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How do I go about my secret fiddle long con? Why do almost all zippers have the letters YKK on them? Do bugs ever have a destination in mind when they walk around aimlessly? And more!

 (00:00) to (02:00)

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, Hank Green, host of SciShow, and John Green, the author of The Fault in Our Stars and several other books, talk to you about death, answer your questions, give you dubious advice, and bring you all the weeks news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon. I'm not proud of that one, John.

J: No, that wasn't great. I think it's weird that you identify primarily as the host of SciShow.

H: Well, I was just picking something.

J: What would you like on your tombstone, Hank? What would you like it to say that you did with your life on your tombstone?

H: Giraffe sex videos.

J: (Laughs) I mean, that's not even appropriate since all of our most popular giraffe sex videos were made by me. I'm not one to brag, I'm stating a fact.

H: Ah! That's a big spider! What the frick!?

J: Am I gonna have to host the podcast alone because there's a spider in your room-

H: Oh, it's real big!

J: -or are you gonna be able to just get on with it?

H: It has... You know, sometimes I think, you know, there are a lot of legs in the world. But then I realize that most of them are on that spider.

J: Hank Green: 1980-2146. Most of the legs in the world are on spiders.

H: (Laughs) I don't really know what to do about this spider. It doesn't seem to... OK. I'm... Well, is it gonna come to me?

J: Well, I mean, this is just a fantastic radio drama. It's exactly what listeners of Dear Hank and John tune in for every week. (Hank laughs) Hank, how are you doing?

H: I'm good. I'm good. I, I had a little bit of a spider scare. I've got, I've got only good news in my life right now. Things are great.

J: Well, I have a short poem for you today.

H: Is it about... Do you... I mean is it only good news in your life? I feel like we didn't hear anything about you.

J: My life is fine, except I continue to have a broken rib which is just a tremendous bummer and, but talking about it doesn't help it.

 (02:00) to (04:00)

J: My life is fine, except I continue to have a broken rib which is just a tremendous bummer and, but talking about it doesn't help it. But also not talking about it doesn't  cause me not to think about it. so why don't i read you a short poem of correction that was sent in by one of our listeners Morgan.

H: Alright lets do it.

J: hey guys pigeons may if rarely die in crevasses, the deep chasms in Earth and ice, but I think you might have meant crevasses."  We also got a correction from Lauren, who writes, "My father is the lead rocket scientists of a science mission called Juno, that is at Jupiter at this very moment."  Right, so, Lauren's dad wrote in, "Though it is a beautiful sentiment to think that we will never know what lies at the center of Jupiter, we most likely will within the next 20 months.  The Juno spacecraft is currently orbiting Jupiter, and one of its core scientific goals is to discover the contents and state of Jupiter's interior.  To answer the listener's question further, once the orbiter has completed its mission, it will descend into Jupiter to be destroyed.  This is done so that the nearby moons won't be contaminated, but the gas giant will destroy the spacecraft.  It's also worth noting that Juno has just sent back some close-up photos of Jupiter that are stunning and incredibly interesting, including the first ever photo of Jupiter's north pole."  So we'll post those to the Patreon at 

H: They are beautiful pictures, and I even knew about Juno and had talked about Juno as previously mentioned on my apparently most important job, the host of SciShow, and uh, yes, and I even knew what Juno's mission was, but I maintain that we will know more about what is in the interior of Jupiter, but not all of what is in the interior of Jupiter.  

J: Yeah, no, I trust you over the guy who's literally running the Juno project.

 (04:00) to (06:00)

Okay, Hank, let's get to some questions from our listeners.  I wanna start with what I think is the most important question we got this week.  It's from Pia, who wrote, "Dear John and Hank, How do I tell my family that I have secretly learned to play the fiddle?  I recently saw an amazing folk band, and after their performance, I was inspired to learn to play the fiddle."  I'm sorry, I can barely read this.  

H: What--what--I don't know what's funny about that part.  I had thought that Pia had already learned how to secretly play the fiddle.  But it turns out that Pia is planning for a future in which Pia has secretly learned to play the fiddle, which is not a current outcome but a future outcome.

J: Yeah, no, no, no, Pia is putting together a long con, Hank.  "However, I predict it will take a while before I'd be comfortable enough to play in front of anyone."  That's probably a good point, Pia, I'm also not totally convinced that you're gonna be able to teach yourself the fiddle in silence in secret somewhere, but I wish you luck.  "In a few years, should I gather my family in the living room and appear to them, to their shock, playing a jig?  Or should I just approach each member of my family individually and surprise them with their favorite tune?  Best wishes, Pia."  This is the best idea I've ever heard.  

H: I just--I hope Pia has a--

J: This is an even better idea than flying a spacecraft into the center of Jupiter.  

H: I hope that Pia has a very large home or a garage in the back where it's like, Pia's spending a lot of time in the garage.  What's she doing out there?

J: Why does Pia hang out in our soundproof basement so much?

H: Yeah, I mean, I think as long as you're going to approach each--I think it's better if you approach each member of the family individually and play them their favorite tune.

J: Yes.

H: Ideally arranged specifically for the fiddle.  You--but in order to do that, you have to make sure that they're not gonna communicate to each other, that this has already happened, and the only way to really make sure that that's gonna happen is if you do this individually with each of them at the exact same time.  

 (06:00) to (08:00)

J: That's a great point.

H: And so I think what you have to do is have multiples of yourself also learn to play the fiddle.

J: Yeah, I think when you learn to play the fiddle, all your clones also learn to play the fiddle, although I'm not sure on the science of that, but my thought was, I totally agree with you that the first person could potentially spoil it for the last person, so I'm imagining that Pia has like, four siblings, two parents, and one grandparent who's living in a nursing home.  So, what you're gonna want to do, I think, is first, you're gonna wanna shock your grandmother.  You're gonna show up, you're gonna have a duffel bag.  You--obviously, you can't have a violin case, that'll give you away, you've got a duffel bag.  You show up, your grandmother's sleeping, and she just--she wakes up and she's like, oh my God, Pia learned the fiddle!  And then, you cut your grandmother's phone line.  She doesn't have a cell phone, thank God, so you just cut the phone line in the nursing home so she has no way to get to the outside world.  You race--

H: No, no, no, you have to cut the phone line to the whole nursing home.  So, like, the exterior line that runs through the nursing home.

