Previous: 077 - Save Us, Giant Octopus
Next: 079 - Tiny Useless Pelvises (That Are Still There)



View count:160,252
Last sync:2020-08-22 07:45
How do I stop catfishing someone? How do I not feel embarrassed sharing my writing? Should I DIY my shirt? And more!

NerdCon: Nerdfighteria:
Email your questions:

 (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, that's that other guy there, we talk to each other, we give you dubious advice, we answer your questions, and we bring you all the week's news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon.  How ya doing, John?

J: I'm doing well.  As you know, Hank, I'm in the midst of this 100 day health and fitness challenge where over at, my best friend Chris and I are trying to have a healthy midlife crisis and I'm a little sore right now, to be perfectly honest.  

H: You know, John--

J: My whole body hurts.

H: I--I--so, in addition to the soreness, I have in my life attempted to get in shape before and I'm not tremendously out of shape, I do like, two structured work outs a week, I've done that for years, and it's like really good maintenance for me, but in the time that I've tried to like, be much more active about it, you know what I notice?  That it takes a ton of time.  It's not just like, the physical effort, it's just like, oh, how does anybody have an extra hour a day?  

J: Well, uh, so I have an interesting answer for that question.  In general, I find that when you make things a priority, they happen and that literally nothing should be a higher priority than your health, except maybe your family and even that's arguable, so there's that.  The second thing, though, is that I have found the mental health benefits of exercise to be so dramatic in the last, you know, couple months that I've been doing this, that I save time, because time that would otherwise go to my obsessive thinking patterns and the compulsions that I use to deal with them instead that time goes to exercise and then I find that I have like, more time each day for actual, like, work and hanging out with my family and stuff, so I--for me, there is an upside to it, but it's like with anything.

 (02:00) to (04:00)

It's just what you make a priority and what you don't and I think there's a good argument to be made that you know, you don't need to make exercising to the point of exhaustion for an hour a day a priority.

H: Yeah.  Yeah, and that is sort of what I've realized.  Like, I will never have that, you know, that ideal body shape.  I will have a less-than-ideal but still healthy body shape and that is my priority.

J: Yeah, no, I'm not doing this for body shapes.  I'm past the point in my life where I'm obsessed with body shapes, thank god.

H: Well, you're also past the point in your life where you could have an ideal body shape.  It's just not possible for a man your age.

J: That's a great point.  I'm never gonna have a six-pack.  My six-pack ship has sailed.  Hank, would you like a short poem for today?

H: Yeah.  Is it about six pack ships?  

J: No, it's about love and loss.  It's one of my very favorite short poems.  I can't believe I've never read it.  In fact, I might have, but if I have, then you're hearing it for a second time and it's still great.  It's by (?~3:12), it's called Jamesian.  It's just a tiny little couplet.

Their relationship consisted 
in discussing if it existed.
I think we all know that feeling of having been in a relationship that consisted primarily of discussing whether it existed.  I'm very grateful to be out of that game, I'll tell you that.

H: Yeah, yeah, yeah.  You just gotta accept that it exists.  

J: Well, I mean, that's the nice thing about marriage.  

H: Yeah, it's legally binding.  The state has agreed it exists.  

J: Exactly.  A government has acknowledged that your relationship is real.  Hank, let's answer some questions from our listeners.

H: Okay, sure.  This one is from Maggie.  I found this question very weird and it's surprisingly deep.  "Dear Hank and John, I made a fart joke and my mom said I can't do that.

 (04:00) to (06:00)

I then responded by saying that Hank Green makes fart jokes.  She agreed with me that if I can get on the podcast, she will let me make fart jokes.  Please help.  Also, I was on a train derailment and almost died and help is appreciated.  You can ignore the train derailment part of the fart jokes because the fart jokes are more important.  I use humor as a defense mechanism, Maggie."

H: I'm sorry to hear about--this is, I mean, I just love that question so much.  Maggie, I really appreciate the way that you're handling what I imagine is a traumatic time of your life.

J: I mean, that question had a plot twist that I have not seen the likes of since The Usual Suspects.  I mean, I was goin' in one direction and now I'm goin' in a whole different direction because suddenly, like, Maggie's making a fart joke in the middle of this nearly fatal train derailment.  First off, Maggie, I'm glad that you're okay.

H: I don't know that it was--yeah.  I don't know that she was making a fart joke during the train derailment, but I do think that Maggie's mom should understand, well, first of all, we've already solved the problem.  She can make fart jokes.  It's great.  You're on the pod, it happened, but I think--

J: I'm so tired--Hank has made fart jokes since I was a little kid and I've never thought that they were that funny, but it's always brought him great pleasure.

H: I think in general it's important if you're making a fart joke that it be funny.  Sometimes it's just like, fart, and you're like, hah, that's funny.  You've heard my best fart joke ever story, John, right?

J: No, but I'm sure you're gonna tell it.

H: Alright.  So I was in this very long, long and boring business meeting.  It was like the sort of like, for VidCon, I think it was VidCon 2013 or 14, everybody was together in this room and we had this daylong meeting because the team was pretty remote, so we brought everybody together, and it's just a lot of details needed to get ironed out.  We were at like, hour seven of this meeting and Carver, who you remember, was going through something, and I noticed that every time Carver gets an email, a thing pops up and it says who the email is from and it says the subject of the email, and his email, his computer is being broadcasted to the entire room of people and so we all see like, the emails Carver's getting and the subject of each email, so I sit back in my chair and I send Carver an email and wait and I just--I'm so happy, I'm just like, I suddenly reach this moment of perfect bliss, and then upon the screen arrives the email to Carver from Hank Green, subject line: fartfartfart. 

