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What is John's emergency scale? What does "profit goes to charity" mean? When do you list someone other than immediate family as an emergency contact? How do I stop thinking about my thoughts? How much money is there in the world? Can planets be other shapes? 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

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[intro music plays]

Hank Green: Hello and welcome to Dear Hank and John!

John Green: 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, a man just threw some milk at me.

J: Oh, did he?

H: How dare he?

J: Oh, god, no.

H: I'm offended.

J: That's a terrible way to begin 2021, it's a disastrous way to begin this beautiful new year.

H: We already began 2021, and now we are announcing to the world that it's National Milk Day.

J: Is it really?

H: Uh, yes. The 11th of January is National Milk Day, so there was some rhyme to the reason, I mean that must be why he was throwing milk at me, because he was like, "It's National Milk Day, everybody gets some milk! Everybody gets some milk! You get a milk, you get a milk!"

J: That is how we celebrate. Yeah, yeah, we celebrate by pouring milk on each others' heads like we all just won the Indy 500, yes, that is how we celebrate National Milk Day.

H: Oh god.

J: Hank, I'm excited for 2021 for a variety of reasons, but the biggest reason probably is that it means we are one year closer to the now-inevitable day when this podcast is renamed Dear John and Hank, because no human lands on Mars before December 31st, 2027.

H: [sighs]

J: Only six short years to go.

H: Yeah, which is a long time, John, and who knows what advancements in the field of space travel await.

J: And I look forward to all of those advancements on or after 2028.

H: We could have cars that take us to other galaxies in a blink, as I predicted in my essay about the year 2020.

J: I just made a video about 10-year-old Hank's projections for the year 2020, but it's only about one of your predictions, Hank, the prediction that in 2012-- 'cause like, all of them were pretty normal, but then in 2012,

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your prediction for the year 2012 that you skimmed over in the video was, in its entirety, "Superior Fish Beings." And I was so taken with this phrase that I Googled it, and I found out that in the whole history of the world wide web, at least according to Google, no one has ever used the phrase Superior Fish Beings.

H: Just one person.

J: I just, it's my favorite phrase that you've ever said.

H: I was so convinced that I was going to be a marine biologist and that I was gonna make great discoveries, not knowing how seasick I get, apparently, and I guess that the biggest discovery I could imagine was superior fish beings. Like, wouldn't that be pretty big?

J: To be fair, yeah, it would be something else if tomorrow somebody was like, "Hey, so we discovered a new species of fish, also they are far more technologically than humanity.

H: This is wild because i think about this all the time, and I had no idea that I had thought about it when I was 10, but I constantly think about whether a species that exists only underwater, like there are many planets where that is the only option, there is no land, on a planet like that, could you have technological advancement, what would be standing in the way? This is something I think about constantly, it's not like for a reason, or when I'm driving my mind is just like, "I wonder if an octopus could do chemistry." Like that's where my brain goes. And I've been doing it since I was 10?!

J: I do it a lot too, but my version of it is usually, like, when the octopuses get together and they're, like, "AHEM, you guys need to shut up, calm down, take it down a notch."

H: "That thing you figured out, you're going to have to unlearn that. Can you not do that one?"

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J: "We discovered all this stuff that we could do, but we found out that we didn't want to do, and now you're doing it, and so we have to instruct you to stop."`

H: Oh, god.

J: I just think it would be hilarious if like, an elephant one day was like, "yeah, okay, all right, that's it, first off I can talk, [Hank laughs] secondly, this has to end.

H: "We've been watching."

J: "And we've had enough."

H: "And we've been letting you go because we really like Robert Pattinson, we don't wanna mess up his career trajectory, buuuuut we're gonna have to put an end to some things.

J: Let's answer some questions from our listeners, beginning with this first question from Taylor, who writes: "Dear John and Hank, but mostly John" --that's my favorite kind of question, Hank-- "several times on this podcast, John, you have referred to things as being a Level One Emergency."

H: This is not just a podcast thing, and it's not just a joke either.

J: It's not.

