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How do I deal with finals stress? What building would you haunt? How do I teach my kid not to bully? And more!

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 (00:00) to (02:00)

H: Hello, and welcome to Dear Hank and John.

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

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

J: I'm doing well.  It's the end of the year here in the United States and in much of the world, and I have to say, I am happy that this year is ending.  It's been a good year in many ways, AFC Wimbledon became a third tier soccer team, but I do not believe that I'm going to look back on 2016 either personally or in a larger sense as the time of my life.  I'm hoping that 2017 will somehow manage to be better.

H: Yes.  Well.  Don't count your chickens before theys done hatching.  I got a baby out of 2016, so that's not nothin' and it's--

J: And what a cute baby, by the way.  Last night, Sarah was showing me pictures of your son and he's so much cuter than our children were as infants, but uh, you know, the arc of history is long and it's too soon to declare winners.  

H: That's right, that's right, but I'm glad that we agree that we're having a competition.  The sun came out today in Montana, which is--I forgot that it existed 'cause we had not seen it in a while, and I realized the reason why I didn't want to go outside for so long, it was because it was terrible, but uh, now I feel like--

J: Yeah.

H: I need to--also, I threw my back out bouncing my giant baby.  He came out big, John, and uh--

J: He is a giant.  He is a large child.

H: And I--yeah.  So I'm glad to be feeling that way, though I have a bunch of work to do so I probably won't be able to do that much outside stuff which is a bummer.  Also I haven't seen Rogue One or Arrival or Fantastic Beasts or a number of other movies that have come out that I have heard are very, very good and--

J: Can I tell you the two best movies of the year in my opinion?  I'm incredibly fortunate, Hank, I get most of the major Oscar contenders sent to my house in DVD form for free, and I know--

H: Oh my God.  Send me.  Send me.

J: I feel bad about how great it is, it is really great and I'm very grateful to the people who do that, but anyway, having watched most of the major best picture contenders, I have to say there are a lot of really good movies this year, but to me, far and away, the two best films of the year are Hidden Figures, which is about some of the African American women who did a lot of the calculations that allowed Allen Shephard to go into space, and Moonlight, which is maybe the best movie I've seen in, like, ten years.  I haven't seen a movie like Moonlight in a long, long time.  It's a very special film, and so--Rogue One is awesome, Arrival is awesome, I hope you get to see both of those movies, but I really hope you get to see Hidden Figures and Moonlight.

 (02:00) to (04:00)

H: Alright, well, if I can suggest any movie to anybody this year, it would Independence Day: Resurgence 'cause I heard that one did really well.

J: Hank, would you like a short poem for today?  I'm not even going to dignify that with a response.

H: Let's do it.  Do it, John.

J: Hank, do you know what today's poem is about?

H: Is it about death?

J: No.  Do you know what it's called?

H: Oh!  Is it called Death?

J: No.  You know what it's called?  

H: No, I don't!

J: It's called The Chipmunk by Ogden Nash.  It's about chipmunks.

H: Oh my God.  I almost got there.  I--if you had given me one more, I would have been like, is it about the Wikipedia of chipmunks, Munkipedia?  

J: No.  The great American Munkipedia poem is still yet to be written, but the great American chipmunk poem has been written.  It was written by Ogden Nash and it goes like this: 

My friends all know that I am shy,
but the chipmunk is twice as shy as I,
He moves with flickering indecision 
like stripes across the television.
He's like the shadow of a cloud,
where Emily Dickinson read aloud.
Yet his ultimate purpose is obvious, very.
To get back to his chip-monastery.

The Chipmunk, by Ogden Nash.  America's great chipmunk poem.  

 (04:00) to (06:00)

You're welcome.

H: Oh man, it makes me think that chipmunks are called chipmunks because they build giant buildings out of potato chips.  

J: And they worship chips. 

H: Yeah.

J: You know Ogden Nash, Hank, he's also responsible for such clever couplets as "candy is dandy but liquor is quicker".

H: Correct.  Though that is not actually accurate, because no matter how much candy you eat, you ain't gonna get drunk.  

J: It's true.  That's a good point.  Hank, let's answer some questions from our listeners.  

H: That sounds like a fine idea, though, do you not wanna point out that the Munkipedia Twitter Tweeted at us to let us know that we had gotten some facts wrong about Simon's glasses?

J: I--listen, if we spend the rest of the podcast correcting all the mistakes that we made about Simon's glasses, this is going to become a full-time Simon's glasses podcast.  We need to get to the questions from our listeners.  We had the chipmunk callback, it was beautiful, it was brilliant, we can move on.

