101- Hashing Best Practice

I detect confusion in how to lay trail and why we do it, so I have written down what I observe works.

I also spent a little time trying to look up what Hash clubs other than Qingdao do, which was not as successful as I remember doing two years ago.

Flour trail decays quickly, especially when wet—it will disappear in 30 minutes in light rain. Dry, it will last two days but the wind may scatter it around. Street sweepers will tidy trail up rapidly (split verb there), even in the gap between you laying trail and the harriers seeing it, and this is even more true in busy areas. Conclusion: lay trail live, or as near to that as you can.

Trail is laid in dots, circles, crosses, arrows and other special marks.

Dots (checks, according to some) are general trail. Shout: “On, On”, preferably when you get to it, not when you think you see it. Dots mean you have not yet lost the trail. A dot of flour, usually laid on the ground where you may see it, is helpfully placed on the soil near a tree (in Chinese streets), in the angle between wall and pavement, at the edge of a bin, pole or other street furniture. Hashes that use chalk instead write a combination h and arrow, often placing this on the kerb. Xiamen hash introduced the idea of using a tennis ball to make marks with flour—they’re very regular and can be done at speed, but they’re harder to place well.
Generally, place dots at a
regular interval, please. As a case-hardened FRB, I count breaths (four to six paces, usually) and ten between dots is okay and twenty is a bit sparse. Counting double paces (right to right, Roman style) twenty is fine and forty is worrying but one can live with it. Be consistent, meaning place the dots in the same sort of places, at the same height and at the same interval. Put extra dots at the far side of every possible change of direction, like a kerb crossing1. Do the same with estate entrances. This is a consequence of using dots at corners; if the rule was that dots only meant ‘go straight on’, we would know that all corners would have arrows or checking circles. In a city like ours that doesn’t work well. These extra dots build faith in you as hare. Save putting dots in hard-to-see places for when you’re deliberately trying to mess with their heads. As if the heads of hashers are already messed with.

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The Checking circle, shout: “Checking”, is best placed around something like a bin, pole, tree or drain cover because it will last longer. This habit best seen by me in Nanjing. FRBs reaching the circle shout useful things like “I’ll go left” and then “On One”, “On Two” and either “On ON” or “Oh Shit” (false trail found, X mark, see below). Take care to distinguish One from ON; some FRBs show hand signals; what some clubs insist (on) is that no check circle is left unattended—so as to ensure that the circle is broken correctly (and else the FRBs must go back to fix this). QDhhh habits could improve in this area. The point of the circle is to bring the FRBs back to the crowd by giving them extra things to do; this is failing because currently QDhhh has a big proportion of walkers not paying attention (that’s a club fault, not an individual one; walkers could fix this themselves). Some FRBs are so far ahead that they are running on their own and so there comes a point where the ‘right’ action is to leave the check circle unmarked, as by then you’ve spent 10 minutes finding trail, so why spoil everyone else’s fun?

A cross, “Oh Shit”, means this was a false trail. Presumably only the hare and one FRB will see these, so you, as hare, must (be tempted to) make it worthwhile; I suggest a cross goes where it will be found on returning to the circle, behind a tree, bin, etc; on the rear face of a wall, rock, etc. Remember, the point of the false trail is to give the FRB things to do while the median crowd catch up.
If you’ve got no trail or you think it’s a long time since you saw a mark and you’ve missed one (or lost it), shout “
Guessing”. You should be able to hear "On On” from others. This might be a case for narking later.

Arrows are supposed to confirm that you’re on course. They are an excellent way of confirming route after a complicated checking circle. What they’re supposed to be for is a change of direction that is not a circle. QDhhh tends to use more dots close together—this works, so don’t knock it—saving the arrow for things like an 8-lane road crossing and for dramatic changes of direction (again, crossing a road, not going along it). Placement of arrows is difficult to do well and they are more easily removed by people and hidden by traffic.

I found a sign new to me on one of the club sites, an arrow across two parallel lines, indicating cross the road. There’s a back arrow, used once a week when it is used at all, that means turn about and go around the last person (the last two turn around each other). I think this sign needs improving, maybe a pig’s tail; a back arrow means, to me, I have found trail from an earlier week or an earlier moment in the day—several times a year on town routes I come back to a X from the ‘other side’ having missed some sneaky extra twist of the trail—the hare wanted to use some nice ground thoroughly and I’ve been going too fast to see trail (again).

A circle with a dot inside it, “Oh bugger”, means go back to the last dot and look again for a change of route. Two good uses for this; (i) to make sure people go see a viewpoint and (ii) when you as hare missed a turning and already laid trail—and so put a circle round that last dot. If you laid more than one dot, replace a further dot with an X, too.
Beer stop, circle around a B,
“Yippee”. “Beer Stop”. Regroup. There is use for a Beer Near sign (BN?); I found reference to a ‘splash and dash’ use of BN, meaning that there is a stash in a bush (behind something, out of sight) nearby, for hashers to take a nip from (not a whole bottle or can) and continue. I see use for QDhh to use BN to assure hashers that they haven’t missed it.

Runner/Walker split: no call given beyond “On Left” for example. W/R is also called Wimps and Hares, Chickens and Bulls. Suggestion here that it would help to know when the two routes rejoin, and the obvious sign is a pair of arrows with but one head, rather like the sign for ‘ren’, .

The Chalk Talk, that the hares give at the start and you generally don’t listen to, has a few relevant bits of news each week (depending on hash and hares); roughly how far, is there a beer stop and what % of the whole e.g. 4km in, or 40%, or 40 minutes (no, they’re not necessarily equivalent), mix of terrain, problems foreseen, places where they think you might lose trail. In QDhhh we have an increasing tendency to give an idea where the later eating will be. Chalk talk at other clubs would include A-A, A-B, dead, live and so on—we put that in the hash email.
I found reference to ‘
wait’ signs—wait for the first harriette, wait until there are three gathered together, wait for the first horror (ugh). They work well in chalk. They all require a regrouping of sorts.

Sites to visit should include World Hash and Hashpaedia (the spelling suggests some education). Also HashChina.com. Qingdao is sometimes listed as TsingTao, Nanjng as the City of Nanjing. I like half-mind.com (“If you’ve half a mind to try hashing, that’s all you’ll need”. Booger writes (there) sensibly about how to tackle trail laying in the strategic sense.

I shall continue to search for a better (fuller, more complete) list of trail signs.

DJS 21020913

rewritten completely 0918 as explained in footnote 9 of essay 104

I had limited success in hunting trail signs; voodoo harriers (New Orleans) have this.

For history, see World hash, but also read HalveMein, which addresses common misconceptions well.

1 Kerb crossing—a place where you cross a kerb while going along your desired straight path.  Some will still not understand what I mean about placement of trail; imagine you’re going straight down a road A on the right hand side; you have a side road B to the right; put a dot on the onward (far) side of the side road B but on the A pavement. You’re trying to make sure people know you’re ignoring road B.

© David Scoins 2017