H: John will call things a Level One Emergency when it's a really big deal, and it's not pleasant, it doesn't make me feel good, it doesn't make anything better to realize the height of the level of the emergency, but regardless, continue.

J: I find it helpful, and we can unpack it today. "Are there other emergency levels?" Of course there are, Taylor, of course there are. "And if so, what is the scale, and what constitutes a Level One Emergency versus another emergency? Classifying catastrophes, Taylor." So Taylor, I want you to imagine, as I do when I am encountering an emergency, that you are in a large buildling with many floors, say nine floors, and you are looking down at an emergency. If you're on the 9th floor, and you're looking down at the emergency, you can barely even see the emergency, and it will probably resolve without you even interacting with the emergency, right? That's a Level Nine Emergency. So an example of a Level Nine Emergency would be, you have a cold or flu virus that will likely resolve on its own.

 (06:00) to (08:00)


You get to like a level eight, level seven emergency, that's a situation where you might have to like, open a window and shout some advice, you know, down to the emergency?

H: Do something.

J: You might have to do something, but nothing extreme. When you get to a Level One Emergency, Taylor, you're on the same floor as the emergency, the emergency is coming for you.

H: This is helpful to know.

J: The emergency is spilling into your building, and I think it is important, Hank disagrees with me, I think it is important when you are having a Level One Emergency, to immediately acknowledge it, because it changes your behavior. You're not on a Level Eight Emergency situation where you can just call down some advice, you are in a Level One Emergency.

H: So this is extremely helpful, I'm so glad, Taylor, that you asked this question, because I've always imagined that a Level One Emergency is the biggest emergency that can happen.

J: It is!

H: No it's not! It's an emergency that you need to interface with right now, there are many levels of emergencies that one needs to interface with right now, there's like, "I am currently being consumed by a shark."

J: Are you telling me that there's a Level One-Half Emergency and I've just never encountered it?

H: [laughs] No, what you're saying is that this is a thing we need to deal with right now, and I think that's a great thing to have a word for that, especially when you're trying to communicate to someone that you love that this is how you feel about this situation, and you need them to get on board with you in that moment.

J: Right, that's exactly what a Level One Emergency is.

H: So I think that's great, that's smart.

J:We gotta deal with this right now.

H: Yes, and there are many things that we have to deal with right now, and there's like, I'm being eaten by a shark, and there's we left the kids' lovies, their little stuffed toys at the hotel, which is the first time I heard you use the phrase Level One Emergency.

J: To be fair, that was a Level One Emergency.

H: It was! Well now that I know what a Level One Emergency is, it was!

J: By the way, the only time that I've ever been bit by a shark, the first thing I said was,

 (08:00) to (10:00)


"This is a Level One Emergency," [Hank laughs] because I needed the shark to understand that, I needed me to understand it, and I needed all the people around me to understand it immediately.

H: When did you get bit by a shark?

J: I didn't, I didn't, I made that up. You think, Hank, that-- first off, how would I ever get bit by a shark?

H: I don't know, I don't know, I have a friend who got bit by a shark, and it was like at Miami Beach, she was just in the water at Miami Beach, but like, it was a little shark, so she has the coolest scar of all time.

J: Oh, I bet that's a really cool scar. Secondly, if I ever got bit by a shark, how many seconds do you think it would take me to tell the world I got bit by a shark?

H: [laughs] Would it take four years of podcasting before I heard this story of John getting bit by a shark? Yeah, that's a good point, John. You'd be on the news. No you wouldn't

J: No, I wouldn't

H: You would be making a video about it, though.

J: The truth is that I would probably spend two to three months crafting my narrative around being bitten by the shark, and making sure that I was like, retroactively applying a lot of thoughts and feelings to the experience of being bitten by a shark that in the moment I definitely didn't have.

