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Uploaded:2020-08-31
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What is "other" on my phone's storage? How do I handle my life being thrown off track? What's the policy on renaming a fostered fish? Are mushrooms a vegetable? How do I smile from behind a mask? Can I run through people's sprinklers? How do I start a conversation with my roommate about enjoying your work? How do I navigate bookstore genres without consulting someone in person? Hank Green and John Green have answers!

If you're in need of dubious advice, email us at hankandjohn@gmail.com.

Join us for monthly livestreams and an exclusive weekly podcast at patreon.com/dearhankandjohn.

Follow us on Twitter! twitter.com/dearhankandjohn

 (00:00) to (02:00)


[Dear Hank and John intro music]

Hank: Hello and welcome to Dear Hank and John!

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

H: It's a podcast where two brothers answer your questions, give you dubious advice, and bring you all the week's news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon. John--

J: Yes?

H: What part of the human body is long and flexible and is about-- is about two feet long, and it contains the letters P, E, N, S, and I?

J: [laughs] I'm just gonna say "what?"

H: It's the spine! 

J: Ah! The spine.

H: The spine, John!

J: The spine.

H: [laughs]

J: Hey, Hank, so I found out something really interesting this week. This is gonna blow your mind. 

H: Okay.

J: You know our Uncle Mike? We don't have favorite uncles, but if we did.

 H: [laughs]

J: You know our Uncle Mike, our famously--

H: Our famous Uncle Mike, yeah. 

J: Our famously quiet, reserved, brilliant, impressive, imposing, intimidating Uncle Mike? 

H: [laughs] Yeah, I know. I know Uncle Mike.

J: I just found out that Uncle Mike listens to this podcast. 

H: And he just listened to me make a spine joke, John!

J: Not my favorite spine joke of all time, but--

H: I'll have another one for you next week. 

J: I can't wait. Anyway, hi Uncle Mike, if you're listening.

H: Yeah-- he was very sweet, he said some very nice things about the podcast, and my book! In an email to me, which is a nice moment to get an email from Uncle Mike. 

J: How many words were in the email, would you estimate? Under 50?


H: Oh, yes. 

J: Yeah.


H: Yeah. He's— he can say a lot with a few words. 

J: Indeed.

H: Unlike us.

J: [laughs] I know, you would think that we might've gotten a modicum of his ability to speak with some precision, but no.

H: [laughs]

J: We're about to ramble on for god knows how long, beginning with answering this question from Bryn.

H: Okay.

J: Hank, I wanted to ask this question because I actually know the answer.

H: Oh?


J: Like, I know the answer in such detail.

H: Mm-hmm.


 (02:00) to (04:00)


J: And as you know, I almost never know anything. So this is really exciting for me. Bryn writes, "Dear John and Hank, the other day my sister and I were trying to record a dumb video, and my phone ran out of storage mid-video, and I went to my settings to try and free up some room, and it said that over half of my storage is being taken up by this category called 'Other.'"

H: Oh gosh.

J: "If it isn't pictures, or videos, or apps, or messages, or my system, then what is it? Is it my FBI agent?" Hank—

H: What is it?

J: First off, we got at least twelve questions this week that referenced "my FBI agent", which I assume now is like a meme—

H: It's a thing, yes. Kids are saying that. Yeah.

J: —like, I assume it's a thing where everyone imagines that they have their own FBI agent. So I'm glad that we've reached that point in the dystopian story. Anyway, Bryn, you know what that "Other" is? I'm almost positive that I know exactly what that "Other" is. Do you know what it is, Hank?

H: No, actually, I don't. And I'm super curious.

J: It's Netflix downloads. 

H: Ohhh, it just goes into "Other".

J: If you download something off of Netflix so you can watch if offline, it counts as "Other". And I had this problem with my phone and my iCloud where I was like, "I don't understand. I have like 4 terabytes," and it was all— it wasn't even good Netflix shows, it was like Barbie Dream House—

H: What!

J: —that I downloaded for Alice. 

