Thursday, December 12, 2019

We Don't Need a Star to Lead Us to God's Son -- Just a Willing Heart

I was recently thinking about what the Star of Bethlehem -- or Christmas Star -- looked like to the wise men who followed the star to Jesus' birthplace. Of course, it wasn't just a bright star in the Western sky. It was the star of the Messiah. I'm sure it was an amazing sight!

The most amazing sea of stars I have ever witnessed was during my nights of camping in the middle of the Mojave Desert while I was on my solo run across the Mojave in 2011. For several nights, I pitched my tent and laid down to watch God's amazing light show (see accompanying photo). Being 100 miles in any direction from the nearest artificial light, the sky was incredibly clear. I could see constellations, satellites and shooting stars with such clarity that I felt like I was in a planetarium... but the scene before me was pure nature!

When you lay down all alone in the middle of a desert and look up at the night sky -- filled with lights beyond comprehension -- it truly makes you feel small. As a Christian, I looked up in awe of God's creation. I took time to talk to Him and to thank Him for my life, the abilities He blessed me with, and for all that He created. Most people won't have an opportunity to experience a moment like that in the middle of a vast desert, but each and every day we can look up and give thanks to God for all that He has done, and is doing, in our lives. We don't need a star to lead us to Him. We just need hearts that are willing to seek; willing to humble; willing to be penitent; willing to be grateful; and, willing to accept all that God has for us.

Psalm 19:1 -- "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands."

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Christmas I Was Compared to Santa... And, In a Way, to Satan

Recently, a newspaper in Vancouver, Canada, accidentally advertise that people could take pictures with Satan during a Christmas parade. The Comox Valley Record printed an ad with an unfortunate typo. Instead of announcing pictures with Santa, they accidentally wrote Satan.

Thirty years ago, I was a fifth grade teacher in a small private Christian school. I was in my mid-20's and my 10-year-old students were excited for the Christmas season. I decided to let the students do a gift exchange, and I set limits and parameters as to how that particular act of giving would go. As many adults know, gift exchanges in classroom settings have a potential to cause issues. Suffice it to say, I felt that I had come up with a way that would allow everyone to be involved, and a budget wasn't even necessary.

The day after sending students home with a note about the exchange, a mother came into my classroom after I had finished teaching and she began to berate me about the whole idea. She told me that her family does NOT believe in the giving of gifts at Christmas (even though her children attended a Christian school) and that by setting up a gift exchange I was acting very improperly. Then, she said something to me that I've never forgotten. She said, "You're no better than Santa, and we all know that if you change around the letters in 'Santa' it becomes Satan! Think about that Mr. Staso!" I was in disbelief over what I was hearing.

She looked around my classroom where I had placed a small Christmas tree in the corner as well as some other festive decorations... most reflecting the story of Christ's birth. She walked over to the tree and told me that it has no place in education or the Christmas season and that if I were truly a Christian I would remove it immediately.

The woman was quite direct with her words, and quite harsh. At the time, I was new to teaching and wasn't a parent yet. Now, thirty years later and the father of four adult children, I look back on that moment and wonder what had happened in that woman's life to make her feel as she did. Obviously, she had experienced something that rooted in her a particular conviction about Christmas that she was determined to have others adopt. She told me that the ONLY element that there should be to Christmas is giving thanks to God for Jesus Christ's birth. Nothing more, nothing less.

I told the woman that we would indeed have our gift exchange, using the parameters I defined, and that the Christmas tree would stay in my classroom. I attempted to explain to her the heart with which the wise men brought gifts to Jesus and how all of us could benefit in our own hearts from giving to others. I shared that God Himself gave us the gift of His Son -- to die on a cross for our sins and give us a way to be with God for all eternity. My words turned out to be a futile attempt. She said that the only "gift" that people should give at Christmas is the gift of our hearts to God.

Ultimately, I gave her three options: (1) her child could participate with the other students; (2) her child could decline to participate; or, (3) she could keep her child home that day and I would prepare the day's assignments for her child in advance so that the child could do the work at home. She chose option three and stormed out of my classroom, stating that she would be speaking to the superintendent about the matter. I never heard from her again about it, and the administration didn't discuss it with me.

