RW1 - Scrambling Eggs

The week, Dan and John talk about:

It is considered polite in our culture to always have something positive to say if someone asks you how you are. You don’t want to start off a conversation by saying that things are just as middling as always.

Women are statistically more inclined to say Sorry than men, but not in John’s first hand experience. When a man and a woman bump into each other at the office because you were both looking at your phone, the woman would be more inclined to say ”I’m sorry”. The study showed that men were saying sorry once or twice a day, while women are doing it about 30 times or something extreme like that. John would like to see the Sorry-measuring-device they used in the study! Maybe it is like a Ghostbusters-backpack or some shoulder-mounted device? From Dan’s own experience, Canadians also say ”Sorry” a lot. It is one of their signature moves!

They are talking about the Robert Redfort movie ”All is Lost” where Robert is in a boat and things are getting worse and worse. He even permanently lost 60% of his hearing in one of his ears during the making of the movie. That movie had a profound effect on John, because it is a prime motivator: How is he going to spend the rest of his life? He assumes that he is going to sail a sailboat around the world by himself at some point. Dan is 100% onboard with this and told his wife about it, but she has a fear of the ocean. Dan told her many times that, like an Eskimo, he plans to sail out to sea and never return. He hasn’t given her a time-frame, so she assumes it will only happen when he is old and infirm, but he could leave on his 50th birthday or sooner! Dan likes to see, as things get worse for the guy in the movie, how calmly he handles everything and how dedicated he is to the task. It is the man vs nature, one of the most classic stories.

Draft version
The segments below are drafts that will be incorporated into the rest of the Wiki as time permits.

Introducing the new podcast (RW1)

This is a new enterprise and because John has only ever had one podcast while Dan allegedly had 60, Dan knows better how to introduce the show. The most shows Dan has ever done at the same time was about 2 a day, so maybe 10 a week, but Larry said he was overexposed so he cut down. Why would Dan then introduce a new podcast into the world where two middle-aged white guys are talking to each other long-distance? Dan slowly became familiar with John’s work and he found that he enjoyed it. He enjoyed the stuff John has said, written about, sung about and he admired him from afar. He liked John as a person and above all loved the show John does with their mutual friend Merlin Mann called Roderick on the line. For a long time, Dan had intentionally not listened to that show. It was not simply because he was jealous that Merlin had so much fun with someone else, but millions of people have shared Dan’s reticence and have also been waiting to listen to the show. John hopes that it is on their to-do list or their bucket list! Eventually, Dan did listen to the show. Maybe it was his prison podcast for when he sailed his sailboat around the world.

Dan is recording a show called Back to Work, which is an exceptionally successful productivity podcast about barriers, constraints and life-hacking with Merlin as the productivity guru. They have released 233 episodes so far and they started the show in January of 2011, meaning that it was originally about palm pilots and how to hack the Mac Lisa. Merlin had to go on a trip, Dan had started to listen to Roderick on the line and he thought that this guy could totally fill in for Merlin, but he was very hesitant to suggest it to Merlin and was very nervous about it, because in some way he thought that John was Merlin's! But Merlin suggested that Dan should definitely do the show with John and they had a good time when John subbed for Merlin in Back to Work Episodes 230 and 231. Then John went to XOXO to do a performance and Dan and John decided impromptu to have lunch. They met and talked and they hit it off. Dan even hugged him!

Different sized people (RW1)

When John and Dan met, John was very surprised that they were very differently sizes people. It seemed that there was almost no item of Dan’s clothing that would have worked for John. At his peak, John was 6’3” and some change, but as he went to a doctor, they told him that he was 6’1”. John's answer was that their instrument was not calibrated, but recently another doctor measured him as 6’2” and some change. John has done a lot of walking, so maybe the padding in the back of his foot has been compressed, maybe he lost an inch in his ankle, maybe a little bit of swelling in his scalp went down, maybe he lost some compression in his vertebrae, maybe there was some general crumbling of some bones in his body. An inch is considerable, especially for someone who thinks of himself as a big person, not necessarily as a tall one.