J: Great point.  Right, 'cause she could use a different phone.  I'm sorry, Hank, I didn't think of that, great point.  So you cut the phone line to the whole nursing home, then you race to your dad's workplace.  He is an accountant?  

H: Yes.

J: Nope!  Nope!  Nope!  He is in the local symphony orchestra, where he plays the violin.  

H: But Pia had to see a band playing fiddle before she was inspired to learn, not from her father, but from some randos. 

J: Exactly.  So she shows up, and her father, of course, begins to weep because he's always wanted Pia to learn the violin, and now she's like a fiddle playing maestro, presumably.  I assume that not only do you learn how to play the fiddle, but you're really, really good.  And then, then you go to your mom's work.  She's an accountant.  

 (08:00) to (10:00)

H: No, but before she goes to her mom's work, she has to burn the orchestra hall home with her dad in it, so he doesn't tell anyone.

J: That seems like a terrible plan.  He might die.

H: Well, I mean, he's not gonna tell anybody.

J: You're--this is a real human being we're talking about, Hank.  This isn't fun and games.  We're not having a goof.  This is for real.  

H: Aw, I apologize.

J: Alright, Jesus, I mean, Pia has a real dad who is a real violinist.  So then you go to your mom's work.  She's the accountant.  You play her like, a--what is a great accountant song?  I don't--that's never been a great fiddle song about an accountant?  Is The Devil Went Down to Georgia about an accountant?  I can't remember.

H: I don't--I don't think so.  You know, I'm a little bit worried that you've set this goof up and you've built in also four siblings into this goof.

J: Oh yeah, no--

H: And this goof is gonna be about 25 minutes long.

J: Oh, just to be clear, this is gonna be the rest of the episode of the pod.  

H: I had a bunch of questions I wanted to answer, but I guess we'll get to them next week.

J: Yeah, I mean, seriously.  If we get to them ever.  I almost think that we should start a spin-off podcast entirely devoted to Pia's long con.  We could call it Pia's Long Con, which is a pretty good name for a podcast.

H: Very good--I think you should just write a short story.

J: No, I think, so with the four siblings, you're gonna want to catch them all at the same time, because you're gonna wanna see all their faces as they react to both your fiddle playing and to each other's shock about your fiddle playing.  I mean, this is the best idea for a YouTube video I've ever heard of.  Pia, you must do this.  You must spend years mastering the fiddle.  At the, like, you must let no one know that you are mastering the fiddle.  You must become the greatest fiddle player since that Charlie's Daniel Band song about the Devil going down to Georgia, and then you must do this and film it for us.

H: Yeah, I've--I think that the hard part isn't gonna be cloning.  It's gonna be finding something boring enough to tell your family you're doing--

J: Right.

H: That they won't express any interest in it.  

 (10:00) to (12:00)

J: Great point.

H: They'll be like, "Ugh, Pia has gotten so obsessed with Bingo and she's always down at the Bingo hall.  Nobody can go join you at the Bingo hall because it's Bingo," but maybe they will accept that you've just gotten obsessed with Bingo, and it will also explain all the money that you're spending on lessons.

J: Well, I--my understanding was that Pia was gonna be a self-taught fiddle player so that not even a teacher would know about this long con.  I think you've gotta keep the circle as tight as possible.  It should just be like, Pia, you, me, and everybody's who's listening to the podcast.

H: Alright.  Well, it is--it is a difficult thing to pull off, but I'm looking forward to hearing in a few years how it goes.  See you in the YouTube video.  If you--If Pia executes, please let us know so we can send a crew down to film.  

J: Yeah, for real.  

H: I got another question, John, is that okay with you?

J: Uh, yeah, I guess we can move on.

H: Alright, this one's from Allison, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, How did the term 'real estate agent' come about?  Is it because estate agents kept having to reassure people that they were, indeed, real?"  Do you know the answer to this question, John?

J: Um, I do know the answer to the question, Hank, but it's a little bit like Donald Trump's plan to fight ISIS.  I feel like if I tell you the answer, then you know, like everybody will know it, so it's best if I just keep it secret just inside my head, but I'm sure it's gonna--I'm sure I'm 100% right on this one.

H: Let me know if, after I tell you this, you think that I am right.  You can confirm that I am correct about this.

J: Sure.

H: Real--the 'real' in 'real estate agent' does not refer to the agent who is definitely real, it refers to the estate and that it's a very old term, I think from like the 1600s, and not like, this isn't a thing I knew, I looked it up, and the 'real' is a way of saying that this is the stuff that is the real estate, rather than the personal estate, and so the real stuff is, if you own land, anything that's connected to that land is part of the real estate.

 (12:00) to (14:00)

Anything that you can take away and it is yours is not.  So like, a tree would be included in the real estate, so like the land and the stuff and the rivers and all that stuff, it's the real part of the property, and then there's the personal part of the property and uh, it's--

J: Which is like, your fiddle would be in your personal estate.

H: Yes, and your hammers and your plow, and yeah, and it's not really a way that we use the word 'real' anymore, but it was a way that we used it back then and we continue to use that phrase and I just love how words work, John, and how I don't know why that is, and I haven't gotten over it, I'm 36 years old and I still love when people explain to me where phrases come from, words come from, that like, like, digs back into history and shows us that, you know, all of this stuff is just a human invention and that, you know, we are all tied together through this long string of creation and knowing and building ideas and things, and I like that, and I don't think I'll ever get over it.

J: Well, I think it's cool, too, and I did know that, I just wasn't telling you.  We have a similar question, Hank.

H: Okay.

J: That allows us to talk about a little bit of etymology, which is something that we both enjoy.  This question comes from Gavin, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, This is a very important question that has bothered me since I was a young child.  Why do almost all zippers have the letters YKK on them?"