H: Okay.  Okay, John, our first question is from Sarah, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, I was thinking about Hank's icebreaking question "what's your favorite bridge?"", which I stand by, "And I was trying to come up with my own unusual question to pose to new acquaintances.  I have finally come up with my own out of the box question so I pose this query to you: If you were a ghost, what building would you haunt?  Think about it carefully, because no one knows if ghosts are allotted two weeks vacation per 48 work week.  You will be expected to work overtime indefinitely.  Happy haunting!  Sarah."  Have you thought about this question, John, or should I go first?

J: You can go first.   I do have an answer.

H: I would like to haunt The Haunted Mansion at Disneyworld.  

J: Ugh, that's just a terrible idea.

 (06:00) to (08:00)

H: Why not?  Everybody's like, oh, it's so spooky, and then I'll be like, no, I'm for real.  Hi, I'm  Hank, I was famous on the internet back in the early 2000s.

J: I mean, here's my issue with that, Hank.  On a practical level, do you really want to haunt a building where the exact same thing happens all day long, eight minutes after eight minutes after eight minutes for eternity.

H: You know, John--

J: I mean, that's as close to hell as you can possibly get without being in hell.  

H: Well, you know, it's changed over the years a little bit, and I like the idea of--I'm just a people watcher.  I enjoy looking at people and I like the idea of seeing the sort of the changing demographics of the Haunted Mansion over the millennia.  There's this consistency in the building itself and in the experience but a difference in the people who attend and the experiences they have based on their life experience.  I think that that has a lot going for it.  Also, you know, I don't wanna scare people too bad, so I kinda wanna be ready to be haunted.  

J: I mean, what's so interesting to me about your answer is that my answer is very nearly the opposite answer, which is as follows.  The most remote island atoll in the world is called (?~7:26) and it's in the South Pacific.

H: Of course you know that.

J: It's about halfway between South America and Australia.  Truly in the middle of nowhere, extremely hard to get to, and this guy, Tom Neil lived alone in the single building on Anchorage Island in that atoll for like, 30 years in two separate trips.  He lived there once alone for 17 years where he was visited like, 10 times by yachts and other people traveling over the course of that 17 years, and then he went back for like, another decade plus and he ended up almost dying on the island, but when he had stomach cancer he got brought back to the Cook Island for treatment and he died there.

 (08:00) to (10:00)

So anyway, there is a single building on the island.

H: You just want--

J: On Anchorage Island on the (?~8:15) atoll and that is the building that I would like to haunt, because I would be living insofar as, you know, you're living after you're dead, in a beautiful beachy incredible great weather, just everything perfect and best of all, I would be alone so I wouldn't have to haunt anyone.

H: You know what, John, I honestly thought that you were going to say your own house, but that before you died, if you knew you were gonna be a ghost, you would say "I'm gonna haunt my house and also it's going to be held in forever trust by this, you know, some kind of, I don't know what kind of financial institution would just own your house forever, but that," and then you would just continue to haunt your own home forever, because you do like it at home.

J: Yeah, I mean, that's appealing, except I don't wanna spend eternity in Indianapolis.  

H: You got another question, John?

J: I do.  This question comes from Ally who writes, "Dear John and Hank, I'm very confused by the US Government deficit."  Well, I'm glad you've come to your favorite advice podcast, Ally, great choice.  "Everyone on the left keeps saying the deficit is going down, while everyone on the right says it is going up.  Please help shed some light on this topic."

H: Well, I think that the--

J: Well, Ally--

H: I think the problem is the word 'going'.  We're just--we're no good at words and we sure do like to obfuscate, one of my favorite words.

J: I don't actually think that's the problem, because the deficit is only going in one direction, which is down.  It's just that it's still much greater than 0, which means that it is continuing to add to the overall size of the national debt, which is going up and has gone up, you know, pretty consistently for like, 35 years.

 (10:00) to (12:00)

H: Yeah.

J: The budget deficit has gone down every year--

H: John, I think the thing that you need to explain is what is the deficit, because it is confusing the difference between the debt and the deficit.

J: Okay, great, yeah.  So the deficit is the difference between the amount of money that the Federal Government spends on roads and bridges and prisons and schools and whatever else, and the amount of money it takes in, mostly in the form of taxes, and--

H: In any given years, in a year.

J: Right, right, in any given year, so you know, if we spend a trillion dollars but we only take in 900 billion dollars, we would have a 100 billion dollar deficit.  In fact, we've spent and taken much more than that, but anyway, so the debt is the overall amount of money that the US government owes.  Weirdly a lot of the money that the US government owes, it owes to itself, which is a little bit different from how, like, you know, household debt functions, but also a lot of it is held by individuals who purchase government bonds or (?~11:10) and then a lot of it is also held by foreign governments, but we also own a lot of foreign government debt.  It's a little complicated, but the deficit is the amount of money that we are coming up short each year in our budget, and the debt is the overall, like, size of our outstanding obligations as a government.

H: Yep.

