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How do I develop a cool signature? How do I tell my dad I've been hiding a snake for several months? Is it acceptable to shout advice at strangers? And more!

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 (00:00) to (02:00)

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

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

Hank: It's a comedy podcast about death, where two brothers, we will answer your questions, give you dubious advice and bring you all the week's news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon. Hey John, my brother, how are you doing?

John: Hank, I'm doing great. It's a beautiful day here in Indianapolis. Spring has sprung, what did E.E. cummings say, "Spring is like a perhaps hand?"  There's buds on the trees, hope, newness, I- I'm a little stressed out to be completely honest with you, but there's no use in talking to you about that. The only thing that we should talk about is, is Spring, and how there are flowers, and hope.

Hank: Yeah, we're gonna look at the parts of the plants that are new and not gray and they're comin' out and not think about all the troubles, of the world. Uh, there are so many troubles of the world, John, I'm not even sure what I'm gonna make my video about this week because I feel overwhelmed by the troubles of the world, but maybe I should just make my video about Spring, and about little pieces of plants that are, are not the color of death. Um, I do want to say- like, so, I'm going to Amsterdam, for VidCon.

John: Great city.

Hank: And, I've never been to Amsterdam, and I know you've spent a lot of time in Amsterdam and that you like it a lot. Um, did you know that in April, the entire city of Amsterdam becomes entirely booked, and that you should probably, probably, I don't know, life pro-tip from an adult to other adults, I don't know, book your hotel more than two weeks in advance. Because last night I was sitting in a panic as I realized that literally- it says on Expedia, it's like "98% of hotel rooms in Amsterdam are booked" - and I was like, "That's not real, right?" And then one after the other after the other these hotels literally have no rooms. So I got a hotel room in Amsterdam, John. It might not be the best one, but, uh, it was certainly expensive.

John: Yeah, no, it is kinda the time of year to go to Amsterdam.

 (02:00) to (04:00)

John: There's the uh, the "Spring Snow", as they call it, the falling out of the trees the "iepen". Beautiful like, flowers basically coating the city. 

Hank: Mmph.

John: And also the weather's nice? It's just lovely, and we should say that there will be tickets available to VidCon Amsterdam at the door if you're in Amsterdam or thereabouts and want to come to VidCon Europe, uh, please do. And, other than that Hank, the only other thing I wanted to say on that topic was that since you have never been to Amsterdam before, I really hope you go back and listen to the episode of the podcast where I gave advice to that tourist who was going to Amsterdam about what they should see because there's no way I'm going through it with you again just because you're my brother. 

Hank: [Laughs] I appreciate that. I've gotten a fair good amount of advice I think, but there's certainly a lot to see. When I go visit a new city I almost always, like the thing that I want to do is just walk around, um, and I-

John: Oh, it's a great city for walking. 

Hank: Yeah, I almost enjoy that more than like, going to, you know, the gardens or the museums. I just like to see people living the lives in the way that is, you know, like, familiar but different, than the way that I live my life in my town, and the things that are familiar and the things that are different, uh, allowing me to sort of see humanity more, it's not like I see humanity differently, it's just like, it becomes more clear that, that we are us, and I get to watch it happen. Do you have a short poem for us today, John?

John: Hank what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna read you half of a poem about Spring by E.E. Cummings, that's gonna make it short. I'm just gonna read the second half.

Hank: That's a good plan.

John: That's my strategy. 

Hank: I'm sure that he won't mind.

John: Well, he won't mind because he died in 1962. "Spring is like a perhaps hand in a window carefully to and fro moving new and old things, while people stare carefully moving a perhaps fraction of flower here, placing an inch of air there, and without breaking anything."

" [...]
spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and fro moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything."

 (04:00) to (06:00)

Hank: Mmm. I like it.

John: Nice little E.E. Cummings stanza about Spring.

Hank: Yeah, stanza.

John: Oh, I'm so excited for Spring, Hank. Let's answer some questions from our beloved listeners, can I start?

Hank: Oh sure.

