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How do I stop whistling? How do you not get burned out? How do I get rid of a death zit? And more!

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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 where two brothers will answer your questions, give you dubious advice, and bring you all the week's news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon. Hi John, how are you?

John: I'm doing well. You know, my new book Turtles All the Way Down comes out in about two weeks, and I'm sort of freaking out. But it occurs to me that you will know the pleasure of this particular freak out sometime next year when your novel comes out!

Hank: Yeah! There's a number of times in the past little while when you've been talking about something that I can't talk about. Which I hate doing, and I never want to do, and so I didn't for the most part, and then, now it's happening! The thing that I've been working on and not able to talk about is a real thing now and I have a book that I wrote and now have to revise. John, this process is time consuming! 

John: Uh, yeah. No, I mean, that's why it takes me years between books. But I have absolute faith in you. You're going to be ok. But it is- it's time consuming and it's intimidating. But you're a really good writer, and it's going to be great. I'm not worried. Im not worried. I'm a little worried that you're not going to put all of your energy into the tour because you're going to have to revise during tour. And I want to spend the entire tour playing on the Super Nintendo Classic mini thing that I just bought. 

Hank: Well, I'm definitely going to be revising on tour, because the deadline I have been given is quite aggressive. Ah, but-

John: Well, that's fine, but you and I have to play a lot of Super Mario Kart

Hank: [laughs] Well you can take that up with my editor, who I have now. I have an editor. It's weird. 

John: I'm so excited for you! So, for those of you who don't know - Hank is not that good at self promo - his new book is going to be called - his first book is going to be called An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. It's coming out in the Fall of 2018. And I am thrilled. It is an absolutely remarkable thing. 

Hank: You haven't read it yet, so you don't know. It could be terrible. One thing I will say about An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is that it does not pass the Mom test in that she cannot remember the title. She just cannot. It's -

John: [laughs] Well, on the other hand, the thing that is the best about it is way back in 2007 my friend Maureen Johnson observed that many book titles get better when you add "in your pants" to the end of them. And An Absolutely Remarkable Thing in Your Pants is one of the greatest "in your pants" book titles of all time. 

Hank: Uh, it was considered. It was really the only thing I needed for it to be a good - that's all I was hoping for. You know, I kind of wanted it to spell out "FART" but I gave up on that goal and so just got "AART" instead.

John: Oh man, well I am really thrilled for you and really proud of you. And I guess it remains to be seen which Green brother will rule the roost of publishing, but I am really excited for you. 

Hank: I really now regret not finding a way to make the acronym "FART". You think I could have slid that one under the radar and Penguin wouldn't have noticed? They just - ah, and like, you know -

John: Funnily-

Hank: Everybody would just be like, see it on the shelves and when it comes to talking about the book, because it's a rather long title, you'd just have to say, "well, when I was imagining the main character in 'FART'," ah, it would be so good. 

John: Hank would you like a short -

Hank: Also something that happens in your pants. Go ahead and give me a short poem, John. 

John: Alright, this poem was sent in by Michelle. It's called Splinter by Carl Sandberg. It's very short, and it's about Fall, so it's seasonally appropriate. "The voice of the last cricket across the first frost is one kind of goodbye. It is so thin, a splinter of singing." Just a little early Fall poem for you, Hank. Can I share with you a question from our listeners? 

Hank: Yeah, please do! 

 Question 1 (4:02)

John: Alright. This question comes from Colleen, who writes, "Dear Brothers Green, I love listening to the pod and I'm excited to see you in St. Paul next month." I'm also excited to be visiting Minnesota, Colleen. "I am a kindergarten teacher who is slowly burning out. My kids and coworkers are amazing, but the demand placed on all of us are becoming increasingly impossible and to add to it, I have a particularly large and difficult class this year. I'm John's age, and wondering if it's too late to change careers. My husband and I have two kids. We cannot support ourselves on his salary alone, so taking a few years for the family or more schooling is not an option. What could my next career be? Keeping it, Colleen." What a great name-specific sign-off. 

Hank: Yeahhh that's good, that's good. Ah, there maybe are sort of the same careers in other places that you could be looking at. Like, oftentimes I will hire video editors that are currently video editors at other video editing companies. But they will like the job better working for me because it will be more pay or it will be less pressure, or a cooler thing. So maybe there are kindergartens out there that aren't so hard. 

John: Maybe, but I would say that there's also opportunity to do lots of other jobs. I mean, I always recommend talking to your friends and networking is a horrible word, but it is by far, I think, the most effective way to find jobs. So go talk to your friends, talk to other parents at soccer games, say, "I am a kindergarten teacher but I'm looking for interesting new opportunities. If you hear of anything please let me know." I think that tends to be the way that most people actually get jobs. LinkedIn and everything is great but I think there's no replacement for networking. The other thing that I'd say, Colleen, is that in my opinion, your skill set is incredibly useful in a lot of different careers. Like a lot of project management careers, because if you can handle a classroom full of five and six year old children, as far as I'm concerned you can do almost anything in terms of, like, organization and administration. 

Hank: [Laughs] Yeah, I mean, managing for the most part is just controlling people who are letting their base instincts drive them.

John: Right.

Hank: Which is definitely kindergarten teaching. 

John: Yeah.

Hank: That is a great point, John. 

John: Yeah, I remember - the other thing is that you'll probably be calm under pressure, which is useful. Like, I remember when I started working at Booklist Magazine, I'm not generally - this is going to surprise you, Hank - but I'm not generally known for being a calm person. 

Hank: Mmhmm.

