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Why do I feel safer with the lights on? Why can't my bathtub be in my living room? Am I in danger of being electrocuted? And more!

Turtles All the Way Down tour:

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[Dear Hank and John intro music plays]

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. We're two brothers, Hank and John Green. We answer your questions, give you dubious advice, and bring you all the week's news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon, but we're recording this one a week early so we don't actually know what the news is. But we'll figure something out. John, how are you doing? 

John: I'm doing well! Since we're recording this a week early, I'm pretty sure that by the time it's announced our tour will have been announced. I have a new book coming out, Hank. I don't know if you've heard about it.

Hank: Yep. 

John: It's called Turtles All the Way Down. It comes out October 10th. And Hank and I are going on tour starting October 10th. I'm not 100 percent sure that I'm allowed to be talking about this, but I'm going to talk about it anyway, in the hopes of forcing Penguin's hand. 

Hank: Yeah.

John: Yeah, so I just want to let everybody know that you can- I don't really know where the website is that you can go to. Go to and I'm sure that will take you to the tour website. I'm not totally positive how this is all going to go down. [Hank laughs] But I am going to let you know the cities that we're going to, Hank.

Hank: Alright. 

John: Which, I don't even know if you know for sure. 

Hank: I am somewhat ill informed. 

John: Yeah, ok. So we're going to New York City. 

Hank: Mmhmm. 

John: That's on October 10th.

Hank: Sure, that makes sense. 

John: And we're going to Washington, D.C. And then you're taking two days off to go to a friend's wedding.

Hank: Correct. 

John: And I am going to be doing other things. I'll be in North Carolina and Atlanta, and then we're going to be together in Orlando at Hank's high school auditorium.

Hank: Are you serious? 

John: I'm dead serious. Then we're going to be in-

Hank: Oh god, that is going to make me-

John: -Nashville, Cincinnati, Indianapolis-

Hank: -very uncomfortable.

John: -St. Louis- They've improved the auditorium a lot since you were a student there.

Hank: Ok.

John: Naperville, Illinois. Or possibly Chicago, not totally sure. St. Paul,-

Hank: Cool, cool.

John: Minnesota. One of the twin cities. Missoula, Montana. Spokane, Washington. Bellingham, Washington. Portland, Oregon. And Corte Madera, California, which I think is in the San Francisco area. And lastly, I think somewhere in Los- somewhere Los Angelesy. 

Hank: Sure.

John: And that is the tour.

Hank: That's the tour. I apologize to anybody who's like, "but I don't live in any of those places!" Well, like, neither do most people. Let's be honest. 

John: In fact, almost all humans don't live in any of those places. But if you do live in one of those places, please come visit us on tour. Tickets are on sale now, I think. And you can find out more somewhere on the web. I'm not totally positive where.

Hank: Hah! It's good. Great promo, John. 

John: Man, I should do this for a living. 

Hank: It's really about having all the information at your fingertips. [John laughs] John, there's a twitter hashtag going around right now and it's "ruin a book". 

John: Yeah.

Hank: Change a letter. Change a letter, ruin a book, something like that.

John: Right. Yeah.

Hank: So you can date where- when we were recording this by that information. But I was trying to come up with one for Turtles, and all I got was, "Turtles Al, the Way Down." [John laughs] It would be a book about a guy named Turtles Al who runs a turtle store-

John: Yeah.

Hank: But it's like a, it's a story of his inevitable decline. 

John: It's good. I like "Turtles All the Way Mown," which is about [Hank laughs] an evil person who mows over turtles with his lawn mower. 

Hank: [laughs] That's really good. That's better. That's better, I like that one better than mine. 

John: Alright, so come visit us on tour if you have the chance. We're very excited about it, and with that noted, Hank, how are you?

Hank: I'm good. I'm good, that's all I had was that thing about the thing. 

John: Oh, I'm glad you prepared that bit. That was solid. 

Hank: [laughing] Yeah, I'm going to Australia, so I haven't been able to think about anything except all the work I have to do before I have to go to Australia. 

John: Well let me take a little bit of workload off of you by asking the first question from our listeners. 

 Question 1 (3:54)

Hank: Alright!

John: Alright, this one comes from Karen, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, I'm applying for pharmacy school, and some of the supplementary questions ask me about which of my personal characteristics makes me unique. How does one even answer this question? Is this different from a question about my unique experiences? I'm so confused."

Hank: Hmmmmm.

John: "Frustration and confusion, Karen." First off, Karen, nobody is unique. 

Hank: Oh god, jeez. Yeah. Yeah. I'm coming in- and that's what pharmacy school really wants. They want a bunch of people who are like, each one is not at all similar to the others. They want weirdos there at pharmacy school! Come on. 

John: Yeah, I'm not sure that I want my pharmacist to be-

Hank: No!

John: - one of the most eccentric people on Earth. 

Hank: [laughing] Yeah. Like, can you imagine Maureen Johnson like, preparing your scrip? No! 

John: Yeah.

Hank: I don't want her counting my medications. 

John: I love Maureen Johnson, and she is unique, and I do not think that she - I don't even think that she would disagree with me about this -

Hank: No!

John: I don't think that she would be a great pharmacist. 

Hank: [laughing] All of the most eccentric people I know almost invariably shouldn't be pharmacists. Which isn't to say that I don't love pharmacists! I have a great relationship with my pharmacists. They are all lovely people, and-

John: I have a real life friend who's a pharmacist, and I asked them once, I said, "would you prefer if I come to your pharmacy?" And they said no. [laughs]

Hank: "I don't want to know all your stuff, John. I don't want to be there." 

John: Yeah. They were like, "don't make it weird." Yeah, I think that's a dumb question. First off, none of your personal characteristics make you unique. Secondly, if I'm a pharmacy school, I want someone who's a good student, who's organized, who's disciplined, who, you know, is bright and hardworking. I don't know that I'm really looking for the out-there weirdos. 