H: Oh. Yeah. [laughs]

J: Not for myself, although they do have some jokes for grown-ups, which I appreciate. Shoutout to the Barbie Dream House writers, they're looking out for me.

H: [laughs]

J: It's Netflix downloads, Bryn. You just gotta get rid of those Netflix downloads.

H: John thinks it's Netflix downloads. Let's hope! I actually, this week— I have a lot of space on this computer, and it popped up with a little "you're out of disk space." And so I go onto my footage dump folder, and I take all the old Vlogbrothers files out. And I'm like, "That'll fix it." And then the next day, it came back, and it was like, "your computer's full again." And then— and if you want to write and tell me what happened here. So I opened it up and I searched my entire hard drive for big files. And there was a file—it was a MOV file—123 gigabytes.

 (04:00) to (06:00)


J: Wow.

H: And it just kept getting bigger. Every time I gave it space, it would make itself bigger.

J: Like a koi in a fish pond. 

H: Yes. Yes! It's doing something. I don't know what it was doing. I don't know what program was creating it, but it was continually creating it. So I did a full reboot of the system and deleted the 123 gigabyte file. And now I'm good! Now I'm good.

J: I mean, that seems like it was almost definitely your FBI agent.

H: Yeah! I'm worried.

J: You should be.

H: [laughs] I mean, I think that-- John, I think that my FBI agent is hopefully entertained by all of the things that I do. At least, I hope that my FBI agent is really into microbes, because he's getting a lot.

J: Yeah, I think my FBI agent is probably like, "Oh my god, this guy will watch anything on YouTube at 1 o'clock in the morning. Nothing is below his standards.

H: [laughs] Well, I've noticed!

J: [laughs] I know! You see my watch history.

H: Yeah.

J: And after 11 PM, I'm just-- I'm completely unreliable. Like, will I watch somebody build a swimming pool with a stick in the jungle? Yes.

H: [laughs] Those are amazing. They're so good. You watch a lot of-- I'm surprised by the number of boat videos you watch.

J: I just like to look at the ocean, Hank, okay? And I can't do it from Indianapolis, so this is my way.

H: [laughs]

J: Let's move on to another question.

H: Okay. This next question comes from Eliza, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, I'm a first year student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a.k.a the Clusterf*ck University. This is a reference to an editorial that was published in the student paper that did not bleep out that word. I'm being kicked out of my dorm today, and as I was packing, the overwhelming feeling of loss came again. I say 'again' because not too long ago, I was a high school senior, ready to go to prom and to graduate, when suddenly everything was ripped away. I arrived on campus thinking, 'Finally, I can see people again!', only to be proven wrong just two weeks later. It's hard not to feel like my class is a little cursed at times, and I was wondering if y'all could offer us some hope?

 (06:00) to (08:00)


I'm starting to feel like nothing will ever be the way I planned, and maybe that was a pipe dream from the start. I just can't help but feel lied to and robbed of the 'best years of my life.' Don't get me wrong--"

J: I'm gonna stop you right there, Eliza.

H: [laughs]

J: I'm gonna stop you right there. I understand being upset.

H: Yeah.

J: This does suck. I don't want to minimize it. I do not know where the insidious lie came from that the ages of 17-21 are the best years of your life, but it might be the worst lie that we collectively believe in, which is really saying something.

H: Yeah.

J: Of course it's not the best years of your life! It's a time of constant uncertainty and change and yes, there are wonderful things but there are also terrible things. It's-- it's very big years of your life, and you're having an extremely big version of them, and I'm sorry that it's big in so many terrible ways. But this morning I was talking to my kids, and they were talking about whether summer is better than winter, and my daughter observed this deep truth that I had never crystallized for myself before in the way that she crystallized it, which is that when it is winter, you feel like it will never be warm again, and when it is summer, you feel like it will never be cold again.

H: Wow.

J: And because it is now, you cannot imagine what the future will be like. But it will not be like now.

H: Yeah, it will not always be like this. So there is that. And I think one reason why this hurts is because it feels like there is a clear path that you've been working toward, and now that path is much less clear?

J: Yeah.