H: You know, I'm gonna check my zipper.  Oh, it's a button fly, dang it!  Dang it!

J: Well, I--my zipper has YKK on it.  YKK is an abbreviation that originally stood for 'Yoshida Kogyo Gaisha', I'm terrible at pronouncing things, so I'll remind you that mispronouncing things is my thing, but now it's just called YKK Group, and they make your zippers.

 (14:00) to (16:00)

In fact, they make almost all of your zippers.  I believe they make, like, half a billion zippers a year, and the story of why they make the zippers, even though maybe Levi's makes your jeans, maybe Wrangler does, maybe Seven for All Mankind does, but your zipper is almost definitely a YKK zipper is a fascinating story, and you know what it boils down to, Hank?

H: What?!

J: Making zippers good is hard.

H: Mmm.

J: Like, making zippers that work is really challenging and YKK kinda became the leader in the industry because they have really great quality control.  In fact, they smelt their own, like, brass, for the zippers.  

H: Wow, you know, I would love--I don't want to read a book about this, because I don't have that kind of time, but I would love to have read a book about this.  

J: Sure.

H: And to know all of the people that were involved in making that thing happen, you know, this 82 year old company that now has, you know, a huge amount of the zipper market share in the world, and why like, you know, obviously, it's not just the competition, but they have done many things to like, to maintain that position, because I'm sure that people could compete with them if they could on price or on quality, but like, they have just done a thing and held on to that position for a long time and it seems like there's a lot of people who have never been appreciated for doing really great stuff at YKK Manufacturing Group.

J: Yeah, it's true, the only way that they've ever been shown appreciation is through the hundreds of millions of dollars of profits that they have each year.  

H: I don't know!  I don't know, early on, maybe not, you know, it's--

 (16:00) to (18:00)

J: No, they're a very profitable company, trust me.  I looked it up.

H: Oh, okay.  Well, the--they're doing the thing well, they're doing the thing that they can do and they're doin' it well.  I've got another question if you wanna hear that, John.

J: I'm ready.  

H: It's from Kayla, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, I can't buy into the Awesome Socks Club, it looks like it's already sold out!  When will there be more Awesome Socks subscriptions?  Did you know Awesome Socks would be so popular?  I'm yelling because I'm excited not angry."

J: It would be helpful for listeners to note that that e-mail arrived at us in all-caps.  

H: Also lots of exclamation points.  Yes, we did not know that it would be so popular.  The Awesome Socks Club, for people who don't know, is just a thing where we send you a pair of weird socks every week--er, month, not every week.

J: It's a sock-of-the-month club.  It's not every week, it's every month.

H: And we did not know that it would be as popular as it was and thus the first month's subscription sold out quite quickly, and we will get more of them in the future and they will be available next month.  

J: I think this is a fantastic concept, a sock-of-the-month club, because my main issue with socks is that I need about 12 pairs per year, but I only think to buy about 2 pairs per year, so I'm perpetually living with outdated socks.  

H: Mhmm, yeah.

J: Whether they're outdated because they're no longer fashionable or because my toes are stickin' out of the holes in the front.  

H: Yeah, my toes, man, they're always stickin' out of the holes in the front, I don't know what my problem is!  And you know a weird thing John?

J: Really?  What we need, Hank, is YKK to design socks.

H: Yeah.  Smelt them out of brass.

J: Yeah, that seems like a good plan.  But yes, the sock-of-the-month club will be back soon.  In the meantime, has lots and lots of things for you to enjoy.

H: That aren't that!

J: Yeah, just squeezin' it in there.  Also, our Patreons at, we're starting the sponsorships a little bit early this episode.

H: Alright, let's do another question, this one's from Allison.  

 (18:00) to (20:00)

Did we already do one from Allison?  Is this the second Allison?

J: I think it might have been a different Allison.

H: Okay.  "Dear Hank and John, Do bugs ever have a destination when they walk around?  Last week in my math class, a beetle wandered all over the room, occasionally stopping to switch directions or look around for a bit.  Are they searching for a home or do they have no idea where they're going?  Thanks, Allison."

J: Allison, I mean, I don't wanna cause an existential crisis or anything, but I'm pretty sure I could ask the same question of you.  

H: Interestingly, oh God, I wrote a haiku in college about this.

J: Oh God.  

H: And it was about the human condition.

J: Oh God.  I'm already--I already feel like I'm staring at the sun and you haven't even recited it yet.

H: I can't remember it, I can only remember the last line, which was--it wasn't--it was some other form of Japanese poetry, so it wasn't the exact haiku format but it was, "Does a grasshopper know where it will land when it jumps?" or something like that.  

J: Ugh.  Well, does it?

H: No, I don't think so, no.  It's particularly grasshoppers, which do not jump to--usually, to get to a place, they jump to get away from a thing, so it--

J: Right.

H: They're like, whatever, just go and fly in random places so that the bird doesn't eat you.

J: Right.

H: Bugs don't have super advanced brains--aren't--you know, they are more complicated than like, a tree turning to look at the sun, they do consider things and like, have a number of different factors that they are thinking--that they are weighing and will use those factors to decide what to do and where to do the thing that they need to survive, and I don't think that we know what all of those things are, so we don't really know what a bug is thinking about, or what it's smelling, or what it's looking at, where, you know, like, all of the sort of, all of the inputs that it's weighing in order to maximize its chance for finding food or shelter or a mate, which are most of the things that bugs are looking for.

 (20:00) to (22:00)

J: But we do know, don't we, that like, ants, while they are not particularly smart individually, are pretty smart if you view them as like, a collective?

H: Yeah, yeah, sure.  So, like, if you're talking about a bug that is responding to other cues from other bugs, then, like, that's one of the main things that's gonna cue them into behaving, which is like, one ant found something good here, and then it trailed a scent, like a pheremone trail, back from the thing, so all the bugs are behaving in very specific ways, but there are also bugs that do not behave socially, and it is very weird to just think about like, what is that bug thinking?  There's a--what's the beetle doing?  Where's it going?  And also, obviously, you're not paying attention in math class at all, you're just staring at a bug.  Maybe you should be paying attention to you know, trigonometry over here.  Cosigns.