J: Right, so the deficit has gone down every year since 2011.  It has gone down again this year.  So when you hear people, so when you hear people on the left saying the deficit is going down, that's true.  When you hear people on the right say the deficit is going up, they're probably actually saying that the debt is going up, which is also true.  As usual, it's complicated and it really depends on your perspective whether the size of our debt--let me say one other thing, Hank.  The only other thing I wanna say is that smart people with PhDs in economics disagree about how much debt is safe to have, and I do not know the answer to that question.

 (12:00) to (14:00)

H: And I think neither does anyone really.  I think that there's an amount which is too much, and there's an amount which is too little, but there is a--yeah.

J: There is an amount that is too little, and there is an amount that's too much.  The problem with the amount that's too much is that you don't really know until you hit it and once you hit it, it is almost impossible to do anything to stop a debt spiral that--the level of catastrophe that that would involve is genuinely unimaginable.  Let's move on to another question.  This one comes from Barbara, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, As I am a working mom of two, I rarely have time to myself, so I have started to consume social media and YouTube videos mainly on the toilet or in the tub.  Since then, I've been wondering how YouTubers feel about people taking them to these places.  Are you okay with it or would you rather fans wouldn't do that?" 

H: I don't need to know necessarily, but you can consume my content wherever you like.  

J: Yeah, that's how I feel too, Barbara.  As long as you're watching ads--

H: As long as you don't have an ad-blocker on your toilet phone!

J: No, I'm just kidding.  Oh, I think it's very hard to be--it's so hard to be a working parent.  It's so hard to find time for yourself, for the media that you like, and if the toilet is the place for that, I'm totally cool with it.  Thank you for including me in your life however you do it.  

H: Here's another question, John.  It's from RJ.  "Dear Hank and John, I am a freshman.  Finals are coming and I am a burned out candle.  How do I get a nice little reset that I need so I can successfully cram all the information I need for the tests?  Thank you for sharing your advice on how to deal with stress and general candle feelings."  Alright, RJ.  We're gonna take, just take right now, we're gonna (?~13:59)

 (14:00) to (16:00)

There's oftentimes a lot of energy here on Dear Hank and John, but for you, we're gonna take it down a notch, gonna chill out a little bit, we're just gonna say RJ, you're doing good.  You're doing fine.  You're working hard.  You care.  You're passionate.  You know that you need to work hard.  You're gonna do that hard work and then you're gonna take a couple breaths with me.  You're just gonna go in and keep going in, in, in, in, in, and out, out.  Take it, yeah, nice long breath.  NOW GET BACK TO WORK, RJ.

J: That is exactly what Hank does.  He allows himself three breaths and then he starts screaming at himself again.  I'm gonna have slightly different advice, which is that--

H: Okay.

J: If you feel like a burnt out candle, you need two things, right?  You need some wax so that you can like, refill the candle, and then you need a source of light, like a spark or you need, basically, RJ, I think what you need to do is go to a Target and buy some parafin wax and a lighter and you're gonna be back in business.  

H: Oh, that's such great advice, John.  I should never--I should never even try to answer these questions.

J: I know.  

H: Do you wanna go for another question?

J: I know.  God, I mean, we've been doing this for a year and a half, Hank, and I finally feel like we're properly, properly dubious.  Like, we've finally gotten bad.  We were never good at podcasting, but this is the first time when I've felt like we've been genuinely bad.  This question comes from Anonymous, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, My brother's birthday is coming up and I am stumped as to what to get him.  He's turning 21 and I just got him the Dad's Podcast Perk from the Project for Awesome IndieGoGo, but I feel like it's necessary to get him something to go along with it.  He listens to Dear Hank & John, so ideally, don't mention my name or anything.  You can call me whatever you please."

 (16:00) to (18:00)

J: Alright, Francine, listen up.  The number one thing you should have done was let us know in your question what your brother's name is so that we could wish him a happy birthday.  Also, Hank, can we go back to RJ's question and just acknowledge that finals are over and so whatever piece of advice we gave RJ is completely useless, that just occurred to me.  But like, that's in the past now.  

H: That's a great point, great point.

J: As is this person's 21st birthday.

H: I'm sorry, RJ.

J: I'm sure Francine's brother--if you recently had a 21st birthday and you love the pod, maybe your sibling wishes you a happy birthday from us, but maybe not.  We have no way of telling because the question is from Anonymous and they did not list your name.

H: So I kind of--is it--is your 21 year old brother a recent father or did you just get him the fatherhood podcast because?  Like, could you tell us anything about this guy?  We need to know something.

J: Yeah, I feel very underinformed about Francine's brother.

H: Yeah.  If he's a recent father, I can tell you what you should acquire, because the only thing that is necessary is blankets.  Things to mop things up with.  Just washcloths, towels, cloths, just everything is covered in sticky and I'm pretty sure that I've got like, a thin film of spit up and poop covering my entire body despite the fact that I literally just got out of the shower.