 (06:00) to (08:00)

And like, and there's like a giggle, and then there's like, another--and Carver's just talking about like, signage or whatever, and then there's another--and then there's like laughter, and then everybody is like--the tension is broken and finally we're all okay, and I was just like, I am a magic man.  Fart fart fart.

J: I mean, I would say that that's the kind of story where you had to be there for it to be funny, except that I strongly suspect if I had been there, I also would not have found that particularly funny.  

H: But anyway, I think Maggie's mom should understand that Maggie has to deal with some stuff and jokes, even if they are slightly inappropriate, are a great way to do that.

J: I have to say, I'm a little bit on Maggie's mom's side on this one, just because I have my own children who are constantly making fart jokes.  Hank, your child is not big enough yet, but the--it's the relentlessness of them.  It--it's the refusal to reach for higher subject matter that I find so exhausting.  Like, my kids genuinely think the following is not just a joke, but like, a joke on par with any joke that's ever been told in the history of the world: "Doo doo head."  And I'll be like, what?  And Alice will say, "Henry said doo doo head, and that's why we've been laughing for seven minutes."  

H: Yeah, well, you know.  I--you gotta--to each their own.  You gotta give--people love the things they love.  You wanna ask another question for us?  

J: Yeah, I--I'm trying to get my children to get into some sophisticated humor, you know, like, Ogden Nash poetry, but it hasn't happened yet.

 (08:00) to (10:00)

Just kidding, Ogden Nash made a ton of fart jokes.  Fart jokes are as old as literature, really.  This question comes from Grace, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, I recently gave my boyfriend poetry I had written about him as part of his Christmas present.  He received this really well and it actually seems to have brought us closer.  However, watching him read it and thinking about someone I know reading my work is mortifying, like, as I sit here thinking about him reading my work, I want to shove my face in a pillow.  I like writing and part of me wants to share it more, but I also feel so vulnerable sharing it.  How do I get past this?  Suffocating in embarrassment, Grace."  Hank, I wanted to ask you this question, because I do not know the answer, and I'm hoping that you can help me not feel embarrassed and mortified by the prospect of sharing work that I have made with strangers or with, indeed, with boyfriends, et cetera.  

H: I thought that it--this was purely practice, like, the more you did it, the better it got?  Is that not the case?

J: No, not in my experience.  Like, I've had Sarah read something relatively recently and it's just awful.  Like, it's so nerve-wracking and weird and uncomfortable and you feel so exposed and I think part of it--

H: Well I, yeah, I have a thing that I have just sent to Katherine and to a friend who is a professional writer.

J: But not me.  

H: And--but not, no, no!  That's an interesting thing, like, I do not want you to read a thing that I have written until it is published.

 (10:00) to (12:00)

J: Right.

H: Like, that makes me very nervous.

J: Yeah.

H: I don't know why you make me more nervous than uh, than Katherine or this friend of mine I'm not mentioning intentionally, and I'm nervous to hear what they have to say, I mostly just want it to be over with, like, I want them to finish and tell me.

J: Yeah.

H: Uh, but, but, but, when I read the things that I write, like, I know when they are terrible.  I'm--I feel like I'm at the point now where I am conscious of like, what the problems are, and I think that's a big important part of not being nervous about anything.  Like, of course I still get nervous like, when there's an element of the like, uncontrollable, like going up on stage, you never know what's going to happen, you never know what you're gonna mess up, you never know what the audience is gonna do, but in times when there are a lot of variables I can control for, I find myself like, I seek out those variables, I control for them, and then I move forward, but there is a lot of subjectivity in interpretation of any art form and so you, like, people, some people are gonna receive it well and some people are gonna receive in negatively, that's just gonna happen, but I find like, if I can read something that I wrote and say that's good, and like, and somebody who thinks that that's not good is wrong, can you do that?

J: I do not have that ability, no.  No, no, no.  No, and I also don't think I'm a particularly good judge of what is working, like, a lot of times, I think, you know, something and something that I'm writing, well, maybe I recognize that it doesn't work, but I still think it's really good and it's only when I zoom out or take some time or listen to people I trust that I realize like, oh, like, The Fault in Our Stars should not end with Hazel literally tied to railroad tracks because that's like, that's, you know, that's just bananas. 

 (12:00) to (14:00)

Like, it makes no sense, but uh, I don't a lot of times recognize that in the moment and so I think that's part of what I find stressful about sharing my work with people, but I also think, the one thing I guess I'd say to Grace is that you've gotta remember that, you know, your boyfriend cares about you and he's going to read your work generously and there's an element of that that I think just makes a huge difference, you know, like, when you feel like you're gonna be read generously, it's a lot less scary than when you feel like you're going to be read from a place of judgment.  Now, like, it's important to read stuff critically and to read from a place of judgment, I think, and so I'm not saying that, you know, I don't welcome those readings, but I do think in general, like, the most fulfilling reading experiences I have start with me saying I am excited to read this book and find what I like in it, or am I excited to hear this poem from Grace and find what I like in it, rather than like, I am reading this to confirm what I already suspect, which is that there is something about it that I hate.

H: Right.  There's also an element of like, I have a much less hard time watching somebody watch one of my videos if it's pure comedy than if it's like, me being open about myself and about the world and like, baring my soul a little bit.  Like, I don't wanna be in the room when people are watching that video, especially if it's about the person that I've made it for.

J: Right.

H: Like, like, in that particular circumstances where it's like, I made this for you and it is an opening of my soul and like, and like an attempt of like, to say things that I don't know how to say, then it's like, yes, you wanna run away and not be in the room and be like, here, I'm gonna go, let me know what you think!

 (14:00) to (16:00)

I'll be in the cafeteria!  I don't know why I was gonna be in the cafeteria.