Hank: I like the idea that there's a personal - that there's a unique personal characteristic and it's like, look. Mine doesn't have a name, because it's unique. Literally no one has ever had it before. 

John: Right. 

Hank: It's called skrevel. 

John: Mine's called algamam. 

Hank: And I can't even explain skrevel to you because it is so-

John: Right. 

Hank: -unique, that it is- it does not touch upon any of the previous understandings you have had about the experience of what humans are like. 

John: Right. You're not able to access this because you don't have language for it. You can't have the thoughts that skrevels have. [Hank laughs] And then- in fact, that's what you should do, Karen. Just, next to that question just write "skrevel" in all capital letters, underline it, exclamation point-

Hank: No. 

John: - and in parentheses -

Hank: No, John.

John: - explain that you can't explain this using language that people who decide whether you get into pharmacy school have access to. I mean, -

Hank: I feel like it should be like-

John: - that will definitely get their attention. 

Hank: The first letter should be, like the s should be lowercase, the k should be lowercase, but the r and the e are uppercase, v is lowercase, e and the l are uppercase. That's how, that's how it's-

John: That's how skrevel is spelled? 

Hank: Yeah.

John: skREvEL! [both chuckle] Hank, can you say anything about skREvEL, or is it like-

Hank: No! It's just, like-

John: Ok. Ok.

Hank: It does not connect with the normal- like, with the broad cultural understanding of humanity. It's just, it's too disconnected, John. 

John: There you go, Karen, I think we've found a solution for you that will definitely not get you into pharmacy school. 

 Question 2 (7:21)

Hank: [laughs] This next question comes from Hope, who asks "Dear Hank and John, what is the plural form of dingus? I use it constantly, both affectionately and otherwise, and am perplexed. Is it dingi, dinguses, or is it just like deer and the plural remains the same as the singular, just a bunch of dingus? Signed, A dingus in need, Hope." 

John: Hank, I don't know how far you fell down the dingus rabbit hole while researching this question, but I fell pretty damn far. 

Hank: Well, yeah I fell like-

John: Do you first off-

Hank: I fell, like, one step down. I just googled "dingus etymology" and that's as far as I got. 

John: Do you know-

Hank: So I know that it comes from the Dutch.

John: Do you know what a dingus is? 

Hank: It's the Dutch word for- well, "ding" is Dutch for "a thing." 

John: Right!

Hank: It's like, it's just a ding.

John: But like, I- 

Hank: But like, that ding over there. 

John: I thought a dingus was just an idiot, like, "oh, I'm being such a dingus about this." 

Hank: Yeah, that's sort of what I- yeah that's sort of my idea of what a dingus is.

John: But that is not what the dictionary's idea of what a dingus is. 

Hank: Oh!

John: The dictionary thinks a dingus is like a doohickey, or a thingamajig. 

Hank: Oh, this little dingus here! That little dingus that like-

John: It's like when you don't have the word to describe-

Hank: Mmhmm.

John: - a thing, either because there is no word associated for it or because you can't access the word or your vocabulary doesn't have it or whatever. 

Hank: Right. So it's like skREvEL.

John: [laughs] It is- [both laugh] It's not, really. It's a little bit different from skREvEL in that it is an established word that wasn't made up four minutes ago. But yeah, that is the initial meaning of dingus, and it's not totally clear-

Hank: Hmm!

John: How it came to mean, like, a dingbat, except that it seems to sort of sound like dingbat or, you know it sounds -

Hank: It just sounds like a dingus!

John: It sounds like a dingus.

Hank: Like, you dingus. 

John: Right.

Hank: Yeah, it sounds like it should mean what it means. Which is a really interesting thing about words and meaning- 

John: Yeah. 

Hank: - is that that kind of happens. 

John: Oh yeah! Where-

Hank: Yeah, it isn't just a one way street where like, we need a word for this. You try and find a word that sounds like the thing! 

John: Right. Right, right, no it's a complicated-

Hank: Which like, it's like an onomatopoeia but inside of your brain! 

John: So, when I fell way down the rabbit hole, I found out something amazing, which is that doohickey, you know-

Hank: Mmhmm.

John: - a word that I use all the time when I'm trying to describe something that I can't remember the name for- doohickey comes from two words that also meant that, doodad, and hickey before hickey meant like -

Hank: Ah!

John: - a bruise that you would get on your neck from-

Hank: Smooching.

John: - extremely aggressive kissing. [Hank laughs] Hickey meant the same thing that doodad and dingus meant. Which is to say that we have a lot of words for thing that we have forgotten the word for. 

Hank: Yeah! Well, it's an important thing to have a word for. And it's not just a thing that you've forgotten the word for, it's a thing that doesn't really have a name. Like the little thing that converts my Apple charger from like an extra long plug to one that I can store up for easy travel. 

John: That is a-

Hank: That's totally a dingus. 

John: It's a thingamabob. 

Hank: Yeah.

John: It's a whatayacallit. 

Hank: It's a dooder. 

John: It's a gubbins, is another word that means the same thing. 

Hank: Really?

John: Yeah. 

Hank: Hah! Gubbins is good. 

John: Yep. 

Hank: Oh man, Mr. Gubbins? That would be a great name for a character in a children's book.

John: It would. Today's just a - you didn't know this, and I didn't know it either, but today's Dear Hank and John is all about etymology. [Hank laughs] And the relationship between language and thought. 

Hank: I like it. 

John: Ok, so- 

Hank: I like it.

John: That- none of what we said got to the answer to the question.

Hank: Oh, what was the question? I have no idea. 

John: What is the plural of dingus? 

Hank: Oh, I'm not sure, John. I thought you had the answer because apparently you went way down the dingus hole. 

John: So there's an alternative form of dingus which is dingies, and I think that would be a good plural form-

Hank: Mmhmm.