John: But when I first started working at Booklist Magazine my previous job had been at a children's hospital, and everyone would be so upset about the deadlines at Booklist and is the magazine going to come out on time, and I would just be, like, you know what guys? The magazine has come out on time, like, every two weeks for the last 104 years. I think it's going to be fine. Nobody's going to die today. 

Hank: [laughs] That's good. Yeah, deescalation. Because you really can't be somebody who escalates if you're a kindergarten teacher. 

John: No, you cannot be a catastrophizer if you're a kindergarten teacher. Like, if a five-year-old is like, "I cannot believe that Jimmy stole my crayons!" You can't be like, "Oh my god, Jimmy-"

Hank: "Oh Wow! That really is a deal! Oh man! We got-"

John: "Oh, we need to call the principal immediately. In fact, you know what, we need to call the president."

Hank: Yeah. I, uh-

John: 'Cause he can deescalate a crisis.

Hank: Oh man, I'm glad that I have gotten a fair amount of deescalation training before having a child. Hopefully that will be a positive thing for both of us. 

 Question 2 (7:44)

Hank: This next question is from Tyler, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, how long slash well do you have to know someone before you should or it makes sense to go to their wedding. I have two friends whom I have acted with in a play that are getting married. I've only known them for about four months, but in that time we grew pretty close, as theater makes you do. The young lady posted on Facebook saying, 'If you would like a wedding invite, please send me your address!'"

John: Booooo.

Hank: This is the worst thiiiiiiing!!

John: Boooooo! Boooooooo!

Hank: [Laughs] "Why is she putting the burden of choosing who goes and who doesn't on us? Tyler." Yeah! No, this isn't how weddings work! 

John: Well also, like, I mean, can I look up her Facebook and ask for an invite to the wedding? Like, because I don't mind. As long as there's an open bar I don't mind spending a Saturday afternoon with strangers. 

Hank: [Laughs] Ahh-

John: What in the sweet name of hell is this? I mean, just when I thought that I understood the brave new world of internet discourse, suddenly ahhh, what? Huh? I don't know! Don't- Tyler. No. Tyler, back away. Just walk slowly away from this situation. Delete your Facebook, and just try to reset your life. 

Hank: Yeah. Yeah, spend a little time in the woods. This- oh man. I, like, that's just way, way too much! Does this person like everyone who follows them on Facebook enough for them to come to their wedding? 

John: Yeah.

Hank: 'Cause that is not how I feel about everyone who follows me on my Facebook.

John: Maybe it is a strategy for dealing with really difficult or annoying parents, like if the parents are like, "we need you to invite these 72 people you don't know," maybe they can be like, "you know what, fine. But the solution to pollution is dilution, and I'm inviting everyone from my Facebook." There's going to be 4,000 people at this wedding. We're serving nothing but Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, and you can bring all of your friends. 

Hank: [Laughs] There is no food. The cake-

John: Yeah, there won't be no food.

Hank: The cake is big enough for two people. Thank you. 

John: Yeah, Tyler, don't go to this wedding. That is my full-stop recommendation. 

Hank: I agree.

 Question 3 (10:03)

John: This next question comes from Hailey, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, I'm 20 years old and I only recently learned how to whistle." Hank, can we pause for a second -

Hank: Mmhmm. 

John: - so I can just tell you something.

Hank: Yeah, sure. 

John: I don't know if I've told you this before, but to get Willie inside when he's outside, Sarah and I whistle. We say [whistles] to get him inside. 

Hank: Yeah.

John: That's the whistle to get Willie inside. And Henry and Alice don't know how to whistle but they also like to get Willie inside. So what they say when they want to get Willie inside is this, "Aarrrup!" 

Hank: [Laughs] That's cute! 

John: It's so cute it melts me! Every time, it melts me! 

Hank: Oh god, [laughs].

John: Oh! It's like when Alice says "I'm upside down" when she's right-side up, and says "I'm right-side up" when she's upside down. Like, it's so frickin' cute. All of this is in front of you. I can't wait. Anyway, Hailey has just learned how to whistle. Congratulations, Hailey. 

Hank: Mmhmm.

John: "I'm happy that I can finally whistle, but now I find myself with a serious problem. I can't stop whistling."

Hank: This is a serious problem. 

John: Oh, it's a crisis for everyone around you. "Maybe it's because I feel like I have 20 whistle-less years to make up for, or maybe I'm just practicing now that I'm addicted to it. This wouldn't be a big deal, but I live with a roommate in a studio apartment." Oh my, oh wow. "And I think I'm driving her crazy with all the whistling." Oh, you don't need to think, Hailey. You need to stop the whistling. "How can I stop whistling and move on with my life? Best whistles, Hailey." That's a fantastic sign-off.

Hank: Whaaaaa! Best whistles! Oh my god, it all got worth it at the end there. [Laughs]

John: It all, I mean, it paid off big time. So Hank, in addition to being, as you know, a really great singer.

Hank: Mmhmm.

John: I am also - I am also an off-key whistler. Like, I also can't whistle correctly.

Hank: Yeah, I'm not great at whistling either. I have a couple of friends who are like, super high quality, you should be a professional whistler, whistlers. 

John: Yeah. 

Hank: That is not me. 

John: You want to play a game real quick -

Hank: Mmhmm.

John: - where we whistle tunes back and forth to each other and I try to guess what you're whistling? 

Hank: Ok.

John: Alright, here's me. Ready? 

Hank: Ok.

John: [Whistles a tune.] Anything? Anything?

Hank: Yeah, yeah. Dock of the Bay. Is it Dock of the Bay?

John: Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay. Otis Redding. Exactly. Now you bring me one. 

Hank: Alright. 

John: It's got to be something I recognize. Remember, I only know about seven songs. 