J: Yeah, maybe that's the best way to do it, Grace, is just to disappear for a while and then let your boyfriend on his own time respond to your poetry, but i don't know, we're a couple of middle aged people who haven't found our way through this obviously, Hank, like, we're not really giving Grace advice right now, we're giving each other advice.  

H: That is definitely the case and I think often the case, but not in the case of this question, John.  It's a harder one and a real interesting one to me.  "Dear Hank and John, I have been online catfishing a girl for about four years now, as in pretending to be someone else."

J: Oh God.  Oh God.

H: "With a picture that is not me."

J: Oh God.

H: "I know that that makes me sound like an absolute psychopath.  However, it's 100% platonic and I feel so, so bad about it.  I had a fake account when I was younger just to mess with people in my hometown, then I found this awesome girl.  She's bold and strange and she understands me on a level that no one else does.  I can't keep living a lie, but I also can't tell the truth.  It would hurt her even more than me.  What should I do?  Just ignore her forever maybe?  I'm in way, way too deep.  Any dubious advice would be helpful.  You are the only people I've ever talked to about this.  Catfish and penguins, Anonymous."  

J: Oh God.  Oh God.  I mean, if I couldn't find my way through the last question, Hank, I certainly can't find my way through this question.  I mean, I--haaaah.  I mean, that sounds like a very intense and unpleasant experience but also kind of one that you have put on yourself.  I understand, like, it's like the lobster that does not notice that the water is getting warm until suddenly it is boiling, I guess, but uh, oh boy.  Yeah.  You know, Hank, just a quick side story that I've told before.  When I met my first real girlfriend, who I met on the internet in the old, old days of the internet, I drove all the way across the country to meet her after, you know, like, talking back and forth to each other for two years, and I'd never seen a picture of her, because back then, like, it was uncommon to send pictures over the internet because it like, cost a ton of money, and like, whenever I talk about the relationship that we had, which ended up being like a relationship that lasted for several years, people always say, like, oh, and she was nothing like how she described herself, and I always say like, no, we didn't really describe ourselves.

 (16:00) to (18:00)

Like, we never really talked about each other physically.  Like, that just wasn't like, the internet was so different then.  All of which is to say that I feel even less qualified to answer this question having been in a situation where catfishing could have easily occurred but didn't.

H: Yeah, I mean, I think, I'm gonna call you Igor, because we need a name.  Igor, you have already--

J: You know what would be better, though?  

H: What?

J: Ryan.  

H: Oh, right, right, right, of course.  Ryan.  You've already, in effect, done the hurting.  It's just that the nervous system hasn't picked up the pain yet.  It already happened.  You have hurt this person and, and, and maybe there are ways to hurt--to make the hurt hurt less, but the offense has already occurred, and I know that it wasn't necessarily something that you meant to be--meant to do from the beginning, and you got yourself in way over your head, one little step at a time and you didn't know that you were boiling your lobster in that pot, but Ryan, you've gotta end this and you've gotta--and it may be just going cold turkey or it may be telling the person the truth and moving on, but like, you are--every time you continue the relationship, you are making the hurt worse in the eventual moment when the hurt happens.  

 (18:00) to (20:00)

J: Right.  The other thing I would say from Ryan is I get a vibe from the email that maybe Ryan thinks that like, maybe there's a world in which this friendship can continue after this is revealed and I'm not here to say that's not possible, but I do strongly think that in the likelihood that this person does not want to continue a relationship, you need to honor that 100%.  You need to just--you need to honor that, because you have to understand that they will likely be hurt in a way that they can't, you know, that there's no real coming back from.  Maybe not, but I think you have to honor that if that's what they want.  Alright, Hank, we have another question, this one comes from Ian who writes, "Dear John and Hank, I was drinking a lovely dark red wine blend with my sister last night and I didn't rinse the glass until after the tiny wine puddle at the bottom of the glass had dried completely."  Sidenote: Ian, I do not believe in leaving that tiny wine puddle.  I will stick my finger into the bottom of the glass just to get that, get all that wine out of there and I will lick my finger to make sure I get all of the wine.  Anyway.  I just, I love wine, Hank.  Also, I'm--I have a very restricted amount of wine that I'm allowed to drink during this 100 days, so that might be somewhat related.  Anyway, "When I ran water into the glass, it turned, not as I expected a diluted red, but instead a muted but very distinct blue.  When I rinsed a glass with a still wet puddle of wine, the water turned the normal red color.  I assume there's some chemical explanation for this, but I'm no expert.

 (20:00) to (22:00)

John likes wine and Hank likes chemistry, so clearly you are experts.  Enlighten the world.  Shellfish and eyesores, Ian."   Uh.  Hank?

H: Ugh.  I don't like shellfish and eyesores.  

J: No, those are like, two of my least favorite things actually.  Hank, I do not know why this happens.  Also, it has never happened to me and I have drunk a fair few glasses of wine in my day.

H: Well, you're never leaving the crust at the bottom.  

J: Certainly not lately.  Good lord, I mean, it's a very strict 8 ounces at most per day.  

H: So, Ian, I am like, 90% of the way to being sure I know why this happens.  So the stuff that makes red wine red is a chemical, a bunch of different chemicals called anthocyanins, and anthocyanins change color depending on the pH of the solution that they are in, so when you took the anthocyanins out of the solution completely, my guess is that the acids, whatever they are, which I don't know, were also able to escape somehow and then you diluted that with probably what is slightly basic tap water.  In some places, tap water is slightly basic because of the chemicals in the ground, so probably you have what's called hard water and the water in your house is slightly basic.  Now, I actually, this morning, because I wanted to be sure of this, I took some red wine, which I have a little bit of left from when my friend was visiting, and I put it into a glass and then I put some dish--some, like, laundry detergent, which is super basic, into the glass and then diluted that.  The color I got was not blue, but it like, it was a very distinct color change from bright red to a grey, like, a sort of a blackish grey, and--

 (22:00) to (24:00)

J: I have to stop you right there, Hank.  Are you telling me that you took drinkable, usable, red wine, you poured it into a glass, and you then put laundry detergent in the glass with the drinkable red wine rather than drinking the red wine?