John: - but according to the internet it is not the actual plural form. The actual plural form is dinguses. 

Hank: Yeah, I figured it might be dinguses, but we had a really good conversation about dinguses anyway that made it all worthwhile. 

John: I mean, I don't know that it was worthwhile, but I mean, you have to use your one wild and precious life somehow, and this is how we choose to do it. 

Hank: [laughs] Before we ask the next question, John, let me remind everyone that we have a phrase of the day -

John: Week. 

Hank: Or of the week. Or whatever. And one of us is going to try to wedge that phrase into the speaking without anybody out there in the listening world knowing that we're doing it. And if we can do that effectively then we win. And I understand that it's not a good game. It's not a well designed game. But we have fun thinking about it. So that's what's important. I've forgotten what the phrase is, John. We talked about it and I forgot what it is. Don't tell me!

John: Well, I'm not going to tell you what it is, because that would be cheating. 

Hank: You've got to slide it in there and I won't even know what happened. 

 Question 3 (12:26)

John: Alright Hank, this is a question near and dear to both of our hearts. It comes from Kate, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, Staying in a hotel for almost two weeks on a work trip [Hank laughs] has taught me that hotel rooms are, in fact, the world's loneliest places. I've been distracting myself in the evenings by Facetiming my boyfriend, but after hanging up, the room feels even quieter and lonelier than before. Do other people feel this way when traveling for business? Any tips on making a hotel stay more bearable?" And then, Hank, you will not believe her sign-off. "From the lonely abyss of a Courtyard Marriott, Kate." 

Hank: [laughs] John and I stayed in -

John: So in 2012 -

Hank: a lot of- yeah, ok. You tell the whole story. 

John: So in 2012 Hank and I spent, with two exceptions, 30 consecutive nights in Courtyard Marriotts. So the geographical location in which we were would change nightly, but the layout of the room never changed. 

Hank: Yeah.

John: We would always arrive -

Hank: No, it's not just the layout of the room! It's the art on the walls -

John: Yeah. 

Hank: The bedspreads. 

John: Yeah. 

Hank: The wallpaper, the toilets were all the same. 

John: The red loveseat, the -

Hank: Yeah. 

John: - desk, the chair, the bed. And I'll tell you what, Kate. It did get a little dark after a while. 

Hank: Yeah. I mean, my strategy for solving this problem is to not go to the room until it is sleep time, and the whole time I'm in the room be listening to a podcast. Because then I don't - like, just distract myself from the fact that I'm doing this hotel room thing. The worst trap I feel like you can fall into is watching TV in a hotel room. Because then you're just awake forever. 

John: Yeah.

Hank: For some reason, I have a very hard time sleeping once the TV is on in a hotel room. And I just want to watch the end of this terrible piece of fake documentary about the worst air disasters right before I get on a plane. 

John: Yeah, I mean I think- so first off, Kate, I think this is a common thing. I remember being very excited about my first work trip, and then like, getting on it and being like, oh, is it like this all the time? And now, 15 years later, it is like that all the time. Now sometimes there are advantages to it. Like, I can sleep in, at least sometimes, which I can't do when I'm sleeping at home because I have little kids. And that can be nice, and that's an upside that I can look forward to. Another upside that I can look forward to is that sometimes I will like, happen across a movie on HBO if they have HBO in the hotel and I'll be like, "oh, I can watch a movie." But I agree with Hank that like, watching endless linear cable TV is not a recipe for good sleep. So I think it's good to listen to podcasts, I think it's good to watch movies. I think it's great to read a book. I usually try to read when I'm in a hotel room. But it's hard to sleep in those places, at least for me. And yeah, work travel that I always thought was going to be, like, you know, I can't believe that they're paying for my hotel room- occasionally I'll think that when it's a very nice hotel room, but most of the time I think like, oh it's another- it's another hotel room. This place probably has bedbugs. 

Hank: [laughs] It's all probabilities, John. 

John: I mean, I would not want to see a black light in any of those rooms. 

Hank: Agreed.

 Question 4 (15:50)

Hank: Alright, John. Next question. It comes from Brianna, who asks, "Dear Brothers Green, I recently started working on a cruise line, and one of my first days at sea I saw a thunderstorm off in the distance and it got me thinking. Water is a good conductor of electricity, right? So, when lightning strikes the ocean, how far does the electricity spread, and for how long does the affected area stay electrified? Is it possible that my ship could be electrocuted from a storm off near the horizon? Thank you for either quashing or amplifying my fears, Brianna." Can you get a podcast on a ship? 

John: Oh, of course you can. They have wireless now. Brianna, I've got good news and bad news. The bad news is that you're going to die of norovirus on that ship. [Hank laughs] So it doesn't really matter that you're not going to die of electrocution from a lightning strike. 

Hank: Mmm. I mean, of the things that could kill you on a ship, I would say that norovirus is the bigger concern. I have a bunch of information on this, John. If you're curious. 

John: I'm very curious. 

Hank: And kind of a weird fact, which is that the lightning very rarely strikes the ocean. 

John: Mmm. That's interesting!

Hank: Which is interesting. 

John: Why? 

Hank: Yeah. Because- for a couple of reasons. One, there's not really - like, lightning likes to go to a place, and when it's just this infinite flat plane, it just strikes internally inside of the cloud. So if it's above the ocean it tends to be cloud to cloud lightning more than cloud to ground lightning. Second, because it seems like lightning actually happens when the kind of perturbations that the land tends to create, which is like, a lot more heat comes off of land and there are also actual physical boundaries that can make clouds bump around and move around, that lightning tends to happen when those kinds of obstructions start making all of the stuff rub together more than it was previously. But it does happen! It does strike the ocean sometimes. And enough that we know a little bit about what happens when lightning strikes the ocean which is, because, first of all, water is not a great conductor of electricity, but salt water is. So what happens is it goes into the water and then it spreads out very quickly until, you know, not very far away from the point of the lightning strike it is not a significant amount of charge. If you're sitting right there where the lightning strikes you're going to die, but it does not go very far. And so probably - it doesn't kill very many fish, for example. 