Since that time 30 years ago, I've never encountered another person with a perspective about Christmas as that woman had. In a way, that woman chose to build an "antas" between she and I -- defined in architecture terms as a portion of a wall. And for your knowledge, antas is what you get if you change around the letters of Santa. I wish I would have known that 30 years ago, because I just may have told her that!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Man Runs a Marathon in All 196 Countries of the World

I started running during the "running boom" of the mid-1970's. In the past 40+ years I've seen a lot of unfathomable running attempts successfully accomplished. There have been people who have run just about everywhere imaginable, including completely around the world. Recently, I read about a man who succeeded at a quest that I have heard other experienced long-distance runners talk about as being an incredible undertaking. The goal had never been accomplished before, and now it appears that it has. Nick Butter, age 30, became the first person to run a marathon in all 196 countries of the world.

Over the course of 674 days his journey involved 455 flights, which were painstakingly booked by his father in the United Kingdom; 120 visas; 10 passports; and, 10 million steps of running. He completed 22 marathons with food poisoning, four with a kidney infection, 101 on an empty stomach, and managed 320 days without painkillers.

Butter gave up his job as a banker four years ago to plan and complete the record attempt, and it's not cheap to run a marathon in every country. The total bill was over $230,000 in U.S. currency. Generally, he ran two to three marathons per week. Keep in mind, often these "marathons" were not actual marathon races with other participants. Many times, it was just a matter of him running laps over and over again — such as 82 in Vatican City, 104 in the high commissioner’s compound of the British Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica, and 105 inside a stadium in the Syrian capital Damascus. The most laps that he did was in a hotel parking lot on the Pacific nation of the Marshall Islands — 335 laps.

What about accountability for the record? Well, most of Butter's marathons were run alone. His attempt to be the first person to run a marathon in every country in the world hasn’t yet been officially ratified. He has his travel tickets and recorded run routes as proof, and plans to submit the paperwork soon. The Internet is already seeing doubters of Butter's claim. Verifying that he actually ran 26.2 miles in every country of the world is certainly going to take considerable proof.

For now, he plans to embark on a public speaking tour of schools and venues around the United Kingdom and Europe. Having sold his house and bought a camper van, he hopes to recount his tales of hardship and all the lessons he learned along the way.

For his next running challenge, he's looking at an attempt to break the record for the 1,000-mile run around Iceland.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Monday, December 9, 2019

Youth Minister Slaps Reporter On Behind During Live Race Broadcast

A youth minister -- who is a husband and father -- slapped a female reporter on the behind while she delivered a live broadcast during a 5km run this past weekend. Yes, you read that right. A Georgia man was seen on video running up behind reporter Alex Bozarjian of NBC's WSAV network and slapping her backside during the Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run.

Ms. Bozarjian posted the video to Twitter, with the caption: "To the man who smacked my butt on live TV this morning. You violated, objectified, and embarrassed me. No woman should EVER have to put up with this at work or anywhere!! Do better."

As part of a live segment, Ms. Bozarjian was standing next to the runners' route for the Savannah Bridge Run when the incident took place. As is clearly shown in the video, she went from cheerful and enthusiastic to visibly flustered, though she attempted to continue reporting even after the incident.

The individual was quickly identified by his race bib number and past online postings regarding his road racing. The Savannah Sports Council made this statement: "We will not tolerate behavior like this at a Savannah Sports Council event. We have made the decision to ban this individual from registering for all Savannah Sports Council owned races."

Police have been notified about the incident. The man is not facing criminal charges at this time, but many people online have have called for him to be charged with sexual assault or battery. Ultimately, the decision is up to Ms. Bozarjian as to whether or not she wants to file charges -- but she has filed a police report.

It has also been reported that the man's background includes being a Scout Leader for Boy Scouts of America. The man's name is Tommy Callaway, age 43, of Statesboro, Georgia. He has been busy shutting down his social media accounts and issued a statement through his attorney, stating that he "did not act with any criminal intentions." As one who works in the legal profession, that is precisely what an attorney would suggest be said in a statement from the wrongdoer. However, it does not change the fact or magnitude of what he did.

Suffice it to say, I am disgusted by what he did and it's unbelievable that this man has been a leader and minister to children!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Ed Pratt Became The First Person To Unicycle Around The World

I have a bit of a hobby, and that's keeping an eye open for unique adventurers who are doing things that most people cannot fathom. Somehow, Ed Pratt slipped by my radar. On July 27, 2018 he completed a 22,000-mile journey around the world... on a unicycle! The adventure required more than three years to accomplish. I just recently learned about his amazing lap of the globe and wanted to share some details with you.