H: And maybe it will clear up in the future, and like it will basically just sort of restart, you know, and maybe you'll get three years of college instead of four. Which, admittedly, is certainly not ideal. But there's also the fact that, like, there are many times when paths will look clear and they will be set out in front of you, and suddenly they will not be available.

 (08:00) to (10:00)


And...the thing to do in that situation is, of course, you know, if you can, of course there is grieving and frustration that comes along with that, but there is still a path there that you're still on. You just have to figure out what that one is.

J: Yeah. Yeah. But you do still need to grieve, and it does still suck. And there are gonna be a lot of times in life when you think you're on a path, and it doesn't happen, or at least it doesn't happen the way you imagined it. And right now, one of the strange things about this historical moment is that most people are having some version of that experience. Obviously, some people are having extreme versions of it, some people are having minor versions of it, but a lot of us had imagined the summer of 2020 or the fall of 2020 a little differently than how it's gone. And that loss is real.

H: Mm-hmm. But I think we also have to be good at identifying paths when they are not necessarily clearly set out in front of us, and that's part of becoming better at being a human.

J: You know, even after talking about this with you a bunch, I just keep coming back to what Alice said. When it's summer you think it's never gonna be cold, and when it's winter you think it's never gonna be hot, and you're wrong. It is-- it's gonna be warm again.

H: And maybe we can--

J: The light-soaked days are coming.

H: And you know, John, another thing is that Kristen also emailed us, who also has just been sent home from UNC. So maybe we can hook you two up!

J: [laughs] We got a bunch of emails, actually, from people who have been sent home from UNC. It was very sad to read all of the emails this week and see so many.

H: [laughs] Yeah.

J: Kristen writes, "Dear John and Hank, I just moved into my dorm 12 days ago and now they're sending us home. Thanks for the $23,000 two-week vacation!" I feel like there's a little bit of anger, as well grief?

H: Yeah, you think?

J: "But the real problem is that one of my suite mates brought her fish..." [laughs] This is terrible. Oh my god. "Brought her fish to the dorm and can't bring it back because she has to fly back and she can't bring it on the flight. One of my other suite mates is taking custody of the fish for the semester, but the fish shares the name with her sister's ex-boyfriend."

 (10:00) to (12:00)


H: [laughs]

J: "What is the policy on re-naming someone else's fish?"

H: [laughs] Well, here's the situation. I think a fish name can be pretty malleable.

J: Yeahh.

H: So while it is in your other suitemate's home, that fish is named Manhole, and when it returns, it's named Derek again.

J: Yeah, I think that's fine. I think you can call your roommate's fish whatever you need to to get through this experience. I would argue the bigger concern is that in terms of keeping a fish alive, four months is a long time.

H: [laughs]

J: And so your main job is to return with a fish, regardless of that fish's name.

H: Speaking of which, John, five fish names in five seconds. Go!

J: Uhhmm, err...

H: Good one.

J: Aaaahhh...

H: Great.

J: ...and Lizzo.

H: [laughs] That was three!

J: [laughs] One was "uhhh", one was "oooo", one was "ehhhh", one was "errrrr"...

H: [laughs] Oh, okay.

J: Yeah, no, that was four. And Lizzo was my fifth name.

H: All of them were just sort of, like, noises of frustrated thought, and Lizzo. Okay.

J: Right.

H: Whichever one of those you want.

J: Ah, you're welcome.

H: John, you gotta put yourself-- you gotta lean out over the edge! Gotta see what happens! Gotta be like, "Plate! Nocturne! Animal! Plant! Danger!"

J: [laughs]

H: There, see!

J: Those were good. Mine are better.

H: John, this next question comes from Annabeth, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, are mushrooms a vegetable? They're a fungi. They're not even plants. How could that be a vegetable? Not a Chase, Annabeth." What? Not a Chase...


 (12:00) to (14:00)


J: What's the opposite of a Chase?

H: Not a Chase...Oh, Annabeth Chase-- Annabeth Chase is from the Percy Jackson books, John.

J: Oh, I was thinking very literally, like--

H: I was going for a pun, yeah. [laughs]

J: Yeah.