John: Did I ever tell you about the time- as you know, Hank, I have a long term fear of dying via lightning strike. 

Hank: Mmhmm.

John: Because I grew up in Orlando, Florida and also because I have, you know, a number of the major death fears. Did I ever tell you about the time that I walked away from the wedding? 

Hank: What are you talking about? No.

John: Ok, so one of Sarah's family members was getting married. It was a bit of a shotgun wedding. We were on top of a mountain in Colorado and it began to, like, rain and thunderstorm, and there was lightning strikes everywhere, and everyone was holding umbrellas, on top of a mountain. [Hank laughs] And I was like, this is it! This is how we're all going to go! And the bride and groom were like, "it's ok! we're going to get married in the rain!" And I was like, "y'all can do whatever you want but this is not how I die." [Hank laughs] And so, I walked away. 

Hank: Also I have to congratulate you on seamlessly including the phrase of the week, shotgun wedding, in your little anecdote, John. 

John: I know! It wasn't actually a shotgun wedding! They had been dating for like 10 years. [Hank laughs] So I just fictionalized that one detail so that I could get the story in. Thank you, Hank. I think that I win the prize. 

Hank: Yeah. You definitely won this week. I was thinking maybe I was going to get the lyrics to Beck's Loser somehow [John laughs] incorporated into the podcast. Yeah. It's too late for me now. I mean, like, yes. I honestly agree with you, because it's not like- it's one thing if somebody gets struck by lightning and they die. It's another thing if, like, the entire family goes. Like, everybody's there! One lightning strike could be like, ah, the line has ended! Remember the Jefferson's? They are no more. 

John: Right, no, I would have been the sole suvivor. 

Hank: They were all up on that mountaintop wedding!

John: [laughs] It's like that TV show where Kiefer Sutherland becomes the president. 

 Question 5 (20:35)

John: Ok. We've got another question, this one's from Lilliana, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, -" Hank, this is one of those questions- sometimes I feel like people send us in questions and what they really need is not advice, or answers. What they really need is reassurance that they are doing exactly the right thing. 

Hank: Mmkay. 

John: And, I think that Lilliana is in such a situation. 

Hank: Alright. 

John: She writes, "Dear John and Hank, I'm fifteen, and I'll be a sophomore in high school next year. Over the summer I've been asked over and over again by relatives and family friends, all adults, if I know where I want to go to college, and what I want to study. I have no idea. So my default answer has just been to say, 'fish and art,' before walking away. What am I supposed to say to this question?"

Hank: Uh, definitely fish and art. 

John: Yeah! I mean -

Hank: It's so good! 

John: - Lilliana, you've cracked -

Hank: You've hit it! 

John: You've cracked a code that's haunted high school sophomores for hundreds of years. 

Hank: Oh my- why are you asking a high school sophomore anything about college? Ahhh!

John: And then, and then they say, "wait, is fish and art what you want to study or where you want to go to university?", you just say, "fish."

Hank: Fish.

John: "And art." 

Hank: And art. 

John: Fish. And art. I'm going to the University of Fish, where I'm going to study art. And fish. 

Hank: [laughs] Going to the University of Art. And I'm going to be studying fish horticulture. 

John: I apologize - 

Hank: Fish pescaculture. 

John: If my answer was ambiguous. Or perhaps I stuttered. Let me just repeat myself. Fish and art. Ask me again, Uncle. Ask me. 

Hank: Also, Lilliana, I'd like to encourage you to actually study fish and art. 

John: Oh, yeah. 

Hank: Either- that can mean a lot of different things like, fish could be biology, like wildlife biology - 

John: It could be the -

Hank: - could be stream ecology. It could also be, like, actual agriculture, like fish farming, which is a growing industry and one that is in need of great people to be managing fish farms. And art, of course, can mean pretty much anything. So, it's good to have a diverse group of knowledge, like it's good to mix a creative degree like art with potentially a degree that has available jobs and that you'll develop marketable skills at, like fish. So yeah! Absolutely. Fish and art.

John: I just want to throw this out there as an option. I also think that she could consider studying Phish and other jam bands. [Hank laughs] I'm sorry. I'm sorry. 

Hank: That's really bad. 

John: I want to apologize.

Hank: I was like, is jam bands the phrase of the week? Why the heck would John say that? [John laughs] Why- that seemed really, really wedged in. 

John: Oh, I mean, Phish is one of the leading jam bands, Hank. You have to acknowledge that. 

Hank: But, Lilliana clearly spelled it with an F and -

John: She's 15, Hank. She might not know how to spell Phish yet. 

Hank: [laughs] I'm going to college to study the band Phish. That's good! 

John: Oh, I guarantee you - 

Hank: I'm sure you could do it. 

John: -that there are many, many people who have written their undergraduate theses on the band Phish. 

Hank: Mmmm. I, when I was a freshman in college, I listened to Trey Parker's senior thesis from his school, which was a musical- like a rock musical thing. And I downloaded it in Real Media files and I listened to the whole thing. It's real weird, John.

John: I believe it. I believe it, yeah. 

Hank: But, that's where you brought us. That's where you brought us. 

John: I don't think I took you there. 

Hank: It's where you brought us. 

John: But when you Google Ph.D. thesis about the band Phish- not that I just did that, and not that I became the first person ever to Google that particular search- do you know what you learn? 

Hank: What, John?

John: Ok, do you remember the band The Offspring? 

Hank: Uh-huh. Yeah, of course. 

John: "I'm just a sucker with no self esteem".

Hank: Yep, that was the big one. 