J: I mean, the more, honestly, the more you said about what bugs are thinking and what causes them to go in this way or that, the more I think that if you just replace 'bug' with 'human', you have a pretty compelling argument about what humans do and why.

H: Sure.  Yes.  Somewhat.  I think that we weigh more things, but we are in general, less complicated than we think we are.  

J: Oh man.  It's--

H: On an individual level.

J: It makes me distraught.  It also almost makes me wanna tell my favorite joke, but I think I've told it before on this podcast.

H: Oh, you sure have.  

J: Oh, God, I love that joke.

H: Sure have.  

J: Alright, Hank, let's move on to a different question.  This one comes from Kathleen who writes, "Dear John and Hank, Every time I'm at the dentist or orthodontist, I'm struck with the same conundrum: where do I look when the dentist has his hands in my mouth?  Do I look into the powerful light above my head or into the dentist's face?  At the ceiling?  Or some other place?  Any dubious advice is welcome.  Sincerely, Kathleen."  You know what I thought was weird about this question, Hank, is that I think the answer to this question is super obvious.

 (22:00) to (24:00)

H: Oh wow.  Okay.  I also do.  But it's gonna be a different answer than you.

J: Are you sure?  'Cause let's just say our answer.  Okay, what do you do while the dentist has his hand in your mouth with your eyes?  Let's answer on three.  One, two, three: Close your eyes.  You didn't participate.

H: Well, I was taking the question a different way.  I wasn't thinking about what you would look at, what you should do with your eyes.  So you changed the question when you said what you would do with your eyes, and I was thinking you would just lose focus and stare into the darkness of your own mortality.

J: Right, that's what you do when you close your eyes, Hank.  That's actually--you just literally defined what happens when one closes one's eyes.

H: Every single time that--I--when I'm at the dentist, I think that I sort of just zone out and stare in the middle distance and am like, what--how did humans get here?  How did we get to this point?  Or like, I voluntarily exchange, like, my only method of like, defined value for this level of discomfort.

J: I uh, yeah.  I would say that I get in the chair, I close my eyes extremely tight, like, the way a child closes their eyes when you say like, oh, just close your eyes and go to sleep and they like screw their eyes shut as much as they can.  I close my eyes that level, like very very tense, for like 45 minutes to an hour, until I am told that it is time to leave the dentist's office, at which point I open my eyes, the world is bright, there is hope and a little bit of soreness, and I leave the dentist's office as quickly as possible.

H: I do my best to not be that freaked out, but I do, like, every time I'm at the dentist, like, 85 or 90 times, I have to think to myself, okay, stop with the clenching of every muscle in your body, and I'm a pretty relaxed person, but it's just like, no matter what, I'm like, ehh, my shoulders go up and like, my abs clench and I'm just like--and then, I'm like okay, stop doing that.

 (24:00) to (26:00)

Why are you doing that?  What do you think it's gonna make--how's that making things better?  And then, immediately after I stop thinking, everything clenches again.

J: Yeah, no, I mean, I don't even think it's worth trying.  You just close your eyes at the dentist's office, like, don't--don't look at anything.  It's--I--yeah.  I'm--actually, Hank, I'm getting super stressed out answering this question.  I wanna move on to a different question.  Um, I haven't--by the way, I haven't been to the dentist in like, six or seven weeks, which is I think the longest I've gone without being at the dentist in years, and I'm so grateful.  I'm also so mad at like, 20-year-old me, for his terrible oral hyegiene.  Let's just move on to another question.  This one comes from Tim, who writes, "Dear Green Brothers," Well, that's a nice way to solve the 'Dear Hank and John' problem.  "I live in Germany, and the government released a new emergency plan.  This plan recommends that everyone should keep emergency rations of food and water for at least ten days.  Personally, I don't think there's a need to keep emergency rations and that this recommendation moreso than anything else encourages fear of terror attacks.  What do you think about this?  Do you keep emergency rations at home?  Best wishes and Guten Tag." 

H: I mean, I am surpr--like, I--when I hear 'emergency rations', I don't immediately think only terror attacks.  Certainly that's one of the things.

J: But what--I mean, I don't under--what else is gonna happen that's gonna result in ten days of food making a lick of difference?

H: Um, the, like, a giant solar flare that knocks out the entire electric grid of Europe. 

J: Right, I just don't think that that's gonna get solved in nine days.

H: I think that having enough food and water for ten days is gonna dramatically increase Germany's chance of having that end without like, a massive social upheaval.

 (26:00) to (28:00)

J: Can I ask you a follow-up question? How likely is a solar flare that knocks out power to all of Europe or, more importantly, all of the United States?

H: Um, having it happen anywhere on Earth, you know, in any given year, probably a 1 in 500 to 1 in 1000 chance. So way too likely.

J: Yeah, that is too likely.

H: It's terrifying. It is the reason that you should have-

J: Alright, I'm gonna get myself some emergency rations immediately, 'cause right now all I have is like, 196 Snickers bars. I mean, I think that can hold me over.  

H: Yeah, probably. I think your Snickers bars probably, you should just hold them.  Stop eating them.  Leave them down in the basement.  I have water.  I have water stored up, because like, I can go a long time without food, John, but you cannot go a long time without water.  

J: So, I have no water stored up.  I have nothing stored up.  I should definitely go get some water.  I mean, is this becoming a survivalist podcast, because I always thought--I--my answer to this question was gonna be like, I agree with you.  It's all fearmongering, I'm 38 years old, I've never needed one day's rations let alone ten days, and yet now, I'm like, I need to go buy 50 gallons of water immediately.