John fills up the allotted space for a person. For instance on a tour bus, the bunks are made for a generally sized person, because tour buses have to accommodate musicians of all kinds, hockey players and whoever else. When John climbs into a bunk in a tour bus, he fills up the entire area, which is very uncomfortable because there is no room for him to even crack his knuckles without spilling out of the bunk. John is not grotesquely large, so he doesn’t find tea cups to be from a doll house, but when he gets onto a normal airplane, it does feel like he is being gaslighted a little bit and everything has been shrunk by 15%. John is hyperconscious of other people’s space, because he is an introverted person, an INFJ, and doesn’t want to elbow into someone else’s space on the airplane. Especially if some other big guy wants to take over the armrest, John will battle him for a 12-hour flight for the occupation of John’s allotted half of the armrest.

John has a friend who also is quite a big guy and he has that sensibility that he is entitled to more space because he is big. He does need it, but there is a difference between needing it and being entitled to it. When the person in front of him leans the seat back, John gets furious about it in a passive aggressive way. He thinks that a smaller person has paid as much for their seat and they can make use of that space as they like, even if they want to set up a bunch of Hummel figurines along their side of the armrest and talk to them and play with them. John goes into flying fully aware how it is and he can’t blame his seat-mate for this problem, in fact you can blame no-one except global capitalism. The only way to express anger about global capitalism is to tweet about it the most ineffectual way, or go to Bernie Sanders’ rallies and wave a hand-painted sign.

Being a large person (RW1)

Dan wouldn’t put John in the category of being a heavy dude and he doesn’t want people to think that John is out of shape. John on the other hand wants people to think that he is a heavy dude in the Super Fly sense. John is like a blue whale who takes in nutrition in the form of the krill of 10.000 donuts. He has an extraordinary density and just a teeny piece of him has the gravity of many planets. Dan Benjamin on the other hand is a perfectly normal person: he can go into stores and buy things that fit him, he can sit in a chair and be comfortable, he goes through doorways and feels there is plenty of space. Being a traveling entertainer, John meets a lot of people and ends up having a lot of friends. Some of them are a lot bigger than he is and even if they pay the premium to be in the big seats, it will not be enough. He also knows a lot of tiny people, which is how he can conclude that God is hilarious and is pranking us all the time. The variation exceeds what is necessary and goes into the realms of ”It is impossible that those two people are the same species” and into the realm of comedy.

When Dan met John, he was wearing a blue T-shirt and had his finger in a cast, which was another hilarious accessory. He was holding his finger curving up all the time and the white against the blue was striking. John was surprised that it didn’t catch on and more people didn’t end up splinting their index finger. The finger did not heal okay and even after a year it is still stiff and he still favors it. One of John's good friends is a flat tack motorcycle racer who broke his leg pretty severely earlier this year. He is the same age as John, his leg did not really heal, and he was expressing the first awareness of mortality in a resigned tone that John had never heard from this guy. He is one of those people who was going to live forever and was always going to be young and jumping motorcycles even at 65, like Steve McQueen, never die!

He had broken a limb past the point where healing was no longer something you could count on and although he was healing more or less, he is never going to be the same. John has sustained injuries that he never recovered from, but he could attribute the failure to recover to not having rehabilitated himself properly or to re-injuring himself on top of an older injury. With his broken finger he was diligent about rehabilitation, but ultimately he has maculate degeneration, he can no longer drink coffee at 11pm, he has to monitor the amount of Sriracha he can put on things and now he broke his finger which is going to be a little stiff for the rest of his life. In his mind he is only just beginning what he imagines to be 1000 year Reich, but in his body he is already showing innumerable signs of irrevocable decay which is so annoying, so commonplace and so normal, that it is boggling his mind! How do we humans do it? How do we manage this? Not very well!