John: [singing] Away... [speaking] The lead singer of The Offspring -

Hank: Mmhmm.

John: Dexter Holland. 

Hank: Sure.

John: Has a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Southern California. He just got it- well, just this year actually. 

Hank: Really?

John: Yeah!

Hank: That's great. I'm really, I'm very, I'm excited for Dexter. What a-

John: Congratulations to Dexter Holland!

Hank: What an interesting turn of events! Yeah!

John: I don't know that the band The Offspring and Phish have anything in common but I appreciate Google just trying to reach out and be broad. 

 Sponsors (25:29)

Hank: [laughs] John, this podcast is brought to you by the molecular biology degree of Dexter Holland, the former front man for Offspring or maybe current front man for Offspring, I don't know if they're still touring.

John: Current- current front man for Offspring. 

Hank: Oh, so he could get it all done, all at the same time. 

John: That's right.

Hank: That's great. Congratulations Dexter Holland, and thanks for being one of my - writing some of my favorite songs when I was in high school. 

John: This podcast is also brought to you by the lonely abyss of the Courtyard Marriott. The lonely abyss of the Courtyard Marriott! Vast, even endless. 

Hank: Of course, this podcast is additionally brought to you by skREvEL. skREvEL! You don't know what it is, and you're never going to know what it is, because it's a unique characteristic of my personality. 

John: [laughing] And lastly, this podcast is really, actually, brought to you by our friends at Squarespace. 

Hank: Squarespace! John. 

John: Yes. 

Hank: What do you do when you want there to be a thing on the internet that's like, "here's my thing?" 

John: Well, we're just going through this now, with -

Hank: Here's a thing! It's me! 

John: We're just going through this now with the creation of the tour website. And the sort of new website for Turtles All the Way Down. And of course, we did use Squarespace, because it's just really easy and straightforward to make a website with them. We used their services to make, to make my author website Johngreenbooks, because there is still a purpose to having a life outside of the social internet online. Hank and I have talked about this a lot. We're big believers in having your own places online if you can find them and build them. And Squarespace is a great tool for that. 

Hank: Yeah, it used to be- it used to be a lot harder. And I remember, like, making websites for you, John, like making your website and sort of- it being a big deal for me to get the job of making your website. But I still think that in a way, like in a way that is not the case for like, having a Twitter or a Linkedin or whatever, having a website is actually like, it's a sign of commitment to something. And it's kind of a big deal that you have to invest some actual time in. You know, Squarespace makes it very easy. But also, to make a good Squarespace site you do have to think about it. You have to think about what you're going to put on there. What you want it to be. And what- you know, and spend some time building it and making it your own. And it's wonderful that their templates allow for that. I've had a really good time making my Squarespace site- which is not launched yet, it will. And it's -

John: What's it about? 

Hank: It's about Hank Green. 

John: Oh. It's just a Hank Green website. 

Hank: It's just Yeah.

John: I thought it was, like, something exciting where you were like, building a new product or something. 

Hank: Oh goodness. 

John: Or you were going to do e-commerce sales for, I don't know, nesting dolls. 

Hank: [laughs] Nope. I'm not in the nesting dolls business. Yet, John.

John: I was gonna say. I was gonna add the yet. You can go to to learn more and also to get 10 percent off of your first order, or you can go to But, that's the one that everybody's using. 

Hank: Yeah, has a real nice ring to it though. And I think that it's on the up and up. I think it's coming- it's cresting the wave, John. Like, sometimes it's better to be first, like dearjohn is, but sometimes it's better to be best. Like dearhank. 

John: Alright. Well, make your next move, and your next website, with Squarespace. And thanks again to Squarespace for sponsoring today's podcast. The URL, just one last time, is

Hank: Hank.

 Question 6 (29:13)

Hank: This one comes from Gaby, who says, "Dear Green Brothers, why do I always feel safer when I turn the lights on? When I'm scared, my first instinct is to turn every light in my house on but logically I have no clue what I would do if I saw someone standing there when I turned on the light. Reasonably I know that I would have just like a few extra moments of terror before getting murdered because I wouldn't be able to defend myself. So why do I always feel the overwhelming urge to turn on the lights when I'm scared? How frugal is the chariot that bears the human soul! Gaby."

John: So Hank, a while ago I read this really fascinating book called At Day's Close: Night in Times Past, that talked about what night was like for Europeans before electric lighting. 

Hank: Mmhmm?

John: And I think the reason we turn on the lights is because night, for almost all of human history, was a very bad, dangerous, scary time. And lots of bad things could happen to you and you had very little warning that they were going to happen. So I think, like, from an evolutionary standpoint, night makes us nervous, and from what I could gather from that book, it ought to. 

Hank: I mean, Gaby, what I'm coming at this from is like, I'm not turning on the lights so I can find the murderer. I'm turning on the lights so I know the murderer is definitely not there. Like, if I found the murderer I'd be like, this is worse than when the lights were off. Like, I want the murderer or whoever to be on their way and to do their thing. I do not want to have a face to face encounter with a home intruder. Have my computers. Go ahead, have a nice day. But I want to know that that person is not there. And that is the only way to know that they are not there is to turn on all the lights. And it's pretty amazing that we can! What a wonderful moment we live in. 

John: That's true. I agree 100 percent. The only thing that I would add is that the other advantage to turning on the lights is that potentially it makes those who would rather do their work in private and unseen suddenly be seen. Which, I don't even know if that's good or bad. I don't know. All I know is when I read this book At Day's Close it scared the living crap out of me, and also I learned that in, like, early modern Europe, there was - it was very common to wake up at two o'clock in the morning for an hour or two and then go back to sleep. Which is the weirdest thing about pre- 19th century life that I've ever come across.

Hank: Yeah!

John: That's when- there was like a special prayer time, and then also that's when most of the babies got made. 