H: You are way too self-aware, oh god. [John laughs]

J: But I would definitely, definitely have told you that I got bit by a shark [dissolves into laughter again]

H: Yeah, I agree. This next question is from Marissa, it's a logistical question, so everybody get ready. "Hello, brothers Green, I recently signed up for both the Awesome Socks Club and the Bizarre Beasts Pins Club, both of which I am enamored with. I have a logistical question: both clubs say that profit is going to charity, and I'm curious, what does profit mean? Can you share like a percentage of revenue, in sales that is donated? An admirer of articulate accounting, Marissa." So I guess there are multiple definitions of profit, but in this case, what we're talking about is the amount of money left over after we have paid for all the things, so paying for the sock, paying for the sock design,

 (10:00) to (12:00)


paying for shipment of the sock, the people that pack the socks, we have a consultant who helps us learn how to create high-quality socks and make sure that they're being made in a good way, so all of that is part of the costs of the sock club, and then normally a sock subscription, the profit would then go to the owners of the sock club, and in this case instead it is going to charity.

But first there is an amount of money that has to be paid to taxes, so basically the exact same model as Newman's Own, which is kind of our platform and maybe even a little bit of our inspiration for trying this out and then hopefully maybe even doing other things like this in the future. We're trying to make a thing that people will want to buy, like good salad dressing like Newman's Own does, but then also instead of saying like, "What should we do with this profit? I guess send it to our shareholders," we send it to charity.

J: Yeah, so the way this is often described is after tax profit. And we don't know exactly how much that is gonna be for something like the Awesome Socks Club, because it hasn't happened yet, and this has been the case with Life's Library, another similar subscription model where all the profits go to charity. We don't know until after the books have shipped, sometimes until like a month or so after, because there's returns and other stuff, how much is actually going to charity. That said, one thing that's been very helpful for Life's Library members is hearing once we know that number, what that number is, so they have a sense of what the margins are, but it's a very similar model to Newman's Own, because I guess we wanna be Newman's Own when we grow up.

H: Yeah! Yeah, I mean, I just love it so much, I think it's such a cool story that Paul Newman was just like, "I like making salad dressing, but I'm good!" Because it just shows that like, working hard doesn't have to be about getting rich or more rich or whatever,

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H: it's about adding value to the world.

J: Hank, did you know that Paul Newman was a big fan of IndyCar racing, a sport that I also follow because I live in Indianapolis? And in fact he owned an IndyCar racing team.

H: Oh! Well, it feels like you guys had a lot in common until that last bit.

J:Yes. Well, there were other things we didn't have in common, like I think that most of the time he was in a movie he didn't get cut because he was such a bad actor, whereas the one time I was in a movie I did get cut because I was such a bad actor.

H: That's exactly what happened. How much does it cost to own an IndyCar team, John? How good is Paul Newman doing?

J: Paul Newman was doing very, very well. It's not an inexpensive enterprise.

H: I didn't realize he was doing so well, or he did so well.

J:Oh, yeah, he did fine, Hank, he did okay.

H: [laughs] I'd love to know where all of Paul Newman's money came from, because my sense is that you didn't get paid much for movies back then, and then he wasn't in that many movies.

J: I think it came from maybe being the most famous movie star in America for 30 years.

H: Oh, I didn't realize that about him.

J: It's like saying, like, "Where did all of Beyonce's money come from?" Oh well jeez, I don't know, it's hard to piece it together, I'll have to do some forensic accounting on that, I wonder if it was having 42 number one hits.

H: Okay, all right, I'm just curious, John, I wanna see the pie chart.

J: Hank, we have so many good questions this week, and we're doing a terrible job of moving through them, but this next question comes from Sam, who writes, "HI John and Hank, I recently moved into a new apartment three days ago, and my across-the-hall neighbor is a radio DJ, [Hank laughs] and he now has to work at home because of COVID.

H: [continues laughing as John talks] Oh my god!

J: "It's not the music that's so bad, the music is loud, but it's not like shaking the house. It's the DJ yelling over the music every few moments which is really annoying. I knocked on the door and asked him to turn it down and he said, "Sorry, buddy, I'm working," which I had no response to?

 (14:00) to (16:00)


J: His wife came over later to explain a little more, she said that they [laughs] have explained their situation to the neighbors, but like, what do I do? I understand this is his livelihood, but I do not spend a lot of money each month to be trapped inside of a radio station I do not listen to. [laughs]

H: [laughs again, even louder] You are going to have to become a very big fan of this radio station.