Although his undertaking took him 16 months longer than he planned, he raised nearly $400,000 U.S. dollars for the School in a Bag charity, which gives educational equipment to poor, orphaned, vulnerable and disaster affected children around the world. The CEO of the charity said that the funds that Pratt raised will directly help more than 15,000 children.

Pratt's trip took him through Europe and the Middle East into Asia, across to Australia and New Zealand, before moving on to the United States and then back to the United Kingdom. He carried a sleeping bag, tent, cooking stove, clothes and supplies in two panniers attached to his unicycle. He is now 23 years of age. His parents have been quoted as saying, "He left school in search of a challenge and adventure. Anyone who has followed his journey around the world will know that he has created just that." You really need to check out Ed's YouTube channel, his Facebook page, his Instagram account, and Twitter.

The video below is just a sample of his unicycle ride across America. He's creating video documentaries out of all of the images he captured across each continent.

Video by Ed Pratt.

Earlier this year, I wrote about Gracie (Sorbello) Cole -- who I had the pleasure of meeting while I was running across America in 2006. She and I met near the Idaho/Montana border. She was heading west and I was running east... and she was on a unicycle! Gracie became the first woman to unicycle across the United States. It was amazing to watch her strength and determination.

Coming from a guy who can't even get on a unicycle, I must say that I am very impressed with Ed Pratt and Gracie Cole. They are true adventurers!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

More and More People are Striding Along Roadsides to Cross America



As you're going about your day, there are people walking and jogging across the United States. As you work, eat lunch, enjoy time with your family, and sleep... they are out there putting one foot in front of the other -- striding from one side of the country to the other for various reasons and causes. The increase in popularity of crossing the country on foot has boomed in recent years, primarily due to the growth of social media.

Over three years ago, I wrote about the use of social media by those who choose to trek across America. I've previously written about whether Forrest Gump's fictional run across America is possible -- and yes, it is a fictional story! I've written about those who have claimed to cross the country on foot, but who were dishonest in their claims. Some crossers are wanting others to pay for their grand cross country adventures, while others fund their own endeavors.

Currently, there are several people crossing the country for numerous reasons and causes, such as: raising money for national parks; awareness of plastics pollution; the Make-a-Wish organization; awareness of refugee crisis; funds for fighting cancer; and more. With each passing year, there are more people stepping out to take on the challenge of crossing the country on foot. These crossings take anywhere from 3 months to well over one year, depending on the person who is undertaking the quest. When I ran 3,260 miles solo across America in 2006, I spent 108 days pounding the pavement (about 3 1/2 months). That was an average of 30 miles per day while pushing a stroller weighing 60+ pounds filled with gear, food and water.

There are certainly those who embark on a coast-to-coast adventure and quit shortly into the journey, finding that the open road can be relentless to the body, mind and emotions. However, each year there are dozens of people who set out to stride across the country. When I did my crossing over 13 years ago, there were only two people who successfully completed the journey... and I was fortunate to be one of them. However, that was before the days of social media, which has truly created a boom in interest with respect to crossing the United States to promote and/or raise funds for a cause.

Since we are in the winter season, most of the current crossers are on a very southerly route across America -- where the temperatures are warmer and snow doesn't have to be an issue to deal with. There are many others who have websites and are preparing for their crossings in 2020. When I made my first attempt to run across America in 1986 at the age of 21, nobody was crossing the country on foot. It was rather unheard of and just a mention of such an idea would not only raise eyebrows and roll eyes, but would be laughed at as being impossible. Today, the undertaking has become quite more common.

So, as you're relaxed at home reading this, or at your office desk, know that somewhere there is a man or woman striding along a highway or country road on a journey of crossing the entire United States under his or her own physical power... reaching for one milepost after another as cars pass them without hardly giving a glance. Yes, they're out there... for one reason or another... aiming to join a growing number of people who have successfully traversed the country on foot.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Monday, December 2, 2019

A 400% Increase in Pre-Teen ACL Surgeries in Last 10 years

Doctors are recording huge increases in pre-teens needing surgery for ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries -- with rates up 400 percent in the last 10 years. The ACL is one of four ligaments in the knee which connects the knee bones and provides stability. It stabilizes the knee when it rotates, connecting the thigh bone to the shin. If it tears, surgery is often required. ACL injuries are common among professional athletes and marathon runners, who spend nearly all of their time practicing the same sport... putting the same, repetitive strain on their bodies.