J: Not literally, I mean, you've been podcasting for 17 minutes.

H: Well, 'just' is subjective, John.  

J: Well then why add the literally?


J: To call attention to--

H: MY HAIR IS STILL WET.  I can pod in the shower, John.  You don't know.  

J: I mean, you know what I'm thinking right now, Hank, to be totally honest with you?  I'm thinking that we need to go back to Munkipedia for some inspiration because this is weaksauce.  

 (18:00) to (20:00)

H: So obviously, chipmunks paraphenalia is good for anyone of any age of any gender of any nationality.

J: Oh my God, I have to tell you something related to chipmunks paraphenalia.  Two things, actually.  First, a couple days ago, you Tweeted with a picture of a glass of an Alvin and the Chipmunks glass, that you had, and you were like "This is my Alvin and the Chipmunks glass, I can't believe I didn't bring it up earlier" and you and I both know that that is my Alvin and the Chipmunks glass from our shared childhood.

H: You know what, John, I don't know that that's true, because I had one that I got from home and then I bought a set.  I bought the other two on ebay, so I'm not sure if it was Theodore that we had or if it was Alvin and Simon.  It may have been Alvin, in which case--

J: This is just another example of--

H: In which case I have bad news.

J: Similar to how you sold my baseball cards on ebay, it is just another example of how when I leave the house for five seconds, you assume that all of my possessions suddenly belong to you.  Anyway, secondly, the other thing that I forgot to mention about Alvin and the Chipmunks is that my children, whom I love, have recently acquired three animatronic chipmunks, Alvin, Simon, and Theodore, dressed as Santas and you push a button and they sing like, at least nine minutes of Christmas carols, and what the kids do, because I don't--like, they have a different relationship with sensation than I do, is they push all three buttons so Alvin, Simon, and Theodore are singing Christmas carols at each other.


J: In chipmunk voices while the music is clashing and the kids are jumping up and down and screaming and singing along to this song and that song and like, the level of sensory input is such that like, a man could wish to become a ghost haunting Anchorage Island in (?~19:53).  

H: Um, so, a couple of things to add to our conversation. 

 (20:00) to (22:00)

One, I said that I had bad news regarding the Alvin glass.  It's gone.  It perished.  Secondly, did you know, I found this out, I was doing a little bit of research, that Alvin and the Chipmunks are actually hampsters?

J: No.  No way!  

H: Yes, the actors who play Alvin and the Chipmunks are hamsters.  

J: There are no actors, it's--what are you--it's an animated television program.  There is--it can't--like, what actors?

H: The actors who play them.  

J: There's--

H: Are hamsters.  They work cheaper.  They're less expensive.

J: Hank.  Did you read this at and did it say false as the first word of the story?

H: No.

J: What do you mean, the actors are hamsters?

H: I read it--

J: Which actors are you referring to?

H: I read it on The Onion in my brain.  I have a Brain Onion.  It's just fake stories that my brain has.  

J: It's like, not as funny as the real Onion.

H: Yeah, uh-huh.

J: But it's always delivering--okay, can we really quickly, before we get back to questions from our listeners, can we swap all time favorite Onion headlines?

H: Oh.  Probably not, 'cause I don't like, store Onion headlines in my brain.

J: Oh, I do.  I have like, I have like, a top 30.  

H: Okay, so if it's possible that we've done enough chipmunk stuff, we should answer another question.

J: Okay, yeah, let's move on away from chipmunks.

H: Okay.  This question is from Ana, and I know that it's Ana because it says at the end of this, it says "Ana, like the princess", so Ana--

J: Oh man, if I could just correct you really quickly--

H: Oh, how is it pronounced?

J: My three year old daughter, she dresses up as Princess Ana almost every day.  She either dresses up as Princess Elsa or Princess Ana every day and whenver I look at her and she's dressed in her Princess Ana costume, I always say, "Princess Ana of Arondale, it's so nice to see you" and do you know what Alice says?

H: What?

J: She says, I'm going to have to get away from the microphone to recreate Alice's voice because she does not speak, she only screams, and this is what she says: "IT'S ANNA, DADDY".  

 (22:00) to (24:00)

H: Is it?

J: And I'm always like, well, not--I mean, not in the movies.  In the movie, it's Princess Ana, and then she just--I'll be like, Alice, I think it is actually Ana.  "It's ANNA, DADDY".  

H: Oh G--wow.  I've got some things to look forward to.

J: You do.  You do.

H: Ana asks, "Dear Hank and John, I would very much like to be a kind person.  I believe, and hope, that kindness is a choice rather than an innate talent, but for all my trying, I feel I am very bad at it.  I am not very emotionally intelligent and while I have strong general feelings about kindness, I'm not clear on the exact details of what it entails.  I don't know how.  Could you please give me some practical advice on how to be genuinely kind to people?  Kind regards, Ana (like the princess)"

J: That's a great sign-off, kind regards.  It's almost as good as "In haste".