J: [sighs] This is so difficult. When I lived in New York, the person who lived on top of us was an opera singer, and she had to practice her opera singing, like that's part of how you become an opera singer, and she would practice this for two or three hours, like, a day. We would hear opera singing. And I don't know a lot about opera, she was on key, it was good singing and everything, but it wasn't necessarily what I would choose to listen to.

H: And yet...

J: And yet, but I will say this, Sam-- when we were renting the apartment, the landlord was like, "There's something you should know. An opera singer lives upstairs from you." And that helped a lot. It seems like you were a little bit duped into being trapped inside a radio station you don't listen to, and this is a temporary situation is the first thing I'd say, the second thing I'd say is: noise-canceling headphones.

H: Yeah, I think that noise-canceling headphones certainly, like I don't know at what times of day this is happening, certainly much more tolerable in the middle of the day than at night.

J: Oh my god, I hadn't thought of that.

H: And like, I have neighbors, and they play very loud music, and they don't work for a radio station. They just play very loud music.

J: But that's different than somebody playing really loud music and you hear on top of that like [puts on gravelly DJ voice], "Heeyyyy, hello and welcome to 99.3, the rrrrradio station in my apartment."

 (16:00) to (18:00)


H: Yeah.

J: Like, hearing that all day would get really old.

H: It's wild to me that you could just set up a radio station in someone's home, I figured that there was like, really important equipment that you would need.

J:I think they took the really important equipment and put it in the person's house, that's what I did when--

H: I also had to do that, you're right.

J: --I had to move our hit podcast from the studio to my basement.

H: But if you're doing it live, though, I don't know, you'd have to have it go over the internet, and then there'd be a delay, I don't know, maybe they're just pre-taping. Yeah, they're probably pre-taping, now that I've said that out loud. But I also think like, sorry buddy I'm working, is like-- he's working! He's trying to do his job during the pandemic and keep everybody safe, so...

J: Yes, but that's-- I feel bad for everyone in this situation

H: Of course, yes, I'm not saying this doesn't suck. Sam, this sucks.

J: I wonder if you could become friends with this guy and slowly over time make the case that what live radio needs is less intrusions on the music.

H: [laughs] Just like, a lower level of energy. [John laughs] Or just be like, "What if you got a new job at like the jazz station?

J: or like, "Why doesn't all radio sound like public radio?"

H: He's got a skill set, he's doing his thing.

J: Yeah, I do think that you can ask that this not happen at night, and I think maybe there's another unit in the apartment building? I don't know, that's a tough situation.

H: [speaking over John] No, that's not how that works, that's not at all how that...

J: I'll tell you what, Sam, it will be a great story, I mean, having that opera singer live above us for two years in New York City had its moments of frustration, I"ll be honest, but I've gotten a lot of mileage out of the story.

H: And is there a possibility that you could just get really into his radio show and like, there are people out there who are a fan of his.

J: Right.

H: So maybe one of those people could be you! And you could be like, "I get the behind-the-scenes picture." Whoo.

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J: Yes, 2021, the year of learning to love what you thought you hated. Ask me another question.

H: John, this next question comes from Cat, who asks: "Dear Hank and John, at what point do you list someone other than your nuclear family members as emergency contacts? I'm at that weird middle stage in my twenties where I'm not married, so I can't put my spouse on the paperwork, but I no longer live with my parents. Do I pick one of my friends at random and hope that they respond well if they receive a call from my doctor or something? Any dubious advice is appreciated. Pumpkins and penguins, Cat.

J: I have a funny story about this. So this is a long time ago, maybe like 15 years ago? But I got an email from someone and they were like, "Hey, I know we haven't talked in a while, because on account of how we broke up five years ago, but I got a call from your ophthalmologist saying that you'd missed an appointment, and just wanting to check and make sure you were okay. I guess you listed me as your emergency contact when we were dating."

H: Oh my god.

J: And now it's all this time later and it turned out that I had moved, and that is why I missed the appointment, but it was just a reminder that like, you gotta be a little careful with how you list your...