Until the late 30s, early 40s it has always been easy to very quickly recover from things and fortunately Dan has never been trough anything like severely breaking a limb. He is averagely cautious, he feels like he is tremendously more cautious than John and in the scheme of things he would put himself on the more cautious side. He would catch a baseball open-handedly when a foul-ball would come flying to the stands. He is always going to stop at a stop-light in the middle of the night and will wait it out.

John's approach to eating despite his age (RW1)

To sustain his size, John has to eat more, just like an elephant that needs a half ton of vegetation a day. John is almost 47 years old and he has persisted in eating pretty much any- and everything he wants, well past the point where he should have taken some charge over his diet. John had stopped eating gluten until the day he met Dan for the first time which was his birthday. He had eaten a lot of pizza the day before and felt pretty awful. Now he does eat gluten although he realizes that it is makes him feel bad. He is always trying to manage and moderate his psychological space and the many halls of his psychological Versailles. He is constantly trying to move the furniture around in those big, mirrored rooms to make them seem more livable. Part of that is food. While he absolutely should have started a long time ago to watch what he eats, because it is one of those things that happens to people and you can’t keep eating huge banquettes at 1am without suffering enormous consequences, John seems to have a physicality and constitution that allows it and he still takes great solace in food. If you take the USDA food pyramid, put it upside down and cut the bottom off so it can stand instead of balance on a point, that would approximate how John always approached food.

Authority Systems (RW1)

John frequently does not stop at stop-lights, even in the middle of the day. Although the light is there for a reason, it is part of a system. John does respect the job it is doing, but he does not feel that that the stop light itself or the police office has any authority. It is the system that has authority! The authority is vested in the system by mutual agreement which enables you to make reasonable and prudent decisions to sometimes take that authority back for a moment or two. It is somewhat of an indignity to be stopped by a machine that has no self-awareness and is only stopping us because it is on a program, while John could make an independent determination for himself that it would be very safe for him to continue making progress along this road. It is a flexible amount of autonomy that he grants himself within an overall system that he is otherwise fully vested in. He does believe that for the most part it is prudent to obey the police, but the police are agents of a collective agreement and they are not power-centers themselves, but are representatives of a power originating from our mutual decision to promote peace, not steal from each other and stop at stop-lights.

John retains a certain amount of agency to himself that he hopes everyone else does as well. While he doesn’t flaunt it, he absolutely thinks that you have to retain a little bit of your own freedom. He doesn't see it as an act of rebellion, but it makes his acquiescence to the larger body of rules more informed and more actual, because it isn’t reflexive and he doesn’t do it out of rote. These things are not imposed upon us by an incomprehensible authority, but they are mutual agreements that John is not a slave to, but he is invested in them. He is not an unthinking pawn, but a conscious, aware, engaged and involved person. We have to figure out why we have all of those laws and we will understand them. We will for example understand what taxes are for, which a lot of Americans don’t see the need for.

If you think about why we tax, you recognize that the system is of course incomplete and there are opportunities for people to abuse it, but the reason is its sheer size and because it has to fulfill so many obligations. Bureaucracies are creaky not because of malice, but because we are so frail and people are so fallible. Of course John wants the things that taxes buy us and he recognizes that we all benefit from collective work, so he pays his taxes although it hurts a little bit and he is mad a little bit, but he understands and he agrees. The same is true all the way down to stop signs in the middle of nowhere and all the way up to the big adventure of an US expansionist military foreign policy. It is not how John would do it, but he does see the reasoning behind it.

John's mom does not believe in the army and she does not think there should be armies. John understands where she is coming from and they have had long arguments about it for many years. He does understand why there is an army, but her feelings about it are the same as some people have about taxes: You should start by eliminating the army and then figure out other ways to solve the problems that we feel we need armies to solve. John’s mom is much more radical than he is and she has always been. She believes in universal guaranteed income for which John has not made a decision one way or the other. It boils down to all those Venn diagrams of systems overlapping. Every system would work perfectly if all it had to do is obey its own rules. That is why socialism seems so appealing to socialists and which is why libertarianism seems so appealing to libertarians: Within the confines of their circle, it would work perfectly if it never had to interact with any other system.