Hank: Yeah! And I think maybe a little bit of like, just sort of like, let's go walk in the nice chill of the evening, and -

John: No there was not a lot of walking. 

Hank: - maybe scrub up the pans?

John: No. 

Hank: Do some pan scrubbing? No?

John: I don't know. I mean, -

Hank: I wasn't there when you read the book, John. I just heard what the internet had to say about it. 

John: Oh, ok. I just, I found that time - I don't know. I've also been reading a really good book about 17th century Paris and the first police chief of Paris, Hank, that I have to recommend. I think it's called City of Light, City of Poison. And oh, it is a rip-roaring adventure that is completely true. 

 Question 7 (32:39)

John: This next question comes from Stacy, who writes "Dear John and Hank, why can't my bathtub just be in my living room? Best fishes, Stacy." Oh wow.

Hank: That's a good signoff. 

John: It seems like she's been talking to Lilliana. 

Hank: Yeah. John, I once had my bathtub in my bedroom. 

John: Oh, yeah! When we lived in New York, one of our closest friends had her bathtub in her kitchen [Hank laughs] and when she asked the landlord, "why is the bathtub in the kitchen?" The landlord explained, "Well, because all the other plumbing is here." 

Hank: [laughing] It's just- yeah. I mean, like, there aren't any other- it's not like there are doors in your apartment. 

John: Right! Why buy a seven foot long pipe when I could just buy a one foot long pipe? 

Hank: I mean, yeah. Why have a bathtub at all? You've got a sink. 

John: [laughs] Just crouch in there! 

Hank: Just get in there!

John: You know what, I think you can have a bathtub in your living room. And if you own your own home, you can bring in a contractor and say, "the first thing that I would like to do when renovating this house is to put a bathtub in the dead center of the living room so that I can watch TV while I enjoy my luxurious baths. And the contractor will probably say, "that's not going to be great for resale value," and then you tell them that you want to do it anyway. 

Hank: This is my house! When Katherine and I were looking for houses we did happen upon a home that had in the bedroom a giant Jacuzzi tub that had clearly been put in by those owners. Out- and the bathroom was there! The bathroom was like- you could reach the bathroom door from the Jacuzzi tub. I was like, "why didn't you just make the wall go out, around-"

John: No. 

Hank: "- the Jacuzzi tub?"

John: No, it's nice to have a Jacuzzi tub in your master bedroom.

Hank: And it was carpeted right up to the Jacuzzi tub.

John: Yep. 

Hank: And there was a step -

John: Yep.

Hank: That you could step on to get into the Jacuzzi tub that was also carpeted. 

John: Yes.

Hank: And I was- this is a very strange set of decisions. It probably has something to do with the smell that's in here. And, we did not buy that house.

John: Right, no I think that was a relatively - I think that was a relatively common decision back in the '80s. Sarah and I also saw a number of houses that had that particular layout. And I would think like, you know I love a good bath, but I'm not sure that I want to bathe in the same room in which I sleep. 

Hank: Yeah. And-

John: It just seems like a recipe for mold. 

Hank: Yeah. The only reason that my apartment was like that when I first moved to Montana was because clearly they did not have space for a shower, so they put it in the bedroom. 

John: That said, Hank, did you make any decisions when you were renovating your house that you knew were bad for resale value but you made because they bring you personal joy? 

Hank: Yeah, I must have. 

John: The one that I did was that I made a secret room in my house, which was [Hank laughs] stupid, from the perspective of how much money can you spend on a door? Turns out, a lot. 

Hank: [laughing] Yeah.

John: But it was brilliant from the perspective of, every time I walk into my secret room, I feel, as if for the first time, overwhelmed by childlike joy. 

Hank: Do you have like, is it just a bunch of, like, military equipment? Like Batman? Is is just, like, your Batcar? Or is it just a bunch of pens and typewriters or something, like, my secret identity is I am the guy who writes those books that you've read! And like you go in there-

John: No, it's not like a bat cave-

Hank: - and then you put on a cape- 

John: No.

Hank: - and then you type furiously.

John: No, it's actually, the room- it's kind of like a workroom. It's the room in which I make Vlogbrothers videos but it's also kind of a workroom but if you walk up to the door, it looks like a bookcase, and then there's one particular book-

Hank: Mmhmm.

John: - that if you tap it the book case opens, and-

Hank: That's pretty cool! 

John: Yeah. It is pretty cool. I mean, I'll tell you what. No one but me would enjoy it as much as I enjoy it. But it brings me great joy every day. 

Hank: Oh, yeah. I have one! The thing that I did that's terrible for resale value is that we have spruce floors, which is just a terrible idea, because it is a very soft wood. But I think it's beautiful and I love it so much. 

John: Well, there you go. I think you've got to live your own life, and if you want a bathtub in your living room, then do it, man. Make it happen. 

Hank: Yeah, mine's super boring. It's the kind of wood we chose for the floors.

John: That is pretty boring. 

Hank: It was actually- it was already there. There was carpet over it. And the contractor was like, "this is just going to get all dented up," and I was like, "yeah, with my life. Every dent is going to be another thing that happened in my home! Get out of here!"

John: I think- that's actually quite a beautiful idea, Hank, that over time the floors will change because you have lived with them. I quite like that.

 Question 8 (37:44)

John: This next question comes from Clara, or if I've learned anything in the last few weeks, possibly Clayra or Clahra, all I know is that I'm definitely mispronouncing it. "Dear John and Hank, Why are story problems in math books so bizarre? I've had some weird ones, like a boy who wanted to make dodecahedron-shaped cookies as a romantic gesture for his girlfriend and the one where a boy was driving near Umatilla saw a circular irrigation pipe that was 450 feet long from his car and wanted to know the area of it. Also, why do people in math books not have Google [Hank laughs] to measure the height of the statue of liberty so as to prevent height-induced nosebleeds? Most people would just, you know, Google it." [laughs]

Hank: [laughs] I honestly do not- I do not know. And I find word problems very frustrating, because it is as if someone said, "no, we need to find real-life ways to apply this knowledge to the world." And then it was like, well let's come up with the weirdest, most contrived real-life ways that we can possibly think of, that are just so outside of anyone's experience that they might as well be skREvEL.