H: This is not an emergency! I wanna just say to the ophthalmologist that this is like a level 20 emergency.

J: It's a level 8 emergency.

H: Like if you're gonna call that an emergency--

J: You gotta open the window and be like, "Hey you missed your appointment." That's it though, you definitely don't have to do anything else, you definitely don't have to like, reach into the depths of my--

H: Emergency contact list?

J: --my paperwork and find the phone number of my ex-girlfriend. But yeah, this is hard.

H: One of the things I was surprised to discover is that emergency contacts are used for things other than emergencies. For example, if you have not paid your bill they contact the person on your emergency contact list,

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H: And you like, aren't answering the phone and you are trying to avoid paying a bill, because you do not have the money, they use the emergency contacts as a way to like, get in touch with you, which I am like, "This is a little bit of a break in the contract that I have...

J:Now that you mention that I think that might have been the issue with the ophthalmologist.

H: [laughs] That makes more sense to me

J: If I'm being completely honest, I think there's a possibility-- based on my behavior in other realms, I think there's a distinct possibility that was it.

H: Yeah, yeah, you had a little bit of credit score rebuilding to do?

J:The main thing, Cat, is that if you're in a relationship that doesn't feel like it's gonna stand the test of time, don't put that person's phone number.

H: Keep listing your parents, yeah.

J: Or list an uncle or an aunt or someone else you trust, who you've known for a while and think you'll know for a while longer.

H: Mhmm. Yeah, I only switched over from my parents when I was married, and I'd been with Catherine for like 10 years.

J: Oh yeah, I mean, I still sometimes list as my secondary emergency contact my parents.

H: Sure! I want them to know if something goes wrong.

J: I don't know. This is where the level 1 emergency problem breaks down, actually, because there's like certain level one emergencies I don't want my parents to know about.

H: Oh, sure.

J: Because I don't want to stress them out, whereas with  you I have to say, "I want you to know about more or less all of my level 1 emergencies, and I don't care if it stresses you out." [laughs]

H: Because you have a deep belief that I am not stressed out enough.

J: Oh, I wouldn't say it's that.

H: I think at your core you're like, "Hank needs to be a little more stressed out about certain things.

J: You know, that's-- I don't think you need to be more stressed out, I do think that you need to up your alertness level a little bit sometimes. [Hank laughs] I think that your background alert level is the lowest possible setting, and I do think it should be like two settings higher. [Hank laughs] I absolutely agree that mine is too high, there's no question, like anything there is a right amount--

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J: and some of us have too much of it.

H: That's why we need each other, John.

J: Which reminds me that today's podcast is brought to you by too much worry. Too much worry: another defining feature of 2021.

H: Today's podcast is also brought to you by milk! [puts on Oprah voice] All right, stand up, look under your chairs, that's right, everybody gets a miiiiilk!

J: [laughs] You get a milk! You get a milk! Today's podcast is also brought to you by the level 1 emergency. The level one emergency: it's closer than you think.

H: This podcast is also brought to you by John's ophthalmologist. John's ophthalmologist: just contacting his ex-girlfriend to let him know that he either hasn't shown up for an appointment or, more, likely, is a little bit delayed on his bill.

J: Ah, it's not impossible that that is still an outstanding balance.

H: [laughs] Oh boy.

J: Hank, I want to answer this question from Madeline, who writes: "Dear John and Hank, how do I stop thinking about my thoughts? Madeline."

H: Well that seems like a John Green question.

J:I do have this sometimes, actually. I remember being a kid and thinking about whether or not I was ever not thinking?

H: Uh-huh.

J: And then thinking about the fact that I was thinking about thinking, and then wondering if it was possible to think about thinking about thinking? And that's the point where you're like, "Hold my beer, I'm going in."

H: [laughs] I can see it. So Orin just turned four recently.

J: Yeah, congratulations.