As soon as you encounter one person who for whatever personal reason does not want to participate in your system, then the whole concept breaks down. Either you force that person to conform, in which case your economic theory is overlapping in a Venn diagram with authoritarianism, or you convince that person to conform, which is liberalism, or you allow them to be outside of your system, in which case your system falls apart little by little. Being aware of that and his daily consciousness promotes an understanding in John that we are doing the best we can right now. The system we have is a three-legged dog or a broken transmission, it is all these terrible things! It has excesses and abuses threaded into it, but as soon as you monkey with one aspect of it, you either have to be willing to become an authoritarian society of some sort or you squeeze the balloon over here and it will have foreseen consequences on this other side. We are going to be putting out fires everywhere which is what we are doing already.

It boils down to that John once in the while runs a stop sign in the middle of the night and feels good about it. It is his little contribution and his payback for all the stop signs he does stop at. Partly it is his way to say that he agrees with the laws for the most part, both in principle and in spirit. To practice the spirit of the law is more important than to practice the letter of the law and in order to do that, you sometimes have to flout the letter of the law.

Dan was sometimes running stop lights when he was going through a really bad part of town and not because of some kind of conceptual rationalization based on rule adherence. John remembers a police office pulling up next to him while he was driving through Cabrini-Green in Chicago at some point in the late 1980s. He was stopping at a stop light, and the police office knocked on his window and told him not to stop at stop-lights around here, which was a fucked-up thing to say. John has spent a lot of time of his life in neighborhoods where conventional wisdom told him ”Don’t go into this neighborhood” and ”Don’t do this thing”, but rules like that get his goat a little bit and make him super-mad. He does go into those neighborhoods and he has benefited greatly from sitting at a stop light at places where even the police is running their lights because they don’t want to sit and idle. Dan adds that John's perspective on the world comes from somebody who is himself a larger and more imposing force than most, which has to affect his decision making process in many situations. When John finds himself in a situation, he is not necessarily as likely picked on.

John was picked on a lot while he was a kid and he didn’t get big until he was a Junior in High School. He started kindergarten when he was 4, so he was always a year younger than everybody else. Maybe he was the same size as other kids, but because he was emotionally much smaller, he was a pretty vulnerable kid until he was a Junior where he got bigger really quickly. He started wearing glasses as he was in High School. John has spent many years reflecting upon his privilege of being big and white and he has walked through the world in his mantel of Big White American Guy, which has protected him like a coat of armor for decades. In his early 20s and mid 20s he still felt like a vulnerable child inside and he wasn’t aware how much access he had by being big.

Being able to say that the police are just agents of an authority who don’t have any authority over him individually is a very privileged position that has a lot more to do with his whiteness than his size. If a police officer tells him ”You can’t stand here!”, John will reply ”I beg you pardon, but in fact I can”. There is also the privilege of gender that lets him walk around in the wrong neighborhood at the wrong time. Becoming aware of all that was dawning him over the course of a few decades and it is a powerful set of privileges that he is able to apply. Primarily, John does not assert that he has any more right to the armrest than the small person sitting next to him. The indignity of things not being built to suit him perfectly pales in comparison to the great opportunities he is afforded by precisely those factors. The loud Husky voice helps and also the 1000 yards stare that he has cultivated for many years.

John's biggest privilege is that his parents always genuinely laughed at his jokes. They were interested in what he had to say, they weren’t pretending, and they weren’t feigning an interest. They thought he was funny and they thought he was interesting from a very young age. It taught him that he was interesting and worth listening to. Culturally, whether people think he is interesting or whether people listen more to big white men than they do to other people is definitely a factor, but the primary factor is that when he was 6 years old trying to make a joke, his folks were ”Haha, good!” That gave him more power and more sense of his capability and of his belonging in the world. The world itself has never really unequivocally said ”John Roderick, you belong!” The world is pretty ambivalent whether he belongs and the world doesn’t necessarily like his approach. His folks always did and somewhere in him there is a feeling that he absolutely belongs and if he walks into a room and everybody in there despises him, he still feels that they can’t keep him out.