Hank: [Whistles a tune]

John: [Joins in singing "doo-doo-doo"s with Hank's whistling] I have no idea what that song is. Is it "Hey Now, You're an All Star" by Smashmouth?

Hank: [Laughs] Yes!

John: That is literally one of the seven songs I know, not by the Mountain Goats.

Hank: I know. I figured that was going to be one of them. 

John: Hank -

Hank: Good job.

John: What do you say to Hailey? What does Hailey do in this situation? 

Hank: I mean, stop whistling. [Both laugh] I mean maybe- with anything that becomes compulsive it can be very hard to stop doing things. But maybe there's some kind of like, noise activated shock collar that you could acquire?

John: Oh, that's a terrible idea. I remember-

Hank: Just some negative reinforcement. 

John: My first ever therapist, when I described the experience of these obsessive thought spirals that I would fall into, I remember my first ever therapist said, and I'm quoting directly, "you need to stop thinking like that." 

Hank: [Laughs] That's really good.

John: And I was like, "oh yeah, no that's- thanks for that helpful advice." Obviously Hailey wishes that she lived in a world where she wasn't whistling so much. Here's my advice, Hailey. I wonder if you can whistle to yourself. Like whistle silently, the way that you talk to yourself.

Hank: Hmm.

John: I wonder if you could practice some self whistling. 

Hank: I do that with talking a lot, and Katherine will sometimes be like, "what are you doing?" And I will just - my mouth will be moving very small-ly. And just -

John: Oh yeah, I do that a lot.

Hank: It's weird.

John: I do that especially when I'm writing a Vlogbrothers video in my head. 

Hank: Yeah.

John: And Sarah will be like "are you - are you talking?" And I'll be like, "not exactly."

Hank: Just, I'm just being real weird. I just, oh man. 

John: Yeah. 

Hank: I mean, it's part of the process! 

 Question 4 (14:19)

John: Speaking of real weird, we've got a question from Jethro, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, when I open my mouth, photons get in. Now the photons have no mass so they don't cause me to gain weight or anything. My question is, what happens to the photons when I close my mouth? Do they all get out in the last moment before it shuts? Or do some get trapped in there and bounce around until I next open my mouth? Flotsam and Jetsam, Jethro."

Hank: [laughing] Oh man! Oh man, I love it so much, Jethro! this is super good! That's, well, I mean I can tell you actually what happens to them.

John: That's what I want to know.

Hank: Ok. I feel like that magic of feeling as if they're just bouncing around in there waiting to fly out when you open your mouth again, that's too beautiful. I don't want to ruin it. But a photon, when it hits something, will either be absorbed or it will reflect. And so a very small amount of them will reflect but then they will reflect and hit something else very soon afterward, you know, they're moving at the speed of light so it's going to happen very quickly and within, you know, an imperceptible amount of time after you close your mouth they will have all been absorbed by the tissues in your mouth. And your mouth will be slightly warmer! So there's that, probably. But yeah, they won't be there when you open your mouth again unless you could open your mouth reaaaally fast. Really fast. Like, way faster -

John: Than you can.

Hank: Which is why, like, when you close a door, all the photons, they just, like, get absorbed by the room and stop bouncing around. Even if you're in, like, a room made of mirrors, that happens. Because the mirrors aren't perfect. 

John: So basically we're all made out of light. 

Hank: We're all made out of energy if you want to be beautiful about it. 

John: Yeah, I don't know. It feels like a reach. It feels like one of those early John Green novel science reaches. 

Hank: [laughs]We're definitely not all made of light, I can tell you that.

 Question 5 (16:26)

John: This next question comes from Nicole, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, During this year's Project for Awesome I purchased the Nerdfighter pen pal perk. To make a long story short, the two pen pals I was placed with never responded after the initial message."

Hank: Waaghhh. 

John: "The fantastic team at Project for Awesome were very kind to me but said that no one else has had this situation occur, so they were placing me on a list in case this happens to anyone else, but it's been several months and I'm beginning to lose hope. I'm hoping if you read this email, someone will reach out to be my Nerdfighter pen pal. Best wishes, Nicole." Alright Nicole, here's the deal. We're going to have applications to be your pen pal. No wait, we're not doing that. We're not doing that.

Hank: That sounds like work. 

John: Alright, Nicole, here's the deal. You know Colleen, from earlier? The kindergarten teacher who's looking to find a new career? She doesn't know this, but she is your new pen pal. 

Hank: Oh, it happened.

John: The good news is that you, Nicole, now it is your job to get Colleen a new job. So -

Hank: Right, well also -

John: We're closing the loop on this.

Hank: We're going to hook you up with Hailey as well, and you can talk with her, and you will not be able to hear her whistle. Which is excellent news for you, because it's a pen pal situation hopefully Hailey won't write out her whistlings. 

John: Colleen and Hailey, if you don't want to be Nicole's pen pal, don't worry. Her previous two pen pals also rejected her so I'm sure her heart won't be broken or anything. 

 Question 6 (17:53)

Hank: Alright. John, This next question comes from Dahlia, who asks, "What is the proper etiquette for handing change to a cashier? Do you place it on the counter, which forces them to pick up the coins, which can be difficult and irritating? Or do you try to hand it to them directly, which can result in your hands awkwardly touching, or dropping the coins by accident? Am I the only one who thinks about this? An answer would be much appreciated. Yours curiously, Dahlia." Hey Dahlia, I've got a great update for you. Just, we use credit cards now. We don't - what is -

John: [laughs] Not always. I mean, so when I worked at Steak and Shake it was a cash only business, astonishingly. 

Hank: Wow.

