Half-Mind Weblog

portrait_3 copy A Hash House Harrier weblog by Flying Booger, a hasher living in Tucson, Arizona
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The Half-Mind Weblog is a Gang of Six™ Production

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© 2004-2015 Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

Here’s to You, Brother Hasher

Ian Comyn, better known to us as Ian Cumming, has gone to hash with G. I met Ian in Rotorua at InterHash 1994 and learned a song or two at his feet. He was a hash mentor to many. He will be sorely missed and always well remembered.

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Click to read the 2008 Half-Mind Weblog interview of Ian Cumming

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Origins of On On?

Where does “On On” come from? Who knows? The only thing I’m fairly certain of is that it didn’t come from hashing.

A few years ago I got into an argument with another hasher. He insisted it was a hasher who first came up with the “Drinking Club with a Running Problem” motto, sometime in the 1970s. I said I didn’t think so, because if you Google “drinking club with a ______ problem” you’ll find drinking clubs with mountain climbing problems, drinking clubs with bicycling problems, drinking clubs with yachting problems, and so on.

The earliest documented use I’ve found dates back to 1946. “A Drinking Club with a Motorcycle Problem” appears on the patch of an early outlaw motorcycle club, the Boozefighters MC (the bikers who raised hell in Hollister, California in 1947, inspiring the 1953 Marlon Brando movie The Wild One). If you can find a quote from G or Torch Bennett or Horse Thomson where they used the motto in the late 1930s or early 1940s, I’ll reconsider. But as far as I know we never called ourselves a drinking club with a running problem before the 1970s.

The other day, after I wrote about Hash Haven, the online support group for hashers dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts, members there had a long debate about what many of them see as a hurtful, politically incorrect, and exclusionary motto used by some hash kennels: “No Poofters.” That never originated in the hash; it came from the 1970 Monty Python Bruces sketch. In the heyday of Monty Python, a lot of hashers thought the no poofters refrain was funny, and somehow it morphed into an unofficial motto.

How about “Rule Number One Is There Are No Rules”? It’s possible a hasher first said it, but if you Google it you’ll find it’s a widely used phrase. Thomas Edison allegedly said something similar in 1903: “Hell, there are no rules here. We’re trying to accomplish something.”

Okay, back to “On On.” This morning Chippendale sent me some information on the Royal Air Force’s 272 Squadron, which flew anti-submarine patrols from Scotland in WWI and long range shipping escort missions in the Mediterranean during WWII, and whose motto was … well, you’ll never guess:

272 squadron

The plaques and patches I looked up all say On On, but the linked history of the squadron says it was actually On, On! (with an exclamation point, which is how many hashers say it as well). Looking at the symbol of the armored knight, I can’t help wondering if the phrase dates back even farther … possibly even to the Crusades?

There’s no point to any of this, other than to say that the hash knows a good thing when it sees it and isn’t ashamed to borrow when necessary. On, On!

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A Hasher Memorial

When I became a mail-order minister several years ago and started officiating hash weddings, I knew the day would come I’d be asked to do a funeral. That day is here. A friend is setting up a memorial for C____, a local hasher who recently took her life, and she’s asked me to officiate.

Suicide may or may not be a taboo subject at the memorial. C____’s hash mates still aren’t openly talking about it, and no one yet knows if C____’s family, who will be here for the memorial, will want it mentioned.

I told my friend I’d do it. Now it’s up to the family. If they want me to officiate at their daughter’s memorial, I’ll have to broach the subject with them. I’ll comply with their wishes, of course.

At first I considered saying no. Sure, we belonged to the same hash, but I didn’t know C____ all that well, and my last time out with that kennel was over two years ago. Also, I’m not a believer. When hashers ask me to perform weddings I’m always up front about that: I tell them if they’re looking for religious sanction I’m not the guy they want.

No problem, my friend explained, C____ wasn’t religious. Okay, then. That, plus the fact I’m not one of her close friends and am a little distant from the hash through which we knew each other, might make me the right guy, in some hard-to-explain way, to say the formal words at her memorial service. I think C____ would be cool with it … I couldn’t do it otherwise.

Suicide? It’s a profound shock when someone you know chooses that option. I’m deeply sorry C____ chose that way out of her troubles, but it was her decision and I have to respect and accept it.

