Thursday, April 2, 2020

"I Can't Drive 55" Has Now Become "I Can't Be 55"

When I was 19 years old, back in 1984, I would drive my VW Bug around the University of Montana campus with the Sammy Hagar song "I Can't Drive 55" playing on my cassette deck. The song is a reference to the since-repealed U.S. National Maximum Speed Law that set highway speed limits at 55 miles per hour.

In a couple of days, I'll be celebrating my 55th birthday. In 36 years I've gone from "I Can't Drive 55" to "I Can't BE 55!" I can't possibly be considered a "senior citizen" -- can I? The earliest an American can receive any social security benefits is age 62, and people don't qualify for Medicare until age 65. Since I'm still several years away from those milestones, I can't honestly be considered a senior citizen. Right?

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) considers a "senior" to be age 50 and older. The American Seniors Association and the Association of Mature American Citizens also consider the 50-year mark as becoming a senior.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median age of the U.S. population is 38. That means that half of Americans are below that age and half are above. So, once you reach 39 years old, you're statistically on the "senior" side of the population. I'm guessing that makes you feel a little bit older.

Generally, being a senior citizen typically means that a person is at the age in which they retire from work. They are transitioned from a working adult to a retiree. Culturally, a senior citizen is someone who is slowing down in their life. They have accomplished raising a family, having a career, or any other monumental feat in their adult life. Economically, a senior often times requires financial support either in the form of retirement funds or savings, or with the support of a caregiver. Since a senior citizen is typically no longer in the work force, they need to have some account (or someone) that can help to cover their expenses. As a result, many seniors are often dependent on others for their welfare. Medically, a senior citizen is more likely to have age-related health problems. Loss of mobility, hearing and vision are the most common health complaints. However, elderly individuals can also be more likely to suffer chronic pain and illnesses, which require aid and support from outside sources.

I can tell you this... I am NOT a senior citizen! I'm a 55-year-old healthy working man who is enjoying a full life with my beautiful wife, and cherishing time with two children still at home (ages 12 and 15). Sure, I can walk into some fast food restaurants and movie theaters and get a "senior discount" now that I've reached 55 years of age, but I would feel very awkward doing so.

I was curious which celebrities are the same age that I am, and here are some that I learned are also 55 years old: Courteney Cox, Lori Loughlin, Sandra Bullock, Lenny Kravitz, Marisa Tomei, Russell Crowe, Sarah Jessica Parker, Courtney Love, Diane Lane, Stephen Colbert, Chris Rock, David Spade, Wendy Williams, Piers Morgan, Trisha Yearwood, Melissa Gilbert, Hoda Kotb, Kristin Davis, Teri Hatcher, Terri Irwin, Molly Shannon, Candice Bergen, Cedric the Entertainer, and Faith Ford.

Yes, I was born back in 1965 and this coming weekend I qualify for 55 candles on my birthday cake. There's no doubt that I have more years behind me than I have in front of me, but I can tell you that I won't spend the remaining years ahead pondering how the word "senior" applies to me. There's way too much living to do!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

To Mask or Not to Mask? That is the Question Soon to be Answered!

Just as COVID-19 started to impact the United States, I decided to purchase high-quality N99 half-face respirator masks with multiple replacement filters and valves for my wife, my two youngest stepdaughters, and myself. The mask protects against 99 percent of airborne particles. We now have those in hand at a time when all sources for obtaining such masks have none left. My motivation in buying the masks was quite focused -- to protect the people in our household.

The Coronavirus is continuing to spread globally. Today, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is considering whether or not to ask Americans to wear a mask when out in public. Some U.S. doctors have long urged people to wear masks. According to the CDC director, as many as 25 percent of people infected with the Coronavirus may not show symptoms.

The U.S. has the most Coronavirus infections in the world, and last night the total number of deaths in America as a result of COVID-19 topped 4,000. The U.S. has now surpassed China by over 700 Coronavirus fatalities — as the White House Coronavirus Task Force said it projects 100,000 to 240,000 deaths of Americans from the virus and millions infected in the country. The UN secretary-general warned that the pandemic is the most challenging crisis the world faces since World War 2.

The CDC is debating whether to formally encourage all people to cover their face when out in public. I believe this should be the case. The Washington Post is reporting that if the CDC adopts the change, it would tell people to fashion their own face covers with cloth to free up surgical masks and N95 masks for medics and health workers.

The lack of mask wearing by the U.S. general public is quite contrary to what several other countries are doing. For instance, masks are mandatory for anyone entering a supermarket in Austria, and required for anyone leaving their house in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In Asia, masks are both shields and symbols. They're an affirmation of civic-mindedness and conscientiousness. The outbreak started in China and that country has seen a decrease in large numbers of new Coronavirus cases. George Gao, the director-general of China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention, was recently asked by Science magazine which mistakes other countries were making in their response to the virus, and he pointed to guidance around masks. "The big mistake in the US and Europe, in my opinion, is that people aren't wearing masks," Gao said. "This virus is transmitted by droplets and close contact. Droplets play a very important role — you've got to wear a mask, because when you speak, there are always droplets coming out of your mouth. Many people have asymptomatic or presymptomatic infections. If they are wearing face masks, it can prevent droplets that carry the virus from escaping and infecting others."