John: And this came up in my life all the time, when I - I don't know if you know this, Hank, but the takeout side of Steak and Shake is called "take-home-a-sack."

Hank: Yeah.

John: Because you are taking home a sack of burgers.

Hank: Mmhmm.

John: And so when someone would come up to the take-home-a-sack line, this would happen all the time. In fact, almost every time. And in my experience, I would rather - much rather, personally, someone just try to sort of drop - hand the change off in some way or drop the change into my hand, because it is very difficult to pick up change off of a counter. And in the end I think it's actually, from the perspective of someone who's somewhat germaphobic, actually grosser to have to, like, touch every part of the penny as you try to, like, rip it from the counter. 

Hank: It's true! What -

John: Than just risk the slight touch of another human hand -

Hank: Oh man.

John: So that is my personal vote but I'm sure that everybody's experience is different. And really, I would think that most of the time we could solve this problem with credit cards now. 

Hank: This is a problem that my son Orin has - he's ten and a half months old - particularly with avocado.

John: Uh-huh. Sure.

Hank: Man, like, getting him to pick a piece of avocado up off the counter is - it's so frustrating to watch and he's just like, he's concentrating and he's got his fingers on it, and he's pulling it and it sticks and it slides off and it's still there on the frickin' thing in front of his high chair and he's just like, "Why can't I get this avocado into my hand?"

John: Yeah. Yeah.

Hank: Oh, they're so sticky! The surface tension. It's hard to be a baby.

John: I wonder how old I was when I first ate an avocado. Because I was definitely older than Orin is now. 

Hank: Oh man, yeah! Like, when did avocados happen? I feel like we didn't - like, I did not encounter an avocado until college. And all of these young people these days don't know what life was like and they don't understand. Like, Steak and Shake didn't take credit cards and avocados didn't exist.

John: It was a hard life for us. We walked uphill to school both ways. It was very difficult. Did I ever tell you by the way that Sarah's grandfather was an avocado farmer? In California?

Hank: No! 

John: It's true! It's true. Not the kind of avocados that we most commonly eat these days here in the United States. But he was an avocado farmer and you still occasionally see his name on avocados. 

Hank: Can you say avocado again for me, John? 

John: Um, well now I can't. Because now I've become suddenly, tremendously self conscious. Do I say avocado weird? 

Hank: You say "avocado" [pronouncing first syllable with 'a' as in 'cat'] like you are very American. 

John: Well, how do British people say avocado? Rosianna, how do you say avocado?

Rosianna: [faintly in the background] Avocado.

John: [imitating Rosianna's British accent] Avocado. That's my imitation of Rosianna saying avocado. Avocado. 

Hank: I don't - It's just that -

John: What is it like to treat words so generously as English people treat them? It's like every word they say -

Hank: Oh yeah. 

John: It's like they're trying to give the word a hug and make sure that its feelings don't get hurt. 

Hank: [laughs] Did you know avocados in America used to be called "avocado pears?" Which is just - cause they're pear shaped?

John: Yeah.

Hank: But like, why? Don't say that, because people are going to be very confused! When they crack open this -

John: Right, that's probably why they didn't catch on for decades, people would like -

Hank: And just like, take a bite out of it. Just, they're like, this -

John: And they'd crack open an avocado pear and be like, "this doesn't taste like a pear at all.

Hank: Something very bad has happened to this pear. 

 Question 7 (21:57)

John: [laughs] Alright Hank, we've got - let's get to another question from our listeners. This one comes from Allison, who writes, "Hi, John and Hank. I find myself in year three of graduate school, working a full time, low paying internship, writing a thesis and working on a grant. I haven't made it in my career yet and I already feel burned out. The two of you seem to do it all, even while maintaining relationships and time with your families. How do you keep yourselves from burning out? How do you keep going when you're just tired. Overworked and underpaid, Allison."

Hank: I think the much more important question Allison should be asking is "how do John and Hank make it appear that they don't get burned out?" Because -

John: Yeah, I mean so -

Hank: - the fact that you don't think that we do is a win as far as I can tell. But yeah, there are definitely times when I feel like I'm failing at one or the other of those things, that I am concentrating too much on one and it's hurting the other or that I'm just really done. I'm just done with one of the things that I've been working on and I have to keep doing it because it's a responsibility that I have and that I've signed up for, and people are relying on me. 

John: I cannot tell in our real lives how often Hank says to me or I say to him that we feel like we're doing all of our jobs badly. 

Hank: Yeah.

John: It's one of my biggest worries and frustrations, is feeling like I do too many things and end up doing them all poorly. But I also have just a tremendous amount of support that you probably don't have working in graduate school and working at your full time job and and trying to write a thesis and also trying to get grant money so that you can continue to do the work that you want to do. Like, that is a lot to take on in a life, and I think it's - I find it helpful sometimes just to say like, ok, well the reason I feel overworked and stressed out and like I'm pressed past the limit is that I am.

Hank: Mmhmm.

John: Like, that's real. It's not that I'm some tremendous failure because I can't do stuff. It's because it's real. And also, the other thing I'd say is that honestly because Hank is my brother and Hank is the most productive, relentless person I have ever met and I am in complete awe of his ability to just do thing after thing after thing, and do them all well - like, I also know the feeling of looking at other people and just feeling like, I don't - I can't do that. Sometimes that's also ok. I think it's ok to just be like, I can't do all this other stuff even if other people can do it, I can't. And accepting your own limitations and being able to kind of work within your own strengths and weaknesses I think is kind of the key to long term sustainable workloads. 