Don’t any of you do it, though. Please?

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Pedalfiles Bash Trash: 7/19/15

What’s that saying? Oh, yeah … there are no rules! Today’s hare put that to the test, but I think everyone had a good time.

Here’s what happened. A couple of months ago we signed Loose Nut up to hare the July trail. I knew something was up when he called me to ask if anyone had ever marked trail with spray paint, but other than encouraging him to stick with traditional methods I took a wait and see approach. I mean, maybe he hasn’t hared for us before, but he’s been hashing for years, right? Then, at last month’s hash he showed me a map of the trail he had scouted. It looked solid to me and I said so. And I quit worrying about it.

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Loose Nut’s map

Some time around 7:30 this morning Arthur Gash posted a copy of the map on Facebook. Oh well, I thought, that cat’s out of the bag, but so what? Based on the announced start location alone, anyone could have guessed we’d be riding through the neighborhoods surrounding the University of Arizona, so no harm done.

Two hours later, the Pedalfiles assembled at the Times Market on University Avenue, ready to chase Loose Nut through the streets and alleyways of metropolitan Tucson: 58 & Accounting with her friend NHN Pete, Bumper Tracks with his young sons Jason & Jake, Yoda & Appendage, Wankers Aweigh, Arthur Gash & You Gotta Fuck Me to Find Out, and us, Flying Booger & Pick’n'Flick. But instead of jumping on his bicycle and taking off in a cloud of flour, Loose Nut calmly handed out copies of the same map to every rider, explaining that he wasn’t going to mark trail, but that we’d be riding the route together instead. And then he passed out bulldog clips so we could attach our copies of the map to our handlebars!

What’s that saying again? Oh, right … there are no rules. Someone did ask Loose Nut why he chose this interesting approach to haring, and he said it was because when the pack has to solve trail it gets all spread out. To which one can only say, sure, you’re right but … so we bit our collective tongues and took off together.

For what turned out to be a very pleasant 11-mile ride on bicycle-route streets, with a beer stop at the Rincon Market, a Tucson landmark, then back along a fantastic, shaded bikeway and on-in to the A at the Times Market.

Sadly, Loose Nut took off after we got back to the A, so we didn’t get to rag him about his unconventional “haring” methods. Or thank him for the trail either. Wankers, 58 & Accounting, and NHN Pete had to leave too, and rather than hang around the Times Market the hard core bashers who remained decided to go a few blocks south to Bison Witches on 4th Avenue for on-afters. I don’t like to be critical, but Bison Witches has changed, and not for the better, and we’d have probably been better off staying at the Times Market, which had plenty of good food and beer. A lesson for future metro Tucson trails, surely.

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Hard core bashers at on-afters

Like I said, I sort of expected Loose Nut to surprise us, but all in all it was a pleasant surprise. Flour and a few checks would have been nice, but we had a great ride, and we did manage to stay together!

There are no rules, after all. And what’s that Mao said? Let a thousand flowers bloom? Something like that. Well played, Loose Nut. You showed us a new trick, you old dog!

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Help with Demons

Two days ago I wrote about the death of a Tucson hasher. The local hashing community is reluctant to talk about the fact that she killed herself, but a few of her closer friends have said they knew she was wrestling with serious problems. In my previous post, I expressed the wish she’d reached out to her fellow hashers when things got bad. Maybe she did, and it wasn’t enough. What do I know? Nothing, Jon Snow.

Still, I’ve been thinking about her. A lot. Could we have seen this coming? Was there anything we could have done to help our friend? Then, yesterday, I saw this post on Facebook:

Hash Haven_1

This wasn’t from a local hasher. It was from someone in Philadelphia. I messaged the poster and she messaged me back. She knew about the Tucson hasher’s suicide, but she knew of several more: according to her at least a dozen hashers took their own lives over the past year. She and other hashers started a closed Facebook group called Hash Haven as a place where troubled hashers can reach out for help.

Here is Hash Haven’s organizing statement:

Welcome to Hash Haven. We are Hashers helping Hashers. Hash Haven is a support network designed to reach out to hashers living and suffering with depression and mental illness. We do not know what the fuck we are doing and we are here to help.

