This month's rant at the Half-Mind Catalog (First, Do No Harm) is definitely worth reading...especially by webmasters! I'm not saying that websites should be taken down (nor is the author), but what we hashers see as an innocent butt-chug photo might be viewed quite differently by our co-workers, family, neighbors, or other groups we are members of. Imagine trying to explain to your boss on Monday (or your preacher on Sunday) that "You're taking that photo of me drinking beer out of a man's ass completely out of context!"
Some of the debauchery and adult humor has its place in the hash, and each hash has its own traditions. But we should all remember that "acceptable hash behaviour" in the U.S. usually isn't fit for public consumption...or posting on the internet. Personally, I don't think that every hash has to try and have an "Iguana-esque" circle in the first place. True, it is far easier for the American hasher to resort to using nudity and "adult behaviour" to entertain the pack every week than it is to come up with original ideas, songs, etc. But sometimes it's refreshing NOT to see someone on the ice (the novelty wears off after about the 400th time) or hear the men chant for "tits out for the boys" every couple minutes (c'mon, are we really that hard up for a peep show?)...but that is MY rant for another time.
Cameras, both "official hash flash" and personal ones are at almost every hash nowadays. While most webmasters and hash flashes are pretty responsible folks; virgins, regular hashers, and even visitors to our hashes may not be so careful with compromising photos. It is still possible that a picture of you may get out. The first instinct in this case is to blame the photographer. While they may share some blame for letting them out or sharing them, I believe we ARE all adults and ultimately responsible for our own actions. Strangely enough, there are wankers out there who will deliberately pose or ham it up for pictures at every hash event and still be surprised and indignant later when those pictures surface. In short: Don't act the fool in front of the camera if you don't want the pictures to be seen later.
My own feeling is it all boils down to good risk-management skills and a sense of personal responsibility...which most hashers set aside just before Chalk Talk. The prevailing attitude in the US is that we can get away with a lot more at the hash than society or the law allows. It never even occurs to most people the gravity of the risks we take every time we run across private property, have a beer stop outside of a bar, hold circle on public property (or private property we don't own), and yes exposing body parts to the pack. Behaviour that is completely unacceptable in your own neighborhood becomes standard, accepted fare at the hash. If a group of drunken strangers were disturbing your neighborhood, wouldn’t YOU want them to move on? Mightn’t YOU call the police and expect swift action? Of course you would. Yet when WE are the ones getting caught in the act, many hashers believe that it is our fascist government bullying a bunch of innocent hashers.
Even if there are no cameras around; our actions may have potential to get us in trouble personally, professionally, or legally. I am very aware of the risks I take at the hash, but I take them into account instead of ignoring them completely or letting them keep me from enjoying myself. I try to balance my desire to have fun with some common sense and judgment. I recognize that being at the hash does not give me carte blanche to act however I want. Just because trail goes over a 12’ chain link fence topped with barbed wire and posted “US Government Property, Keep Out” doesn’t mean I should go against common sense and hop that fence. The “But the Hares laid the Trail that way” defense probably won’t hold up in federal court. Mooning or flashing body parts in public is still a crime in most areas of the US, and I have yet to see an exemption for hashers. Just because we are in the corner of a public park or behind a building doesn’t mean we aren’t still in public. Sometimes, we as individuals need to make up our own mind as to what is right instead of blindly following the pack…and sometimes that means skipping the hash entirely.
I wish hashers would exercise the better judgment in advance instead of blaming everyone else later when cops show up, charges are filed, people are fired, marriages are ruined, etc. There can be no compromising pictures of you if you don't act in a compromising manner. This is one of the reasons I have not brought anyone from my current or previous workplaces to the hash...the possible consequences to my professional reputation and standing are not worth it to me. Maybe someday I'll meet someone at the office who understands both discretion AND how to separate social (like the hash) from work. Until then, I'll keep playing it safe :-)
The Money Rant
The cost of this week’s hash is $20! Hooray!
Well, why not? No one seems to question why it costs $5 a run at most US hashes, or why “local” and “regional” Interhash prices are always topping out around $100 or more. So let’s just up the price of the weekly hash and see if we can make some REAL money out of this thing!
Why is it that hashes in the US are so obsessed with money? I can’t speak for European hashes since I haven’t hashed there (yet) and I was too busy having a good time with the Agana HHH to notice (or remember) much discussion about Hash Cash in Southeast Asia & Micronesia. Perhaps it is a problem everywhere, but I’ll just stick to what I know.