[Question 1, 4:14]

John: Alright, this question comes from Cormick who asks, "Dear John and Hank, I've long been unhappy with my signature with it just being my name clumsily, inconsistently written in the cursive writing I stopped using since the age of twelve. Adults seem to have lovely, consistent yet illegible signatures. [Hank laughs] I've now become paranoid as I approach adulthood that I've missed some important event whereupon I was supposed to gain a lovely signature of my own. I figured you two have had your fair share of signatures, and have lovely flowing ones," Nah, [Hank laughs] I feel like Hank has a lovely flowing one, I'm not sure that I have a lovely flowing one as such. Anyway, "so I'm seeking urgent help for my growing mini-crisis. Memento vobis assidere (?), [Hank laughs] Cormick." Possibly Cormack. 

Hank: John, have you ever in your life consciously changed your signature? Like did you have that, that-

John: Ohh yes. 

Hank: Okay. Like you thought about it and you were like, "I'm gonna have a different-

John: So I had this signature, I was- I did develop a signature when I was in high school, and the idea was the signature would be all acute angles, no curves. 

Hank: Ohhh.

John: Just very acute angles, and I drew the "O" as a kind of a diamond, and everything was extremely acute in its angling. And that was my signature, even after Looking For Alaska was published, if you find the first, like, few hundred books I signed, it looks like that, it's a very small-

Hank: Really? 

John: -very legible, weirdly acute-angled series of letters. And then slowly over time, I developed a new signature called the J scribble that is just a "J " followed by a scribble.

Hank: I want to see this old signature. Oh man.

John: Uh, it's I- yeah, I don't know, maybe I'll try to dig one up for you. 

 (06:00) to (08:00)

John: Eileen Cooper has one, my mentor, because she has the first book I ever signed, but I don't know, I don't know how you would find them exactly.

Hank: Um, I did just find an amazing picture of someone who took your signature and drew -- and this has happened a number of times, where people will take the signature that you signed in the book and then turn it into something. And this person has turned it into some kind of water bird, which is lovely. But yes, John, you do have the J-scribble, and it's almost more famous than you are at this point. But, what I want to say to Cormac is -- this tends to be something that happens accidentally, unless you're really sort of obsessed with yourself. Which is what happened to me. And I like sat there at my job where I worked in a laboratory after college, and I hated my signature because it was small and it was, as you say, it was basically how I wrote in cursive when I turned 12 and that was as far as I knew about cursive. And I think this is a problem for a lot of people right now. Because we don't write in cursive anymore because we don't have to because cursive speeds up writing but not nearly as much as typing. So, we don't really know how to write in cursive and so, we don't really adapt our cursive hand-writings beyond like what we were taught in elementary school, even if that is taught at all anymore which I don't know. So you kinda have to develop a signature now, you have to do it on your own. You have to have an idea and be like "I'm gonna do this thing". Now, you also have to go to the bank and like resubmit a signature card and be like "I have a new signature now." which is weird, if you like use checks and stuff and have to have your checks work. Uhm, because I did do this and they were like "That's not your signature." and I was like "It is now." anyway.

John: Oh my god. This is an extremely embarassing story Hank. This is way more embarassing than my acute angle signature.

Hank: Oh no, I completely agree. I completely agree that it's embarassing.

 (08:00) to (10:00)

Hank: I completely agree that it is embarassing. But, I did develop a new signature and I did it just like one letter at a time and I did like a bunch of different ones and then I did it a bunch of different times and I changed my signature. Eehm and I I am glad I did it, but I am embarassed that I did it.

John: Oh yeah, no, I'm extremely embarassed on your behalf.

Hank: One of those thing can be true though right?

John: Yeah, I mean yeah here is the thing Cormac it doesn't really matter that much. I don't think you should be too hard on yourself because in the end if your signature is legible I actually thik that's cooler than if your signature is illegible. So, I would stick with your current legible signature and just kinda own it -

Hank: Mhm

John: - own that twelve years old cursive as yours and you'll find that it becomes yours. My signature has gone through one other layer of simplification, Hank, now that I am actually googling it and looking at old signatures. Which is that I used to have a very distinctive "H" I used to have essentially a "J", no "O" a distinctive "H" and then a scribble and I have eliminated that "H" because it was a it was a wasted keystroke.

