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Title:What Ever Happened To [...] #1012
Date:Friday June 22nd, 2012
Author:Troubadour
[Default Article Image][Grittings and salivations, alla you gah-groovy guys an' groovy gals! And welcome back (me)--although your opinion may vary--from "vacation" to "Bad Joke Fridays" in general and to this weakly offering in particular. Since some of said vacation involved traipsing around Mayan ruins near Cancun, Mexico, I was thinking: "Whoa! This week's topic oughta be WEHT…the Mayans?" But on second thought, it's too obvious. The Mayans either all died off or became tour guides. But I shouldn't joke. "Our guide" was actually pretty terrific. For one reason, he solemnly assured us that December 21st of this year will NOT be the end of the world. No, it's merely the end of "The 4th Sun" (calendar) and the start of "The 5th." "Sun" in this case means about 10,000 years. So, we're safe. Let's bemoan something else's passing instead.]

The Kennedy Administraction Presents…

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO [pull-tags and coat hangers] ?


Remember when race bibs consisted of two (or more!) parts, one you pinned on and the other you (or the finish line volunteer) pulled off? Remember the instruction: "Do NOT pin this big round hole to your shirt"? Right. There were always four other little holes. Those you *would* pin to your shirt…or shorts…or skirt…or hat…or sleeve…or shoes (?)...or even your butt, bottle holder, or rucksack.

But you would NEVER insert your little safety pin into or around or thru that "big round hole." Why? Because THAT HOLE was for the coat hanger.

We realize this Stone Age technology is lost on today's Mayans, or footracers, but it all really did work quite well. Even I, when I first became old enough to enter the Stone Age, was impressed. Here's how it all went down….

Your name, address, Zip Code (this was before the "+ four"), phone number, extension, home or office, date of birth, age on raceday (they were quite often mathematically challenged), sex (we usually answered: "not in awhile"), marital status, occupation, medical history, blood type, health insurance policy number, next of kin, preferred kinks, excessive compulsions, allergies, aberrations, psychoses, neuroses, and whatever else could be squeezed onto a strip of stiff paper about 8 inches long by 1-1/4 inches wide. Hey, this was just the Dawn of the Information Age, not the full-blown Age itself--which is what we have now.

And at the registration tables they always pronounced unto our meek and shivering selves: "CHECK AND MAKE SURE the printed information is correct!" Otherwise, we all assumed, the police department in whatever municipality we happened to be racing that day would mail our unpaid-parking-ticket-followup-notice to the wrong address. [For "neurosis" or "favorite parasite" I usually wrote down the same: "wife." No, wait. Sorry. That only applies to Barkley entry forms.]

Never mind. Mostly all that pre-race personal info was "for data purposes only." For example: Suppose you had TWO racers that day, both with the same full names, addresses, phone numbers, sexual orientations, and having the exact same DOB. Wow. So then…in order to avoid confusion…the race officials could differentiate between the 26:08 5K finishing time of the one from the 38:57 finishing time of the other just by assuming the latter was me. ( -_- )

No. But that's when the health histories, insurance card numbers, eye and hair color, and the rest of it would come into play. My finishing time could always be distinguished from, say, Theodor Geisel's (yes, same birthdays)--even though both bibs would be full of identical wisecracks--because his would show "Grinch" for employer, and mine would just say "it Hertz" (being careful to omit the apostrophe-"s").

Never mind, again. So what EVER happened to the coat hangers?

The coat hanger was used at the finish line--after it was cut, bent, and un-twisted in order to make a kind of wire loop--by one volunteer who would collect all those aforementioned pull-off bib tags and THEN put the hanger thru all those "big round holes." The idea was to place them, face down, in the exact order that all the runners crossed the line. In the case of ties, it was always a "judgment call." And you could NOT argue with the umpire!

Later the printed-out "tape" from the other volunteer operating the Chronomix machine (whoa, whatever happened to those, eh?) would be matched, each to each, with all those pull-tags on the coat hanger. The winner would be the very first tag on the hanger and the very first clock-time shown on the machine tape. Easy, huh?

And forever and ever afterwards…each successive tag would be matched to the next printed number. This all worked pretty cool, of course, up until right about the time that races started having finishers numbering in the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands. Invariably, the guy at the timing machine couldn't push the button fast enough, and the other dufus with the coat hanger would drop a few…and the order would be lost forever.

Ah-ha. And still even later on, after the awards ceremony was over and most of the cars (with or without tickets on their windshields) were gone, that coat hanger had another great purpose: it could be used on the cars belonging to the runners that locked their keys inside.

So now, whatever happened to those fat capped buttons on the other side of the glass above the door handles? The ones that looked like golf tees? Right. Those too have all disappeared. So ya might as well throw away your coat hangers, huh?

I'll tell you what's happened to ALL THAT STUFF: "chip timing" happened. That's right. The Information Age is now also The Electronic Age and your bib today might only have a printed number and a "thing" stuck on the back of it. All the info that's possible on your ass no longer has to be carried on your ass (or shirt, socks, whatever). It's all pre-programmed into "the machine" (computer, actually) that identifies your data immediately upon receiving "the signal" from that thing (chip, actually) you're wearing at the EXACT SPLIT MICROSECOND when you first "cross the plane" by stepping on that mat right there behind the precise finish "line"--whether it's painted on the ground or not. [Whatever happened to PAINT, as in that stuff you could always piss off the parks department with by leaving it there after the race? Hmmm….]

Other possible pull-off tags that might still be attached to the bottom of your bib numbers even today *could* include a gear check I.D., a "raffle" entry, a ticket to the post-race "food fest," or a $2-off coupon good at whatever business is sponsoring the bib numbers, eh?

And, oh yes, today in The Electronic Age, police departments chasing down parking ticket scofflaws can also pinch you ('cuz you're in the database!) for stop light violations AND issue you speeding tickets, no matter what kind of wisecracks you scrawl on your race entries!


( O_O )


Yours troubly,

The Troubadour
"your friendly mid-evil pardon-my-French lute plucker and bike rider, because his motorcar has been impounded for scoffing the law these last 800 years"

Yankee Folly of the Day:
We don't think even JFK could have envisioned global databases, handheld (or even desktop) computers, cell phones, and timing chips. But his parking tickets were probably all "fixed" for him anyway. Marilyn's too! (For a while.)
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Posted:June 26th, 2012 1:47 am
Last Update:June 26th, 2012 1:55 am
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