatest, but he's the greatest from England, and since Lyle Taylor plays for the Montserrat national team, I think of him as the Montserratian Messi.

H: Alright. Thanks for clearing it all up for us, John, that's a bit of cultural reference that we're all lucky to have.

 Question Eleven (43:53)

I've got another question, it's from Chloe who asks, "Dear Hank and John, I'm so excited for Nerdcon: Nerdfighteria. As soon as it was announced at VidCon, I was watching the livestream, I went online and bought my ticket immediately." Thank you for doing that, Chloe! You're the best. "Its gonna be my first Con ever. Do you have any tips for a first-time Con attendee?"

Well, thank you, Chloe, first of all, for giving us an opportunity to talk about NerdCon: Nerdfighteria, which is a conference that we would like all--we will be doing a live performance, a live Dear Hank and John show, it's gonna be in Boston, Massachusetts, February 25th-26th, there's gonna be many good times to be had, it's gonna be a very weird fun time, we're gonna have Craig Benzine of WheezyWaiter there, Jon Cozart, Aaron Carroll, Michael Buckley, Sabrina Cruz, Joe and Paul deGeorge of Harry and the Potters, Lindsay Doe, Emily Graslie, Andrew Huang, Charlie McDonnell, Meghan Tonjes, who else am I forgetting?

J: Lots of your favorite people will be at Nerdcon: Nerdfighteria.

H: Yes, lots of your favorite people.

J: So it's in February, in Boston. You can go to to get tickets. They are going fast so we hope to see you in Boston. We're really excited about it. It's like, you know, when VidCon first started out, it was largely Nerdfighters, not exclusively, but this is really the first conference that's gonna be all centered around Nerdfighteria and the work that we do together, so we're really really excited about it, and thank you for getting tickets, first-time Conference goer, Emily. Is that her name?

H: Chloe. I believe.

J: Right. That's what I said.

H: But do we have any advice for a first-time Con attendee? Wear comfortable shoes.

J: Yep.

H: Is my number one piece of advice. It's also a good idea to bring some calories, some packed calorie sources, like Balance Bars.

J: Hank's a big believer in bringing, like, granola bars to conferences, which I think is reasonably good advice.

H: Yeah, I mean--the first day of VidCon this year, I ate nothing except for Clif Bars the entire day. It was not a healthy decision, but it was--it worked for me.

J: Yeah, the only other piece of advice I would give you is, you know, look at the programming in advance so you have a sense of what you really wanna go to, but don't get too married to the programming that you don't let fun things happen.

So, uh, you know, there are always gonna be kind of you know, discoveries that you can't plan in advance, and I think you have to leave room for that stuff, both in your head and in your schedule so that you can have the most fun possible, but I do think that it's a good idea to look at the program and get a sense of, well, I definitely wanna be there, I definitely wanna be there.

H: Yeah, it's definitely oftentimes the most interesting and fun things are the things that just sort of pop up and as a conference planner, those mean a lot to me when it's like, oh, this really special thing happened and it's only because I put all these people together in the same place. Not because I even like, intended for that to happen, and--or planned for that to happen. So, I love that stuff, and also I would say be open to other folks and you know, know that they're into the same things as you probably, and make connections and friends, and I think that's really the best part of going to an event is the people that you meet, as much as I work very hard to make the content great, I recognize that in the end, it's that people get together in the same place and get to have experiences together. I don't know where any nearby Pokestops or rare Pokemon are, so I can't give you any tips on that.

J: I can't believe we got through this whole podcast without once talking about Pokemon Go. I have heard your phone buzz about 14 times, which I presume is because right before we started recording, you laid down some incense.

H: No, uh, no, indeed, that is not why. Just been getting texts from Michael Gardner. But, there are no good Pokemon at my house, I have to go downtown to have good Pokemon hunting, but yeah, I'm level 12, John, what are you?

J: I'm level 7, but I will remind you that I'm playing with a six year old, so that slows me down a little bit.

H: Yeah, I do feel a little bit like I might be peaking. I'm really far away from getting 150 Pokemon or 151 or however many there are, I have like 40, and I just feel like that's a really large bridge to gap, but who knows? Maybe I will continue just sorta bustin' that out every once in a while, 'cause it is a fun, fun thing.

J: It is a pretty great app. I feel like playing it, I have glimpsed the future, but I also feel like playing it, I have thought, "hmm, you know, I might not be doing this in a week."

H: Yeah, right, right, glimpsing the future, but not the near future.

J: Right, right, right. This is the first step on a long process probably.

 News from AFC Wimbledon (48:44)

Hank, would you like the news from AFC Wimbledon?

H: Hit me.

J: Alright, well, it's the off-season as you know, Hank, AFC Wimbledon getting ready for league one football. It has just been announced that Nerdfighteria will again be sponsoring the back of Wimbledon's shorts.

H: Oh, nice.

J: And we will also--

H: So, was that--did that--did the price go up? Was that a steeper--for a League Two--er, League One thing?

J: Point being, we're gonna do everything we can to make sure that AFC Wimbledon is successful in League One. I will personally do everything I can, and I know that you feel the same way. We're also gonna have all new advertising (?~49:26) along the stands in the King's Meadow stadium, which we're really excited about, and those are being designed now, so you'll probably get to vote on them or get to see some of them soon, and the other piece of news from AFC Wimbledon, Hank, is that our beloved striker, Adebayo Akinfenwa, the beast, the strongest man in professional football and maybe in the world, who left AFC Wimbledon, was released by the club at the end of the season. He has signed for a new team: The Wickham Wanderers in League Two. He'll still be in the fourth tier of English football next season, but I know that he will do amazing things for Wickham, or possibly Wyckham, it's just like Gillingham or Gillingham, nobody knows for sure how to pronounce it. They finished 13th last year in League Two, and are hoping for better things this year, and I hope it for them. They certainly have made a great signing in the form of Akinfenwa. He is a Wimbledon legend, and I wish him well in Wickham or Wickham or Wycombe, nobody knows how to say it for sure.