In recent days, several scientists, health experts, and influencers have vigorously asserted that everyone venturing into public or crowded places should wear a mask or face shield (even a homemade one) to lower the rate of transmission of the Coronavirus. Even the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security said in an interview that the CDC should urge people to use non-medical masks or face coverings.

We'll have to wait and see what the U.S. CDC says regarding the general public wearing face masks. The members of our household are equipped and we'll continue to follow the guidelines of social distancing, hand washing, and more.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

In a Bad "Shelter in Place" Spot? For Many Of Us, It Could Be Worse!

Getting frustrated with having to shelter in place during the Coronavirus pandemic? Feel like the walls are closing in on you... like you can't breathe... like you're trapped inside? Is your location anything like this?



Focus on your blessings, not the walls.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Monday, March 30, 2020

Aiming to be a Centenarian? Apparently, 53 Percent of Americans Are!

According to a survey released last week by AIG Life and Retirement, 53 percent of Americans say their goal is to live to 100 years of age. The reasons vary -- 39 percent identify deeper family relationships as the main benefit of such a long life; 32 percent name seeing the world change; and, 17 percent want to remain productive. When the 20th century began, life expectancy at birth in America was 47 years; now newborns are expected to live 79 years.

I wrote on this topic nearly four years ago and at that time the Stanford Center on Longevity's survey showed that 77 percent of Americans wanted to live to 100. AIG's recent survey indicates that percentage has now dropped from 77 to 53. It appears reaching the century mark and becoming a "Centenarian" is not as popular as it was four years ago.

Could you imagine living to 100? How about beyond that? For example, a French woman (Jeanne Calment) lived from 1875 to 1997 and had the longest confirmed life span -- 122 years! Research has shown that genes do play a role in longevity. Centenarians are 20 times as likely as the average person to have a long-lived relative. My father is in his mid-80s and is in great health, as is my mother who is just a few years behind him. I'll be celebrating my 55th birthday this week and I wouldn't mind becoming a Centenarian in 45 years -- if that's God's will for me.

A couple of years ago, The Longevity Project traveled to nine countries and three continents, interviewing some of the world's healthiest centenarians. The goal was to find out what it takes to live past 100 years of age and whether it's possible to reach that age while maintaining peak health. The study focused on how lifestyle, environment and mindset increases longevity. The healthiest centenarians lived simple lives, following farm-to-table diets, frequently interacting with their communities and exercising by biking or walking long distances to work each day. Populations with healthy centenarians don't appear to have many of the chronic conditions seen in Western culture. These conditions have only appeared recently, as Western influences -- like fast food and new technologies -- crept into their communities.

Based on various research studies, there are some promising signs to be on the look out for that may indicate that you could live to be a centenarian:
  • You think you're younger than you are. As you get older, it matters more how old you feel than how old you actually are. Senior citizens who have reported feeling younger than their true age have shown a significantly lower mortality rate than those who felt their age or older.
  • You're optimistic. In one Harvard study, the top 25 percent of the most optimistic members of the study were at a much lower risk for common causes of death like cancer, heart disease and stroke.
  • You eat fruits and vegetables. Eating fruits and vegetables every day could prevent premature death.
  • You eat a lot of fish. One study's participants who had higher levels of fatty acids from fish were at a 35 percent lower risk of heart disease due to less fat in their blood.
  • You like to take naps. Researchers have found that people who take a 30 minute nap during the day are 37 percent less likely to die from heart disease than those who don't.
  • You're active. Exercise, even light exercise, is an important part of any healthy routine. Some research has shown that just 10 minutes of exercise a day can help extend your life by nearly two years.
  • You're slim where it matters. According to the Hearth Foundation, your waist measurement has a lot to do with your heart health. They report that your heart health may be at risk if your measurement is over 31.5 inches for women, or 37 inches for men.
  • You have lots of healthy friends. Psychology studies have shown that people who spend time with other people to nourish relationships live longer, healthier lives -- and relationships become easier to maintain and more meaningful with age and maturity.
Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Huey Lewis Then and Now: Hearing is Gone, But the Songs Go On!

A few years ago, I stumbled upon the ticket stub for the first concert I ever went to. At the age of 19 I saw "Huey Lewis & The News" (April 1984) at the University of Montana Fieldhouse when they were on tour for their album "Sports!" As a college freshman, I paid only $10.50 for admission. Its been 36 years since I attended that concert, which was one year before the movie "Back To The Future" was released. Huey Lewis & The News had two hit songs in that movie -- "The Power of Love" and "Back in Time."