H: Yes, there were some quotation marks for "kind" in kind regards.

J: Ohhh, I didn't even get the pun.  I'm not very clever.  I don't know, Hank, you're kinder than I am, so maybe you should answer this question.

H: You highlighted this question, so I thought you had a good answer, but I'll take a go.  It's--it is definitely a muscle that gets stronger with flexing.  It is also--it requires a great deal of giving of the benefit of the doubt and assuming that people are basically good, and also realizing that when you feel as if you are the, you know, at the short end of the world's stick, that there is a lot of bias that goes into that and I say this as a person who is at the longest end of the world's stick, but the--and I really do think that like, that has helped me be a kinder person.

 (24:00) to (26:00)

That like, I have had lots of really great experiences and have been around lots of really good people, but to me, it is about exercising thoughtfulness and empathy and also taking time to like, consider the interactions that you've had that day and whether you, in the end, had a positive impact on the people that you interacted with, and that doesn't have to be like, oh, they thought that I was so cool and funny, because that's like, ego feeding.  It's like, did they feel better after they were hanging out with you, after they spent time with you?  That's to me what you're going for and what kindness is kind of about, is how can I interact with people in a way that they feel better afterward, because that's the only way that everybody's gonna feel better in the end.

J: Right, but that is very hard to do practically.  Sometimes, when I'm struggling--

H: It can be, yeah.

J: --with a virtue or trying to work on something in my own life, it helps to reframe it into language, like, into different language sometimes, so I often try to think of kindness as generosity.  Like, is there a way that I could be more generous in my responses to people, in my daily interactions, in my professional relationships, in my personal relationships, and the answer is almost always, you know, yes, there are lots of ways that I can very straightforwardly and easily be more generous, so that's what I need to be doing, but I agree that it's something that gets better the more you do it.  It is very hard practically to be kind, because practically, most of the time, you respond or I respond, and I think most people respond, to anger with anger or to frustration with frustration.  It's almost impossible to respond to anger with generosity, but if you can flip that script, there's a great episode of Invisibilia about this.  

 (26:00) to (28:00)

If you can flip that script, it can be sort of miraculous and I've had people flip that script on me when I've been having such a bad day, like, I recently made a video about this woman named Carmen who, when I didn't get to see Hamilton and I was completely devastated, totally flipped the script on me and reminded me of all the great things in my life and the fact that I've got the basics covered and when people can do that for you, it's such a gift and so I think noticing generosity in your own life can maybe also help to reflect it back to other people.

H: There's also something to be said for like, if you--if like, it's very hard to respond to anger or frustration with kindness, but it's easier to respond to indifference with kindness.  

J: Yeah.

H: And so just doing something nice to someone who, like, otherwise, you maybe wouldn't have had an interaction with at all and like feeling the feeling that that gives you, and also, like, I really think that there is a lot to be said for spending a little bit of time thinking about what happened that day and the things that you did, the interactions that you had, and like, how you could have done them better.  I don't think that--like, it could be really hard to find time to do that with and also it can--it's really important not to try and have that time be the moments before you go to sleep, because that can cause a good deal of insomnia, but like, giving yourself a little bit of space to be like, almost--if you can write that stuff down, like journal writing or blogging or whatever, because I have a--it's so hard for me to think all of the thoughts that I need with the space that's in my head, and having a piece of paper or a blank screen lets me have a little bit more, like, RAM, like, space in which to think and like, go back and see, but I was just thinking this, but I had forgotten that I had been thinking that kind of thing, and self-reflection is very important and we have less and less space for it in our lives right now and I think that it's a really big part of kindness and also practice.  

 (28:00) to (30:00)

Especially practice talking to strangers and being kind to strangers, because a lot of times, like, it can just be anxiety-inducing and its taken me 35 years to be able to do it without being like, oh God, did I--am I gonna screw this up?  Did I say 35?  'Cause I'm 36 years old.  

J: Yeah.  I was gonna correct you, but that wouldn't have been very kind of me.  You know, in a somewhat related but mostly tangential thing, every year, Sarah and I write two letters.  We write a letter back to ourselves at the beginning of the year about everything that happened that year.

H: Oh wow.

J: And, you know, I go back and look through my Google Calendar and through the videos that we made and lots of other stuff to talk about what happened that year, what went well, what went poorly, what were the unexpected challenges, and then we write a letter to our kind of like, selves at the end of that year, outlining our goals and priorities and what we want to focus on this year, and it's been so helpful.  Like, of everything I've ever done in my life that's like, gross and therapy-ish, and I do a lot of that stuff even though I dislike it because it works, of all that stuff, that's been the thing that's most helpful, is looking back, celebrating accomplishments and the journey that you've had over the last year and then also looking forward and making, you know, achievable goals that are well-defined and, you know, and it's really worked for us.  