Hank: Mmhmm. Yeah. Yeah, and the only reason I feel like I've been able to do, like an abnormally large amount of sort of individual activities is because one, I find them all very enjoyable, and I kind of often don't have to do them when I stop finding them enjoyable. Because I can find people who will help me keep those things working and alive after I have gotten burned out on them or I will sort of catch my burnout early and find ways to have people who support me and support those things after I feel like I can't do them. So that's an amazing place of privilege to be able to, like, when something is getting to be too much or when I'm just like over it, I can find people who have that passion that I don't have at the moment and then come back to it when my passion is back. 

John: Yeah, no that is a huge privilege for sure. 

 Question 8 (25:40)

Hank: I've got another question, it's from Kate. "Dear Brothers Green, I currently have a pimple located right at the base of my nostril, and even brushing a finger against it causes instant pain and death! Why does this particular zit hurt so much and how do I get rid of it? I would appreciate any dubious advice as I would like to be able to wash my face again like a normal person. Acne and artichokes, Kate." John, -

John: Agh. Ah, Agh. 

Hank: Nose stuff. Man, I tell you what. I looked this up, John. Nose pain is some of the worst pain that you can have on your body, weirdly. There was a man recently who decided he wanted to know where it hurt the most on his body to get stung by a bee. And so he stung himself with a bee every day for a month on different parts of his body. In fact, twice a day, because he did a test sting on his forearm so he could be like ok, this is how much the base level of pain is.

John: Mmhmm.

Hank: And then I will sting myself on another part of my body to know how much worse than forearm bee sting that is. 

John: Yeah.

Hank: And do you want to know where on his whole body - because he stung himself everywhere - it hurt the worst? 

John: Uh, was it the nose? 

Hank: It was the nose! And yes, he did sting himself on his penis, and it hurt less than getting stung on the nose. In fact, it was not even really like - it was, you know, close to the top, but penis sting was like, just as bad as, like, armpit sting or like, palm of the hand sting. It was like a seven. The nose was a nine. Like the nostril and like, around the lip area was the worst area to get stung by a bee. And I feel this so hard because I get nose zits on the inside of my nose sometimes and they hurt so bad! It hurts so bad! 

John: So bad. So I completely agree, but I just - if you don't mind, I'd like to ask you to just roll back the tape a little bit. Um. What?

Hank: [laughs]

John: Why? 

Hank: He wanted to know!

John: When? 

Hank: Science! 

John: Who? You can't give me one of - you can't give me one fifth of this news story and not fill in the blanks. Who is this person? Why did they choose to do this? Don't tell me for science. Because for science you need a much larger sample size. 

Hank: Well, I mean, I don't think you're going to get a much larger sample size is the thing.

John: First off, in my experience what you need in this situation, above all, because there is no solution that I know of to the nose zit, is empathy. You need people in your life who care about you and understand how terrible a nose zit is. And that is why, Kate, I am going to be introducing you to Nicole C. You guys are going to be pen pals. That's right, Kate! You're going to be pen pals with Nicole C. whether you like it or not. And remember, she has been dumped by two pen pals so don't dump her. Ok, Hank, what is going on? Who did this? 

Hank: His name is Michael Smith, he is -

John: No it isn't!

Hank: It is. It is. 

John: No it isn't.

Hank: Why?

John: That is a completely fake name as anybody who intentionally stung themselves on the penis with a bee would do, he has created a fake name. 

Hank: I mean, no. I'm at the Cornell graduate students page right now I just clicked on a page - a picture of Michael Smith. "Research: I'm interested in how honeybee workers sense the size of their colony and how they make the switch from investing in survival slash growth to reproduction. I spend lots of time counting bees and looking at drone comb." It does not mention the fact that he stung himself on the penis with a bee, and apparently stung himself a total of 190 times over 38 days and calibrated his experiments with a single sting on the forearm every time.

John: I mean, it's one of those Batman things, you know. The hero we need. 

Hank: Yeah. So the nose was a nine out of ten, the lips was an 8.7 out of ten- interesting that he got that granular with it that there was a .7 going on. Penis came in at 7.3. Testicles a mere seven.

John: [shuddering] Aghhh. 

Hank: Tying for fourth with the cheek, the palm, and the armpit. 

John: Ah, I mean I am grateful to know this information so that if I ever get stung in the nose by a bee I will at least be able to comfort myself by saying, "well, Michael Smith did say this was the worst." And he knows. 

Hank: He says at the end of this article in National Geographic, "I didn't see a lot of merit in repeating this with more subjects." So he's not going to go any deeper with the research it looks like. 

John: Alright, so he addressed -

Hank: But it's not nothing! He gave us -

John: He addressed my concern about sample size head on, which I appreciate. Thank you, Michael. 

 Sponsors (30:27)

John: In fact, Hank, that reminds me that today's podcast is brought to you by Michael Smith. Michael Smith! The surprisingly generous soul who agreed to be stung by a bee 190 times. 

Hank: This podcast is also additionally brought to you by the solution to pollution, which is dilution! Dilution! Just invite everyone to your wedding so you don't have to hang out with your parents' weird friends. 

John: And today's podcast is brought to you by the photons in your mouth. The photons in your mouth! They're going to stay there. 

Hank: And finally - well, not technically, but whatever. And finally this podcast is brought to you by avocado pears! Just take a big old bite. Don't even think about what might be inside of there or whether that skin is definitely not to be eaten. Just yum yum yum. 

John: Alright. We also have an actual sponsor for today, which is Audible. Did you know, Hank, that you can go to or and get a free audiobook with a 30 day trial and that among the free audiobooks you can get in that deal are The Fault in Our Stars, my most recent novel.

Hank: Yeah.

John: Turtles All the Way Down.
Hank: Oooh!