 News from Mars (50:35)

H: Well, John, as far as the news from Mars goes, in addition to there being some advertisements designed for the side of some stands at a stadium somewhere in England, the design of NASA's science-packed Mars 2020 rover has been completed. All of its instruments have been selected and it's ready for final approval, fabrication, and assembly. The rover, which doesn't have an official name yet, is based off of the same plan as Curiosity, but it will explore different areas of the 2nd most habitable planet in the solar system with some new tools. It will be collecting samples of like, rocks and dirt and dust and stuff, and it'll be putting those into like, tubes, sample tubes, that will later, ideally, in the plan, be retrieved and returned to Earth on a separate mission. It will also have microphones on it, allowing us for the first time to hear what it sounds like on the surface of Mars, which will just be wind. That's all. Nothing--not really--but that'll be nice, I guess. Its plan is to launch in 2020 and land in 2021, leaving seven years after its arrival for humans to get their butts to Mars, which seems more and more like a terrible, terrible bet that I've made.

J: Speaking of which, Hank, I'm starting to feel like we have not done a good enough job. First off, we've gotten through a whole podcast without me once promoting my most important social media channel,, that's l-e-o-n-m-u-s-s-number 4-Earth. But I was just thinking--it's funny that you think that it wasn't a good bet, because I was just thinking that we need to dramatically increase the stakes of this bet, because just having it be the name of the podcast, I don't lose anything.

H: Nope.

J: If we get humans to Mars before 2028, like, there's nothing at stake for me or for my hardworking compatriot Leon Muss, so we were thinking it would be great to like, dramatically increase the stakes.

H: Well, as long as its just your side of the stakes that's increasing, I'm totally down.

J: No, no, no, I would like to increase your side of the stakes as well. So I would like to add a monetary component to this bet.

H: Oh no. No, no, no.

J: In which the winner will have to give the money to a charity, a licensed, tax-deductible charity, of the winner's--uh, the loser will have to give x-amount of money to a charity chosen by the winner.

H: Um, I don't--I don't--I think that that's a good--I--like, I think the way that it is right now is pretty good, John. I think it's funny, and I don't--

J: You haven't even heard how much money I'm proposing.

H: No, I heard x. I heard that it was x amount.

J: Well, I've been thinking about the amount.

H: Okay. Is it a--

J: Bear in mind that you have until 2028 to make this amount of money, Hank.

H: Is it more than $2?

J: It's a billion. I think we should bet one billion dollars to the charity of the winner's choice.

H: Um. Well.

J: And I will remind you, I will remind you that the Don's Trust, AFC Wimbledon's ownership structure, is a charity.

H: I'm not surprised, and unfortunately, NASA is not.

J: Let's just make it ten bucks. Let's make it an even $10.

H: $10 is much more achievable for me. Though I do like the idea of working with the actual normal Elon Musk, knowing that I'm going to be a billion dollars out if we don't get our butts there. Additionally, knowing that I have to like, because of the bet that I've made, really up my game in terms of actual capital generation, and start making some riskier bets for my financial future.

J: Oh man. Alright, so it's $10, but it's gonna be adjusted for inflation, so by 2028, if the Earth dumpster fire keeps raging, it'll probably be a million dollars.  But by then, we won't be using money at all. We'll just be back to doing the barter system. Most trade will occur in the form of like, number of chickens. It'll be like--

H: Yeah.

J: I'll give ya eight chickens if you notarize this document for me. That's the future, Hank. That's the world that we're on the cusp of.

H: All the people who kept their pennies will be so happy, 'cause they'll be able to melt them down into actual usable products.

 Outro (55:09)

J: [John chuckles] Oh, a darkness is encircling us all. Hank, what did we learn today?

H: We learned that in addition to the fact that the world is a literal dumpster fire, there is a downtown built around a shoe. So there's good news too.

J: Yeah, absolutely. We also learned that the coffee smell does not contain caffeine, but it does contain somethin' that wakes you up.

H: We learned that helium tires will not help float your car up.

J: And lastly, we learned that there is a young man named Sam living in America's Twin Cities of Minneapolis and/or St. Paul who has suffered through the song 'Boom Clap' (which is a good song) 4,000 times. So if the CEO of Nickelodeon is listening right now, and I know that he or she is a friend of the Pod, let's consider diversifying the old playlist, shall we?

H: Yes, a little playlist diversification and maybe a promotion for Sam, because this is a problem that needs to be addressed and no one brought it up until Sam was brave enough to grab the ear of the person who I have not looked up is Cyma Zarghami,

The President of Nickelodeon and Viacom Media Networks. 

J: Oh, God. 

H: Cyma, thank you for listening.

J: I just--I also wanna thank Cyma from the bottom of my heart. Longtime fan of the Pod. 

H: Yes. All of your support's been fantastic.

J: Yep.

H: The dollar on Patreon is just, it's going a long way, we are not spending it unwisely. 

J: Alright, Hank, thanks to everybody for listening. Hank, thanks for podcasting with me. Thanks to everybody for your questions. You can write us questions, our e-mail address is You can also follow us on Twitter, where Hank is @hankgreen and I am @LeonMuss4Earth, or you can follow us on Hank's preferred method of communication, Snapchat, where Hank is hankgre. Our podcast is edited by Nicholas Jenkins, our intern is Claudia Morales. Rosianna Halse Rojas helps us out with the questions. Thank you again for listening. Our theme music, sorry, is by Gunnarolla. Thank you again for listening, and as we say in our hometown...

H&J: Don't forget to be awesome.