John: Right, if the ideas is that like, oh, you do use math in your everyday life, then you're going to be like, "but I'm never going to go to Umatilla." So this is irrelevant to me. 

Hank: [laughs] Yeah. 

John: I've always thought it was because it's a way of trying to imprint the ideas by making the examples so weird and obscure that you, like, you use the weirdness of the ideas as part of understanding the solution. But I truly don't know, and it has - I remember it striking me as very weird when I was a middle school and high school student and I'm sure, based on Clara's experience, things have not gotten more normal. 

Hank: I mean, yeah, I did that one math video on Vlogbrothers once upon a time and I had some word problems at the end of it and I did choose to make them as weird as possible. But I also tried to make them very life and death. Like, not like-

John: Right.

Hank: "Ooh, I wonder what the circumference of that irrigation pipe is?" More like, "you are going to die if you cannot solve this math problem quick!"

John: Right. That's definitely the way to approach it.

Hank: Yeah. 

John: I mean, people need to understand that when you use math in your daily life, it's in an attempt to avoid being eaten by a bear. 

Hank: Yeah! Which is really, in some ways it actually- when I use math in my everyday life it's almost always statistically. And it almost always pretty important to my life. 

John: Yes.

Hank: Like, I think that understanding statistics is very important to business, but also to making sound decisions financially and for your family.

John: Risk assessment. Yeah, absolutely.

Hank: And I would very much like to see more statistics taught earlier on. I just think that people are often like, "well, statistics isn't worth teaching if we can't get into the nitty-gritties," and I'm like, "it so is." And we should.

John: Yeah, maybe one of our math teacher listeners will be able to explain word problems to us.

 Responses (40:56)

John: In the mean time, Hank, we need to get to some name-specific sign offs. Because we got some great ones this week. 

Hank: Alright!

John: My favorite of the week came in from Sarah, who wrote that she signs off here emails by saying, "Que Será, Sarah." 

Hank: [laughs] That's real good. That's real good. What else? Let me get one. This person's name is Cian, who says "my name specific sign off," only if you realize that C-I-A-N is pronounced KEY-in, "A lock is what you put a, Cian."

John: That's pretty great, and Emma wrote in with a number of really good -

Hank: A number!

John: - name specific sign-offs. Including, "Get busy livin' or get busy," comma, "Ryan." [laughs]

Hank: [laughing] This next one makes me really wish that I had named my son Harry so that he could have his sign-offs, "You're a wizard! Harry." 

John: [laughing] And I like, also she has one for Adam, "It's not a bridge, it's," comma, "Adam." And she signs off her own email by writing, "I've been faced with a real dil," comma, "Emma." Dil-emma. It's there. 

Hank: Yeah, It's good.

John: It's there for me. I got it.

Hank: It's good. Yeah, yeah. It works because maybe you could be faced with a real dill. Just like a pickle, like a real big dill. 

John: Yeah. Also we have to just share one correction, because Hank got something wrong again, and it makes me so happy when he gets things wrong. 

Hank: [sceptical voice] Mmmm did I get something wrong? 

John: He got two things wrong. First off, Amanda wrote in to say that in many places, it is not actually legal to pick up a rock. 

Hank: No, that is true.

John: And picking up a rock does not make you own it. 

Hank: But you can do it anyway. 

John: And Kelly wrote in to say, "Dear John and Hank, I am the onsite manager of a homeowner's association."

Hank: Oh my goodness.

John: And I would like to just pause right here and say, Kelly, there are some people who are doing the Lord's work, and there are some people who are doing. The Lord's. Work. And you are the second kind. Oh my god. Let us pause to give thanks for Kelly, and all onsite manger of homeowner's associations everywhere. "I felt the need to write in on the topic from last week regarding whether or not it is ok to deposit your dog's poop into a neighbor's trash can. Given the number of complaints I've received from homeowners regarding this very issue, I can assure you that the answer is a very strong no. It is not ok."

Hank: I mean, why are these people going through their own trash? 

John: Well.

Hank: How do you even know that it happened? 

John: I mean-

Hank: I don't understand how you know- like, it's the trash. At that point it's trash. The only person who is going to deal with it after this point is the person who puts it in the back of the garbage truck. If anyone's going to complain it should be them. 

John: I think the bigger issue is if there's a hole or if the bag breaks then you've potentially got poop in the bottom of your trashcan bin forever, and you've got to clean it out. She went into a great detail and made a compelling argument, and also, if we can make life easier for the onsite managers of homeowner's associations worldwide, please let us do that. Because I have been to many a homeowner's association meeting, and I have never felt that kind of despair anywhere else. 

Hank: [laughing] Yeah. I have also, and it is not grand. 

John: Some people are good at it. Some people can take that on, and do it well, and I'm sure that Kelly is one of those people but I am not. 

 News from Mars and AFC Wimbledon (44:28)

John: Hank, we're recording this well in advance, so it's going to be a little difficult for us to do the Mars and Wimbledon news, but we're going to persevere, by a bold new segment- 

Hank: Right.

John: - in which we predict what the news from Mars and / or Wimbledon will be eleven days from now. 

Hank: Alright, what have you got?

John: Ok, Hank. AFC Wimbledon, in a really stunning turn of events, played two games over the last nine days. They played Portsmouth and Blackpool, and this is going to surprise you, but they won both games. Six points from two games, beating Blackpool- 

Hank: Fantastic!