John: You can pre-order it. It comes out in two weeks. Or Looking for Alaska, my first novel, or any of my books. But you can also get a lot of other people's books at Audible. Audible is an amazing resource that allows you to listen to high quality audiobooks of everything. Anything that interests you. But hopefully especially my books. 

Hank: [laughs] Someone asked me on Tumblr, "Is your book going to be an audiobook?" And I was like, I mean, it's a book. Yeah! Doesn't that just happen? Is that something - I don't even know. Is it something that just happens, John? 

John: It doesn't. It doesn't always just happen. 

Hank: Oh! 

John: But I'm sure that it will happen for An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. I'm very confident of that. And very - I might listen to it on audio, to be perfectly honest with you. 

Hank: Yeah, I do. I do. I listen to so many audiobooks now. 

John: Yeah.

Hank: It's so good. I have gotten straight up addicted. Sometimes I have to like, tear, like say "ok, no you're going to not, you're going to, like, be in silence with yourself." 

John: Yeah.

Hank: Because I get so caught up in my audiobooks. Right now I'm listening to The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, narrated by Katherine Kellgren. It's really good. 

John: Audible also has it's own podcasts, which are very cool. 

Hank: Yeah! Yeah, I listened to one recently that was like, this guy got to talk to Bernie Madoff and told the whole story of Bernie Madoff.

John: Yes! 

Hank: And I thought that one was really fascinating and like really -

John: That is the one that I have enjoyed.

Hank: - informed me more -

John: It is crazy! 

Hank: - about how messed up not only that situation was, but the entire financial industry. It's really upsetting!

John: Yeah. I found that podcast absolutely gripping. I mean, it's really interesting to watch someone sort of try to build justifications for their behavior while also knowing it was wrong while also not being able to process that it was wrong. It's a fascinating podcast. You can check it out on Audible. Also get lots of books and a free month, 30 day trial, at that's -

Hank: Dear -

John: A-u-d-i-b-l-e dot com, they're making us spell it out now. That's - [Hank laughs] seriously, that's not a joke.

Hank: Ok. 

John: That's a-u-d-i-b-l-e dot com slash dear John. 

Hank: Or dear Hank. 

John: But mostly dear John. 

Hank: Ehh, but if you want to use dear Hank that would be fine. This next question comes to you - I'm just shutting you up there, John. I don't even know what the next question is. 



 Response 1  (34:03)

Hank: This next question -

John: [speaking at the same time]This next question comes from Jordan.

Hank: - comes to you. Oh. Oh my goodness. Interesting. Ok, go ahead. Fine. 

John: No, you go. No, you go. You go.

Hank: Alright, it comes from Joey, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, I just wanted to compliment the phrase of the week game this week, episode 108, it was a large improvement on that bit and definitely made it more exciting for us listeners, so I wanted to give you positive feedback. Not a kangaroo, Joey." 

John: Thank you for that, Joey, and for the wonderful name specific sign-off. I want to say that when we create bits here at Dear Hank and John, we try to set the bar so low that we cannot help but jump over it in the future. 

Hank: Mmm. Yeah. Working hard at that. I also liked it last week. It made me really excited. But I have not heard one yet from you. 

John: Well.

Hank: So I don't know. Maybe you've done it, maybe you haven't. Maybe- 

John: Who knows, Hank. Maybe I've said it, maybe I haven't. Nobody knows for sure.

Hank: Maybe it's and you're really throwing me for a loop. 

John: [laughing] Rosianna would've been throwing me a pretty easy softball if she had made it Your home for a free month of audible!

 Response 2 (35:09)

John: We've also got a note here from Em in Berkeley here I wanted to read, who writes, "I'm a female tech executive in my fifties and I love all the many things you guys do. I'll be at your San Francisco show, no doubt the oldest attendee." No, I bet you will not be the oldest attendee.

Hank: Oh no, no way. 

John: But I really do appreciate you being there in San Francisco. And spending your Halloween with us. That is going to be our Halloween spectacular. And we're very excited. You have no idea how Halloweeney Hank is going to get. Anyway, "I'm very much looking forward to it. When I was in high school, college I relied on my own Nerdfighteresque tribe, sci-fi lit, Star Trek, the original recipe Comic Cons when they were still in a hotel ball room, Bob Dylan, jam bands, and I still love all these things. In the last episode you recommended wearing personal fandom garb. Thus I will be in tie-dye. Which brings me back to jam bands. Thinking it's funny to not care about Trey's name is like saying the person who wrote Harry Potter is J.K. Whats-her-name. I share this with you only to point out that there are many fandoms throughout space and time that provide community for us nerds. Diagon and Deadheads, Em in Berkeley." What a great email and what a generous correction. Thank you. And I have to say, full disclosure, I have been to a Phish concert, quite recently actually, and I had a great time. Alright Hank, let's go back to questions for a second. 

 Question 9 (36:22)

John: This one comes from Jordan, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, I'm a 20 year old girl who's a few months off finishing her university degree and I've recently been working for quite a large tech company. I've had the opportunity to purchase stock in this company and now I'm the proud - question mark? - owner of some shares in a global organization. Everybody has told me that stocks are good and I should have them. I'm also under the impression that selling them within the first year of having them incurs a bit of a tax where I'm from, Australia. The reason I'm writing now is that I remember listening to an early Dear Hank and John regarding stocks and all I remember is that I need to have more than one." [both laugh] First off, I just want to pause, Jordan, and say that coming to Dear Hank and John for market advice is a great decision. "But like, what do you do with them? Do you have to check their existence daily? Do they need food and water?" They're not Neopets, Jordan, come on. "When do I need to sell them? Should I sell them? What's the point of having them if you don't sell them? I'm 20 and I don't know how to share, Jordan." 