While pubescent girls have always had a high risk of ACL injuries, at a time of growth and change, surgeons say the rate is climbing well above average.  Boys tend to be slightly protected from injury because they naturally develop more muscle power than teen girls, creating more stability for their joints. Doctors say it seems rates are rising among children because of pressures to excel in their sport of choice earlier in life, demanding more intense, year-round practice. Generally, kids and teenagers are playing competitive sports at a high level at a younger age.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving -- Giving Thanks on This Side of the Dividing Line

In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul wrote at Ephesians 1:16: "I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers." Those words echo my heart when it comes to my four adult children, whom I'll be spending this Thanksgiving holiday apart from as they are celebrating with others many miles away from me.

I am grateful to be celebrating this Thanksgiving season with my beautiful wife and my four wonderful step-children. It is truly a season of giving thanks -- as we should do every day of the year -- and I have so much to be thankful for. Not only do I get to go through life with my best friend and the love of my life by my side, but I am also blessed with a good job, a lovely home, strong health, and a church family that I treasure. I also cherish my role of being a father, to the level that each of my four children and four step-children allow me to fulfill that position.

Sure, we can always turn on the nightly news and hear terrible stories from around the globe, or stroll out to our mailboxes and find bills and/or news that can weigh on us -- nearly trying to rob us of our feelings of thanksgiving. However, I know that God does not give us more than HE can handle in our lives when we seek Him in all things. He will equip us for whatever He allows on our path of life -- and we can be thankful for that!

We're nearing the close of another decade. I can tell you that in all of my 54+ years of life, the past decade has brought the most change. In many ways, this decade has created a dividing line in my life -- from a life that was filled with dreams to a life that feels like I'm living a dream. The photo accompanying this writing was taken almost 10 years ago when I was in the middle of my run across Germany. I came across a freshly plowed field that was void of any vegetation. The dirt was dry and dark, but the plowed section was adjacent to a field that was sprouting green grass on that spring day. I stood on the dividing line and in many ways that line would reflect the dividing line that would occur in my life shortly after that photo was taken.

I've spent some time reflecting recently on my life up to this point and the path that I've journeyed from 1965 to the end of 2019. Even through all of the struggles on the other side of the dividing line -- which were not related to my children, I know that God was carrying me through those moments. God doesn't have to carry me much these days. Yes, there are times when I need to lean on Him for strength and understanding, but my life on this side of the dividing line is not as troublesome or difficult. In a way, I feel as though I've been blessed with two lives in the span of one lifetime.

Perhaps this is a bit too philosophical for a blog entry prior to Thanksgiving. I just want to share with you today that I recognize how God has always been my Provider, Deliverer and Savior on life's path. It is to Him that I give the most thanks.

As you gather with friends and family, truly be thankful for all that you are blessed with -- and that includes those you love. Also, be sure to give thanks to God for what He has given you, for what He has done in your life, and for who He is. Happy Thanksgiving!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Monday, November 25, 2019

The Cost of Keeping My Numerous Ultra-Endurance Endeavors Online

This blog doesn't cost me one penny to maintain. It's a free service of Blogger.com. However, I recently had to pay my annual fees for my domain address -- www.paulstaso.com -- as well as my hosting account for all of the content found at that website. The annual cost to keep that website online is about $80. I've been doing that for the past 15 years to the tune of $1,200. I almost chose not to renew my domain and hosting services this year and simply take everything off of the World Wide Web, except for this blog. However, with a bit of apprehension... I renewed the accounts for another year.

I guess that I'm struggling with the question of whether or not it is worth it to keep available all of the content available through the paulstaso.com website -- which includes a lot of content from my solo runs across the USA, Germany, Alaska, Montana, and the Mojave Desert, such as daily journals, photos, audio files, and more. I'll be 55 years old next spring and will be many years retired from ultra-running pursuits. I'm truly debating whether or not I should keep paying each year to have that content available on the Internet.

Over the years, I've had several people tell me how valuable my website has been for them in planning their own runs across a state or country. Just recently, one of my adult children referenced my website in a college paper he wrote on the topic of obesity in America. I look at my website statistics and see that it receives visitors daily, but I still am questioning whether or not to keep the content online.

It has been over 13 years since I ran into the Atlantic Ocean to complete my coast-to-coast run across America. Its been nearly 9 years since I completed my last ultra-running challenge (the Mojave Desert). It just seems that my journey runs are very old news and now that I'm in my mid-50's I'm struggling to find a reason to keep all of that information online. I certainly don't need any attention or kudos for my accomplishments, and since I completed my run across America in 2006 there have been many others who have done the same journey solo.