Sponsor: Warby Parker (RW1)

For many years, the only way to get the kind of glasses John prefers was to buy vintage glasses. This required a lot of work sorting through bins and visiting strange people in weird parts of town. Sometimes he would find an old optometrist who still had a bunch of vintage frames in the basement, but the old man who was running the place didn’t really want to go down there and you had to talk them into it. John bought many pairs of vintage glasses with the original price tag from the 1950s and 1960s on them and when you got lenses to put in, you were always worried that the plastic had decayed and was going to crack. When John was out in the world, roaming around the streets of America and Europe, and he would see someone in the distance wearing a pair instantly identifiable vintage glasses, that person would also see John and they knew how much work they both had put into it, so they would nod or sometimes even stop and talk. One time in a café in Hamburg, the guy behind the counter was wearing a pair of glasses that John coveted and knew were very special. They had a long conversation about those glasses. Glasses like that have always been an indicator of a certain kind of person.

Warby Parker’s frames are all designed very much according to the principles of vintage times. They look very classic! Just a few years ago when Warby Parker came on the scene, he would see somebody in an airport or in a grocery store, see their glasses and would know there was an entrée to talk to this person, but the person would just look at John shocked and would say ”They are Warby Parker!” It has changed John’s social equation because he sees people in the world wearing glasses that he has spent 30 years training himself to see and to know what they meant. Now it means a different thing, because regular people have access to these frames and these styles, people who don’t want to be in the basement of an optometrist in Chinatown. John has never had a pair of Warby Parker glasses, but he is ready to go through the looking glass and take the risk and have the adventure of this new way into this look. Then he can walk up to a person in the airport and say ”Are those Warby Parkers?” and they will say ”Are these Warby Parkers?”, which will be a new way of sharing. John is ready to bloom and grow forever!

Rituals and routines, getting out of bed (RW1)

Dan's neighbors have a series of landscaping lights in front of their house that will illuminate certain trees or shrubs. They also have house lights to the left and the right of the main entrance. They have a motion sensor light over the garage that turns on when they are driving up at night. When Dan is on his way up to bed, he will glance out the window in his door and he will taking stock of what is going on before he goes upstairs. There is no rime or reason as to how they use these lights. Dan will turn the main light on when he puts the kids to bed, and in the morning when he comes down, he will turn it off. He has got a rime and a reason! These people across the street use different combinations of the various lights that make no sense. Dan seems to have these routines that he draws some kind of comfort out of doing them. He is not tossing and turning in bed if they don't happen, but it does lead back to his OCD stuff as he will sometimes have a similar thought pattern while he does the thing that has become the ritual. He is aware that he is having that even while he is doing it, but it must be working for some reason to do that. John strikes Dan as the kind of person who doesn’t have a lot of that and every day might be kind of different, but he likes it that way.

John is a person who does not like to go to sleep and who also does not like to wake up. When it is time to go to sleep, he does everything he can to avoid going to sleep. He sits and reads until he is too exhausted to hold up his book, then he goes downstairs to get a glass of water, maybe he takes a little handful of popcorn, and he goes back and plays Solitaire on his phone for a while. John hates to finally succumb, turn off the light, roll over and go to sleep. He will stay up for hours and hours rather than just make the decision that it is now time to go to sleep. In trying to push that boundary just a little bit further, he never goes to sleep at a regular time. Once he eventually has turned off the light and is sleeping, John loves being asleep and when it is time to wake up in the morning, he doesn’t want to wake up. He rolls over and goes back to sleep as long as he possibly can. When he will become awake and aware around 7-8am, he will conclude that this is an awful time and he will roll over and go back to sleep. At a certain point, the idea enters his mind that it is late and he has slept too long. His reaction to that is to put that feeling out of his mind by rolling over and going back to sleep again.