H: I mean, I don't- it's an outside insurance plan, anf the thing to know about it is that what the government is asking for is probably a few hundred dollar investment that you make once every ten years. So it is a pretty inexpensive thing to do, and really what- their goal is to increase the number of people that have this so that when they're providing emergency services during you know, a giant solar flare or in the wake of some kind of- I mean, I honestly don't think that a terrorist attack is going to create a need for that. Unless it's like- you know, somebody found an atomic bomb or something- that was just in the basement gathering dust. That you- they're just trying to make emergency services easier if more people have the ability to take care of themselves for a little while. That makes life a lot easier for the services that- the people who are trying to provide those services.

 (28:00) to (30:00)

J: Okay. Alright, so there you go ladies and gentlemen. Get yourselves some water and some emergency Snickers bars. I recommend no fewer than 378 at any given time.

H: Speaking of the Mars company, this question's from Angie, who asks "Dear Hank and John, I work in a movie theatre that sells, like most theatres, over-priced candy." All theatres, thank you very much Angie! "And one of these candies just so happens to be peanut M&Ms. I noticed that many of the guests-

J: God, I love peanut M&Ms.

H: I love them so much. "-that order this type of candy call them M&Ms peanuts, or M&M peanuts. Since I know that Hank is an expert in all things peanut M&Ms, I was wondering if M&M peanuts is really an acceptable way of describing these candies." Have you ever heard of this, John?

J: I have never heard of it. I think it's a totally unacceptable way of describing peanut M&Ms. But I just wanna pause for a second and note that you are only asking this question Hank, because you know that the Mars company sent me 378 Snickers bars and you are desperate to try to get yourself some free M&Ms.

H: I do love peanut M&Ms. So- but I also, before the podcast began, asked on twitter- before we started recording, what do you call M&Ms that have peanuts inside? And 5% of people said M&Ms peanut. And-

J: It's so weird!

H: Yeah, so it's a thing. And then I asked, okay if you're an M&Ms peanut person, explain yourself. Did you just click incorrectly or is that really a thing?

J: (laughs)

H: And, uh, and one person did indeed respond, and said, let me find it real quick, "I call it M&Ms peanut, I guess it's a thing? Stop making me second guess myself". 

 (30:00) to (32:00)

H: And one person did indeed respond- let me find it real quick... and said "I call it M&Ms peanut. I guess it's a thing? Stop making me second-guess myself!" So it is a thing-

J: Which by the way, fair enough. I think there are enough things going on in the average human life that being called to account over how you say peanut M&Ms probably isn't helpeful.

H: But- so I looked at the packaging of peanut M&Ms. And it says M&Ms really big, and then in the upper left hand corner in small type it says peanut. And so you could read that from left to right, top to bottom, peanut M&Ms. Or you could read it from like largest to smallest thing and say M&Ms peanut. So, it makes sense that there is a thing here. People are telling me that like, oh it doesn't make sense one way, and I'm like okay shush. It- whether it makes sense- like we know what you're talking about. It's not grammatically inconsistent. And maybe there is like, an element of you know, where you put the adjective and where you put the noun. But my Honda Civic isn't a Civic Honda. It's the brand name followed by the modifier! So like it's a thing that happens. We do that. We do brand name followed by modifier sometimes.

J: Alright so in short, you are in the end saying that either peanut M&Ms or M&M peanuts should be seen as acceptable.

H: Yes! Except that the Mars company does indeed agree that they are peanut M&Ms.

J: Okay, well I think the Mars company should have the final say on this since they are our most important corporate sponsor. Moving on, here's a question from Barbara, who writes "Dear John and Hank, I was intrigued to hear John pronounce-" another pronunciation question "-I was intrigued to hear John pronounce orange with two syllables, but Hank pronounce it with only one syllable. In my house, the parents version is two syllables but the kids version is only one syllable. I attribute this to the fact that I grew up in Ohio while my parents grew up on the East Coast. But the two of you lived together when you were small children, correct? So why the difference?"

 (32:00) to (34:00)

H: Well our mother is from the South. John spent a lot of time in the South growing up and I did not. Our father is more of a Hoosier, more of a Yankee. And-

J: But I currently live in the great American Middle West. And most of my speech now is Middle Western, not Southern. So I'm surprised to know that we pronounce orange differently. How do you pronounce it?

H: Orange.

J: How do I pronounce it?

H: Orange.

J: Orange. Orange. Orange. O-ran-ge.

H: Orange.

J: O-ran-ge. How do I say it?! Okay, I'm just gonna try to say it in a sentence. Um, I literally can't think of something that's orange. Ah, I do say it in two syllables! You're right. Orange. Yeah. Okay, so I need to start saying it in one syllable, so that the big lie will not be revealed Hank, which of course is that we are not actually brothers, we are just business partners. Who have been maintaining this facade now for nearly a decade. 

H: I'm not really sure why I chose you for this, but whatever. 

J: That's why I say, you know, I left for boarding school when Hank was 11, it's to make up for the fact that I have no memories of him from childhood because we weren't, in fact, brothers. Orange. Did I say it right that time? 

H: You said it my way, yeah. 

J: That car is orange. Nope. It's so hard to say in one syllable! That car is orange. 

H: orange. 

J: My, uh, my Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award that I'm staring at right now is orange. It seems very weird to say in one syllable. 

H: You got a Kids Choice Award?!

J: I do. I have a Kids' Choice Award. 

H: That's hilarious. 

J: I didn't mean to brag, but I do have one. I don't even remember what it's for, actually. I should find out. (laughs)

H: (laughs) I'm gonna guess the Fault in Our Stars. We got another question, John. 

J: I- I think it's for a book of some kind. But yeah, go, what's the next question?

H: I have to remind you, John, but the Fault in Our Stars is, indeed, a book of some kind. 

J: Oh right! I forgot that there was a book before the movie. 

 (34:00) to (36:00)

H: This one's from Zach, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, I was listening to the episode where you guys discuss what time of day it's appropriate to start saying 'have a good night' rather than 'have a good day,' and it made me think of a problem that I have constantly here.  How do I decide which phrase I should use to end a letter or e-mail before signing my name?  Who deserves a "Love, Zach," rather than a, "From Zach," or "Sincerely, Zach," or, "Best Wishes, Zach," which Zach didn't actually write.  It'd be great if you guys could lay out some ground rules for what closing phrase should be used in different relationships.  Thanks for the help.  Love from sincerely, Zach."