H: Okay. So first of all, obviously the category of "vegetable" is made up. This idea that there are--

John: All categories are made up.

Hank: [laughs] Yeah. Sure.

John: This is, like-- the underlying problem is, any time you come up against these weirdnesses in taxonomy, the thing that you have to remember is that, like, the category...it's not like vegetables came to be based on a category.

Hank: Right.

John: The category came to be based on our observation of vegetables, and then as our observation of vegetables got better we were like, "Oh, turns out this category is, like..."

Hank: Yeah.

John: "...a little oversimplistic."

Hank: It's not good. But I will say that taxonomically, there are all kinds of things, like there-- scientifically, taxonomically, there are fruits, and fruits are a  certain kind of thing, and then vegetables are a kind of-- other kind of thing? But vegetables is the one that really doesn't really mean anything, and so--but. I brought this question up because...Deboki and I looked it up, and the USDA has thoughts on this...

John: Oh.

Hank: ...which I'm a big fan of.

John: Okay.

Hank: So the USDA categorizes mushrooms under "other vegetables". And here are the categories of vegetables, John: you've got-- this is according to-- like, for now. This is what we have arrived at. "Dark green vegetables"...

John: Mm-hm.

Hank: "Red and orange vegetables"...

John: Sure.

Hank: "Beans and peas"...

John: Yup.

Hank: "Starchy vegetables"...

John: Yup.

Hank: ...which shouldn't count because they're basically just bread that grows.

John: Right.

Hank: And then you've got "other vegetables". And "other vegetables" includes, it includes: funguses...

John: Mm-hm.

Hank: ...summer squash...

John: [laughs] Wait, what?

Hank: ...avocado, and iceberg lettuce.

John: [laughs]

Hank: [laughs]

John: Avocado is a weird one. It's really hard-- avocado...

 (14:00) to (16:00)


Hank: It is!

John: Avocado is probably the most interesting food that humans eat.

Hank: Mm-hm.

John: Iceberg lettuce, though...I think they put iceberg lettuce in "other" in the first attempt in a multi-decade process to hopefully remove iceberg lettuce from human diets.

Hank: [laughs] No, John, no. I love salad dressing, and iceberg lettuce is the purest way to get it into my mouth. With a little crunch.

John: Poor summer squash, though. Like--

Hank: I know!

John: What about all other squashes? Why do they get to live happily in either dark green vegetables or red and yellow vegetables?

Hank: I don't know! Right? Where do the winter squashes go? Like, winter squashes, to me-- are they starchy vegetables? I also was amazed by this fact: they have mushrooms, summer squash, iceberg lettuce, avocado, et cetera. How do you put "et cetera" at the end of that list of things that have nothing to do with each other?!

John: [laughs] Right. "And other things like mushrooms, and iceberg lettuce, you know..."

Hank: And avocado! Iceberg lettuce and avocado are the most opposite foods!

John: [laughs] Right. Nobody's ever like, "God, I really feel like some iceberg lettuce toast."

Hank: [laughs] Actually, with a little honey mustard, I could see it.

John: I bet you do. I bet you would like it with some mustard.

Hank: Yeah.

John: Yeah. Alright. [laughs] So there's your answer. Fungi, avocados, iceberg lettuce, et cetera.

Hank: Et cetera.

John: Alright, Hank, let's move on to this question from Christine, who write, "Dear John and Hank, I've been wearing a face mask because reasons, but I miss smiling at people. What gesture can I make to people I don't know to let them know I see them and what they do..."

Hank: [laughs]

John: What-- what is happening out there?

Hank: I'm just laughing at this question.

John: Oh, okay. It was such a weird laugh that I got confused.

Hank: [makes strange noise] Uuuuuu...

John: Yeah. [laughs] It sounded like a door creaking open.

Hank: [laughs]

 (16:00) to (18:00)


John: "What gesture can I make to people I don't know to let them know I see them when I'm wearing a mask? I don't want to just, like, say hi all the time."

Hank: Yeah.

John: "DFTWAM, Christine."