Depending on where John is in his bipolar cycle, he might sometimes sleep until 1pm. Other times he has enough scheduled at 9am to get up. This morning he knew he had a podcast with Dan at a certain point, but after he got his daughter to school, he went back to sleep and slept until he was absolutely up against the deadline of needing to get up and come to his office to podcast with Dan. Sometimes the burden of getting his daughter to school falls entirely on John, while other times he has help from his mom. Other times it is a cooperative effort and other people in his daughter’s life get her up and get her to school and allow John to sleep in. Everybody in his family knows about his problem. One of the ways he tries to live a normal life is by scheduling things at a certain hour in the morning, requiring him to be up like a regular person, but then he resents these appointments because they are forcing him up. Every single day is different, because every day has a first appointment. Sometimes it is at 8am and sometime it is at 10am, but he will always sleep up to the last possible moment, no matter what the rule is!

Making coffee in the morning requires John to be up early enough to make coffee, but he would always rather sleep until the last possible moment, although he wants coffee. He bought one of those coffee makers on a timer that would start the coffee for him, but that required him to do the work at night which he didn’t want to do either. This adds to the overall picture of how burdensome John finds almost everything. The cattle prod of responsibility moves him from one thing to the next, but it happens never according to an architecture, a ritual, a scheme or a plan. It is always just an alarm going off and John pushing the snooze button. The same is true during the day as well. Right now it is quarter till, he has plans to meet somebody later and he told the person that he would be there between this time and another time, which is all just an attempt to prod him on this Bataan Death March that is living a life.

Dan Benjamin (RW1)

If Dan is alone at home without his wife and kids, he will not cook ever, because it is not worth the effort.

Dan will also never ever wash grapes, because it is too much effort to get them into a bowl and wash them individually, so he will rather let them go bad and not eat them. It is a division of labour in their marriage where she shoulders the grape washing and Dan must do some correspondingly onerous task. The thing is that he won’t do it and he refuses to do it because it is too much trouble.

Dan has seen a psychologist in the past. She diagnosed him with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, but he doesn’t really have it anymore. He spent years doing mindfulness Vipassana style meditation and similar things for very serious meditation practice. He was a real mess! Now he is on top of it much more than he used to be.

Everything in Dan's life is more efficient because of the way he works in his mind, especially in the kitchen. Because he is lazy at heart, everything he does is designed to take the least number of steps possible. He organizes the ways the drawers are laid out in the kitchen, because the placement of things reduces the number of steps that it takes to do any one thing.

Scrambled eggs (RW1)

Dan is very very good at scrambled eggs. He got it from his granddad. It is not hard, but there are secrets to it, which to John sounds very hard because first you have to get somebody to tell you the secrets and then you have to learn the secret. John puts a little milk in them, he whips them up, he sets the stove, but he always burns them and makes them dry. Both Dan and John usually make eggs for four people. John has a general principle called ”Make All the Bacon”, which also includes ”Make Eggs for 4”. It is one of the most universal things. Everyone has done it and everybody has seen it done 1000 times, so for Dan to be venturing a better way is like saying that there is a new way to wipe yourself when you have gone potty. It is a thing we all do all the time and everybody has presumable their own way of doing it, but Dan is stepping into this arena and says ”No, there is a better way!” The people who have invented the wet wipes showed us a better way, but then they ruined every sewer system in America. PSA: They are not flushable, don’t flush them!

People will use different kinds of pans to make eggs. They have this new kind of non-stick pan surface that is really great, but any non-stick pan will do. You have to use a plastic spatula on the non-stick. You also can’t be afraid of butter because if you only use a tiny amount of butter, it is going to dry out and be nasty. Even if you have a non-stick pan, you still need the butter. Use a medium heat! People sometimes make scrambled eggs on a high heat, but that causes the proteins in the eggs to get ropey, like in those greasy spoon diners where they are in a hurry and crank up the heat because they want the eggs to be done faster. You crack all the eggs into a bowl, but do not crack the eggs on the corner of the bowl! There are three reasons: 1) It is going to be a mess, because the eggs will immediately drip out, 2) You are going to get tiny little pieces of shell get mixed into the egg and 3) any bacteria that was on the outside of the egg are now being introduced into the egg.