Perhaps I'm reaching a point in my life where the goals that I set and accomplished in my past are now just fond memories and I don't feel quite the same need to have my running adventures in the Internet eye. The mileposts of "P.A.C.E." -- Promoting Active Children Everywhere -- are far behind me and I'm enjoying the milepost that I'm at and the ones I see on the horizon ahead.

Maybe this is just a part of middle-age maturing. I'm not sure. All that I know is that the locations where my footprints have been placed through my many years of running have long been covered up by the sands of time. It's simply the natural progression of life. What I accomplished in running will always be a part of my history, and I really don't feel the need to have that history available on the Internet for people to view around the globe.

Life's a personal journey and moments of it don't have to be accessible to 7.7 billion people.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Only 51 Percent of American Employees Are Satisfied With Their Job

In the United States, 51 percent of employees are satisfied with their job -- according to a survey conducted by The Conference Board, a global business membership and research association. About 62 percent of all workers are satisfied with the people they work with, while only 43 percent are satisfied with their wages. What are U.S. employees least satisfied with? Only 26 percent are satisfied with company promotion policies. Also, about 30 percent view the work they do as "just a job to get them by," rather than a career or a steppingstone to a career.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American works 44 hours per week, or 8.8 hours per day. There are 132 million full-time employees in the United States, about 3 million more than last year.

The average American employee who receives paid vacation only takes 54 percent of the allotted time each year. Only one in five Americans actually spend their lunch break away from their desks, with most eating while they continue to work.

Among Americans who are employed or have been looking for work, increased outsourcing of jobs to other countries tops the list of trends that they say have hurt their job or career. About 30 percent say this is the case, compared with roughly 22 percent who say the same about the growing number of immigrants working in the United States, and 20 percent who blame a rise in imports.

Last month, the American Institute of Stress said that 40 percent of workers reported their job was "very or extremely stressful." About 25 percent view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives. And, 75 percent of U.S. employees believe that today's workers have more on-the-job stress than a generation ago.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

No Chevy Camaro, CD Collections, or Treadmills? Myth and Madness!

I recently read an article titled 75 Things No Man Over 50 Should Own. Of course, being 54 years of age, the article caught my attention. There were some things that resonated with me... such as men over 50 shouldn't own a hoverboard, jeans that don't quite fit, Crocs, or have a man bun. Of course, the article goes on to explain why these things should not be possessed by a man over age 50. However, the author -- who I'm guessing hasn't reached 50 yet -- listed some items that I don't agree with.

For instance, a man over 50 isn't supposed to own a treadmill. Supposedly, having one is "showing off, and not in a good way." Another item is a CD collection. Instead, the over-50 crowd is supposed to "ride along with the rest of us to the era of instant streaming." Sorry, but I like my CD's -- Foreigner, The Bee Gees, James Taylor, and others. Also on the list is a Chevy Camaro, the quintessential muscle car. The article noted that having one over the age of 50 is "the automotive equivalent of a t-shirt that reads, 'Welcome to the gun show!'"

Research out of the United Kingdom found that men don’t fully mature until they are 43 years old, which turns out to be 11 years after women mature. So, from the age of 43 until the age of 50 'mature' men have only 7 years to enjoy CD collections, treadmills and Camaros? I just don't agree.

I think I'll listen to Styx on the drive home from the office. Hmmm... CD or 8-Track?

"But don't be fooled by the radio,
the TV or the magazines.
They show you photographs of how your life should be.
But they're just someone else's fantasy."
~ Styx, The Grand Illusion

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Experiencing a Herniated Disc in My Lower Back -- at age 46 and 54



In February 2018, I wrote in this blog about injuring my back in 2011. At age 46, I had become the first person to complete a solo 506-mile, 17-day run across the Mojave Desert and the price I paid was two herniated discs in my lower back. Physical therapy got me back into shape and I enjoyed 8 years of no lumbar disc issues -- until this past weekend.

I recently herniated the same disc that I injured in 2011 during the Mojave run. I am temporarily using a cane to assist me in getting around. It will take time for the disc to heal and I'll have to be very careful about lifting things until my back is in shape again. It's actually more of a nuisance than anything. Regardless, for one reason or another God felt it was time to slow me down a bit and this herniated disc has definitely done that.

A herniated disc is one of the most common causes of back and leg pain; however it can also occur in the cervical and thoracic spine. Herniated discs usually happen in the lower part of the spine and occur more often in people aged 35 to 55 years. It is more common in men than in women.