Hank: Easy enough. Obviously, you just have to be wearing a cabana hat, and you just do a little...you just pick it up a little.

John: Oh, a little tip of the hat?

Hank: Yeah!

John: Nothin' like a tip of the hat. Like, "Hello there!"

Hank: Do you think I can-- I'm 40. Can I wear a cabana hat yet?

John: No. No. You're, like, at least 20 years and 42 Jimmy Buffett concerts away from being able to wear a cabana hat. That's the rules.

Hank: Ahh. Ahh...I do want to wear a cabana hat, but I don't want to go to any Jimmy Buffett concerts ever. I think I could do it.

John: I'm sympathetic to your plight, but those are the rules. I don't make them.

Hank: [laughs]

John: Anyway, Christine, the answer to this is extremely simple, which is that you can actually tell that people are smiling via their eyes.

Hank: Yeah.

John: They're -- you know.

Hank: Just gotta let it get up there. You gotta let your cheeks do the work.

John: You can tell. Yeah. Yeah, you just -- but -- I saw a great TikTok about this when somebody was like, "When coronavirus is over and I'm smiling at people and it's-- you're just smiling with your eyes?"

Hank: [laughs]

John: Because I do find myself doing that now, like, when I'm wearing a mask and I'm trying to be expressive with my face, like -- it's all in my eyes now? So I'm like, here's me with very wide eyes. Here's me with happy smiling eyes.

Hank: Mm-hm. Mm-hm.

John: And I do feel like at some point I'm going to take off the face mask and people are going to be like, "Why don't you smile with your mouth?"

Hank: Yeah, I also sometimes will recognize someone, and they will be like, "Okay, you're gonna have to tell me who you are", and then I'll tell them, and they'll be like, "I'm so sorry", and I'll be like, "No, I've covered my face. I'm wearing a hat and a mask. You've got, like, three sqaure inches with which to figure out who I am."

John: Yeah.

Hank: Not fair.

John: Yeah, I personally...I mean, I obviously want this to end on every possible level, except for the level where I can't recognize anyone and no one can recognize me. I kind of like that level.

Hank: [laughs] Just gotta move through the world without ever -- Whereas I am the opposite, and would like -- I feel like I should start wearing a cabana hat so people will be like, "That's Hank."

 (18:00) to (20:00)


John: Oh.

Hank: He's the guy who wears the cabana hat.

John: Oh -- I mean, you just had a moment of real, deep self-realization. But I don't know if it penetrated as deeply as I need it to.

Hank: [laughs] I'm gonna -- Hank, we're gonna stop recording the podcast for a sec, we're gonna let you sit with that feeling --

John: [laughs] Yeah, if you could go call your therapist real quick --

Hank: -- learn about how you're thinking about your cabana hat, and then I'm gonna just need you to spend 15 solid minutes alone with that.

John: [laughs] Yeah. By the way, Hank, that's a feeling that you share with everyone who has a cabana hat and wears the cabana hat out on a regular basis.

Hank: [laughs] Yeah. Yeah, probably true. Oh, this one's not that expensive, though...

John: Okay, let's move on before Hank starts online shopping. This question comes from Maya, who writes, "Dear John and Hank, I've been going on bike rides around my neighborhood in the evenings, and sometimes I see that a few of my neighbors have their lawn sprinklers going, and I get pretty sweaty from biking and the weather is very warm at the moment, Would it be acceptable to get down off my bike and run through their sprinklers?"

Hank: [laughs]

John: "How can I pass this off if I get caught? P.S. I am an adult."

Hank: [laughs]

John: Which is...helpful background.

Hank: That is definitely -- yeah, sometimes Orin will, like, run through peoples' sprinklers, and then he'll be like, "Come with me", and I'll be like, "I don't think I can? I think that you can and I can't."

John: Yeah, that's --

Hank: And he's like, "Why not?" And I'm like, "I don't know! But like --"

John: I don't make the rules, buddy.

Hank: But that's what it feels like to me. And I will sometimes lean my arm out over the sprinklers and like, get some. Just like, get a little sprankle.

John: Yeah.