H: That's a great idea.  I think that that's a really practical and like, achievable thing that you know, once a year, and we have more time around the holidays often to do that kind of thing.  Not everybody, but--

J: Oof.  I don't know.  I don't know.  Truly spoken like someone who just became a father.  

 (30:00) to (32:00)

H: Right now, my child needs very little from me.  Mostly cuddles, so.  Anyhoo.  

J: Yeah, no.  It's--in a way, parenting an infant is the hardest, because oh my God, it's so hard, but in another way, it's so straightforward.  All they need is cuddles and occasional like, food and diaper changes.  Actually, now that I think about it, I--it is really hard.  This is way more fun.  Once they can talk to you and read Harry Potter books, it's so much, so much more fun.

H: Yeah, he--we started to have been able to have some interactions with Orin where it feels like we do something and he responds and it's like, that's so cool!  Like in a positive way.  I could always make him cry if I needed to, which sounds like an awful thing.  Why did I say that?  So, let me explain myself.  Sometimes, he falls asleep and he needs to continue eating.  I have cold hands most of the time, 'cause it's Montana and it's the winter and I will put my hand on his head so that he will wake up a little bit and I'm like, well, I can at least make--I can--you will respond to negative stimulus but now he will respond to positive stimulus and that's like, oh, neat, so I apologize for making it sound like--

J: Oh, man, I've seen the pictures of him smiling.  They're just--they just make me melt inside.  Which reminds me that today's podcast is brought to you by babies.  Babies: quite a lot of work.

H: Yes, indeed.  Today's podcast was also brought to you by the parafin and lighter section at your local Target department store, which is not what they call Targets, I don't know why I--that's what they're doing now, they're calling them department stores.  I changed my mind.  There's departments and it's a store.  Your local Target department store.  It has a department just for unburning out your candles with parafin and

J: And of course, today's podcast is also brought to you by the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyworld.  The Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyworld: so fun that apparently, Hank wants to spend eternity there.

 (32:00) to (34:00)

H: And finally, this podcast is brought to you by the chipmunk glass that we got probably in a fast food restaurant in the 1980s that John and I apparently still co-own.

J: I mean, I would say that it's mine, because it is, but it is currently in your house.

H: What?!  Wh--how is it yours?

J: It is mine.

H: How is it yours?

J: It is mine, if for no other reason than you have, without permission or consultation, taken it from our ancestral home and put it in your home, rather than consulting with me about who cares more about that chipmunk glass, which is obviously me since I just made my annual pledge to Munkapedia, the #1 chipmunk Wikipedia source on the internet.  

H: Okay, John.  

J: I actually didn't, and I know that the Munkapedia editors are listening and they're probably like, where's that donation check?

H: First of all--

J: But listen up, Munkapedia, if you're a registered 501c3, contact me about a small, very small, extremely small donation, and I will hook you up, if and only if Hank returns that glass to me. 

H: Oh, wow, wow!  Wow!  Now we're, now we're getting into things.

J: So really, Munkapedia, if you don't get a check from me, that's on Hank.

H: Okay.  Well, I will say that I cared enough to take these glasses that were probably from Wendy's and were definitely from 1985 and get the other two so that I could have a complete set.  

J: Well, I mean, I would love to have even one of the three, but unfortunately, that opportunity was denied.

H: Well, it turns out that there were four.  There was--there's in true, you know, 1985 American fashion, there's one for Alvin, one for Simon, one for Theodore, and one for all three of the Chipettes.  They have to share a cup.

J: You know what I just discovered, Hank?  And this was a surprise to me.

H: What?

 (34:00) to (36:00)

J: Those 1985, that full set of the 1985 Alvin and the Chipmunks Wendy's glasses are available on ebay for $12.  

H: Yeah, no, they were not expensive.

J: So maybe I should stop whining and just put that $12 out into the world and enjoy the glasses that, by the way, Sarah would never let into our kitchen cabinets.  

H: I'm really disturbed by the fact that it appears more and more like these chipmunks glasses are from Hardee's.

J: Mm, that doesn't seem possible.

H: When did we ever go to Hardees?

J: I don't think I went to Hardees when I was a child.

H: No.  I don't know that we had them!  

J: Oh man.  You know what's most distressing about Hardees, Hank, is that their CEO is going to be our next labor secretary.  Let's move on to a question from our listeners.  

H: Okay.

J: This question comes from Brooke, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, I'm a parent to three children.  My oldest is in 2nd grade, and yesterday her teacher contacted me to let me know that she's been bullying another student.  I was, and still am, in shock.  What can I do to help her understand that bullying is not acceptable?  I wanna stop this behavior before it gets any worse and make sure that my other two children don't follow a similar path.  I was bullied as a child and could give advice for days for how to deal with that, but I'm at a loss for how to deal with the other side of this awful coin." 