I don’t know if people who commit suicide are necessarily mentally ill, but surely most of them suffer from depression, so maybe Hash Haven is on the right track. Judging from the numbers of hashers who have joined the the group and posted messages about themselves, a lot of us deal with depression and sometimes need help.

Call me naive, but I’ve always believed we hashers have closer bonds with our hashing friends than we do with friends in other social or professional groups. Some of us share more with our hashing friends than we do with our own families. Hashing has always been special that way, so a support group for hashers struggling with depression seems a good idea to me.

Part of me wants to make light of this by comparing the hash to another well-known support group, Alcoholics Anonymous … the one obvious difference notwithstanding, we’re there for one another, am I right? Part of me, at the same time, knows the subject is deadly serious … a dozen hash suicides a year? Holy shit.

Need help with demons? Here are the details: Hash Haven H3 is a closed group on Facebook. “Closed” means outsiders can visit the page and see general information about the group, but member posts are visible only to other members. Interested hashers can ask to join (probably best to message the organizers first to introduce yourself). Once your membership is approved you can post to the page and read messages from other members. 

Sorry for the real world intrusion. The Half-Mind Weblog now returns to its normal light programming.

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Demons

A woman we know through our local Hash House Harriers club has apparently taken her life. She’d been incommunicado for a few days: another member of the hash went looking for her and found her dead. That’s all we know at the moment.

Know: I used the word twice, each time carelessly. We (Pick’n'Flick and me) can’t say we knew her, not really. We were friendly with her, and she with us; we did trails together and chatted at the hash, but our conversations weren’t personal. She was younger and had a different set of friends in the hash. As for her death, all we “know” is what we’ve pieced together from messages and Facebook posts. She was found only yesterday; everyone’s still tiptoeing around the particulars.

Even when it’s not a close friend, though, it’s a shock. Who can know what demons others are dealing with? We always thought of her as an upbeat, happy person. Judging by what we hear from other hashers, they thought so too.

It’s not our place to speculate or even make wishes. Still, we wish she had reached out to her many friends in the hash when things got bad. Sad times.

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Links Updated

I updated the Half-MInd Links page today after a hash vendor canceled an order for hash fish appliqués. He’s still advertising them on his website, but apparently doesn’t really have any and can’t be bothered to keep his site up to date.

I apologize to anyone who went to that vendor via my site and experienced the same frustration.

While I was removing that guy’s link I deleted the other haberdashery links as well. If you’re looking for hashing-related items for sale, your best bet is HashSpace.

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Pedalfiles Bash Trash: 6/21/15

This’ll be a short bash trash. Your hash scribe rode only a short portion of the trail, this being one of the hottest days we’ve experienced this summer. Our hares, Arthur Gash and Gotta Fuck Me to Find Out, said they really didn’t expect anyone to show up at the car park at Camino de la Tierra and the Rillito River for the start, but a few of us did. For proof, here’s a photo of Loose Nut in the car park, about to pull his bike out of the trunk:

hot day 2

Joining Loose Nut were Deep Dish, Tonka Fuck and his son Epicock Prick, Pick’n'Flick, and yours truly. A few more might have come if Arthur hadn’t put out a message beforehand warning us it would be a long trail. Even though we started early, it was already hot. And then it got hotter.

Pick’n'Flick said “fuck this” and never did leave the start. I turned back after a few miles and waited with her in a shady spot by the cars. Tonka Fuck and Epicock Prick turned back early too, but they said they had a good time and would be back for another bash. Loose Nut and Deep Dish were the only members of the pack to gut it out, and they were rewarded with a beer check at the park on the hill above the Pima Community College campus on Shannon & Magee.

It was at on-afters, held at the nearby Thunder Canyon Brewery, that I first heard of Loose Nut’s dumpster diving proclivities, and now I’m sorry I didn’t stick with Deep Dish on trail so that I could have witnessed the scene firsthand. Deep told us she has a pretty high tolerance for ick, and it must be true, because she didn’t gag when she told the story. Unlike the rest of us. Well, at least we cleared out our part of the pub.

Said Loose Nut will be our hare on Sunday, July the 19th, so I’ll just put this out as a general warning: don’t take him up on any offers to share a Coke!

Sorry about not finishing trail, guys. Or should I say sorry/not sorry? It was TOO DAMN HOT!

hot day 1

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