The new way to crack your eggs is on the flat surface of the counter top. You crack the eggs one-handed and throw the shells into the compost. When you have cracked all 8 eggs in the bowl, you whip it with a fork, because whisks are harder to clean. The whole point of stirring is to introduce air, not just to combine the parts of the egg. You want to beat those eggs to get lots of bubbles which will make for a much lighter, fluffier, evenly cooked egg. Then you turn on your stove on medium. To check if the temperature is too high, you flick a bit of water into the pan and you want those drops of water to dance around the pan. If they sizzle and are gone immediately, you have to turn it down. Then you take in the butter. At the point where you are thinking that you put in too much butter, you know you have done it right. Spread the butter around the pan and once it is melted, pour all the eggs in at once. Here is the other critical part: You stir it and you do not stop stirring until the eggs are done. You are standing there and you are manning this the whole time! You want to stop right before the eggs are done, because they will continue to cook and there is an old saying ”Done in the pan, overdone on the plate”. This recipe is a real crowd pleaser and it will give you perfect eggs all the time! You can introduce cheese or diced ham or some other element into the eggs, either as an omelet or just as ”wishy washy”. John takes umbrage at characterizing it as wishy washy, but that is what they used to call it in the school cafeteria in Philadelphia when they had cheese and onions and peppers mixed into their eggs. John can’t believe this was called wishy washy!

Going to the roller rink for a graveyard (RW1)

Dan went roller skating when he was young, but he was not very good at it. They couldn’t afford real roller skates, so they only had those metal things that would clip on to the outside of your sneakers although he was not born in the 1940s, but in 1972. They had Roller Rinks, but he never got to go to them until he was much older and then it was too late for Dan to learn. He just fell all the time. Did kids just pitch pennies against the wall for birthday parties in the late 1970s in Philadelphia? Maybe they would play street hockey or nerf football. Dan grow up in Abington, right by German Town. To clarify for those of us who were growing up in Western suburban environments and not in some John Waters film: Dan was raised back East in the decaying remnants of a 19th century American city, trying to find amusement in a place that was ruled by various Mafias and characterized by ingrained systemic racism. Out West, where the roads were wide and freedom was in the trees, John had all these different options, but a kid’s social life in the 1970s revolved primarily around the roller rink.

You went to the roller rink on birthday parties and on Friday nights. They played Blondie, Chic and The Bee Gees, you rented a pair of roller skates and didn’t have to buy them or clip on some tin roller skates to your Converse Tennis Shoes. The boys skated with the boys and the girls skated with the girls, unless it was couples’ skate, in which case you either had to get off or find someone to skate with as a couple. Dan has seen that in movies and he did go to a roller rink many years later, but he had never really learned to roller skate by then, so he was just holding his hands along the wall or he might make it halfway across the thing to the other wall, but he was mostly just a danger to everybody else. One of the great things about a roller rink is, and John is now speaking as a 10 year old in 1978: At the roller rink you are free. Your parents take you there and leave, because they don’t want to be in this terrible environment and you are now alone in what amounts to a night club where you are on roller skates and they are playing Disco music.