J: I actually think that Hank and I are both pretty bad at this, so we're not great--we're not gonna be great arbiters of this discussion.

H: If I end any e-mail with anything, it is just the letter 'H'.

J: Yeah, Amy Krouse Rosenthal has a bit in her new book about how annoying it is when people sign off with just their initials from e-mails as if, like, they don't have the energy to type the extra three characters that is their name, but I usually sign off, I usually sign off 'best wishes,' but I think, Zach, this is a great opportunity for you to develop, you know, like a personal signature, like a catch phrase that's, you know, sort of Zach-specific.  Now, this is, of course, a very risky game, because most personal catchphrases are super cringy, you know what I mean, Hank?  

H: You think that--wait, like--are you--so, should everybody be developing a personal catchphrase of their own or are we creating one that everyone should be using?

J: I didn't really--I haven't really thought this bit through, so I'm open-minded.  

H: I'm just going through my e-mail right now and seeing how I--how I sign off my e-mails, and it is--I often do type out 'Hank', but mostly my e-mails end with some modification of 'Does that make sense?' it tends to be how I end all of my e-mails.  I like, write a bunch of stuff, and then I'm like, am I crazy?  What do you think?  I don't know!

 (36:00) to (38:00)

H: Am I your boss? I'm not really. Just do your job!

J: Ugh, that is kind of how you end most of your emails. It's funny, actually, Hank, just a couple hours ago, you sent me an email, but because of some kind of, like, email handle mixup, it came from Julie, our, like, chief of operations, it  came from her email address, but it was so obviously written by Hank that I wrote her back and I was like, "I think that Hank wrote this email?" and she was like, "Oh yeah, I gotta figure out what just happened. 

[Hank laughs]

J: So you do have an email style, but you don't have a sign off like "Shazam!"

H: right, right, right.

J: I'm not saying it should be "Shazam", I'm just saying that it is an email sign off. The other one that- So, I have a friend who always writes, "yours", Y-R-S, comma, return, return, and then their name. 

H: Mmm....

J: Which I've always kinda liked, like it's sorta old-fashioned and weird, but very specific, and then I have another friend, who I shall not name, but who is an extremely famous and successful author, who always signs off their emails, "until anon"

H: Oh wow, every time? 

J: Every time, "until anon". And I don't really know what that means. (laughs)

H: what if it was like a- what if it was like a cutesy fun thing, like, "pumpkins and penguins! Hank"? 

J: Oh man, pumpkins and penguins, uh, I mean, it's kinda cutesy, but when you're emailing the CEO of YouTube, do you really want to end your email with "pumpkins and penguins"?

Hank: (laughs) Yes!

J: "Hey Susan Wajcicki, Hank Green here. Hope all's well. Just a couple quick notes on the YouTube demonetization crisis.  Pumpkins and Penguins! Hank". 

H: (laughs) I'm going with it, I like it. 

J: I think it's a terrible idea, and it could kill our business. 

H: (laughs) I- I, uh, which leads me to, uh, I almost forgot about our sponsor this week! Which is, of course, the pumpkins and penguins association of America. 

 (38:00) to (40:00)

J: Yeah

H: Pumpkins and Penguins! They don't have a ton to do with each other, but we formed this organization for efficiency's sake to advocate on both their behalves. 

J: I mean, like, what are the shared issues of pumpkins and penguins? I guess they're both concerned about climate change, like all species. 

H: Yeah, sure. Uh huh. Yeah, um, they don't, uh, nope. They don't- um, not really much. 

J: (laughs)

H: It's like a raven and a writing desk kind of situation here. 

J: Okay, Hank, I've got something that pumpkins and penguins have in common. They both waddle? Pumpkins don't actually waddle, but you can tell that they would if they had feet. 

H: I mean, if you give them a little shove they'll wobble, at least. Which is like waddling.

J: Right. So, like, the Pumpkins and Penguins Association of America is standing up for, you know, organisms' rights to waddle.

H: Mhm. And, uh, they both are composed of flesh. They have have flesh inside of them

J: Sure.

H: So, the Pumpkins and Penguins Association of America is pro-flesh and the preservation of flesh.

J: Strongly pro-flesh. Yeah, and like not having your flesh scooped out from the inside so that you become a hollow corpse with a light inside of it. Like that's another big issue for both penguins and pumpkins.

H: You know, honestly I have to say though that that's probably the only thing keeping the pumpkins industry alive. So they're probably pro-scooping out flesh and placing a light inside where there used to be life.

J: It's pretty vital to the continuation of the pumpkin as a species since it's such a terrible food.

H: Yeah, did you know, John, that the pumpkin mix that you get at the store to make pumpkin pies with, it isn't even made out of pumpkin. Because pumpkin isn't that good.

J: Of course not. Pumpkins are disgusting. Which, by the way, is another thing pumpkins and penguins have in common-

H: What?

J: Their flesh is basically inedible.

H: Oh, yeah. Penguin flesh is not good. Did you know, John, that penguin flesh is so rich in fat that you can throw it, you can literally have a fire composed entirely of penguin flesh?

 (40:00) to (42:00)

J: Mmm. That is...that is disturbing. Let's move on to, uh, what else brought us this podcast today. (laughs)

H: Right, we were in the middle of that.

J: Today's podcast is also brought to you by M&Ms Peanut. M&Ms Peanut: just like the Honda Civic.

H: Just like it. Uh, also advocated for by the Honda Civic and M&Ms Peanut Association of America.

J: (laughs)

H: And, also this podcast is brought to you by John's Teeth: real bad because of bad decisions and mistakes that were made.

J: And of course today's podcast is brought to you by the color oranja. The color oranja: no wrong way to say it.

H: All right John. Do you want to do another question?

J: Yeah, let's do a quick one.

H: This one is from Jazzlyn, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, in the morning in my office people walk past my desk quickly and ask, 'How are you?' and then keep walking so that when I say the customary 'Good', they are gone already."

J: Right.

H. "This makes me feel bad."

J: Yeah.

H: "I've tried beating them to it, but when I say, 'How are you?', they say, 'How are you?' and keep walking. Is this normal? What is the correct response to in-office how-are-you's?"

J: Yeah, I mean, this is normal, but it's also a huge problem.
H: Yeah.

J: I actually have a strategy for this that I think is pretty great-
H: Oh. Good.

J: I don't, I don't usually like to toot my own horn, but I feel like the way I deal with this is pretty good, which is that I go with the preemptive "Great".

H: Like people, like, before they even finish the sentence, they're like "How are-" "Great!"

J: Yeah, no, before they even say the "How", right? So, like, the whole problem is that this person is walking past you, they're saying "How are you," they don't actually care how you are. But you wanna tell them how you are. Uh, so I just go with the preemptive "Great". I make eye contact while they're walking at me and then they start to open their mouths, and you can see the "H..." in "How" being made with their mouths, and you, "Great!"

H: (laughs) I like this. This is a sound military strategy, John.

 (42:00) to (44:00)

H: It is, it is taking it to another level. Can I ask a question-

J: "Kind of a bad day. Broke my rib."

H: Yeah. No, you should like.... I honestly, I think this is terrible. And there are so many things you could say that aren't that. That, like, express a connection without, like, starting a conversation that you have no intentions of finishing. Why not just say, "Good morning"? "Hello"?

J: Mhm.

H: Like why not just like, I'm acknowledging you-

J: We've talked in a previous podcast why people don't just say good morning. It's extremely stressful.

H: (laughs) Like, I don't know. Maybe it's 12:02.

J: You've gotta know exactly what time it is to say good morning, otherwise you risk the 12:02 retort.

H: Uh, like you could just be walking past Jazzlyn and be like, "Jazzlyn." Like you could just say the name. Like, that's nice. You know who I am, that's- "Bruce. Also nice to see you."

J: Right. I like that. That's my favorite interaction in an office place is just like, "Jazzlyn." "Bruce." I love that. I think that's such a good, that's a solid conversation. It's two people who have acknowledged each other, who have named each other. It's great. Jazzlyn Bruce is the ideal officeplace banter. Uh, but if somebody's gonna say "How are you" regularly to you, and not listen to the answer, you've gotta like up the stakes and let them know that this isn't okay. And that's why you use the preemptive answer. And I don't-

H: Wait, wait. What about this: what if we meld these two strategies and when someone says to Jazzlyn, "How are you?", she says, "Bruce."

J: (laughs) Every time Bruce walks by and says, "Hey, Jazzlyn, how are you?" she just says, "Bruce."

H: It doesn't even have to be Bruce, just anybody.

J: No, I think it's better if you say the person's name back to them.

 (44:00) to (46:00)

J: Like, because they are basically having a completely different conversation from the one you're involved in, they're just orienting it toward you, so why don't you just have a completely different conversation from the one they're having and orient it toward them.

H: No, I like that. I like that.

J: Bruce.

H: Uh, but yeah, I just- if you're a, I mean I have, I don't like...this is weird, when I walk past people's offices and we make eye contact, then I'm like, wave awkwardly as...but I don't wanna like stop on my way to the bathroom, I just like, wave and like let my hand sort of trail behind me so they can continue seeing it as I wave. And then - oh, I hit my guitar. I was waving. And then, uh, and then like move on and continue moving. But I don't wanna like stop and be like, "Jazzlyn." "Bruce."

J: Mmm.

H: Because I feel like, do your work! I don't wanna interrupt you doing your work!

J: I always, no, as I walk down the hallway to my office, I just shout everyone's name. I'm just like, "Zuleia! Sheridan! Mark! Stan! Sarah!" Is that not the right way to be a boss? I thought like, when you're a boss you just say everyone's name authoritatively and then they think that you're managing them. Um, "Rosianna. Yes."

H: Oh man. That would be, if I walked into the Scishow studio that'd be real weird. I'd be like, "Lu! Kaitlyn! Steffen! Hiroka! Sarah! Sarah! Megan!"

J: All right. I think that we have run this question into the ground, Hank, and it's time to move on to the news from Mars and AFC Wimbledon.

H: Standing in the middle of rooms shouting people's names and then you walk out.

J: Can I go first, please?

H: All right. 

J: Can I go first?

H: You can go first, please.

J: Can I go first? Can I go first?

H: Is it good news?

J: Guess who won a game!

H: Awww, was it not the team who was playing against AFC Wimbledon?

J: That's right! It was not the team playing against AFC Wimbledon! AFC Wimbledon emerged victorious in their first win of the League One season against Chesterfield. Suck it, Chesterfield!

H: How was Chesterfield placed in the table?

J: They're thirteenth, so uh...which, by the way, is one spot ahead of the franchise currently playing in Milton Keanes. 

 (46:00) to (48:00)

So, yeah. Uh, and that victory, Hank, means that in six games AFC Wimbledon have acquired five points, which doesn't sound great until you realize that it means they are no longer in the bottom four, which means that -

H: Wow.

J: - if the season ended today, they would narrowly escape relegation.
H: Wow. I'm, uh, I...I mean, if you guys can stay in the League One, it's less fun up here but I assume there's another advantages.

J: Oh yeah, no. More money. In fact, AFC Wimbledon's gonna be on TV next month, Hank. Proper British TV.

H: And is that, like, are you gonna be able to spend money on players then? Is that the goal?

J: Uh, I mean, listen. The game is about community. So the goal has already been achieved, because there's a great community around the club. But yeah, I mean obviously you wanna win games and move up in the leagues, and you know, my dream is someday to see AFC Wimbledon in the premiere league again. But that's uh, that's a long way from now. We need a new stadium, among other things. But right now, I think the goal for this season is to stay in the third tier. By the way, somebody asked, "Why do you call it League One if it's the third tier?", which is a fascinating story. So there's the premiere league, which is where like, Chelsea and Manchester United play. That is the top league in England. The second league in England is helpfully known as the Championship, which, you know, sounds like it's the best league - but it's the second best. And then the third league is known as League One, on account of it being one league above the fourth league, which is League Two. ...Which itself is above the fifth league, which is called the Conference National. It's a completely unhelpful tier system, but yeah. The third tier is league one. So...hopefully next year we'll be in the championship, although, very long way to go for that to happen.

 (48:00) to (50:00)

H: Oh my.

J: What's the news from Mars?

H: Uh, well, you know the coolest thing on the surface of Mars is the Mars Curiosity Rover, right John?

J: I know that there is currently a minivan on Mars, yes.

H: It's been driving around on the sort of like plains, maybe possible former lake bed at the base of a mountain on Mars. And it is headed up right now, it's sort of reached the edge of that mountain. And the plan is to have it go up the side of that mountain a little bit. But they may need to change the places that the Mars Curiosity Rover goes in order to avoid places where there is, like, suddenly we are realizing, liquid water on Mars. So in the last year, we, you know, basically realized that there are these weird formations that are, they recur and they are a darkening of the Martian surface, and they are, uh liquid water that sort of hydrates a weird chemical thing happening with salts and water. And we really do not, there's an international treaty that says you cannot take an Earth-bound thing and have it touch liquid water on Mars. So stay as far away from that as you can. In the future, you don't wanna like find life living in the water on Mars and be like, "Oh, life on Mars!" but then be like, "Oh, but did we put it there accidentally when we drove the Curiosity Rover up that liquid stuff?"

J: Right.

H: Now, Curiosity could not actually drive up to and test even if it wanted to, like, do science on this. I think that would be amazing. But it can't, because all of the areas where this happens are very steep and, uh, the steepness is sort of quired for them to happen. And the level of slope that would be required for these RSLs, these water streaks to happen...

 (50:00) to (52:00)

H: Curiosity could not exist on that level of thing. It would flip over. So, we aren't gonna have that happen, even if we wanted that to happen, but it, the current path is through an area where there are actually tons of these. Which is interesting because, like, two years ago we didn't know they existed at all and now we're like, oh, Mars is covered in them. So it actually has to kind of be careful, and we may need to redraw the path that we thought Curiosity was gonna go on to make sure that it doesn't get too close to any of this, you know, liquid water on Mars. Which is an amazing, weird thing to have to deal with and a very exciting thing to have to deal with. And it's also just exciting that Curiosity's now heading into a very different part of the geology of the area that it landed in and is gonna keep finding all kinds of new stuff. And it has moved so far since it arrived on the planet, and it has a lot more to go. So.

J: How many miles has it moved so far?

H: Um, it's traveled more than ten kilometers. I don't know exactly how long it has gone. But that's like, that's like six miles.

J: Right. Yeah, no, I can run that in an hour. But I, you know. I understand I'm not on Mars. I understand it's harder.

H: It is harder. It's harder. And it's, uh, yeah.

J: And they've been doing science as they've gone. They've paused. It's not like it's been running at a breakneck pace across the Martian surface for, you know, three years.

H: No, it mostly sits around. Doing stuff, taking pictures. Drilling holes. Shooting things with Mars lasers.

J: Well, I mean, I just hope it keeps doing its work alone on that planet until roundabout 2028.

H: All right, John. What did we learn today?

J: Well, we learned that Hank and John say "orange" differently. Or possibly "ornge". Or "orange".

H: Indicating that we may not be brothers and are just strangers who make videos together.

 (52:00) to (54:00)

J: Possible.

H: Ah, possible. We learned that John has bad teeth and bad systems for dealing with stress at the dentist's office.

J: Bunch that I - bunch of flaws. And of course we learned that Zach should sign off all his emails, even those to the CEO of Youtube, "Pumpkins and penguins"!

H: And of course, finally, we learned that if you want to secretly learn to play fiddle for three years before surprising all of your family, it is going to have to be a fairly elaborate prank that we really want to see executed.

J: Oh, man. Peia is my hero. I just, I want this to happen so bad. I was gonna say I've never wanted anything this bad, but that's just not true. I've wanted many, many things worse. But I do want it, I do want it so bad for Peia and for the world.

H: I do wanna say, Peia, if this doesn't end up happening we will not be disappointed in you. That's fine. There's many things that you want to get done in your life, and this is only one of them.

J: I just, no, but you know, the reason I think Peia's gonna have almost by definition an extraordinary life, Hank, is because of the first sentence, the confidence with which she wrote that first sentence, "How do I tell my family that I have secretly learned to play the fiddle?". At this point, in her mind, the three years she's gonna have to spend learning to play the fiddle - she's already done that, basically. 

H: Oh, God.

J: Okay. Well, thank you for listening to today's podcast. If you wanna support the podcast directly and get access to monthly live shows with Hank and me, you can do so at We really appreciate all the support. This podcast is edited by Nicholas Jenkins. Our intern, it is her last week, is Claudia Morales.

 (54:00) to (55:12)

J: Thank you so much, Claudia, for all your great work on Dear Hank & John. Rosianna Halse Rojas helps us out with the questions. Our theme music is by Gunnarolla.

H: And I just wanna say thank you to all of the people who have written lyrics to "Hank and John Have Got It Goin' On". I have seen, I think four of them so far and I -

J: We'll include a couple of the best Youtube videos on the Patreon that you can go check out, because there are some wonderful versions of "Hank and John Have Got It Goin' On" involving us and our purple tanks. Uh, also I should say that you can email us at or follow us on Twitter: Hank is @hankgreen and I'm @johngreen. You can also follow Hank on Snapchat, where he is @hankgre. And of course, if you're gonna follow anyone on Twitter it should be Leon Muss at @leonmuss4earth. No one is working harder to keep humans an Earth-only species until at least 2028.

H: All right. I think that just about does it, John. And as they say in our hometown...

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