H: And I can see it happening to him sometimes-- thank you-- we were sitting at the table and I was probably listening to an audiobook, and he was sitting next to me and we were eating lunch quietly, and he said, "I don't think they are." And I looked over at him and I was like, "You don't think what are?" And he was like, very quiet for a second, and then he was like, "Nothing." And I was like, no--

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H:  Now I'm very curious, you don't think what are what? And he was like, "I was just thinking about stuff," and I was like, but this is the first time I've ever gotten a chance to know what you were thinking about, because whenever I ask him, like, "What are you thinking about?" and he says, "Nothing."

J: Nothin'.

H: And I'm like, "this is the first chance I get to know what-- you have to tell me, because now you are thinking maybe they don't," and I was like, "What were you thinking about?" And he said, "The hairy crabs." And I was like, "The yeti crabs from Octonauts?" And he was like, "Yes." And I was like, "Wooooooow! He was just sittin' there thinking!" That's so cool! Because of course he is, all the time.

J: Yeah, his mind was like wandering and roaming around and doing all the weird things that minds do.

H: Yeah. And I don't know what he thought that they weren't doing, but...

J: He probably didn't either, by the time he was finished saying it out loud, because that's part of how thought works, right, like you can't trace back the lines very effectively. I don't think this is a problem, Madeline, unless it's a problem for you? Like, if you find yourself in a position where you feel like you can't participate in, and this happens to me so this is why I mention it, where you can't participate in conversations because you're stuck thinking about your thoughts or you're stuck thinking about thinking about your thoughts, or how do you stop thinking about thinking about, you know, these endless recursive loops that I wrote the book Turtles All the Way Down about. If you find yourself there you should probably talk to somebody who's more knowledgeable about this stuff than us, a therapist or someone else. But in general, I kind of like thinking about thinking.

H: Yeah! I really like noticing that I'm having a thought and being like, "How did I get here?" And then tracing it back is really interesting that I can do that, that it's left enough of an impression that it hasn't left the short-term memory and I can be like, "Oh, it's 'cause I was looking at my shoes, and that took me to here to here to here to here and then I ended up on mermaids," and I think that's cool.

 (26:00) to (28:00)


H: And like, where does my mind go, and like, what are the well-trod-enough paths that I end up in these places over and over again, like octopuses doing chemistry, which is one of mine.
J: Right.

H: Like, I end up at octopuses doing chemistry all the time, and then of course sometimes it's like, that really really awful dumb thing I did in high school, and that's both embarrassing but also was actually kind of harmful--
J: Yeah, right.

H: And I end up there all the time. And I'm like, "How did I get there? What brought me to it?
J: Yeah. I often end up at my mortifications when I am left alone with my thoughts. I almost always end up in stupid places, actually--
H: That's the trick.
J: when I'm left alone with my thoughts for a long for long enough.
H: I weirdly think of other people's mortifications as well.
J: Oh, I don't.
H: Sympathetically. Not as like, yeah.
J: Oh, okay. Like, that must have been so... I don't. I wonder if people think about my mortifications. Now I'm worried. [both laugh] Let's move on. Madeline, we thought we'd--
H: Let's not let that one take root, moving on! Move, move, move!
J: Oh god, we got to inception, Madeline, we got to the dream inside of the dream inside of the dream, we gotta pull out, pull out.
H: [speaking loudly over the end of John's sentence in a desperate attempt to move the conversation along] This next question is from Cat, who asks, "Dear Hank and John, from my limited understanding of money there must be a finite amount of it for it to have value, right? So my question is, how much money is there in the world? If you couuld convert it into British pounds, [Hank begins speaking in an extremely questionable British accent] that would help me understand because American dollars mean nothing to me."
J: Nooooooooo!
H: [continues to read letter with accent] Curiosity hasn't killed me yet, Cat."
J: No! Oh god.
H: I was converting to pounds, John.
J:Oh god, it's about 88 trillion dollars and I'm not converting it to pounds, that's not--
H: Because it doesn't matter-- it doesn't-- none of those numbers make any sense at all at that scale.
J:That's the calculated size of the global economy.
H: Well, there's like, all different kinds of ways to count this, so like the physical money is one thing, which is very different to the amount of money that people have, because you know, you have money in your checking account and saving account--

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