You are experiencing all these things, like the tension of sexual politics of 10-year olds. You are learning how to dance and how to roller skate, but most importantly: You are in charge of your own Soda/Pop experience! You would get a cup and the Soda/Pop machine was just sitting there, which was John’s first exposure to a Pop machine that you could access yourself. You didn’t have to go to the Soda-fountain guy and tell him to give you a Coke, but you could get your own Coke. Of course there were cigarette machines as well. John was introduced to the concept of making a Pop that was not just one kind of Pop. Instead he went down the line and put a little bit of every kind of Pop in the cup: Some Root Beer, some coke, some orange and some Sprite. You skip the diet, obviously, but at the time there might not even have been any diet pop. There was TaB, but John liked that. It was a regionalism, but some people would call that kind of self-mixed pop a cemetery or a suicide, but John called it a graveyard. John was hoping that Dan in Philadelphia with their strange Godfather II version of the world, had some other weird name for a graveyard, but he is realizing that it was even weirder there and they were probably still drinking Moxie out of a bottle.

Fluffernutter (RW1)

John never had a Fluffernutter. It is made with marshmallow cream, called fluff, which is like a melted marshmallow, but stable at room temperature. A Fluffernutter is a sandwich with peanut butter and marshmallow cream on white bread. People could do wheat bread, but that was frowned upon. Every mom made this for their kids as a snack, though it wouldn’t qualify as a lunch. They would stop playing stick ball for a minute, Winnie would come out and turn the fire hydrant off, they would get on their tin roller skates and skate home to the stoop where their mother would give them white bread with marshmallow fluff on it. Good grief! They probably got beat up on the way home. John is audibly appalled by this concept! Then Serpico would squeal up and get into a fight with some pimp. No wonder Dan escaped to Texas! Out in Alaska when John was a kid, most of the streets outside of the center of town were not paved, but dirt streets, so you couldn’t roller skate on the streets and you had to watch out for bulldozers which were a big part of the traffic up there at the time. There were no Fluffernutters!

If you want to get really fancy with it, you can add slices of bananas but Dan is a purist and likes the straight Fluffernutter. You can go savory and you even can go bacon! For John this is pure Elvis food and he doesn’t approve bananas in pancake. You can eat a pancake and a banana, but why would you put sliced bananas in your pancakes? That is like putting sliced hot dogs in your Mac & Cheese! Dan is 100% on board with John here. He doesn’t put beans in chilli, he doesn’t put chocolate chips in oat meal raisin cookies, he doesn’t even think that the raisins are necessary. Keep those foods apart! No walnuts in fudge! You show up at somebody’s house for Christmas fudge and there will be walnuts in there? What is that? Who does that? Come on, grandma, get the walnuts out of the fudge!

Sponsor: Wealthfront (RW1)

John imagines a lot of their listeners sitting in their 10.000 sqft home in Palo Alto they just recently bought. They have never lived alone and the first thing they bought was a 100” television which they mounted in front of the fireplace, because they never expect to use the fireplace. They are sitting on their beanbag chair with their game controller in their hand and next to them is a Filson bag with €2 million. The only thing on the wall is a giant poster with a white Lamborghini and a girl in a bathing suit sprawled on the hood. They are thinking to themselves: ”I’ve made it! I have all this money, I have this house, now what do I do?” They have all these Euros in this Filson bag, they have the best Virtual Reality headset that the guys at their company built, but there is really not that much content for VR-gaming yet, so what are they supposed to do? What John and Dan are offering them is the opportunity to take some of that money and invest it and get involved in the larger enterprise of global capitalism by becoming investors/owners.

That is a great opportunity! Their listeners are going to build an art collection, they are going to buy some furniture, they might meet someone they fall in love with, this could be the beginning of a much wider, broader life for them. Their typical listener is either somebody as John just described or someone working on a collective farm somewhere in the Midwest as part of a religious organization that is into organic farming. They are all living collectively and at night they sit and listen to podcasts around a central dining establishments where they are eating scrambled eggs at picnic tables in the giant hall. That organization, too, could benefit from a little bit of wise investment. You have to buy seed every year, but from the money you have left over from buying seed and from hand-spinning your simple garments, they could invest a little bit and watch it grow. John sees a lot of their listeners also being part of Winnebago RV culture. There are some Canadian frackers, some Polynesian South-Pacific islanders, obviously some NASA-employees have been a big part of John’s career, and he can only assume they will follow him for this podcast.

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