Nadworny: Labels and misperceptions

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(HOST) Sometime things that seem to make perfect sense, really make no sense at all. Commentator Rich Nadworny was reminded of this in last month’s Vermont Marathon

(NADWORNY) When I work with clients to build Web sites, it’s always a challenge to name pages and sections so people will understand. The problem is that people always have an idea in their head of what they’re looking for which seldom matches up with what companies call things. The same is true on places like Google, which is why you have to wade through so many links.

Last month I had a similar experience, offline, when I ran half of the Vermont Marathon. I split the race with a friend of mine, but I’m not a marathon runner so I don’t know all the ins and outs of how things work in a race.

In any case, I met my neighbor, Amy, the day before the race and she said to look for her at mile 16.

She’d be part of the crew handing out water and such, and she said she would save me some "Goop." For those of you who aren’t endurance athletes, Goop is the technical term for energy paste you use to recharge during a long event. It’s usually in small packages with tear off tops and comes in a bunch of different flavors.

Three miles into my leg, I see the mile 16 marker, and people handing out water and Gatorade. There’s no sign of Amy, but a couple of people are holding cardboard plates piled with white Goopy stuff.

I figure I better grab some while I can.  I scoop a tiny bit on my finger and pop it in my mouth. It’s totally tasteless and seems thicker than I remember, but I think: This.must be the cheap generic kind since they’re giving out so much of it.

Then at mile 18 I see my friend. "You were supposed to be at mile 16," I say. Amy points ahead and says "The goop’s up there." A bunch of Flynn School kids hand me some packets of flavored goop with tear off tops. I pop one in my mouth and it tastes exactly like it should. Obviously, something has gone terribly wrong.

A few miles later, there’s the colorless stuff on cardboard plates again.

"What is that?" I shout as I run by.

"It’s Vaseline," they shout back. "It’s for chafing." My stomach gives a lurch and a shimmy but I run through it.

Actually I ran my 13.1 miles faster than I expected to. I don’t know if it was because of the Vaseline.

But I do know that I was quite regular for the rest of the week.

Mile 16, my friend, and goop: only one of these three expectations turned out right.

I’m taking this experience to heart. At work my new mantra is to fight against Gooping up the Web.

I have – you might say – learned to Look Before I Goop.

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