H: Yeah, I mean, I gotta tell you, John, not only did I do that, I used several other chemicals to see what the best one was, and laundry detergent was the best one.  I used bleach, which is not--not--

J: Ugh.  That's very--

H: --basic in the same way.

J: That has a very negative effect on the taste of wine.

H: And that turned it a very bright yellow, which was interesting, and I also used some calcium carbonate, which made like, sort of a murky chalky grey or white, which was also really interesting.  I think that probably some of the calcium carbonate came out of the solution and precipitated and made it murky and cloudy, but I don't know super a ton about what chemistry is happening here, but I do know that there are lots of pigments that change colors based on the pH, Anthocyanins in wine are one of them and yeah, so you are seeing the change in the pigment that actually makes red wine red.  I'm interested in why yours turned out blue while mine turned out black, and I don't know if that's different anthocyanins in different brands of wine, but I would be interested in that.  I think, like, I can kind of in my mind's eye, like, I can see a little blue in that black, but um, but I wouldn't say that I feel like probably I was just being biased by the question.  But yeah, wine--the pigment in wine is a pH indicator and wine is acidic and it is so, red wine will be red for as long as it is acidic and when it is basic, it will be a different color and it will taste absolutely horrible, possibly deadly, don't do that.  Don't drink wine that has bleach in it.  I don't know that I need to say that.

 (24:00) to (26:00)

J: Just drink the wine and don't ask questions, that's my strategy.

H: You know, I also ground up some antacids and put it in the wine to see if that would get a more distinct color change, but I was not able to make that work.

J: I mean, this is deeply offensive to me.  We need to move on.  This question comes from Taca, who writes, "Dear Green brothers," Well, that's a strategy for getting around the "Dear John and Hank" thing.  "I would love a Nerdfighter shirt but I don't really have money to spend on things like that.  Is it okay if I make my own, like with fabric paint on a blank shirt?  I don't want to slight your company or commit some kind of copyright infringement.  I wouldn't be selling them or anything, I just want to make one or two shirts for myself.  Thanks."

H: Do it!  Also, I wish we could--

J: Yeah, please do it.

H: I wish we could provide a shirt that would be inexpensive enough for you to buy, but do it!  That's even better!

J: Now, Hank and I, I remember in the early, early days of brotherhood 2.0, Hank and I used to say that we didn't wanna make shirts because we wanted all nerdfighter shirts to be homemade because they were always so much better than whatever shirts you could buy on the internet, but then eventually we, you know, we started and aside from selling music, it started selling shirts, but we still think, like, the best nerdfighter shirts are homemade and a lot of times, like, our favorite shirts that are for sale at are shirts that we discovered online somewhere or that somebody was wearing in line that they'd made themselves and the shirt was just so great, we were like, where did you get that, and they're like, we made it and then we'll be like, great, can we sell it at DFTBA?  So yeah, keep making shirts, don't worry about it, there's a reason we haven't copyrighted or trademarked the word 'nerdfighter' or the phrase 'DFTBA' and it's so that you can feel free to make that stuff without worrying or even thinking about it.  Like, we are grateful to you for caring enough about this community to want to brag about it on a t-shirt, so thank you and don't worry about it all.

H: Don't worry about it at all.  I, I remember one time I did like, a live--like a BlogTV live show.

J: Yeah.

H: Then the next day I did a like, actual in-person live show and there were people with shirts, like referencing a joke that was made in that BlogTV live show.  

 (26:00) to (28:00)

J: Yeah, that's just the best.

H: And I was like, okay, well, there's no way to do that faster.  That is the only way you could do that.

J: I remember in Paper Towns, there, at one point, Margo wears a t-shirt that's like a pink t-shirt featuring an orange dragon breathing green fire or something, I don't remember and when I went on tour for Paper Towns, like, I'd been on book tour a lot of times before and it's pretty soul crushing to go from like, city to city and talk to like six people or twelve people or a large group of high school students who don't know who you are and don't wanna be there but this is their way to get out of English class or whatever, like, I always found touring really difficult and like, you know, obviously it's a great opportunity to talk about your book and everything but at the same time, it's just kind of emotionally exhausting and I remember the first tour stop for Paper Towns, there were people wearing, like, homemade pink t-shirts with the green dragon breathing orange fire or whatever, and I was just like, oh.  Oh.  Oh my God.  Oh my God.  This is gonna be so fun.  This is gonna be the exact opposite of all my previous tours and it really was, like, that was the first time when I thought like, oh, God, this is--I mean, yeah, it just, that was the moment when I realized that Nerdfighteria had changed my creative life in this like, deep and lasting way, so yeah, please.  We're all for homemade t-shirts, they're the best.

H: Alright, since we're on the topic of Nerdfighteria, we got a question from Georgia, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, For Christmas, I found out that my dad and my sister and I will be flying from Canada to Boston for NerdCon: Nerdfighteria," which is February 24th & 25th, I'm pretty sure, is that right, John?

J: I don't know, but you can find out more and get tickets at or just go to and uh, you can get--you can find a link there as well and--

H: It's February 25th and 26th, but I got real close.

J: It's February 25th and 26th and it's $60 for two days of quality enjoyment.