A herniation occurs when the outer part of the disc, the annulus, becomes weak and tears. Several factors can contribute to disc-weakening, including: aging and degeneration; excessive weight; or, a sudden strain from improper lifting or from twisting violently.

In many cases, pain and other symptoms caused by a herniated disc resolve with time and self-care measures. Symptoms often go away within six to eight weeks and there are several ways to ease discomfort. Rest, applying heat and/or ice to the area, and taking over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen -- if needed. If you have muscle spasms, taking a muscle relaxant can also be useful.

Most people with a herniated disc never get to the point that they need to see a specialist or have advanced testing. Back symptoms usually go away on their own. Even for those who do need treatment, only a small minority have lingering chronic pain that doesn't resolve over time.

I've only needed to miss one day of work at the office, and I get up and take a stroll (with my cane) every 30 minutes or so. I'm sure I'll be better soon and I'm looking forward to the upcoming holidays.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Thursday, November 14, 2019

My Son, Kyler, is Pursuing His Dream of a Career in the Music Industry

This past summer, my wife and three step daughters had an opportunity to travel out of state to visit my eldest son, Kyler, and learn more about the music production and recording school he is attending. We had a great time and I got to play guitar in a sound studio for the first time in my life.

Kyler got into mixing music in his teen years and also started to write instrumental pieces, which he made available online for download. You might say that I'm bias, but I believe he is quite gifted in music writing, mixing, recording and production. I'll never forget walking into the studio at his school and looking at the sound board. To me, it looked like a control panel on a 747 jet!

Kyler is in his early 20's and definitely has an ear for music. It has been a passion of his for nearly 10 years. He's even teaching himself how to play the guitar.

Recently, the Recording Industry Association of America reported that music revenues grew 18 percent (to $5.4 billion) in the first half of 2019. Paid streaming services added more than 1 million new subscriptions a month -- meaning that there are now more than 60 million total paid subscriptions. Thanks to that rapid growth, plus continued modest drops in digital downloads and physical sales, streaming now generates 80 percent of music business revenues and has truly reshaped how fans find, share and listen to the songs and artists they enjoy.

Online engagement around music and musical artists powers much of the popularity of many social media and technology platforms, and musicians are among the most followed users on social media. In the United States, there are more than 157,000 music-related businesses and nearly 2 million jobs in the music industry. Twenty percent of a major label's roster of artists are signed fresh each year.

Kyler has made it his goal to pursue a career in the music industry. I believe he'll succeed at doing that!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Stay Away From Smartphone Apps Claiming to Measure Blood Pressure

Today, I had my annual physical exam at a local medical center. Those of you who have read this blog in years past know that I typically post a writing about my annual exam. It's always the same thing... the doctor examines me and tells me that he wishes that all men my age would come through his door in such good condition. I don't have to take any medications and my weight, heart, and other things checked out just fine... including my blood pressure, which was normal.

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries that carry blood from your heart to other parts of your body. Blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day, but it can damage your heart and cause health problems if it stays high for a long time. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause hardening and thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which can lead to a heart attack, stroke or other complications.

I recently read that many people are believing in smartphone apps that supposedly perform blood pressure measurements. These apps have quite a professional appearance and may seem legitimate; however, they are highly inaccurate and can actually be quite dangerous due to false readings.

There are two types of blood measuring apps that can be found on the app stores. One type uses your phone’s camera and flashlight to do the measurements. You hold your index finger on the camera while the flashlight is shining on it and 10-15 seconds later you get a blood pressure reading. There are also apps that aren’t even trying to look legitimate. These apps simply tell you to press your finger at an arbitrary part of the display and hold it there while it's supposedly "measuring" your blood pressure. After that, these apps spill out what is nothing more than random numbers within certain limits that are acceptable for a person in good health.

Before the procedure, users may be asked to input their gender, age, height and weight for "extra accuracy." Of course, "extra accuracy" is laughable since there’s no real accuracy to begin with. Scientists from the John Hopkins University School of Medicine extensively tested one of the most popular blood pressure apps to see if the measurements it gives are accurate. The results? For some measurements, the values given were within a reasonable accuracy range only 24 percent of the time. The conclusion was that the app was "highly inaccurate" and that "four-fifths of individuals with hypertensive BP levels will be falsely reassured that their BP is in the non-hypertensive range."

Stay away from smartphone apps that supposedly read your blood pressure. See a physician and have it done properly and accurately.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso