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Should I ghost out of my job? Are bubble baths a hobby or an interest? How do I not feel like a forever foreigner? And more!

 (00:00) to (02:00)

H: Hello and welcome to Dear Hank & John.  

J: Or as I prefer to think of it, Dear John & Hank.  

H: It's a comedy podcast where me and my brother John, we answer your questions, give you dubious advice, and bring you all the week's news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon.  Hey, John, how ya doing?  

J: I'll tell you what, Hank, I'm doing great, and I'll tell you why.  It's because I have discovered a website that allows me to gamble on the outcome of the United States elections.  It's called, are you familiar with this website?

H: Uh, no, I am not, because of how I don't wanna think anymore about elections and I hate gambling.

J: Well, I mean, this brings together two of your favorite things then.  There is an amazing podcast called Election Profit Making, hosted by David Rees, who you might remember as the person who made you an artisanally sharpened pencil one Christmas.

H: Yes, yes.

J: But also created a wonderful webcomic called Get Your War On back in 2001, a fascinating strange beautifully eccentric man, and this podcast called Election Profit Making, I believe it's called, is devoted entirely to trying to make money on these predictive election markets and I have joined one, and right now, Hank, I'm up 98 cents.  Do you wanna know how I've made my 98 cents?

H: How'd you do it?

J: Mostly--

H: No one's been elected yet.  What did you vote on?

J: Mostly I voted that in the final debate, the word 'rigged' would be said by the debate moderator but then, when it went way up, I sold it so the debate hasn't even happened yet as we're recording this, but I already made 98 cents off of it.  

H: Boy, I hate this.  I--this is a--this makes me--it's like you take the thing that makes me most nervous in the world and you combine it with the other thing that makes me most nervous in the world!  

J: Oh man, it is a dark, dark time in American history, but I am making money like you wouldn't believe.  

 (02:00) to (04:00)

98 cents here, 98 cents there, makin' money, makin' money.  I'm about to actually buy--

H: Oh man.  

J: --will a woman be the next United States president.  Gonna buy ten shares of that right now while we're podding.

H: I really feel like we need to make it clear that this is a bad idea and that no one should go to this website and they are not sponsoring us and we hate this.

J: Mm.  I wouldn't say that I hate it so much as I've been brought to such a dark and empty place by the election season that this is the only thing that makes me feel now.  How are you doing?

H: Uh, I don't know, I just Googled this and there is this--there's a Quora ask, "Is there a way to make money off of the election of Trump in 2016?"  Like, I'm so sure that Trump is gonna get elected that I should be betting on it however I can and everybody's gonna believe that it's not gonna happen and I am and so I need to get to this election market really fast.  Oh my God.  Ohhhh.

J: I'm taking that guy's money as we speak.

H: Oh God.  Um.  I--did you ask me a question?

J: I asked how you're doing.

H: Oh, I'm okay.  It's--it's--as we will hear in the Mars news section of the podcast, it is a mixed day for Hank Green, but I don't wanna talk about that yet.  I did get a haircut though, and it looks fantastic and I just wanna shout out to Brooke for giving me that super, super great, you know, you know, head shape, it's just great.  I'm really impressed with it.

J: Well, I'm thrilled that you got a great haircut.  America's in the toilet.  

H: Alright.  You got a question for us, John?

J: I just--I got a quick update.  The markets are changed slightly in the last 45 seconds and I've just made another 32 cents.  I'm up $1.30.  

H: God.  Oh God.  Well.  I'm so glad that you can find new and exciting ways to make a living, John.  

J: Hank, this question comes from Tondra, who asks, "Dear John and Hank, I really enjoy bubble baths and I was discussing with a friend if having bubble baths was a hobby or an interest.  

 (04:00) to (06:00)

I believe a hobby is something you do that you can get better at, and an interest is something you simply enjoy.  Is there a skill to bubble baths?  Can it be my hobby or must I resign it to simply being an interest?"  Can you imagine if you're like, filling out an online dating profile and it asks for your hobbies, and you said bubble baths?

H: I mean, I would resonate with that person.  Not because I even enjoy bubble baths, but just because I like the idea of that like, you know what I--like, my hobby is leisure. 

J: Right.

H: Is just chilling out and letting my muscles not do anything.

J: I recently had to fill out a questionnaire for a therapy thing and one of the questions was if I had any hobbies, and the more I thought about it, I actually appreciate Tondra's definition of hobbies.  The more I thought, like, I don't know what a hobby is.  

H: Yeah, 'cause you don't necessarily have to be getting better--maybe that is kind of an interesting approach to it.  I haven't thought about this enough to like, find all the potential exceptions, but--

J: I like it.  I like it as a definition and secondarily, I would say that you can absolutely get better at bubble baths.  Like, doing a good bubble bath is not something you're born knowing how to do.  

H: Yeah, and I think that you can introduce new elements to your bubble baths.  There are all of these bath (?~5:16)

J: Yeah, bath salts.

H: You could be creating your own bath bomb type things.  Katherine has a whole shelf full of stuff that she puts in baths and sometime she will have me put oatmeal into the food processor so that it will get into smaller pieces of oatmeal, because that is good apparently.

J: For me, Hank, it's a little bit like how lots of people drink wine but only some people have wine as a hobby, you know what I mean?

H: Right, right.

J: Like, hobby wine people know a lot about wine.

H: Right, right.  You know--you can g--I'm sure that certainly people who like, make these bath products, like, they probably started as just lovers of bathing and then wanted to continue making that a bigger part of their lives, which I totally (?~6:02)

 (06:00) to (08:00)

J: No, you're headed down a very dangerous road here.  This is a very dangerous road, because the last thing you wanna do is turn your hobby into a job.  That's like the number one mistake that Hank makes in every facet of his life, which is turning his hobbies into his jobs.

H: Yeah, it is, it is something that I do make the mistake of.  I wanna tell you something that I was fascinated by when I recently bought oatmeal for Katherine's bath, John.  There are a number of ways to buy oatmeal, but if you're just getting it for bathing, you just get Quaker Oats.  They come in this big cylindrical cardboard thing and there's like, 45 servings in it.  And it costs like $4.00.  I don't know why anyone eats anything else.  Like, the--the whole--all of the world's problems are solved if only this stuff tasted good.

J: Uh, yeah, I mean, I guess that's probably why people don't eat only oatmeal all the time, is because oatmeal is delicious on occasion but it's not like a breakfast, lunch, and dinner kinda food?  It's not like pizza.

H: Yeah.  It's gruel, literally.  Like, that's what it--I don't know if it's literally gruel, I don't know what gruel is, let me Google it.  

J: I don't think I've ever been so interested in something my entire life.  Can we move on to another question?

H: Anyway, John, this question's from Sarah, and it's for me so I'm gonna read it.  It says, "Dear Hank and John, Often in sci-fi television shows and films, by opening an airlock, the enemy is sucked into space and dies but the protagonists who are opening the airlock are buckled in so they aren't sucked out.  But I'm confused.  How do they live?  I have the impression ever since I first learned about space as a kid that as soon as a spacesuit or spacecraft is breached, anyone occupying that space is almost immediately dead."  Do you have any thoughts on this, John?

J: Um.  Mmm.  Uhh.  No.  

H: You can--how long would you say that you can live in the vaccuum of space? 

J: Uhh, I would say like four minutes?

H: Yeah, it's quite a long time.  You would think--

J: That's not a long time.  That would be--and also I bet it's not a fun four minutes.

 (08:00) to (10:00)

H: Well, it's--the vast majority of that four minutes you have no idea exist.  You are unconscious in 15 seconds, and this actually has happened, not in space, but thank goodness, but it has happened with people on Earth being exposed to near-vaccuum spaces and the one time that it happened in NASA training, he was unconscious in 14 seconds but he survived and the main trick is to make sure that you blow all of the air out of your lungs, because if your lungs stay like, closed off, the oxygen inside will expand and rupture your lungs forcing oxygen into your blood, which will kill you for sure.

J: Wow.  That sounds terrible.  

H: But if you are out in the vaccuum of space, a bunch of nasty terrible things will happen to you, but you can, if you'll fall unconscious, but if somebody brings you back in before your brain goes dead from lack of oxygen, you can totally survive.  It's wonderful news.

J: You know, people say that this podcast contains no useful information but I'll tell you what, for the rest of my life, when I am in a near-vaccuum situation, I am gonna get that air out of my lungs.

H: That's right.  You don't know what's gonna happen, John.  You could become a total thrill-seeking adventurist in the future and find yourself on the surface of Mars by the time you're 85.  You don't know what kind of person you're gonna become.  You never know.

J: I don't know that I agree with that.  I think by my age it's mostly set in stone, but I do have a question on the subject of anxiety, Hank, it comes from Paul.  He writes, "Dear John and Hank, My wife and I are about to go on a vacation for several days, leaving our two small children alone with their grandmother for the first time.  In the days immediately preceding the trip, my exciting for the time with my wife has switched to a very specific dread.  I am afraid that something will happen to my wife and I while we are away and thus we will abandon our children.  My anxiety about this scenario has grown almost to the point where I don't wanna go anymore.  What can I do to overcome this and this type of specific dread in my life?" 

 (10:00) to (12:00)

First thing I would say, Paul, is obviously it's very unlikely that you and your wife are going to die, and if it did happen, it would horrible tragedy.  On the other hand, Harry Potter never would have happened if he wasn't an orphan.

H: So if you get murdered by a dark wizard on your vacation, everything will turn out okay.  It'll be good for the world as a whole.

J: Exactly.  Right, yeah.  

H: Is that what you're saying?

J: I mean, it'll be bad in the short run, but I would argue that like, in terms of like, the quality of entertainment that would be produced as a result of it, it's almost good news.  

H: I am dreading my future dread as my--as the birth of my child approaches and I have no idea how I'm going to feel or what I'm gonna do, but I--I don't know what kind of person I'm gonna be in a month and that is worrying to me.  Does that make sense?

J: Yeah, no, I definitely think it changes thing a little bit, but I also think that you know, you bring your personality to parenting and you know, you--it's not like you are suddenly inhabiting a different consciousness, so I wouldn't worry that much, except insofar as, you know, your insufficiencies and shortcomings will no doubt be highlighted, as has been the case for me, I think, as a parent.  But no, what I would say to Paul seriously is, you know, that's a very low probability outcome and it also constantly exists.  Going on vacation does not make it significantly more likely that both you and your wife die.  You know, and so what's really going on, I suspect, is that you have this deep down fear that, like, is extremely intense because it would be, you know, a terrible, terrible thing and in those situations, I try to do two things.  One: I try to remind myself that this is not a likely outcome, and so that I'm not really thinking rationally about it, and two, I try to remember that I'm setting an example for my children, and if I go through life afraid all the time, they will notice that and I think it'll make things probably more difficult for them rather than easier, and so I just try to remind myself of that and try really hard to act as rationally as I can, but it's really, really hard. 

 (12:00) to (14:00)

It's hard to be a dad, and you know, those fears are real, so I'm sorry, but I also think you should have a great time on vacation and try, try not to worry about it and just enjoy.

H: Alright.  That's good, John.  Good job.  I'm glad we take on some serious questions and some science questions and some silly questions.  That's what I feel like the spirit of Dear Hank & John is.  What've you got for me, John?

J: While we're on the topic of serious questions, I'm just wondering if we can address a question we've gotten numerous times, but uh, without reading a specific question, because I don't want to make anybody's life harder?

H: Yeah, I actually, I think I had this exact same thought, and we didn't even discuss it beforehand, but go and we'll see if I have the same thought.

J: If you are a man or really if you're anyone, but especially if you're a man, are we having the same thought?

H: I think we are.

J: And a woman tells you, or anyone tells you, that they are not interested in having a romantic relationship with you, if they tell you that even once, you must listen to that and you must listen to it forever.  Period.

H: That's a--pretty much becomes a permanent state of affairs.  Usually that isn't taken lightly by the person being like, hey, this is the first thing that comes out of my mouth is that I'm not interested in that.  That is a considered position and continuing to push it is--can be very uncomfortable and even frightening and can make relationships much more difficult, and we've got--we have gotten a form of that question so many times--

 (14:00) to (16:00)

J: Yeah.

H: --and feel strange about answering the specific question because it often has enough details that you can sort of pick out the situation, but yes, if you think that you have ever made a woman uncomfortable because you have continued suggesting that you could be in a relationship and she's not been receptive to that and you're wondering if that has had a negative impact on your relationship with that person or had a negative impact on that person themselves, uh, that's probably the case.

J: Yeah, and--

H: And I've done that1

J: I don't--

H: I totally did that as a younger person, and I just--I wanted it to make it work and I wanted to see how I could do it, and my brain just kept being like, well, maybe, maybe things have changed, maybe now, maybe it's different, but um, but there's a lot of fish in the sea.

J: Well, it's not just that.  I don't think it's uncom--I don't think it's merely uncomfortable.  I think ultimately it's a kind of form of abuse or harrassment, to go back to someone again and again and again and say has anything changed?  can we be in a relationship now?  If someone has told you that they don't want to be in a relationship, you have to honor that, and if you are having trouble honoring that, that means that you are having a problem that you need to seek out help for and you need to make sure that you do not push that relationship on that person, because I think it can become very scary and kind of dangerous, so I just felt like we should say that.

H: Good.  It's interesting that I had that exact same thought when reading that question, because we've seen it so many times.

J: Yeah, we've just seen different versions of that question so many times and it is--I mean, this is a constant--it's a problem for lots of different people, but I think especially for women and it's something that we need to acknowledge goes on in our culture and as men, I think we need to do something about it.

 (16:00) to (18:00)

H: Yeah, I had it happen to me, where somebody continued to hit on me for a long, long time, and--after I had made it clear that I wasn't interested in that and that I was in a relationship at the time, and it was amazing how fast it felt like harrassment.  I--and I would never--

J: Well, yeah, 'cause it is.

H: Yeah, I had never--I would never have thought like, like, he thinks he's just being silly and fun, but really he wants something from me, and I keep saying no, and he keeps saying but this is silly fun time and I'm just you know, trying to get you to do a thing that you don't want to do.

J: Or the drunken confession or whatever, there's many forms of it, but it's always bad and indicative of a real problem, I think, so yeah.  Okay, I'm glad we're on the same page about that, Hank.  We are--our advice often disagrees with each other, but not on that topic.  However, I do have a topic on which our advice is almost certain to disagree.

H: Ooh!  Is it which is the best flavor of La Croix?

J: Is that one of the questions?  

H: No.  No, I just--I thought I--I just thought that we might disagree on that.

J: I didn't see--I didn't see that question, but I certainly think that we will agree on the best flavor of La Croix, because there is only one best flavor of La Croix.  I mean, you can make a case for three or four, but I think there's one overwhelming flavor.  Let's just both say our favorites at the same time on three, one, two, three--

H: Pomplamoose.

J: Orange.  

H: Oh no!  And I said Pomplamoose, which is my favorite flavor of La Croix and it is the best flavor of La Croix and I don't even think I've ever had orange.  

J: Ah, it's delicious, it's delicious, and the best part about it is nobody else in my family likes it, so they don't steal mine.  

H: Oh, well that's a definite, definite sign that it's the objectively best is that no one else in your hosue likes it.  

J: Yep.  I know. 

 (18:00) to (20:00)

Hank, I've got a question for you.  This question comes from Sharon, who asks, "Dear John and Hank, Recently you answered a question about how to feel confident in yourself and your products/work when surrounded by people much older than you.  I was wondering if you have any advice, however dubious it may be," don't worry, Sharon, it will be very dubious, "about how one can deal with the feeling of being prouded out by younger people, especially in newer technology-related fields.  Imagining others complexly means that I can understand the fear of starting something new as a young person, but in today's world, I often feel like people on either side of that age spectrum are gunning for you."  They are, Sharon, and you have to take them out.  It's the only way.  

H: Is that your advice?

J: Yeah, don't you agree, Hank?  Like, when it comes--if you're an old person, and you've got young people in a technology-related field gunning for your job with their knowledge of the Snapchat and the Tinder and however else young people are getting their marketing these days, you've just gotta take that person out.

H: Like, like, like, hire a hitperson?  

J: No, not literally, I mean you just undermine them at work constantly.

H: Ughhh.

J: Like, someone will say like, who did this terrible thing at the office and you'll be like, I bet it was, trying to think of a good young person name, Caden.  

H: Trent!

J: Trent.  It was Trent and Caden.  They're the worst.  They're so bad at Snapchat, I'm the one who knows how to Snapchat.  

H: I can't--I don't--I feel like no one's been named Trent in ever.  It's like--

J: Yeah, well, you're the one who came up with Trent.  I had Caden.  

H: Caden is very good, Caden is wonderful.

J: It's a perfectly good millenial name, and then you delivered Trent, which is very low quality.  

H: I apologize.  Yeah, all the Trents--

J: You killed the bit.  Yeah, the bit was solid.  Until then, it was a solid bit.  

H: Oh man, all the Trents out there are gonna be super unhappy right now.  If you're Trent, you can e-mail us at and let us know how many Trents there are listening right now, and don't you lie to us!

 (20:00) to (22:00)

J: I was gonna say, we're gonna get 99 fake Trents and then maybe, maybe one real Trent, but even that real Trent, it'll probably be like, Trent's middle name, you know?

H: Mhmm.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I actually had--I wanted to--I wasn't gonna answer this question because I have no good answer for this.  It's interesting because I think a lot of young people are feeling like, ohhh, there, like, these, like, people are staying in their jobs longer and longer, they're putting off retirement, so they're not making any space for me in the job market the way that space was made for them in the job market, and then at the same time, a lot of older people are like, oh my God, these younger people are--have a lot of skills that I don't have and they're cheap for people to hire and there are lots of them coming into the workforce right now, and uh, there must be, you know, I think that what might be happening, John, is that it's complicated!

J: Yeah, no, I think all you can do is understand that, yes, there are things that young people are better at at your job.  That's true at my office by the way, as well.  Like, the young people here are much better at large swaths of the internet than I am, and that is intimidating in a way, but you have a different set of skills.  You have, like, there is a set of skills that comes with having been in the workplace for a long time from, you know, understanding, having the institutional knowledge of the company that you work for or the industry that you work in and that's valuable as well, so I think mainly it's just focusing on the value that you have to give rather than focusing on the things that you aren't good at, and then the other thing I would say is, like, it's not like you can't download Snapchat.

H: Yeah, yeah,  I mean, depending on what this is, I think you definitely have to cons--like, do your best to consider continuing to develop your skills.  At the same time, young people have more time to do that and if you have--

J: Yeah, as usual, I think that Hank is a great source of wisdom on this and every topic.  

 (22:00) to (24:00)

Hank, do we have another question?

H: And do not, do not have your fellow employees murdered by hit people.

J: Glad that you got that in.  That's important advice.

H: And yes, I do have another question, it's from Katie who asks, "Dear Hank and John, I'm a teacher and have taught at the same school for 16 years.  I'm a department chair and a building leader," it's in quotation marks so I assume it's some kind of official title, "My partner recently got a job in a different area and we will be moving at the end of the term.  Would it be appropriate for me to just ghost out of my job?  I don't want to tell people I'm leaving because they will all want to talk about it non-stop.  I'm a fairly private person and I hate being the center of attention.  Any dubious advice is appreciated."  This question made me agape and I don't know exactly what you mean by ghosting out of your job, but if you are in a position of leadership at your school, you, at the very least, need to tell your supervisor that you're leaving before you leave.

J: Mm, do you?

H: Uhh, I mean, well, maybe like if it's at the end of the semester and you're just like, well, the semester ended, I won't be coming back after the summer break.

J: Oh, right, that was my assumption that Kate was gonna make it to the end of the school year and then just very quietly on the first day of summer tell Kate's supervisor, "I will no longer be working come next school year."  not that Kate would just not show up for work one morning.

H: Yeah, and then they've got--okay, okay, okay, everything's okay.  Everything's alright.  If, Kate, if that is your plan, then you can do that.  If you're gonna give people two months to find your replacement for you, please do whatever you would like.  I just don't want you to note show up one day, which is how I read ghosting.

J: I love the idea of just not showing up on a Wednesday and then somebody calls your cell phone and you're like, hey, and they're like, hey, um, you teach US Government and you're not here?  And you're just like, yeah, well, no, I moved.

H: I'm in Oregon.  I'm in Oregon right now in my new house with all my stuff, kids are here...

J: Yeah, I can't--

H: Can't come in.

J: How did you get this number? 

 (24:00) to (26:00)

I changed my number to my new Oregon number, that's so weird that you were able to track me down.  Anyway, I don't work for you anymore.

H: I don't ever need a reference ever again.

J: Yeah, there's a happy medium, I think, between--I understand that urge not to want to have this like, lengthy farewell with parties and conversations and cakes and whatnot, but at the same time, you do need to make sure that the school has the resources that they need to replace you, because it sounds like you are a really significant part of it.  The only other thing I would say is that while it is uncomfortable to do the cakes and everything, it's kind of nice if you can bear it to allow people to say goodbye and to say the reasons that they are grateful to have worked for you, even if that's not fun for you, it can be very rewarding for other people, I think.  So, if you can stomach it, I do think that there's some reason to gut it out, but I totally empathize with not wanting to.

H: That's really great advice, John, and I think really thoughtful and I think that we can have another question now if you got one.

J: This question comes from Walker, and he asks, "Dear John and Hank, Why is there a single word for 'hungry' and 'thirsty' but not one for needing to use the restroom?"

H: Walker, I have no idea what you're talking about.  You don't call that feeling poopy and bladderful?  There's two words.  There's poopy and bladderful and those words exist and I don't know what's wrong with you.  I'm poopy.  Excuse me, I have to go, I'm bladderful.  

J: Bladderful is an incredibly important word that has never existed before just this moment.  

H: I bet it's on Urban Dictionary.

J: I don't think so.  I'm gonna Google bladderful right now.  

H: Oh, I did, too.  Nothing came up, nothing came up.

J: Hank, not only is bladderful not a word or should I say, wasn't a word until 20 seconds ago when it became a word for the rest of human history, oh wait.  There is--wait, bladderful is on Urban Dictionary.  I regret to inform you.  

 (26:00) to (28:00)

H: What is the definition?

J: It has an incredibly long, long definition.  I can't read it to you because it's the length of a novel.  Oh.  Bladderful, according to Urban Dictionary, is where you pee yourself.  

H: I don't like that.  I think that that's a terrible definition and I think that we need it changed.

J: I totally agree, I totally agree.  Bladderful, yeah, no, we have established--oh, okay, the second definition of bladderful is the feeling of needing to pee, established by jbennet back in Feburary, actually, on Valentine's Day, 2009.  Way to spend your Valentine's Day doing something productive, jbennet!  Bladderful, the feeling of needing to pee.  So, Hank did not invent bladderful, it was invented so far as we can tell by Urban Dictionary user jbennet on Valentine's Day, so romantic, 2009.  Bladderful's a revelation for me, Hank.

H: I think we need everybody to go to Urban Dictionary and search for bladderful with one 'l' and the end, not two l's, and everybody can thumb up jbennet's answer so that it can be the top listing instead of this novel about peeing in your pants, because it is obviously the correct definition of bladderful. 

J: Hank, while I was looking on the internet at bladderful, I also glanced at my situation and I just wanna update you that I have lost 25 cents from earlier today.

H: Oh man.

J: I know.  Apparently, the chances that the US Senate race in North Carolina will go to the Democrats have declined by about a quarter.  I don't--which is one percent, to be clear, I have $25 bet on that, that outcome.  What is wrong with me that I have devoted so much of my life and consciousness to this election cycle, Hank?  

H: Uh, well, I think that it's something that's wrong with a lot of people at the same time, so it can't just be you.  It seems to be a pretty human thing and uh, it's pretty remarkable the, you know, we forget that in like, a normal time, there's news all the time, right?

 (28:00) to (30:00)

So there's constant news.

J: Right.

H: But right now, the top story on everything is always about the election.  Everywhere we go.

J: Right.

H: And so all that other news is still happening and no one has any idea that it even exists.  It's amazing.

J: What other news are you referring to?  I don't--I don't really think--I actually think that most of the time it's just that there is no news.  

H: Well, I mean, it's things like, you know, Netflix a million more subscribers this quarter than people thought they were, and like, a US battleship firing on a radar installation in Yemen, like, this is a big deal, and people know about it, but it would be the top thing and just because every day it's the election, the election, the election, it's the only thing that people are thinking about, like, you know, we fired on a nation.  There's a very unstable situation in Yemen right now, and also somewhat in Saudi Arabia and it's like, that's freaky and what.  We can't think about that.  We have to think about the debate!  

J: I appreciate your attempts to get me to think about something other than US electoral politics, however, can I ask you one more question about US electoral politics?

H: Yeah, okay.

J: Can we just please ask our listeners to vote, to vote even if they think their votes won't count, to vote, to pay attention not just to the presidential election but also to downballot elections and to please go and please please please vote.

H: Yes, vote for us.  

J: NO!  Do not write Hank and John in.  I will be furious if anyone writes us in.

H: No, that's not what I meant!  Don't vote for us.  Do the thing for us. 

 (30:00) to (32:00)

If not for you, do it for me.  

J: If you cannot think of a good reason to vote, please think of how anxious I am every minute of every day waiting for this stupid election to be over and how much I personally need you personally to vote.

H: Alright.

J: The other person I would say that you should vote for is Rosianna, because Rosianna is a British citizen who has been forced to live in the United States during this darkest of timelines.  So, she had to watch Brexit from afar and now she is having to live with an American election cycle which is one of the worst things that can happen to a human being, and she cannot even affect the election outcome because she is not allowed to vote, so um, please vote for Rosianna.  

H: Alright, well, we've also got a very important question that I need to get to from Rachel, though, John, so this--

J: Okay.

H: She asks, "Dear Hank and John, Occasionally, I will get a salad from the salad bar at the grocery store.  Usually I put chicken or turkey on it, but instead of turkey, now they have these rubber looking crab chunks that I have learned are called 'imitation crab'.  What even is imitation crab?  Why is it a thing?  How much of imitation crab meat is crab and how much is "crab"?  Pumpkins and penguins and imitation crab, Rachel."

J: How much of imitation crab is crab?  I've always assumed that it was clams?

H: No.  Imitation crab is zero percent crab.  It is mostly fish.  It's basically--so you know how like, when you get a chicken nugget at a fast food restaurant, it's not like, chicken, it's "chicken".  It's made of chicken, but it's like ground up chicken that's got a bunch of other stuff in it like, to make it into a chicken paste that then is sort of like, it's like chicken foam, that's basically what imitation crab is.  It's ground up fish with like, binders in it so that it can be roughly the texture of crab and then they put flavor in it to make it taste a little more like crab, they put color in to make it look a little more like crab, but it's mostly fish.

 (32:00) to (34:00)

J: Oh God.

H: It's fish product and I don't know why it exists.  I find it to be unpleasant.

J: I mean, if your goal for the day was to make sure I never eat a california roll or a chicken nugget for the rest of my life, then congratulations.  

H: Is there imitation crab in california rolls?

J: Yeah.  That's what a california roll is, man.  Oh, I feel sick to my stomach.  I do not--I wanna go back in time to the time before you answered that question.

H: First of all, I looked it up, a california roll, it has either crab meat or imitation crab, so maybe you don't know, maybe you've been eating just the one kind.  Second, it's all food.  It's just--it's, basically just imagine that someone cooked a recipe that was ground fish meat and some like, cornstarch and a little bit of red food coloring.  That's the recipe that they prepared for you at an industrial factory with lots of stainless steel and factory workers.

J: Okay.  We have to move on to another question because I'm starting to glimpse the darkness.  I'm becoming too aware of my microbiome as sometimes happens.  This question comes from Danielle, who asks, "Dear John and Hank, My boyfriend and I were discussing the decision to send the song "Dark was the Night, Cold was the Ground" by Blind Willie Johnson as the only piece of music on the Voyager into space.  It was my first time hearing it, but it was oddly fitting when thinking of it floating in space endlessly.  My question to you two is, if you could only send one song into the depths of space to hopefully be heard by aliens, what would you send?  John, what would it be if it weren't the Mountain Goats?"  Well, that's not a fair question, becuase it would be The Mountain Goats.  Danielle, I disagree with your premise.  Are we living in some kind of alternate history where the Mountain Goats never existed, and if so, what else is different about American history?  

 (34:00) to (36:00)

Is there no Trump?  

H: And if so, can we make this happen?

J: No!  It wouldn't be worth it, Hank, the Mountain Goats are too important.  Um, if it couldn't be the Mountain Goats, if it couldn't be The Mountain Goats, you know, I don't know if you can--I might send one of the songs from John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, which is probably my favorite non-Mountain Goats piece of music.  I'm not sure which one, though, Hank, what would you send?

H: Well, I think that if I was given the opportunity to send something into the depths of space on a golden record, that it'd be pretty hard not to write my own song and be like, this is the song for the golden record that's gonna go to the aliens, yeah!  

J: That's just--that's so terrible.  That's borderline evil.

H: Oh yeah, I know.  

J: Oh man, okay, I'm gonna go with the last part of A Love Supreme which is called Psalm.  I think that's what I'm gonna go with, but they're all so good.  There's no bad part of A Love Supreme.  It's kind of one piece of music so maybe I get to send the whole thing.  If I could send a song by the Mountain Goats, that would also be extremely difficult, because The Mountain Goats have several thousand songs and they're all truly excellent, but I guess in the end I would probably go with Up The Wolves, no bad Mountain Goats songs, it's one of the great gifts of that band.  They've even got a great song  about a brand of peanuts.

H: Which reminds me, John, this podcast is brought to you by a brand of peanuts that the Mountain Goats like, I guess?

J: Yeah, it's Golden Boy Peanuts, actually.  This podcast was also brought to you by the vaccum of space.  The vaccum of space: exhale.

 (36:00) to (38:00)

This podcast additionally was brought to you by the chances that a woman will be elected president.  The chances that a woman will be elected president: so far responsible for thirty cents of John's net worth.

J: No, much closer to a dollar.  Whoa, there's been a huge change, Hank.  I just made sixty cents.

H: Hey!

J: Sorry, we'll get back to that in a second.  And lastly, this podcast is brought to you by the word 'bladderful'.  The word bladderful: covering the feeling of needing to pee since Valentine's Day, 2009.  Hank, I've gotta see why was there this huge change in my net worth?  Something extremely dramatic has happened.

H: People have discovered the election markets and they are excited to take the money of Trump supporters.

J: No, what happened, Hank, is that the chances that one of the nominees will win at least 370 electoral votes in the electoral college has risen up to 36%.  I bought at 27%.  I'm a genius.  Like, I should have put all my net worth into this market.  

H: I--wanna vomit just thinking about this.

J: I gotta get out of the stock market and this book writing business podcasting vlogbrothersing, this was all--it was all a preface, Hank, it was all a preface for the great chapter of my life known as the chapter.

H: Oh my God, okay, could we just say to everybody out there who's feeling like there is a grain of truth in what John is saying and that there is a way to make money gambling that your brain is messing with you and never ever do that.

J: Well, I've got $1.81 that says otherwise, Hank, but to be clear, yeah, I gamble with tens of cents.  

H: We've got a question that I really wanted to get to, it's a correction, actually, from Krista, and I think this is an important thing to talk about, because we discussed earlier a lacuna in that there's no word for needing to potty, but this is another one that I really was fascinated to discover.

 (38:00) to (40:00)

Krista says, "Dear Hank and John, Bull semen comes from bulls and cows are female so bull semen cannot come from a cow no matter how awesome that cow is."  I don't know why being awesome would increase the chance that a female cow could create semen, but I have to--so, John, what is the word for a cow that is just a gender-neutral term for a single animal of that species?  Like, you would say a dog or a cat or a pig.  What is that?

J: Is it--is it--well, the plural is cattle...

H: Right.

J: So I would guess perhaps it is catlum.

H: There isn't a word for this.  

J: Ohh.  Well, now there is.  Catlum.

H: Yes.  Catlum.  There it is.  People, sometimes someone will say a head of cattle, so one cow of indetermine gender is a head of cattle, but yeah, the--so, I basically, in English, we use the word cow as a gender neutral term for a head of cattle, and thus I have to say, Krista, you're wrong and I was right and until the word catlum comes into, you know, regular use in English language, then I can continue to wear the badge of not being wrong about that one thing, which is all that's important to me.

J: Well, catlum is now in regular English usage and also I'm very excited about our spin-off podcast, Dear John and Hank: The Linguistics Edition, where we do nothing but invent words for, what is it called, lacuna? 

H: Yeah.

J: Are those the places where there are no words for things that exist?

H: Yes.  Correct.  I love that there's a word for words that don't exist, yeah.  

J: That's a beautiful word.  We also have a correction from Daniel Turner, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, My name is Daniel."  Don't try to Ryan me, Daniel.

 (40:00) to (42:00)

I see what you're doing, "and I am an enrolled agent, which means I am licensed by the IRS with their highest credential," and then Daniel points out that I was totally wrong about my statement that there is no advantage to dying on January 1st.  In fact, there is a huge advantage, at least if you are married, because if your spouse dies and you are married filing jointly, you can claim an extra exemption and also you can file the--your claim, married filing joinly even though you were only married for one day of the year.  This is the kind of darkness that our tax policy forces us to think about.  I don't wanna think about it, but the IRS makes me.  

H: Daniel goes on to say that January 1st, as far as he can tell, is the best day to die, and then he says, "I hope that I die on January 1st," hopefully not this year, though.

J: Man.  

H: Oh man.  Hold on, Daniel, hold on!  

J: Yeah.  Just hold on, Daniel.  It's gonna be okay.  What is that great line from that old bluegrass song, um, uh, won't you spare me over for another year?  It's a beautiful line where the singer is asking God for one more year of life.  I, too, want to have a long and happy life, but I wouldn't mind if I got to skip about February-November every four years.  

H: We also have a--just a note from (?~41:37) who asks, who just says, "I need to inform you that I've lived in the suburb with the half plane and the marquee in the yard for 14 years" so we've got--there's listeners all over the place.  The--my problem is that (?~41:51) does not tell us what the marquee says.  Go down there and tell us, but they do say that "I leave a loaf of banana bread by his front gate every year on the holidays.  I imagine he probably throws this away, but I hope he enjoys the thought."  So that's amazing.  I love this town.

 (42:00) to (44:00)

J: Okay, Hank, I wanted to read one last e-mail.  This one struck me as very important, it came from Piedro, who wrote, "Dear John and Hank, I, Piedro," all these people trying to Ryan me, "I, Piedro, am a Swiss citizen living in the United States and I just wanted to say thank you, well, mostly to John," you're welcome, Piedro.  "In the last episode, you guys but mostly John mentioned Switzerland, and this brought joy to my heart as almost no one mentions Switzerland in any context ever.  The last time someone mentioned Switzerland to me was three weeks ago as a footnote at the end of a lesson on the congress of Vienna in my history class.  It sucks that Switzerland is mentioned so little becuase it is such an interesting country.  Like, did you know that we don't have a president, but instead a council of seven people that act like the executive branch and we're the only country with a square flag."  

H: Okay, can I make a couple of comments on Piedro's ask so far?

J: Yeah, please do.

H: Um, first of all, Switzerland being mentioned once every three weeks in a place that isn't Switzerland seems like quite a lot, seems like more than the average country on Earth.  I'm sure that there are lots of--

J: That's absolutely true.  Try being from Liberia.  

H: Yeah, lots of fascinating things about Switzerland and that we should all know them and that I would love to know them and I'd love to have read a whole book about that, though I probably would not love the actual process of reading it.  Also, I will say that Switzerland in America is literally a cliche, like, you will say, "I'm Switzerland!" if you wanna say like, I'm not involved, I don't wanna be involved in this debate that I never asked to be a part of in the first place.  I'm Switz--that's a thing that people say.  It's like, it's a word that means something aside from the name of the country.  People mention Switzerland all the time.  I feel like Switzerland gets a lot of play, John.

J: Hank, do you know the only other country not to have a rectangular flag?  

H: Uh, it's a triangle, isn't it?

J: Don't Google it, no cheating.

H: But it's a triangle, right?

J: It's kind of two triangles?

H: Ohh, tell me more.  

 (44:00) to (46:00)

J: The flag of Nepal. 

H: Oh, yeah, it is two triangles.

J: Yep.  Crimson red is the color of the rhododendron, the country's national flower and red is also the sign of victory in war.  Oh, red.  The blue border is the color of peace, oh, that's nice, so the peace is surrounding the war, that's good news.  Until 1962, the flag's emblems, the sun and the crescent moon, had human faces.  Wow!  That was awesome!  Then they were removed to modernize the flag, which is incredibly unfortunate.  Basically, Pizza John was a national flag.

H: Another amazing thing about the flag of Nepal, John, there's a (?~44:44) video about this.  In the constitution of Nepal, there is a mathematical equation that is the flag.

J: Yep.

H: So like, there's a mathematical representation of how to create the flag, so you can use the constitution with the words to create the flag with math.

J: That's very beautiful.

H: Seems pretty cool.

J: And somehow fills me with tremendous hope.  Nepal has had a fascinating history the last 20 years.  I think it's one of the most interesting countries on Earth right now, and--

H: I feel like we're really rubbing this in Piedro's face right now, we're like, okay, you wanted us to talk about Switzerland?  Here's Nepal facts!

J: I told you about how interested I am in Nepal.  No, Switzerland is a lovely country, and look, everybody wishes they were from Switzerland, obviously.  They have an extremely strong currency, you know, they don't ever have to fight in wars, it seems like it's a very good life there, but um, I appreciate Piedro coming to the United States and I am grateful that Piedro is here and I hope that you are happy and that the United States has welcomed you, and I apologize for all of the terrible things that have been said about immigrants in the United States in the last several months, and also really for the last like, 150 years.  Oh, Hank, it's a darkness, I cannot--I cannot wriggle myself out of this darkness, but I will say that I have made another 20 cents on while we've been recording this podcast since I last updated you.

 (46:00) to (48:00)

H: I--that's terrible news.  The more you win, the more I worry.  I do wanna get to this question since you brought up immigration, I wanna get to this question from Iman, which I felt like--

J: Oh, great question, this was my question of the week!  I think this is the best question we got the whole week.

H: It's--yeah, and I figured you were gonna want to answer it, so I--it's--Iman says, "Dear Hank and John, I'm an 18 year old Nerdfighter of African-Islamic descent who lives in Norway and has been doing that for the last seven years.  Before that, I used to live in the middle east.  I came here as a refugee and have adjusted well to the society since then, but I still struggle with identifying myself as a member of this society, especially since a lot of people seem to have problems with acceping me as part of it.  Norwegians are very nice and kind people, but whenever the topic of Norwegian-ness is under discussion, I feel immediately excluded from the majority.  How do I accept my reality as the forever foreigner, especially as my chances of getting back to my so-called homeland are near zero?"  

J: I think this is a great question and really important and the first thing that I would say is that, Iman, it is not your fault that peoples' definition of nationhood in a lot of cases is ultimately racist, I would argue.  Like, I think that if you define Norwegian-ness as whiteness, that's racist, and so it falls to all of us, no matter our national identity, to come up with definitions of that national identity that do not depend on race.  

H: Yeah, to come up with them and to actually, like, really incorporate them into our understanding of the world, which is the harder part.

J: Yeah, absolutely.  It is hard.  But I think, we will link at the Patreon to a wonderful episode of Invisibilia that was about this.

 (48:00) to (50:00)

It is not set in Norway, but it was about a young Muslim man who felt like he was not part of his community in Europe and the tragedies that unfolded and almost unfolded because of that and the eventual wonderful reintegration into his country that was made possible by people opening themselves up and making themselves vulnerable and being honest about these very difficult topics, so I'm really really sorry that you don't feel Norwegian, and I wish that I could promise you that someday you will, but unfortunately, it's going to be part of your job, I'm afraid, to open peoples' minds up and it's hard and it's not something that you chose and I'm sorry that it's something that you're gonna have to live with but I do think that you have the opportunity to make a real difference in peoples' lives and in the lives of the people who will come after you, too.

H: The other thing that I would say is that just because you aren't necessarily going to feel, like, you know, you'll never maybe feel like a Norwegian person, that doesn't mean that you won't ever feel home in the place where you live now.  

J: Right.

H: And there are lots of different ways to feel home and lots of different ways to be a part of a place, and that you aren't, you know, that you weren't born there can, you know, that you weren't born there doesn't, you know, will always be a part of your identity that you don't look like all of the rest of the people around, will always be part of your identity, but that doesn't mean that you won't find a way to be at home in the place where you now live and to be a part of the place where you now live.

 (50:00) to (52:00)

J: Yeah, Hank, I think that's a really important point.  I also think it's really important just to have these conversations and to have these discussions and ultimately, you know, Hank and I are never gonna be able to give as good advice on this topic as people who are experiencing what you're experiencing, so the other thing that I would say is, you know, talk to your friends, both your friends who are Muslims and who may be refugees, but also talking to your friends who are more traditional definitions of Norwegian-ness, because I think by being open about these conversations, we can make progress on them.

H: Alright.  John, do you have news for me from AFC Wimbledon?  

J: Oh, God, I have--Hank, what if I told you at the start of this season that the smallest team in League Two that has just become the smallest team in League One might next year be the smallest team in the history of the championship?  

H: Uhhh, I would say that that is not a possible thing that could possibly happen in a possible universe.