John: - two- one with a last second winner from substitute Lyle Taylor, the Messi from Monserrat, the Monserratian Christiano Renaldo, some call him. And then, up against Portsmouth, one of the biggest teams in League One, a fan-owned club like AFC Wimbledon, Wimbledon won three - nil! 

Hank: Woo!

John: Three- nil victory for AFC Wimbledon in my hypothetical future against Portsmouth.

Hank: I mean I guess you- I guess you're trying to maybe, like, get some accuracy out of this, but why didn't you just make it five? Sixteen. Sixteen - zero.

John: You know what, Hank, you're right. I apologize. Lyle Taylor scored a hat trick and AFC Wimbledon beat Portsmouth by five goals. They won eight to three. 

Hank: [laughing] Oof! Man, those goalkeepers need to get their goalkeeping hands on. 

John: Oh no, our goalkeeper stopped 47 shots. 

Hank: Oh wow, ok, good [laughing] wow, I think there's another problem then.

John: What will happen in Mars?

Hank: In Mars news, 11 days from now, if I know anything from Googling Mars news every week, it's that someone will feel as if they have seen something in a picture from the surface of Mars that either confirms the existence of aliens or confirms that NASA has not, in fact, gone to Mars and that it's all on a sound stage, and that is a gum wrapper, isn't it? 

John: [laughs]

Hank: So I can confidently predict that there will be a story of that kind published somewhere on the internet 11 days from now. 

John: Hank, I don't think that's - I'm going to encourage you to be bolder and go ahead and make a prediction that flat-Marsism is going to spread through Twitter like-

Hank: Right, well of course! 

John: - wildfire. 

Hank: Well, like, what do you think, that flat-Earthers think that Mars is a planet? [John laughs] No, they also think that Mars is flat.

John: Do they? 

Hank: It's - I don't know! Of course I don't know! I don't pay any attention to flat-Earthers. I believe that flat-Earthers are 90 percent trolls, and 10 percent very confused. Even the 10 percent- they're trolls, they just have internalized it so deeply that they forgot they were once trolls. But yes, I'm sure they think that Mars is a coin flipping out there in the Solar System doing its-  

John: Well, no, no -

Hank: With turtles all the way down.

John: Right, it's turtles all the way down, man. I - [clears through] - I am right now on the Flat Earth Society discussion boards- 

Hank: Mmhmm.

John: For the question "Is Mars, Venus, Mercury, etcetera, flat too?" It's one of the leading topics of recent conversation on the flat Earth discussion boards. 

Hank: Oh! Yep, there it is. 

John: Because the first comment, which is very compelling, is "they look round through a telescope anyway, question mark?" And then the first reply is, "They're round, just like the Earth." Because I believe that flat-Earthers believe that the Earth is round -

Hank: Right.

John: - but just not spherical. 

Hank: Circular.

John: It's circular. 

Hank: Circular but not spherical. 

John: Yeah. Yeah. 

Hank: I mean, I feel like we need to read this entire, this entire thread. This conversation has been going on since 2010, but it is recently updated. 

John: I like the person who recently wrote, "Look, no one is claiming that other celestial bodies are flat." [Both laugh] Come on. Don't make us look like idiots here. Of course Mars is spherical. 

Hank: Well, I mean, there was a reply to that one that says, "each and every one of the heavenly bodies has the shape of a disc. There are no spherical planets!" And then a lot of references. 

John: Oh, oh my god. Oh I'm on that one now.

Hank: Including the impossibility of a spherically shaped Sun, is a whole thread. 

John: [laughs] Oh man. Oh god! Oh man. Ok, actually, you know what, that's, That's it. That's it. I hit the limit. I'm off. I'm out. 

Hank: [laughs] It's 100 percent done with flat-Earthers?

John: I can handle flat-Earthism, I can't handle flat-Sunism. [laughing] I can't. I can't. I mean, I think there's a place for all kinds of opinions on the internet, but flat-Sunism is where I draw the line. 

Hank: Alright, John. So aside from the futility of that jaunt down the Google hole, what did we learn today?

John: I mean, I feel like I just unlearned so much. 

Hank: [laughing] Uh, well-

John: We learned that there are a lot of words for dingus, doohickey, and thingamajig. 

Hank: And we learned that hickey is not just that suck bruise, it's also apparently a thing. The little dooder. The doodad. Dingus. 

John: We learned that Dexter Holland has a Ph.D. in microbiology! 

Hank: I thought that- he has a Ph.D.? 

John: Yes! Did you not -

Hank: Oh man-

John: Were you not listening to me while I was reading that headline?

Hank: I knew he had a degree, I didn't know it was a Ph.D.! It's great!

John: It's Dr. Dexter Holland of The Offspring. 

Hank: Oh, that's wonderful! And lastly, we learned that pharmacy schools are really out to get those most unique of candidates. 

 Outro/ Credits (50:34)

[outro music plays]

John: There is no such thing as being more or less unique. If you are unique, you are unique. I - it's a personal- I should have let that go but I didn't, and now I have to apologize for not letting it go. Ok. Thank you for podding with me, Hank. 

Hank: I don't know how unique works and I don't know how pharmacy schools work, either. 

John: Yeah, I mean-

Hank: It's been a pleasure. 

John: [laughs] If you want to email us, you can do so at We're also on Twitter. I'm @johngreen, Hank is @hankgreen.

Hank: This podcast is produced by Rosianna Halse Rojas and Sheridan Gibson, it's edited by Nicholas Jenkins. Our community manager is Victoria Bongiorno. You can find Dear Hank and John on Patreon, where you can get our special weekly short podcast called This Week in Ryans where we discuss one famous Ryan throughout history who usually isn't actually named Ryan. This theme music that you are hearing right now is from the great Gunnarolla. You can find him on YouTube at And as they say in our hometown- 

Hank and John together: Don't Forget to be Awesome. 

[outro music ends]