Hank: [Laughing] You need to sign a lot of books. Yeah well that's the other thing I will say about signatures is that like you don't come up with a signature because you came up with one one day usually and like my signature has changed since I quote unquote developed it when I was skiving off from work. Uhm, but like, if you do it a bunch of times it starts to take on a different shape and it starts to look like a little more flow-y and your hand decides what to do. And yeah so just sit there with a piece of paper and do it a bunch of times and maybe move your hand a little bit more than you normally would and eventually you'll be like "That looks like a signature.".

John : [Laughing] Okay, I think we have probably plummed the depths...

Hank: [Laughing] I think it was a legitimate problem that we needed to address and I'm glad that we did.

 (10:00) to (12:00)

Hank: This question is from Caleb and I've been wanting to hit this one because we've gotten this question in multiple different forms over the years. And I'm glad... over the years, [pronounces it with different accentuations] overs the years of us doing this podcast. Caleb asks: " Dear Hank & John, on a recent episode of the pod, you've mentioned how we Americans waste a tremendous amount of water flushing toilets unnecessarily..."

Hank: I mean that's not the biggest way we waste water to be clear, the biggest way we waste water is, lawns.

[continuation of Caleb's question]: "... why is that bad? I always hear that conserving water is good for the environment. But isn't all that water just going down the drain useful or not, being reintroduced to the environment eventually and resuming it's course in the hydrological cycle? Is the energy required/carbon footprint of moving the water into the house, is that what's the problem? Would peeing in the trees behind my house be a better alternative to flushing everytime I use the toilet?
Narwhals and Spatulas,

Hank: Oh gosh, yes, you...

John: Well, let me start because this is Hank's area of expertise not mine but let me just start with your last question first. Which is that yes you should always pee in the trees outside your house rather than peeing in a toilet.

Hank: [laughs] Uh, well, you know, that's settled then. Caleb, John has your answer for you, get out, get out in your backyard, don't mind the neighbours and water some trees.

John: Nope, but Caleb, just so you understand that, I did not understand this until I was 33 years old and Hank explained it to me. The water in the toilet is the same as the water that you drink. Like it has been treated in the exact same process. I did not know that Hank, I thought like that there were two kinds of water...

Hank: Mhm

John: ... I had no idea that the water we put on our lawns to water our lawns is like the exact same as the water that comes out of my tap because that seems ludicriously inefficent.

Hank: Yeaah, well it turns out that it's actually efficient because running two sets of pipes to a house would be much, would be twice as hard as running one set of pipes to a house.

 (12:00) to (14:00)

Hank: So that's the, in the wast majority of places that's the way that it gets done. There are some places that use different water for watering but usually those are large consumers like college campuses or something like that. Uhm, so the uh, sitch is that one, there are two very good reasons to conserve water one is that it's not infinite and that we use more water than is in a lot of places we use more water than is being resupplied to the area and we do that by bringing water out of underground lakes called aquaifers and those aquaifers run out of water eventually like they they are not refilling as fast as we are pumping water out of them. So that's the scary thing. The vast majority of the reason why is not residential consumption though that is a piece of the pie that big consumer is agriculture for the most part. Uhm so making food for us to eat. But residential consumption, especially in city areas is a big part of aquaifer depletion. The other thing is that, yes it is energy, it is fossil fuels that are used to pump water around the world. They have to get it so that it comes out of your tap and that's usually done by pumping water up into something that has some elevation and then let the gravity do that work. That's what water towers are. So you have to pump the water up into the water tower and then it falls out of the water tower and that pressure is what pushes it out of your tap and then, once it goes out off your tap and it gets flushed down into the pipes you have to pump it back up so that it can then flow down the sewage treatement plant unless you have a septic system. So there is a huge amount of water that goes, huge amount of energy that goes into moving water around treating that water so that it is potable, and then treating it once that it's dirty again so that it can be put into the rivers without it being too dirty to go back innto the water supply.

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