H: "I'm extraordinarily excited and can't wait," says Georgia, "And also, Hank, this will be my first Con of any variety and my first time meeting any nerdfighters outside of my family and those I've brought into this myself.

 (28:00) to (30:00)

I've been watching your videos for a couple of years but I'm worried that I'm not enough of a nerdfighter.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe because I'm still relatively new to the community or because the first Project I actively participated in was p4a 2016, maybe I just don't feel like enough of a nerd or that I am not a--or that I am not unabashed enough about my interests.  I don't want to arrive at Nerdcon and suddenly feel shy or feel like I don't fit in, because Nerdfighteria aligns with my morals and opinions on the world, but I also don't want to embarrass myself by being not nerdfightery enough.  Am I overthinking this?"

J: Yes.  

H: Yes.  

"Any dubious advice would be appreciated as you are as close to experts on Nerdfighteria as they come.  Also, if you have any con-related tips that I can guarantee will be put to good use."  Wear comfortable shoes, Georgia.  That's my con related tip.  And bring a Balance bar or two.

J: Yeah, bring some snacks, that's the other thing that I would say.  I think you are overthinking this and I think the reason you're overthinking it is because you're excited but also nervous because it is a new thing and it is not something that you have done before and it is good and exciting and fun to do new things but it is also somewhat scary, but when you are there, it will flow naturally and it will feel like a natural, fun thing to be doing and you'll go from panel to panel or event to event and you'll have a good time and you'll talk to people about their t-shirts, hopefully homemade t-shirts but also t-shirts available now at and it will be fun, but I always feel this way before I go to a conference and then, the vast majority of the time, I'm able to have a great time.  There have been a couple of exceptions in my life, but almost all the time, it's really really great.

 (30:00) to (32:00)

H: Yeah, it's a--like that feeling that you are feeling right now is such a familiar feeling to me, one that I've had many times.  Pretty much every time I even go to a concert, I have that, where I'm like, I need--am I enough of a fan to even go to a concert?  Should I wear the shirt of the band or should I wear a shirt of like, a peripheral band that's like over to the side?  How do I look cool enough for this?  Should I sing along with the songs?  What if I don't know--if I only know the chorus, should I sing along then?  Like, way over-analyzing it and it's really like, and that can kind of be a detriment, because it can make you feel like I don't want to take any risks, but I really, I think that these experiences can be more rewarding if you do take a couple of risks here and there and try things you wouldn't normally do and I think that's one of the great things about being able to get out in the real world at a place where there are people who have similar values to you and get a chance to engage and connect with those people, which I hope happens a lot at an event.

J: Yeah, I totally agree and I think, you know, getting over the--in a way just getting over the hump of like, buying the tickets and making plans is the hardest part and then you're on the other side of it and once you're there, it, you know, if the conference people have done their job, it should flow pretty naturally and be pretty straightforward and easy for you and since I am not directly involved in NerdCon or VidCon these days, I can tell you that Hank and his team do an amazing job with that, I think.  I think they put together really, really wonderful experiences for people and give lots of opportunities for you to have a good experience.  Now, obviously, that doesn't mean that everyone will, but I--it's really great, what they do.  They're a wonderful group of people and they have wonderful values and they do a great job and we should also mention while I'm talking about that that in addition to tickets to NerdCon:Nerdfighteria, Hank and I will also both be at VidCon: Europe in Amsterdam in April, which I am very excited about.

 (32:00) to (34:00)

I wasn't gonna go and I wasn't gonna go and I wasn't gonna go but then the lure of Amsterdam proved too much to me.  That is April 7-9th if you wanna hang out in Amsterdam.  I know it's gonna be tons of fun and tickets to VidCon in Anaheim are also for sale, as are tickets to VidCon: Australia, which is this fall.

H: Whoo!  Whoo whoo whoo whoo whoo whoo whoo!  You won't be coming to Australia, right, John?

J: No, I mean, unless I get the bug at the last second, but I really like this thing where I don't promise to do stuff and then I can do it if I want to rather than feeling obligated.

H: This is from Harib, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, The first Vlogbrothers video I saw was the slobber carrots punishment and I thought it was really stupid.  However, less than a month after that, I started to watch Vlogbrothers again and I liked it.  It took me another few weeks to realize that the two videos were from the same channel.  Now, I love the slobber carrots video.  What happened?  Why did I suddenly love a video that I hated just a couple of months before?"

J: That's a great question.  

H: Ooh.  What happened, John?  What happened to Harib?

J: I mean, I think what probably happened is my guess is that the slobber carrots video is only a good video if you care about the people who made it, specifically, me and my kid and I think, after watching a bunch of other videos that hopefully are good even if you don't care about us, the slobber carrots video became kind of magically better and that's, I mean, one of the weird things about Vlogbrothers over the years is that it's always been this mix of content that really only makes sense to/can be enjoyed by Nerdfighteria and then videos that are made for a sort of like, broader world outside of Nerdfighteria and so maybe that's what happened?  That's what I'm guessing.  

 (34:00) to (36:00)

H: I think that's a really good point.  Harib actually goes on in his question to basically say, how do I, like, it seems wrong for me to feel that way.  Shouldn't I like, dis--shouldn't I keep disliking something if I disliked it once and do I have this weird bias now and how do I identify that bias to make sure that I only like stuff if I actually like it, but that's the thing, like, the more you know about something, you're gonna like different things.  Like, as--like, now I like books that I never would have liked before because I've read more books and so like, certain books don't satisfy me the way that they used to because maybe they were simpler and had more, like, conventional expectations but I didn't know that 'cause I hadn't read a lot and now that I've read more, I'm like, yeah, I'm not so interested in that and I want something that will defy my expectations a little more and that happens not just in media but in all things in life.  As things get more complicated, you realize maybe you appreciate something in a way that you didn't before and that's--that's part of growing and being a different person, 'cause you're never the same person from one day to the next.  Doesn't seem like it, but that's the way it is.