J: I also would have thought that it was impossible, but AFC Wimbledon beat Bury, possibly Bury, I don't know, it's spelled b-u-r-y, nobody knows how to pronounce any of these League One teams.  It's all--it's all pure speculation.  Port Vale.  Peterborough.  These are all made up places in England.  It's all right out of Narnia.  Anyway, AFC Wimbledon was taking on 8th place Bury over just yesterday, actually, and they were down 1-nil and that looked like it was gonna be the result, but then they scored a tying goal, Lyle Taylor, the Messi from Monserrat, the Monserratian Renaldo, scored a tying goal and then in the dying moments of stoppage time, Hank, John Meades, the leftback for AFC Wimbledon--

H: Whoa.

J: --Meadesy, scored a header on a corner kick.  They won 2-1.  The Dons have played 14 games.  They're sitting on 20 points in 9th place.

 (52:00) to (54:00)

J: One point out of a playoff spot.

H: Oh my goodness.  That is something else, John.

J: It's obviously still a long way to go, there's still 32 games left in the season.  

H: I see--yeah.  Yeah, there's--

J: A lot can happen and will, and it should also be noted that in addition to being one point out of a playoff spot, they're only five points clear of the relegation zone, so uh.  

H: It's tight.  It's a tight pack.

J: It's an extremely tight table.

H: Yeah.

J: But oh man, what a great victory for Wimbledon.  Congratulations to all the boys and to Neil Ardley, our wonderful manager.  It's just--it's--what a time to be alive.  I mean, if you just, if it weren't for the American election, Hank, this would be like, one of the best possible timelines, 2016, at least for me in terms of what's going on with AFC Wimbledon, which is basically how I judge the quality of the universe.

H: Well, John, as of the recording of this podcast, the Mars news is mixed.  The exo-Mars orbiter and lander, it's a two part mission, they went together but they split apart, has arrived at Mars and we are not entirely sure of the result, and I am sorry that I--I will update if there is news, but it's looking like at the moment that the lander entered the atmosphere of Mars and then after entering and firing its retrorockets to land, it--something went wrong and it did not land correctly and has not been able to establish contact with--back with Earth.

J: Oh no!

H: The--so the--this lander is mostly designed as a way to test out a new system for landing heavy payloads on Mars, so it wasn't super expensive scientific experiment or anything, it was only good at going to be an experiment that would run for a week or two, just measuring, you know, the--measuring wind speed and like, dust, and basically doing some measurements to have data to make sure that future missions would be safer.  

 (54:00) to (56:00)

So it's bad news on that front.  The orbiter, however, which is the bulk of the science experiment of this mission, is fine and it's in orbit and it's got another day before it's gonna start, maybe more than a day, before it starts its actual science mission, maybe some weeks, but it looks like it entered orbit just fine and it's there and it's doing good, so the European Space Agency now has another orbiter around Mars, but it looks like its landing system may still need to be developed.  We are not sure yet if there is any news and I'm able to--I'll record an update and but, I've just been, like, it's literally just happening right now, so I'm following my two Emilys on Twitter, Emily (?~55:06) who is the senior editor at the Planetary Society and Emily (?~55:13) who is also just a space fan and is a correspondent for a new Bill Nye show, and so I'm getting the news in as it comes in, and so far, it--that the lander survived re-entry but we're not sure whether it landed safely and surviving re-entry on its own is a significant achievement but it doesn't look like, probably at this point, the chances, like, if I was a betting man, I would not bet on this thing waking up.

J: Okay, well, I'm gonna go to right now.  I don't mean to take advantage of what is obviously a difficult time for you, but if you don't mind, I'm going to go to right now and bet that lander is not going to be landing safely.

H: Oh man.

 (56:00) to (58:00)

J: This is my life now, Hank.  I'm a full-time user.  I'm sorry about your somewhat good, somewhat bad Mars news.  

H: Why is this a .org website, John?

J: Oh, because it's just an educational project.  It's not a commercial project.  It's just for research purposes only.

H: But can you--do you actually make money?

J: Oh yeah.  

H: And do they make money?

J: Um, yeah, yeah, probably, I guess so.

H: So it doesn't sound like it's educational purposes only to me.  

J: Well, yeah, I mean, Hank, would you please stop trying to harsh on my buzz the only thing that's brought me a single ray of sunshine this entire election cycle?

H: I just don't--I don't think it's ultimately a healthy decision, John.  What did we learn today? 

J: Um.  Well.  Gosh.  What did we learn today?  Uh, we learned some really upsetting and terrible things about imitation crab meat that I desperately wish I could forget.

H: We learned that the single of a gender-nonspecific cow is a catlum.

J: And, of course, we learned that if Hank could send one song into space, it would be a song that he just wrote, just now, about his song going into space.  

H: And of course, we learned that you absolutely can get better at bubble baths.

J: In fact, you almost must, because otherwise it's not a hobby.  

H: That's right, that's right.

J: Oh, Hank, it's always a pleasure podcasting with you, but of course, this is probably the last time that we will be--or it is definitely, right?  The last time that we will be podding together for a number of weeks.

H: Yes.  It is.  I'm gonna go on leave.  I don't know when exactly the baby will come, but I'm gonna--even if it doesn't come, I'm gonna go on leave, 'cause that is a thing that I feel like Katherine needs support now as well as in the future.

J: Yep, I think that is the right call.  So we will miss you.  In your absence, there will be lots of wonderful guests playing the role of Hank, which I'm excited about, and uh, so listeners, you will be able to enjoy Dear Hank and John without the Hank for several weeks and then Hank will make his glorious return, you know, after Thanksgiving-ish.

 (58:00) to (59:22)

H: Sometime in there, yeah.

J: So um, Hank, congratulations, I'm very excited and happy for you guys.  I hope you have a wonderful time off.  I hope you actually take time off.  I know that it's hard for you to do, but um, yeah, I hope that you take your first proper vacation in ten years.  

H: I don't know that I had a proper vacation before that either.  Thank you, John, and this podcast is edited by Nicholas Jenkins, our theme music is from Gunnarolla.  Rosianna Halse Rojas helps out with the questions.  Victoria Bongiorno helps out with all of our social media and getting these things online.  You can e-mail us at  Our Twitters are @hankgreen and @johngreen and you can use #dearhankandjohn if you would like to see your Dear Hank and John related things, and as they say in our hometown...

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