Hank: Aaaaaaaaaah. 

John: Great sign-off. Great. Great.

Hank: High quality.

John: Excellent. 

Hank: Jordan, like, honestly? And this has been proven by, like, cats choosing, like picking stocks versus like, high paid analysts picking stocks. The best thing you can do is nothing. Is like have stocks and keep them and it is a way to save money and a way that that money will become more money as you get older. Being the age of 20 is a great time to put some money into investments because while year to year you never really know how much money you're going to make, over the last hundred years of the stock market existing there has been a fairly steady increase in stock prices as more value has been added to the economy and more cool things have been done with money. That the goal is that if you have, you know, a hundred dollars that goes into the stock market when you're 20 years old, by the time you retire that will be 500 dollars. And that's not a huge deal when it's 100 dollars, but if you're putting in, you know, a thousand dollars and it's 5,000, if you're putting in 10,000 and it's 50,000, that can really help create stability for you when you are done with working. That's the whole point.

John: So I'm going to disagree with everything that Hank just said. 

Hank: Alright, let's fight about it!

John: First off, neither Hank nor I knows that much about investing money, as evidence for this I would point to the fact that Hank and I had an extensive conversation last night where we were both trying to understand how stock options work -

Hank: [laughs] It's true.

John: - and how vesting works -

Hank: Yeah I did not -

John: - and how shares , it's -

Hank: I didn't figure it out either.

John: No. And the other thing that I was going to say is that we ended the conversation by being like, "this seems complicated," and that was the end. So, I can't think of a less financially savvy podcast to visit, but I will say, I don't think that doing nothing in Jordan's particular case is the right thing to do necessarily. So Jordan, you're going to get these shares at some kind of a discount, ostensibly, to what they would cost on the open market. And then they will, like, vest over time while you work at the company, hopefully for a while. That's what the company wants, certainly. And then you will have the option to sell them. And you're right that short term capital gains are taxed differently in Australia than long term capital gains, I think, I'm not positive. 

Hank: Yep.

John: But, at some point, I actually think that you should sell the stock in that company, because I don't think that it is always a good thing to own - if you're going to own stocks, which I agree is good, I don't think you should own stock in only one company. 

Hank: Yes. Yeah.

Johnn: Now, Jordan, it's possible that the corporate behemoth you work for is so big that it cannot fail, but even very large banks in America that were deemed too big to fail, and indeed were not allowed to fail by the government, still saw their share prices reduced by like, 80, 90 percent in the stock market crash of 2008. So at some point I would recommend selling that stock and just buying what's called an index fund or some vehicle through which you can own a lot of stocks at the same time. So an index fund is just basically you would own all the companies in Australia or all the companies that do business in Australia instead of just one, and your hundred dollars would be kind of split among all those companies instead of just at the one, I'm going to assume it's Google. But -

Hank: [laughs] Yes, John is right. You do not want to put all of your eggs in one basket, obviously. But it's great that you have an opportunity to have this stock now and maybe have a piece of the organization that you're working for, but once there's a good time for you to sell that or invest in other stocks so that you can have a more diverse portfolio, or just buy an index fund, which has been proven for the most part to be much better than trying to pick individual stocks. And the index fund is just like if you're in America, you just buy the whole S&P 500 and when that goes up your stocks go up and when that goes down your investment goes down, and over time the S&P tends to go up. 

John: Alright. That noted -

Hank: Unless there is a global catastrophe and then, it happened, and money doesn't matter anyway. 

John: Right, then we're just going to be burning our dollars to stay warm. But Jordan, the only thing I would ask in exchange for this high quality financial advice is that you write us and you explain to us how vesting and all that, and stock options work. Because we're a little confused.

 Response 3 and sign-offs (42:04)

John: Alright Hank, before we get to the news from Mars and AFC Wimbledon, I want to share this email from Colleen who wrote in to say "Dear John and Hank, on your most recent episode John mentioned that Hot Springs, Arkansas was the best town name in the state. Personally I'm from Eureka Springs. No hard feelings. Inter-state rivalries aside, John, allow me to introduce you to Greasy Corner, Arkansas; Weiner, Arkansas; Monkey Run, Arkansas; and Toad Suck, Arkansas." So I officially rescind my position that Hot Springs, Arkansas is the best town name. Obviously Toad Suck, Arkansas takes the cake. 

Hank: Oh man! I mean, I need a shirt from Toad Suck, Arkansas! So bad! Get it to me! We had a lot of really good name-specific sign-offs come in. America, whose name is America, name specific sign-off : "God Bless, America." Also maybe my favorite that I have seen, maybe ever, is from Ruth, who signs off, "You can't handle, The Ruth." 

John: My favorite is actually from Tori which is the best one I've ever seen. She signs off, "Who lives, who dies, who tells. Yours, Tori." [laughs]

Hank: Ooooh I didn't get it until you said it out loud! [laughs]

John: Oh God, it's a winner. It's a winner! 

Hank: Ah, good stuff.

John: Oh man, what a time to be alive. 

 News from Mars and AFC Wimbledon (43:25)

John: Hank, what's the news from Mars this week? 