J: Hank, we've got a question from Lynnea, who asks, "Dear John and Hank, I've recently purchased a pretty cool Steven Universe t-shirt which is red with a large yellow star in the middle.  I love this shirt.  However, I have a dilemma.  Every time I wear this shirt to a public place, someone makes a comment about how much I must love Carl's Jr."   For those of you who don't know, Carl's Jr. is a restaurant chain here in the United States run by, apparently, our next Secretary of Labor.  So that's a thing.  It's a hamburger restaurant.  It's sort of a not great Wendy's is how I would describe it.  A lesser Wendy's.  Anyway, Lynnea writes, "I do not enjoy Carl's Jr.  My question is this: How do I go about wearing this piece of pop culture merch without accidentally endorsing a restaurant chain that I strongly dislike?  Hot dogs and pork chops, Lynnea."

 (36:00) to (38:00)

H: Uh, Lynnea, first of all, that logo is not the Carl's Jr. logo, so Steven Universe, you got the yellow star on a red shirt.  Carl's Jr., yellow star with a smiley face in it on a red background and then you have Homestar Runner which is a white star on a red shirt.  It's very confusing.  There's too much going on here and weirdly enough, I Googled this and there's a reddit thread from 2014 from--on the Steven Universe subreddit.  It says, "Everyone thought I was promoting Carl's Jr."  

J: Yeah, I mean, I'm looking--

H: So it's not just you.

J:--at this t-shirt right now, Hank, because Lynnea was kind enough to send a picture.  We'll post it on the Patreon at, and looking at this particular t-shirt, my number one conclusion from it, having never seen the TV program Steven Universe, is that that is a Hardee's and/or Carl's Jr. t-shirt, 100%, no question.

H: Well, in that case, Steven Universe is a big fan of Hardee's, because that is the shirt that Steven Universe wears.

J: Well, I'm just telling you.  If I saw someone wearing that t-shirt in a public place, I would think to myself, wow, I mean, that is weird that someone would be that into Hardee's and/or Carl's Jr because they are, weirdly, they are two companies, Hardee's and Carl's Jr that have the same basically the exact same menu and are owned by the same people and have very similar logos but are different restaurant chains and so if I saw it, because I am in a Hardee's part of America, I would almost definitely think, well, I guess Lynnea, I mean, I guess I wouldn't know her name.  I'd probably guess it from the t-shirt though.  I guess Lynnea is a huge Hardee's fan.

H: Which is prob--like, not your fault.  It is the creator of Steven Universe's fault, probably, for not accurately--

J: Uh, yeah, what I would say to Lynnea is you just need to add something in puff paint to the bottom of the shirt that makes it absolutely clear that you don't love Hardee's, like 'I am opposed to Hardee's' would be one thing you could add.  

 (38:00) to (40:00)

You know, you might be able to get that puff paint, by the way, from Tasin, who is gonna be designing his own nerdfighter shirt.

H: I'm a little worried that that's gonna be a little confusing to the average person.  Like, now it's just an anti-Hardee's shirt, not a pro-Steven Universe shirt.  

J: Well, maybe like, above the star you can have "I am strongly in favor of the television program Steven Universe".  I think, listen Hank, this is off the cuff here, so like, you might find ways to shorten this or whatever, but that's what I would write in puff paint above the star and then below the star, I would be like, "also, for the record, I do not like Hardee's or Carl's Jr." because I think if you just say "I do not like Carl's Jr" people are gonna think you're a Hardee's fangirl.

H: You know, you know what--you know who the truly unsung hero of this moment is?

J: Who?

H: People who love Steven Universe and Hardee's.  

J: Oh, I know, those people are like, on the internet right now searching for this very t-shirt.  They're like, I've found it, I've found the shirt that represents my values.

H: Those people--yeah, yeah.

J: The Steven Universe values and the Hardee's values.  

H: Oh, God, well, this podcast, by the way, is brought to you by the Steven Universe/Hardee's/Carl's Jr coalition fandom.  Steven Universe/Hardee's/Carl's Jr coalition fandom: seven people in the middle of the country somewhere.

J: Including our next labor secretary.  I think.  I can't remember which member of the cabinet he's gonna be.  Today's podcast is also brought to you by farting.  Farting: Hank's number one source of jokes.

H: Oh, and one of my top ten sources of joy.  This podcast is also brought to you by destroying wine.  Destroying wine: it's fun and it makes your brother uncomfortable.

J: It makes me extremely uncomfortable.  It just--I--huhhhh.  And, of course, today's podcast is brought to you by Grace's poetry.  Grace's poetry: please don't read it in front of her.

 (40:00) to (42:00)

H: Oh, God, John.  We have a bunch of corrections.  First of all, I have to say it was not the Postal Service that wrote and performed and created Brothers on a Hotel Bed.  It was Death Cab for Cutie, which just happens to have the same main singer as The Postal Service.  We have another correction from Clarissa who says that Elsa is not a princess because her parents are dead so she is a queen.  I hope that didn't spoil anything for anyone, and also, Thomas would like to say that it was not the International Telecommunications Union that decides when to add new leap seconds but the IERS, the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service.  Now, I don't know what the relationship between the ITU and IERS is.  My guess is that it's complicated and--

J: I bet it's like Hatfield and McCoys, like, they just absolutely hate each other and they've been at war for so long they can't even remember what they're fighting about but they hate each other and if you work at the IERS, I bet you wake up every morning and you think, what can I do to take those ITU mofos down?  

