The Dudes Do ASHA 2013: Day 2 – Of Ice Cream and Insights

So where were you in 1978? Were you even alive in 1978? It was the year when American porn mogul, Larry Flynt [1], was shot and paralyzed; when the oil tanker Amoco Cadiz sank and dumped over 1.5 million barrels of oil across 200 miles of French beaches; when Pope John Paul I succeeded Pope Paul IV – and died after 33 days; when Grease and Saturday Night Fever made John Travolta the hottest acting property on the planet; when a gallon of gas cost 63 cents; and when the first computer bulletin board system was created.



I was in my first year of college reading (as they say in the UK) Psychology, Linguistics, and Computer Science at Lancaster University. At that time, the computer was an ICL 1900, which took up a room and could only be programmed by using punched cards. You had to write your code on paper first then use a special typewriter to punch each line on code onto separate cards. Then you bundled them altogether and dropped them into a basket and came back two days later. If you’d made just ONE mistake in one of those cards, all you got back was “runtime error” and you had to go through the cards to work it out. And you try and tell the young people of today that – and they won’t believe you! [2]

1970's punched card

Old Punched Card

In that same year, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, a couple of college dropouts, opened up an ice cream parlor in Burlington, Vermont, marking the beginning of the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream empire. Little did they know at the time that 35 years later they’d be in the same room as the Speech Dudes as the opening speakers for the ASHA 13 Convention in Chicago. Nor did they imagine that they’d walk on stage with their heads in a giant ice cream label marked /fɹɪkətɪv fʌdʒ tʃʌŋk aɪs kɹim/[3]

Ben and jerry ice cream giant label

Ben and Jerry giant label

Ben explained that the reason for their ice cream containing large chunks of dough, chocolate, cherries, caramel, and so on, is that he has aguesia – the inability to taste things. Thus, he’s always had to judge a “good” ice cream flavor on the basis of textures and not taste. This piece of information is deadly when given to thousands of SLP’s, who suddenly feel empowered to go back to their clinics and work on their clients with eating disorders by buying tub after tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream using the evidence-based notion that they are implementing “texture” as a therapy tool! Praise the Lord and pass the Chunky Monkey!!

The duo was also happy to provide us all with an insight into how to manage a business where you have two people in charge. The Dudes listened carefully.

Rule 1: Either partner has the power to veto an idea if they don’t like it. But the value comes in neither ever having to use it! Just knowing you can veto something makes you more likely to work out a solution where the veto isn’t needed.

Rule 2: Whoever feels more strongly about an issue should get their way. This means that something always gets done – even if it turns out to be the wrong thing – and it recognizes that some decisions can have a huge emotional component.

That’s basically it; the Ben & Jerry’s rules of management harmony. And to think, there are all those expensive books on “Management Theory” available in bookstores and via online sellers when all you need is “allow anyone to have a veto and let the passionate partners win.” Eat your heart out, Ken Blanchard.

Now, just as there is no such thing as a free lunch, there is also no such thing as a free breakfast. Part of the presentation was a call for an uprising of the proletariat against the owners of the means of production – well, for folks to lobby for a constitutional amendment that would limit the unfettered funding of politicians by large corporations and SuperPacs. Basically, they argue that such funding biases democracy by allowing certain groups to have greater sway over the voting process i.e. by allowing money to become “votes.”

At the site, Stamp Stampede, you can buy a small stamp with phrases such as “Stamp Money Out of Politics” and “Not To Be Used for Buying Elections,” which you then use to print on dollar bills. According to their math, “Every dollar you stamp will reach 875 people, if you stamp 5 dollars a day for a year, that’s over a million. ” Thus, this is a grass-roots movement that aims to raise awareness of the need for change.

Stamp Stampeded logo for the campaign

Stamp Stampede Campaign

Sadly, I missed most of this part because just as it began, I was chewing a piece of gum and it pulled out the bridge on my upper right jaw! I had to leave the hall and find a men’s room – no mean feat in itself since many had been converted to women’s rooms for the conference. But rest assured I was back in time to help dispose of the thousands of free ice cream tubs available to the assembled masses – and despite my lack of dentition, I was able to enjoy the creamy – and textured – pleasure of a Strawberry Cheesecake.

Now THIS is why I became a Speech Therapist.

[1] If you like to play the Six Degrees of Separation game, Dude 1’s daughter is married to Larry Flynt’s grandson, so if you’ve met me, then you are three steps away from a porn baron! Sadly my son-in-law comes from a “black sheep” branch of the family and he isn’t going to inherit the Hustler empire, and I am unlikely to get that job of writing articles for Hustler magazine (“Megan is 22, loves puppies, wants to finish her degree in Speech Pathology, then work with disabled children. Or Wicked Pictures.”)

[2] A gratuitous reference to a 1979 sketch by the Monty Python team, live at the Hollywood Ball. Those of you old enough to remember might want to click on this link to relive it – those of you too young to know about Monty Python should avoid the link and move on rather than get sucked into the tragic, maudlin, sentimental memories of old men rapidly heading for their dotage.

[3] For the non-readers of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) amongst y’all, that’s “Fricative Fudge Chunk Ice Cream.” The IPA is a bit like a secret code used by SLPs – along with their secret decoder ring and spy pen.


One response to “The Dudes Do ASHA 2013: Day 2 – Of Ice Cream and Insights

  1. Thanks for the run down on Ben and Jerry. I missed them speaking but had I known there would be ice cream…

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