Hank: Well a bunch of people, eight of them I think, spent eight months hanging out on the side of a volcano in Hawaii, never venturing outside of their habitat without space suits on, living only with each other and doing their best to get along and to make that relationship work for science so that NASA can better understand how people will get along on long missions with a small number of people, ideally going to Mars. And this is a big deal because there have been times when astronauts in space have been, like, this is terrible. And we're going to basically mutiny. It only happened one time and they said to NASA "we're going to stop working until you change our work hours." And it was like a space strike. Which is either a labor movement or it's, you know, illegally taking over a space station. Which, you know. Depending on your perspective. So getting people, young people, to spend a bunch of time together without any contact with anyone else. If they wanted to communicate with the outside world they had to have about a 20 minute lag which would be, you know, like the sort of average amount of time that the light takes to get from Mars to Earth. So they couldn't browse the internet like normal people. They had to hang out with just the same people over and over again and spend eight months doing that on the side of a volcano in Hawaii, which is not the worst place to hang out, I don't think, but may be nicer than Mars in a lot of ways. But -

John: How did it go? 

Hank: It went fine! They all did well. I'm sure that there will be research papers published about it but in general these things, when they're done explicitly for the science, you don't really know that much about it until all the papers have time to get written and peer reviewed and stuff. But they're home now and get to be on the internet like normal people and I'm sure are regretting it. 

John: [laughs] Well I'm sure the first thing that they did upon leaving their fake Mars was tune in to Dear Hank and John so hello former Martians! 

Hank: Hello!

John: Thank you for your service. 

Hank: Yes.

John: Well, Hank, the news from AFC Wimbledon is, wait for it, good? 

Hank: Ooooh!

John: AFC Wimbledon went to Blackburn Rovers, an away game against one of the better teams in League One, in fact, Blackburn Rovers once won the Premier League. And everyone felt very strongly that AFC Wimbledon would lose that game. Because that has been sort of a bit of the trend line for the first six games of the season. But no! Blackburn Rovers lost the game. AFC Wimbledon won the game!

Hank: Check it out! 

John: Can you imagine that? AFC Wimbledon won one - nil, bringing their total goal scoring for the season up to, if I'm not mistaken, four? Yeah, so a one - nil victory. And then, in the past as you are listening to this but in the future as I am recording it, AFC Wimbledon on September 22nd play the franchise currently plying it's trade in Milton Keynes. It is obviously a huge game, no getting around it. It's the rivalry that shouldn't be, but is. And we'll see. I mean, I will be watching the game live on the iFollow AFC Wimbledon app. It is cool now that - there's some problems with the app, it's not perfect, but it is really cool that you can watch live streaming video of Wimbledon playing and this game, I'm glad that I will not be there in real life because I'm sure it will be tense and upsetting but hopefully it will be tense and upsetting and also thrilling. And we will win. That is kind of my big hope. I really, really want to win that game.

Hank: I also have that same hope for you, John. Are things going better for a particular reason, or is it just the luck of the dice and -

John: Well, defensively Wimbledon have been very solid this season. They've scored fewer goals than almost any other team. Actually they've scored the fewest goals in League One. 

Hank: Hmm.

John: But they also have one of the best defensive records in League One. They've only given up eight goals, which I think would put them, like, seventh or eighth in the table if games were only calculated by how many goals are scored on you. So I think the struggle for Wimbledon is going to be where the goals are going to come from without Tom Elliott and without Adebayo Akinfenwa and we're starting to see a little more energy. The game before that AFC Wimbledon drew but they were creating a lot of offensive chances, so the Dons are currently 16th in the table which means that they are four spots north of the relegation zone, right where we like it. 

Hank: Alright! Good job, AFC Wimbledon. John, is it now the time where we guess each other's phrases of the week? 

John: It is. It is the time where we guess each other's phrases of the week. 

Hank: Alright! Do you want to try and guess mine?

John: I do, but I have no idea what it is. 

Hank: Oh, no. 

John: I have, I don't even know if I have a guess. Let me look, let me think if I have a guess. Hank, was your phrase of the week "the front door?" 

Hank: No. No it was not. 

John: What was -

Hank: Did I even say "the front door?" I mean I feel like this is -

John: Probably not. What was your phrase of the week? 

Hank: This was exceptionally easy to hide. And also we had a great moment for it. It was "don't put all your eggs in one basket." 

John: Oh, wow. Yeah, you did. 

Hank: Yeah, we got a stock market question!

John: Very effectively. 

Hank: Yeah. So. 

John: You did hide that very effectively. What was my phrase of the week? 

Hank: I'm going to guess, "the solution to pollution is dilution." 

John: I mean, it would have been a great phrase of the week. But my phrase of the week was "rule the roost." 

Hank: "Rule the roost!" 

John: Which I snuck in very, very early -

Hank: Woooow. 

John: Because I sensed that I couldn't put it in any later. So I snuck in that thing about how we're going to have some kind of, like, fake rivalry as writers. To find out who's going to rule the roost. Which of course we won't really have.

Hank: Yeah. No. 

[outro music begins]

John: Because one person's success does not really impact someone else's success. 

Hank: Man.

John: Except positively in the case of brothers.

Hank: The phrase of the week makes it so you cannot get distracted. You've got to be paying attention -

John: No you've really got to pay attention.

Hank: -all the time! Woo.

John: So we're going to go record This Week in Ryans, our weekly Patreon only podcast about Ryans, increasingly focused on non-Ryans.

Hank: Indeed.

John: But thank you for listening and thanks to everybody for sending in their questions. We're sorry about all the questions we don't answer. And Hank, thank you for podding with me. 

Hank: It was an absolute pleasure. This podcast is edited by Nicholas Jenkins, produced by Rosianna Halse Rojas and Sheridan Gibson. Our head of community and communication is Victoria Bongiorno. This theme music that you're hearing is by the great Gunnarolla. If you want to email us your questions, you can do that at We're also @hankgreen on Twitter and @johngreen on Twitter. You can find us that place and also other places on the internet. Thank you so much for listening, thanks for podding with me, and as they say in our hometown: 

Hank and John together: Don't forget to be awesome.

[outro music ends]