H: This is from Thomas Nilsson who is from the Swedish Institute of Space Physics so luckily from neither of those organizations, so if he was from one of them, I would call him biased, but since he's from the Swedish Institute of Space Physics, which is not easy to say, I am trusting him on this even though the Wikip--

J: If you think it's hard to say in English, try saying it in Swedish.  I like to imagine that the Swedish Institute of Space Physics is kind of like the mediator in the horrible relationship between the IERS and the ITU. 

H: Yeah, yeah, they're like, we're the Switzerland of this.  I know it's confusing because we're Sweden, but trust us.  

J: Yeah, well, I mean, they're basically the same.  Thomas--just kidding, just kidding, please come to VidCon Europe.  Thomas, of course, in his work at the Swedish Institute of Space Physics, is like, living my dream.

 (42:00) to (44:00)

Like, I desperately, desperately wish that I had been good at physics, especially space physics.  Like, that's the thing I most would have liked to have a gift for, so I'm a little jealous.

H: Um, we also had a correction, I just searched on Twitter, from June 21st, 2016, correction from Seamus says, "The current Pope is Pope Francis."  So apparently we got that one wrong at some point.  

J: I think we corrected ourselves on that on a previous podcast.  Not to worry, so we're good on that.  We didn't nail the current pope like seven months ago, we corrected ourselves, and then Hank has just re-corrected us, so thank you, Hank.  

H: Alright, John, we're gonna do one more question before we get to the all-important news from Mars and AFC Wimbledon.  It's from Sam who asks, "Dear Hank and John, I've been trying, as we all should be, to make myself a better person.  Someone that I like more and to always think, what would Captain Picard do?  But often I find myself frustrated with changing parts of myself that I feel impossible to control.  Not just things that we accept and learn to love about ourselves, or at least tolerate, like appearance and voice, but actions that seem instinctive and thoughtless.  When there's no time to think things through or when in a relaxed environment, I'm running almost on autopilot.  Do you have any advice for dealing with the regrettable choices that we make and that don't resonate with our hopes and images of ourselves but we continue to make anyway without thinking?  I can't help but feel that I might just be a bad person.  Warmly yours, Sam."  Well, you got a good sign-off, so that's a good start.  Warmly yours.  John, I am a creature of habit.  I like to establish habits and I believe in habits and I think that in a lot of ways, the way that we communicate is often, as Sam says here, instinctual in a way.  Like, not instinctual, but like, it's like, we have pre-programmed a set of responses and we just use them without thinking and--

 (44:00) to (46:00)

J: Yeah, you go with your default choice.  Yeah.

H: Yeah.  And sometimes, we can set ourselves up with bad defaults and that doesn't mean that we're bad people, but it means that we have to consciously set up new habits and that can be hard work and one of the habits that I like to try and establish is to actually like, take a moment to think before I say a thing, 'cause I can--and this has become more important as I've gotten people who like, will take a lot out of what I say, like, particularly people who work for me.  They might think that like, some off the cuff comment meant a lot more to them than it did to me, and so taking that beat to be like, what is this person gonna think about the thing that I'm gonna say and then how am I going to feel about what I'm gonna say before I say it, has become a constant habit for me that I think has made my relationships better.

J: I am no good at making better choices than my default choices in the heat of the moment.  I do think it probably is great to pause and take a second before you say something.  I have found, like, yeah.  I am like, 100% on board with Sam on this one and feel like I've made absolutely no progress on this in the last, like, 20 years of my life.  The only thing that I will say is that I used to habitually lie, like, in conversation, just to make it convenient, not like out of malice or anything, but someone would say, like, oh, have you ever been to Cincinnati and I would say yes, just because, you know, you don't wanna seem like you haven't been to Cincinnati or you wanna let the person continue with their story, and I do try now not to do that as much, although I still--I find myself doing it all the time with movies or something.

 (46:00) to (48:00)

Someone will say like, did you see this movie, and I'll be like, oh yeah, and I don't even know why.  Why, why, why am I saying that?  And even when I'm saying it, I'm just like, why.  Why did you say that?  Like, now you're in a tough position because you've gotta have an opinion on--you gotta have an opinion on Batman vs. Superman, a film you have not seen and also have no intention of ever seeing and so I am still--I am still working on this and I think that it's hard and difficult and one of the weird things about humans.

H: Yeah, I am just--I think I spent a lot of time as a younger person believing that every word that I said was going to be something through which someone would judge me and so I--I set that up early.

J: Yep.

H: Where it was like, I, like, I need to be very careful about making sure that everything I say makes me--makes everybody think the right thing about me, which led to a lot of not speaking at all, but maybe set me up for being fairly good at saying things that are gonna have the highest probability of not making people feel bad.  

J: Well, I do think that is a fairly good goal, although there are times--I don't know.  It's complicated.  Let's move on to the news from AFC Wimbledon.  The great thing about sports, Hank, is that it is cut and dry.  You win or you lose, or in the case of soccer, you often tie.  So since we last spoke, Hank, AFC Wimbledon has--it's been an interesting time.  They had their third round FA cup tie against Sutton United, which was on American cable television, it was very exciting, except the game itself was--and I use this word sparingly when talking about AFC Wimbledon--wretched.  It was a nil-nil draw, but even that score line, I think, a bit flatters how horrible the game was to watch and uh, there was then an FA cup replay in which Sutton United won.  They won 3-1, largely because of a controversial red card that resulted in AFC Wimbledon playing with only ten players for the vast majority of the game.