Five bucks is a nice round number. It also comes in a single bill, reducing the need to carry all kinds of change. It also can cover the cost of several cans of beer per hasher, with enough left over to split a bag of chips and maybe contribute toward the cost of a bag of flour for the trail. But wait! Don’t many hashes make the cost of flour the responsibility of the hares? And aren’t there many hashes where food is not provided by the hash cash, or wankers aren’t reimbursed for the munchies they did bring? And what about beer sponsors? I’ve been to many hashes where the beer is provided at little or no cost to the pack because some generous beer distributor, brewery, bar, restaurant; etc is kind enough to sponsor the hash’s activities. And yet, these kennels still charge $5.
How about Interhash registration costs? Many local and regional interhashes start taking registrations at around $69 and gradually increase the cost to $100+ as the event draws near…ostensibly to try and “force” people to register early so orders for food, t-shirts, beer, etc can be more accurate. And this seems fair, because (as any veteran hasher can tell you) the “Price is more than worth the cost of **** Interhash” and “Where else can you get a weekend full of beer, food, entertainment, and souvenirs for that price?” Besides “If you don’t like the price, you don’t have to go.” Heck, I’ve used these phrases myself! But I’ve also been on planning committees for a couple hash events, and know that a decent weekend event with food, beer, souvenirs, lodging, and entertainment CAN be done for under $50 a person…certainly less than $100. And I also know that most (but not all) hash weekends, interhashes, etc. generally end up making a profit for the host hash…sometimes on the order of thousands of dollars. Yet the price of annual events rarely seems to go down.
So where does all the money go? From what I’ve seen, it usually goes into a bank account or a big envelope in someone’s house. It then magically transforms itself into a pirate’s treasure which must be jealously guarded. Over time, the pile of money grows, and it becomes even harder to convince the guardians of the Hash Cash to part with any of it. Oh sure, some of it may be used as “seed money” for future interhash-type events or as front-money for haberdashery items. But these expenditures are actually investments which end up making more money for the hash.
When was the last time you hashed for less than $5? Did you still get your money’s worth? My guess would be that you did. In fact, I’m gonna go way out on a limb and say you’d have just as much fun at $3 hash (or even a free hash) as you would one that cost $5. Money has a way of bringing conflict and creating discord in any social group, including the hash. Everyone has a great idea on how to spend the money, but no one wants to risk digging into the hash’s savings. “We might need it later!”
If your hash is trying to save money for a future interhash-type event, by all means collect money in a bank account (cash box, envelope, paper bag, etc.). When you find that you have $1000 saved, you probably have enough “seed-money” to get things going until registrations start rolling in. Most of your bills (except possibly site reservations) won’t come due until the week of the event or right after, by which time you’ve gotten all your registration money anyway. Keep your registration price down by making it an Invi-hash event. Instead of “penalizing” hashers for registering late, charge a lower cost and have a registration cut-off date. Use previous events’ attendance as a guide to help you plan accordingly rather than resorting to spiraling registration costs for later entries. Most of all, don’t charge double or triple the actual cost per hasher just because you can…it is far easier to exceed everyone’s expectations when the price is low than to meet their expectations when the price is high.
Once you have your “seed-money,” why not consider reducing the cost of your weekly hash? Charge just enough to cover the basic costs of flour and refreshments. Better still, throw a BYOB hash once in a while and don’t charge anything! If you want to make a t-shirt or obtain some other haberdashery, get your quote from the supplier and charge the interested hashers up-front. Otherwise, be prepared to front the money for your idea yourself and get reimbursed as the items are sold
At many hashes in the US, if you hang around long enough you’ll start to hear the discussions about Hash Cash. Seldom do these discussions add enjoyment to the hash. Even lottery winners and millionaires will tell you that money adds stress to life…the more you have the more stress there is. Let’s stop thinking about how much money our hashes can or should make. If you want to sell goods or services to the hash, so be it…we all like our haberdashery and have to get it somewhere! But let’s stop thinking of the weekly hash (or campout weekend, or interhash) as a way to make money for our groups. The Goals of the Hash only mention a little exercise, some beer, and making people feel better about themselves…nothing more. The guys in Kuala Lumpur were businessmen looking to relax and blow off steam after long days in the office. I’m sure they didn’t start the Hash in order manage budgets, track expenditures, and maximize profit in their spare time.