H: Uh, well, first of all, I have to thank you for the question and also for taking it seriously.  There is a problem where a lot of parents will hear that their child, from a school or in some other way, that their child has been bullying people and automatically look for reasons why it wasn't their child's fault or you know, indeed, you know, the child probably has reasons why it wasn't  their fault, even if it's a second grader, people are really good at explaining all of their actions, even if they are unkind, so thank you and we call a lot of attention to like, the difficulties of the people who are being bullied but there, you know, the way--and you might say to like, the person who's doing the bullying, why don't you just stop doing that?

 (36:00) to (38:00)

And you know, like, the only people who can stop the bullying are the people doing the bullying and so we need to figure them out and understand that and also figure out how to like, have good conversations with them.  I am--my child is two months old, so I have no idea practically, but I think that I have managed humans.  They are not 2nd graders, so take this with all of the grains of salt, but I, I would say that you, like, you have to do your best to understand the situation, the particular situation, so you can talk about that particular practical situation, whether you're able to talk about that with the teacher who called you or even some of the other children involved, that would be really great, so that you can have a frank conversation with your child about like, what they did, why they did it, and why it was wrong, and like, this isn't something that's necessarily, like, going to come naturally, like, empathy is hard and it's a complicated process and I--we all mess up, like, no one correctly interprets fairness 100% of the time.  Sometimes we think that what someone has done to us is disproportionate to what we did to them, when in fact, it wasn't, and sometimes we don't realize that our reaction to someone else was extraordinarily disproportionate, especially if we are a 2nd grader, so I think that there is--that it's a chance to have a maybe a little bit difficult conversation, but a conversation about how to be kind to people and to think about them in a more complex way, and that's gonna be like, a lifelong learning experience for your child, just like it was for you, just like it was for everyone, but I think that you clearly have come out of this with like--are coming at this from a compassionate place.  You need to be an example of compassion for your children, but like, that's not always going to be everything.  You also have to create those moments for talking and reflecting about that stuff.  

 (38:00) to (40:00)

I just hit the microphone, I'm sorry, and then, of course, if this behavior continues, there are, like, places you can go, people you can talk to, and there's the stopbullying, that website is a really good website where you can read things that are from people who are experts and are not just podcasters who mostly talk about chipmunks and death.

J: Yes, I agree, especially with the last, the last thing that you said, but in general, I think that was great advice.  I mean, dubious, but for you, good.  

H: John, do you know that the eastern chipmunk of the United States only lives about three years before dying?

J: Well, I mean, you can say that the eastern chipmunk of the United States only lives about three years before dying, but I think we all know that Simon and the Chipmunks are eternal.  Hank, it's time to move on--

H: I like that you just put Simon in charge of the chipmunks.  You're like, Simon's in charge now.

J: Yeah, it's no more Alvin.  Now, it's Simon's show.  It's Simon, and to a lesser extent, Alvin and Theodore.  That is my understanding of the way its gonna work from here on out now that we have totally changed the history of the chipmunks franchise via our podcast.  Hank, let us move on now to the all-important news from Mars and AFC Wimbledon.

H: Oh gosh, I don't even know where to start.  While I was gone, so much happened on Mars that it is difficult--

J: Oh, did it?  There was just all kinds of radical changes? 

H: Shut up!

J: It's unbelievable.  You--I mean, it's a vastly different place than it was two weeks ago.

H: The big news right now is about these geographical formations that happen in the polar region where there basically, it appears like some kind of carbon dioxide erosion.  They come and like, they form in these like, spider webby looking things and they've called them colloquially the spiders, and people, right now, today, the day that we're recording this, are kind of freaking out.  They're like, the spiders?  The spiders on Mars?  Like, like, Ziggy Stardust, which is indeed, but the thing that I didn't get to talk about that is just so cool, so cool, while I was on paternity leave, is that Curiosity, driving across the surface of Mars, it's like, boop a doop, I'm an awesome robot on Mars, it--they spot, on the ground, a weird looking rock and it turns out that they have found, on the surface of Mars, this foreign planet that we have covered, like, we have looked at, you know, tiny, tiny percent of a percent of a percent of, and it comes across what is a meteorite.

 (40:00) to (42:00)

A piece of space junk that fell to the surface of Mars, like a fraction of a meteorite.  Like, the kind of thing that would be extraordinarily rare to find here on Earth, easier to find on Mars because there's less geological--er, I guess, geological process covering the things up ,but they were able to like, take a look at it and it's a, you know, a meteorite on the surface of Mars.  So like, a piece, like, on this foreign planet, there is another piece of rock that is foreign to that foreign planet and we were able to take a pretty dope picture of it and study it and learn something about its composition which it's a pretty common type of meteorite, and uh, and then move on, and be like, wait, we can come back to that whenver we actually--when some humans are here, they could be like, ahh, this is that thing, that first meteorite found on Mars.  They can put it in a museum and I believe in humanity is what I'm trying to say.