Hank: And then maybe, like, splash it on my face. But I feel like -- if someone was doing it in my yard, I think I'd be okay with it.

John: I wouldn't, at all. And here's my take on it. If the sprinkler, because of the way the person set it up, extends out of the yard into a street --

 (20:00) to (22:00)


Hank: Or across a sidewalk.

John: -- or across a sidewalk, you are allowed to stop on the sidewalk --

Hank: And get sprankled.

John: -- and let the sprinkler "sprankle" you, to quote Hank, several times. Because that is the person who put the sprinkler in basically saying, like, "I am allowing for this possibility."

Hank: Uh-huh.

John: But I don't think you're allowed to, like, run through someone's lawn while the sprinkler is on. Now, there is another question here, which is why are we using perfectly potable water to sprinkle on grass that cannot be eaten.

Hank: [laughs] Mm-hm.

John: Which is a question for a separate podcast called The Anthropocene Reviewed Episode 3.

Hank: Okay. Glad we got that one settled. No problem. John, have you noticed --

John: Oh, Hank, that reminds me.

Hank: Okay. Does it remind you of the same thing it reminded me of, 'cause we're gonna find out. You go.

John: Uh, it reminds me that I have a major announcement that I forgot to make. [laughs]

Hank: Oh, okay. [laughs] Oh, it's -- yeah. It's different. But I know what it is.

John: I have a new book coming out. It's coming out next May, I think, and it's a collection of essays -- it's my first book of nonfiction. It is called The Anthropocene Reviewed and it's a mix of episodes of the podcast that have been expanded and revised to turn into a book, and also new reviews. It's my attempt, I guess, to chart what it felt like for one person to live in the Anthropocene at one moment in history. So, yeah, it's available for pre-order now, and also I will be signing every copy of the first printing -- in the United States, if you are ordering it in the United States. I guess that won't surprise anybody who's familiar with my past books, or with the episode of The Anthropocene Reviewed where I talk about the artwork of the Japanese artist Hiroyuki Doi. I like to make repetitive marks on paper, so I'm excited.

Hank: And he will sign anything!

 (22:00) to (24:00)


John: [laughs] I'm really excited for the book, and also quite nervous about it. But yeah, I am really excited, and I hope that you like it.

Hank: Congratulations, John. I'm excited. I'm excited to see it.

John: Thank you. Thanks.

Hank: John, this next question--

John: It's been a few years since I published a book, so it'll--it'll--eh--I--ahh.

Hank: Hahh.

John: I hope it's--ahh.

Hank: [laughs]

John: Let's move on. I hope people like it! Oh god! 'Kay! Go!

Hank: This next question comes from Caroline, who asks: "Hello, Mr. & Mr. Green." That's not what the name of the podcast is, though that would be fun.

John: That would be a great podcast name, though.

Hank: Then we would have to lose -- we'd have to end our bet. It seems like time is slowing down, John, and that maybe we will get to Mars by 2028.

John: Do you want to double down? [laughs]

Hank: Nooooo. "I just moved into my dorm and my roommate is pretty great. We get along, and I enjoy living with her. But, there's one thing I haven't been able to talk to her about. On her whiteboard, she has written 'DFTBA'. I want to ask her about it, but starting conversations is not a skill that I'm great at. I have been waiting for her to notice my DFTBA pin that I have on my backpack, but it's been three days and she hasn't."

John: [laughs]

Hank: "What do I say to bring up the subject? I don't know if she listens to the podcast, but if she does, hi Lucy, it's Caroline. Any dubious advice would be greatly appreciated. I'm an empath and care a lot, Caroline."

John: This is very sweet, but I think it's totally possible, Caroline, that she did notice and she just also hasn't said anything because she's also nervous.

Hank: Yeahhh, it seems likely.

John: I think it was a great move to write in to the podcast. That's a very passive choice, my kind of move. I really like it.

Hank: [laughs] Yeah.

John: But I do think at some point you've gotta say, like, "Hey, I know what that initialism means."

Hank: Yeah. What's the opposite of aggressive? So you can just like, passive-aggressive. But then there's, like, whatever this is.

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