 (48:00) to (50:00)

AFC Wimbledon were up 1-0 into the second half, but their defense eventually tired with only 10 players and they lost the game, which is a bummer.  On the upside, in league one, things continue to go quite well, or at least relatively well.  Wimbledon beat Oxford United on January 14th, which is a very good result and while they are no longer in the playoff positions and I think maybe, I mean, you know, look, last season, AFC Wimbledon were arguably the smallest team in league two.  This year, they are almost certainly the smallest team in league one, so to be in 12th place is great.  Currently, Wimbledon, having played 26 games, are in 12th place on 36 points.  They are about eight points out of the playoff spots, but more importantly from my perspective, they are 11 points clear of the drop, so a mid-table finish would be extraordinary for Wimbledon this season, especially since almost everyone picked them to be relegated.

H: Well, and the franchise currently playing in Milton Keynes is like three points out of the drop, so that's something else.

J: Yup.

H: That would be amazing.

J: I know.

H: That would be--

J: That would be great.  It would be great to be able to say farewell to them and not have to play twice a year, but we shall see.  There is a lot of season to go and the franchise currently playing in Milton Keynes is extremely well capitalized so they should be able to buy some players in the January transfer window.

H: Whatever that means.  Well, John, on the surface of Mars, there is a minivan driving around, driving up the side of a mountain, which is exciting.  It's gotten to a place in Gale Crater where it has now regularly coming across somewhat startling and amazing things as it sort of moves backward in geologic history as it goes up the side of this mountain.

 (50:00) to (52:00)

It has just found a rock, and I know, rocks are just rocks, but it is a very beautiful rock and you can see pictures of it.  Maybe we'll put one on the Patreon, that looks, for all the world, like what it looks like when some mud, or just like some silty clay is wet and then dries up, and you get those, what--I think they might be called like desiccation fractures or desiccation cracks and like, it makes these like, really sort of like pretty geometric shapes.  You've probably seen this in various places.  What happened with this rock is that that happened some time in the distant geologic history of Mars when some mud, some wet mud, wet with water, dried out, created those cracks, and then some sediments, like got blown into those cracks and then the whole thing petrified over a long, long period of time, and then, way after that happened, this rock actually fractured in a couple of places and water seeped through it, because it had been covered by a bunch of dirt and so groundwater seeped through it, left deposits in those fractures, and so we can see not only, like, the original formation that happened in water, but then the deposits that were left in the rock at a much later date also by liquid water flowing through the sub-surface of Mars and this rock contains a great deal of geologic history of Mars, all of which is wet.  That's very cool.  It's a pretty rock and they are now able to drive ride up to it, take some pictures, take some samples of it, and it has a good name that I've forgotten.  I didn't look--I didn't--I didn't--hold on just a second, what are they calling it?  It's a fun name.  

J: I'm gonna wait for it, Hank, because I know it's gonna be that good.  It's gonna be so fun.  It's gonna be like, it's like they're gonna call it the Doodoohead rock, that's what Alice would have named it.

 (52:00) to (54:00)

H: Oh, it's called Old Soaker.  The rock.  Old Soaker.

J: I mean.  That is setting an extremely low bar for fun.  That's all I'm gonna say.  

H: Uh, yeah.  So.  

J: Oh man.  I know it's a fun name.  I can't remember what it is, John, but it's super fun.  Old Soaker.  

H: Old Doodoohead.  Alright, John, what did we learn today?

J: Well, I mean, nothing really.  

H: That's not true at all!

J: If we're being honest.  We learned that Hank is willing to completely ruin a perfectly acceptable glass of red wine by pouring bases into it.

H: We learned that Carl's Jr and Hardees and Steven Universe are all, in fact, the same thing.

J: I think Steven Universe fans might have a word about that.  Also Hardees fans.  We learned that fart jokes are a pretty good defense mechanism if you've just been not killed in a train derailment.

H: And we learned that shellfish and eyesores is a terrible sign off for an email.  "Warmly yours," much better, and nobody likes that.  No!  No!  

J: Some people like shellfish and I guess some people probably like eyesores.  You know, there's people out there who think that our current aesthetics are all wrong, so maybe it's not for you, Hank, but it could be for someone.  I do agree that "Warmly yours" is pretty great.  Hank, it has been a pleasure to podcast with you.  

H: It has been a pleasure to podcast with you, too.  Can I just read you one question, John?  I don't think it requires any comment, but I think it's an important thing to say for us here at Dear Hank and John.  Clara asks, "Dear Hank and John, I'm a college freshman and just beginning to figure myself out.  Although there are certain things I'm very sure about myself, such as my core values, I'm very unsure of other things.  When I'm asked by other people about my opinions, they're shocked when I tell them that I don't know or am unsure of what I think.  It took me a long time to become okay with my own unsure uncertainty and it strikes me as very odd that humans are not okay with this.

 (54:00) to (55:25)

Why do we fear uncertainty?  How are we supposed to figure things out if we can't admit being unsure?  How does all of this work?  At least I'm certain of my name.  Clara."  Amazing sign off.

J: Great sign off.

H: Also, just nothing needs to be said about that question except that we here at Dear Hank and John are far too often full of faux certainty and we should say that out loud here at the place where we give dubious advice.  So thanks, Clara, for the great message.

J: I completely agree.  I believe that 'I don't know' are the three most underrated words in the English language and frankly, Hank, you and I should both use them more often.

H: Yes.

J: Dear Hank and John is produced by Rosianna Halse Rojas and Sheridan Gibson.  Our editor is Nicholas Jenkins.  Victoria Bongiorno is head of community & communications.  Our music is by the great Gunnarolla.  Thank you so much for listening.  You can email us at, that's where we get your questions, or use the #dearhankandjohn on Twitter where I am @johngreen and Hank is @hankgreen and as we say in my hometown...

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