tale, (n). A story or narrative, true or fictitious, drawn up so as to interest or amuse, or to preserve the history of a fact or incident. (OED)
Another year, another ASHA Convention, and the Dudes are as committed as ever to support the event. This includes another round of unofficial blog posts that offer tales rather than truths. That’s not so say we’ll be telling any pork pies  but the good folks over at the official ASHA blog will be offering a possibly more sober set of postings with a more professional slant. We, on the other hand, are pretty much open to telling stories that we think are interesting and related to the convention only insofar as they are based on our experience of the whole event.
Which is why my first comment is to rail against an entire community of people; cab drivers . Readers of a sensitive nature, who may be worried about “cabist” comments or “cabby stereotyping” might want to pop on over to the ASHAsphere right now. Folks with stronger stomachs and a wry sense of humor should feel free to move on to the next paragraph.
Having grown up in the UK where a London taxi driver had to spend months of learning “the knowledge”  before being allowed to hold a license to transport fares, I’ve always assumed that the minimum skill a cab driver needs is to know how to get from point A to point B. Apparently not. One of my first reality checks about the American cab system took place some 15 years ago when I naively got into a cab at the Hilton LAX in Los Angeles and asked to be taken to an address some 10 miles away. I then learned about a special piece of Los Angeles culture – the Thomas Guide; a detailed street atlas for LA. And the reason I learned about it was that about 10 seconds after telling the driver where I wanted to go, he dropped one in my lap, tapped on the cover, and said “Where?” The ride then consisted of our jointly navigating the outskirts of the city trying to find my target location. When we eventually found it, I was then expected to pay the fare regardless of my contribution to the journey.
The modern day equivalent is at least a little more hi-tech: the cabbie calls a friend on his mobile phone and gets turn-by-turn directions. There is, of course, just a chance that the driver might have splashed out $100 to buy a GPS but that’s not guaranteed. What continues to irritate me is that not knowing where to go is still a problem! Apparently as long as I can turn a steering wheel and not kill a passenger in a ball of flame after hitting a gas station I didn’t know was on my route, I too could become a cab driver.
Another gripe is that any stickers to the effect that “this cab takes credit cards” are only there for decoration, possibly because they can’t fit a “my other cab’s another cab” sticker on there. On more than one occasion, I have ended up at an airport having to leave my bags as hostage while I find an ATM because “the credit machine isn’t working” or “we only take cards between 1:00 pm and 1:15 pm when there’s a full moon and my brother-in-law’s wife is pregnant.” Hey, and then try NOT giving a tip and see what creative language a cabbie can use!
OK, so maybe there are a few decent, skilled, and helpful cab drivers out there, and yes, I have had other rides where I’ve ended up where I wanted to be. But the problem is that the memory of the bad experiences ultimately drowns out those of the good. And because the frequency of occurrence of bad experiences is higher than that of, say, taking a plane or bad service at a restaurant, my attitude toward the cab as a mode of transport is now overwhelmingly negative . These days, I will consider every other option before I choose a cab.This is why when I arrived at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International airport I booked a ride on the Atlanta Airport Shuttle bus (www.taass.com) for the downtown trip to the Omni Hotel at the CNN Center. On the downside, the $29 return ticket also included a stop at every other hotel in downtown Atlanta before mine, but with shuttle buses, I have never had a problem getting to a destination, and I’ve yet to have a bus driver toss an atlas at me.
By the time I’d dropped my bags off in the room, it was after 7:00 pm and Speech Dude 2 was sending me texts to the effect that he was so weak with hunger that he couldn’t actually speak on the phone. So we headed for the first place where we could get food; McCormick and Schmick’s at the CNN Center. Tragically there were no tables available, due to the fact that thousands of SLPs and Audiologists had descended on Atlanta like a plague of locust and were rapidly devouring all and any food in a two-mile radius of the World Convention Center. However, the starving Speech Dude 2 seemed to have developed the visual acumen of an owl in heat, and spotted a couple of locust just about to leave the bar. We swooped in and slammed our butts on the still-warm seats faster than Simon Cowell can shut down a karaoke singer.
As we’re not a foodie blog, all you need know is that we ate mussels, steak, and shrimp, and drank beer.
Hardly original but then we are Dudes and not Gourmands, and Dudes are fine with the simple things in life – which include cooked dead animals  and alcohol. All we need say is that the food was excellent, the beer was cold and delicious, and we left the restaurant very satisfied.
Tomorrow the sessions start and the local Starbucks stores will be severely tested. Let’s see how well they respond to the coming onslaught. Cry “Havoc,” and let slip the dogs of war!
 Pork Pies is Cockney rhyming slang for “lies.” What’s more interesting about Cockney slang is that many rhymed words have actually lost their rhyming component and taken on a solo life. You’re more likely to hear someone say porkies, where the second element is deleted and the plural form added to the first. Other examples include the word barnett meaning “hair,” which comes from Barnett Fair; butcher’s meaning “look” from Butcher’s Hook; and plates for “feet,” from plates of meat.
 The word cab as used for a passenger vehicle for hire is actually a shortened form of the word taxi-cab, and the word taxi is a colloquialism for taximeter. A taximeter is a device fitted on a vehicle that indicates the distance it has traveled and the fare associated with it. The device was patented in Germany in 1890 and began to be used in passenger cabs. By 1907, the word was being shortened to taxi in reference to them being used in motorized vehicles. Clearly the more accurate word “taximeter-cab” was too much of a mouthful and the shift to taxi-cab then taxi was inevitable.
 “The Knowledge” is the knowledge of detailed knowledge of London within a six mile radius of Charing Cross. It’s based on learning 320 routes (or runs) and requires learning the 25,000 streets and 20,000 landmarks and places of interest in that six mile radius.
 This is simply another example of the general phenomenon whereby the intensity of a single event can counter any number of contrary but less-emotive experiences. One plane crash can turn someone off flying forever, yet statistically you have more chance of dying from crossing the road or a heart attack. Emotion trumps statistics every time.
 Regular readers may already be aware of the religious persuasion of this Dude; evangelical atheist. But if there were a god and we were made on the basis of some plan, then there has to be a good reason why he/she gave us those four canine fangs that are designed to rip and tear flesh. If we’d been supposed to eat grass, we’d have just had large flat teeth for grinding up fiber. But no, the canines are a bit of a giveaway, and so when you chow down on a soft, juicy steak, or gently nibble the tender pork from a barbecued rib, you are doing the Lord’s work. Why, it would be almost sinful not to eat meat!
You might, of course, disagree 😉