J: Well, that all sounds very promising.  I'm glad that there are meteorites on Mars and that Curiosity has found them and I hope that humans do go back to that place and pick up that meteorite and bring it home to Earth as soon as 2029.  

H: I think the museum's gonna be on Mars, John.

J: Well, that is not out of the question, as long as it's in 2028 or later.  Hank, AFC Wimbledon, after losing to Milton Keynes in a difficult loss, absolutely pummeled Port Vale, one of those English towns that sounds like a made up place.  

 (42:00) to (44:00)

Port Vale lost that game 4-0.  They could have lost 8-0.  Their goalkeeper had an extremely good game as much as you can in a 4-0 loss and it was just--I mean, the thing, this season, Hank, in league one, where everybody expected all the pre-season picks where AFC Wimbledon was gonna finish last or second to last, they were definitely going to get relegated back down to league two, I mean, right now, they're in 9th, almost--we're almost exactly halfway through the season.  Dom Polion scored his 12th goal of the season during that win.  AFC Wimbledon, they've looked not great defensively at times, but man, they look good going up front like, Tom Elliott scored, Lyle Taylor started that game, got to play and had a big impact.  Tyrone Barnes scored a goal.  It's just really, really a good performance, and AFC Wimbledon have scored more goals than almost any team in league one this season.  They are just flying offensively and it's, you know, I mean, it--halfway through the season in 9th place, like, I think the goal is definitely still to avoid relegation.  You need 52 points on average from previous seasons.  If you get 52 points, you'll probably almost definitely escape relegation.  Right now AFC Wimbledon has 32 points, so they're 20--they would need only 20 points for their last 24 games to ensure another season in league one, but why not dream at this point, you know?  Only three points out of the last playoff position, almost halfway into the season, pretty extraordinary stuff from AFC Wimbledon.

H: Congratulations to that sports team.  

J: They are the best.  They are the best.  That was my favorite thing about 2016, Hank, being able to go straight from the 100th running of the Indy 500 to see AFC Wimbledon win at Wembley with our dad and Rosianna and my friend Stuart and Meredith who is just magical. 

 (44:00) to (46:00)

What was your favorite part of 2016, Hank?  It's gonna be a tough call for you, but I'm going to encourage you to pick the birth of your child.  

H: Think I might go with that.  Yeah, I mean, it's certainly something to do with the child.  The birth was--I don't know if I can call it favorite, because boy was it a lot.  It was pretty intense.

J: Right.  Yeah.

H: And--but the existence of my child is definitely my favorite part.  

J: Well, I hope that 2017 brings even more wonderful things into the world for you personally and for all of the listeners out there.  We're gonna take a couple weeks off here at the beginning of the year to celebrate the holidays and also to work on some other stuff, but we'll be back soon.  You won't even notice that we're gone.

H: I'm trying to work together with some helpers to get a best of 2016 episode of Dear Hank and John up, so hopefully that will come into your iTunes box or wherever you get podcasts sometime during the holiday season.  Katherine and I are gonna record an episode together so be looking out for that one as well.

J: Oh, so maybe we aren't going to take any weeks off.  You're just gonna have guest hosts.  Hank, what did we learn today?

H: John, we learned that IT'S ANNA.  

J: We learned that somebody had a 21st birthday and we wish them a very happy birthday even though we don't quite know who they are.

H: We learned the difference between the US Government deficit and the US Government debt, 'cause that's what happens on advice podcasts.

J: And of course we learned that it is okay with YouTubers if you watch YouTubers on the toilet.

H: Poop away, my friends!

J: Or pee.  Whatever.  Whatever.  That's your business.

H: Whatever's coming out.  That's your--that's right.

 (46:00) to (47:00)

That's absolutely correct.  Finally, I apologize to everybody whose cookies burned during this podcast.  John, take us out.

J: Oh my God.  It's burning.  You can e-mail us at, that's the place to send your questions, or use #dearhankandjohn on the Twitter, where you can follow us.  I'm @johngreen, Hank is @hankgreen.  Dear Hank and John is produced by Rosianna Halse Rojas and Sheridan Gibson.  Our editor is Nicholas Jenkins.  Victoria Bongiorno is our head of community and communications.  We should say that you can always find lots of great stuff, including an opportunity to donate to Dear Hank and John at  Our music is by the great Gunnarolla, thank you so much to Gunnarolla for providing the theme music.  Hank, thanks for another great year of podding, and as we say in our hometown...

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