Huey Lewis and the News just released the group's first new full-length album of original music in almost two decades. For most bands that would mean the group would be going on tour, but not for Huey's band. Sadly, Huey Lewis is losing his hearing, a symptom of his Meniere's disease. Right before a show back in 2018, it hit him hard and he couldn't hear the band... and he couldn't play the music. He has called it the worst night in his life. It's possible that he'll never be able to perform again. In fact, the songs on his new album were actually recorded five years prior to his hearing loss.

These days, Huey enjoys time at his remote Montana ranch. He was recently asked about the possibility of his hearing never returning. He responded: "I haven’t allowed myself to go there yet. I keep thinking I could maybe sing again. I get down sometimes, but it’s better to remember that life is okay. I’ve had a great run." Huey will be 70 years old this summer.

Thanks, Huey, for giving me the best first concert experience I could have ever asked for! Your music is timeless... and "the heart of rock and roll is still beating!"

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Some Runners Are Logging Marathons in Apartments and on Balconies

To run or not to run? That is a question that some runners are asking themselves during these challenging days of the Coronavirus. There are some runners who have been ordered to remain in their homes and as a result we've seen reports of unique efforts to log miles. For instance, one man dealing with France's lockdown order decided to run the distance of a marathon (26.2 miles) on his 23-foot long balcony. He did it in six hours and 48 minutes. In order to accomplish the feat, he had to run back and forth on the balcony... for 3,000 laps. Another man, located in China, was recently in the news for running 41 miles in under 7 hours -- by logging laps around his small apartment's living room. He used a data recorder and video to prove his accomplishment.

COVID-19 has certainly impacted the entire world, and that impact reaches into the running community as well. Below is a list of major races that have been either canceled or postponed, as of the date of this writing. If you signed up for a race not on this list, please contact the race director for information on whether or not it is postponed or canceled.

  • Tokyo Marathon: Held only for marathon elites and wheelchair elites
  • Great Wall Marathon: Canceled
  • NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships: Canceled
  • NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships: Canceled
  • USATF Masters Indoor Championships: Canceled
  • New Balance Nationals Indoor: Canceled
  • NYC Half Marathon: Canceled
  • Barcelona Marathon: Postponed to Sunday, October 25
  • Carlsbad 5000: Postponed, date TBD
  • Rome Marathon: Canceled
  • World Half Marathon Championships: Postponed to Saturday, October 17
  • Paris Marathon: Postponed to Sunday, October 18
  • Boston Marathon: Postponed to September 14
  • London Marathon: Postponed to October 4
  • Barkley Marathons: Canceled
  • Penn Relays: Canceled
  • Stanford Invitational: Canceled
  • Diamond League Events: Canceled
  • IBX Broad Street Run: Postponed to October 4
  • Eugene Marathon: Canceled
  • Tokyo Olympics: Postponed to 2021

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Monday, March 23, 2020

COVID-19: Extreme Circumstances Call For Extreme Measures

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been spreading rapidly across the world, affecting more than 160 countries and claiming more than 14,000 lives. There are more than 340,000 confirmed cases worldwide. Europe is at the epicenter of the crisis and the United States is facing a surge in cases.

Today, the Indiana law firm where I am employed implemented a Coronavirus Office Plan. It outlines some general policies, practices and procedures with respect to the operation of our office during this pandemic. Also included is information regarding how in-office client meetings are to be conducted, as well as actions to be taken in the event of needing to work from home or if a government shut down were to occur. There are likely countless offices that are implementing a similar plan.

Ironically, within two hours of implementing our office's Coronavirus Office Plan the Governor of Indiana issued an executive order for Indiana residents to stay at home for two weeks in an attempt to decrease the rapid spread of COVID-19. Only essential businesses are to be in operation. Legal services are on the list of essential businesses.

As I watch the news and see the increasing amount of layoffs and filings for unemployment, I am thankful for my job and its related benefits. I've always been thankful for that, yet in the midst of a pandemic of this magnitude I am even more grateful. I am like most people in that there are no guarantees when it comes to employment. However, at this point I am reporting for work daily and working on client files. Our office is operating with social distancing regularly happening, as well as daily employee temperature readings. My desk has containers of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes that I use almost hourly, and I use sanitizing wipes on doorknobs, handrails, the photocopier and other office machines. We are truly living in a time when constant vigilance must occur.

Although Indiana's courthouses are closing to the public, the law firm where I work continues to press on with client cases while being incredibly aware of the need to exercise strict measures to help combat the spread of this virus. While in the office, we do not get within 6 feet of one another; we're staying out of each other's offices; we communicate with each other primarily via our phones and e-mail (when speaking across a room won't suffice); and, we typically transfer documents to each other by placing those into employee boxes for retrieval. There are several law firms across Indiana and other US states that either have their employees working from home, or have shut down temporarily due to the Coronavirus. Unemployment is rising daily, many small business owners are suffering, and uncertainty and fear seems to be growing in society with each news update on the Coronavirus. These are truly unstable days worldwide. One day, this will be behind us.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Friday, March 20, 2020

I Received Multiple Comments By Carrying a 12-Pack of Toilet Paper

During my years of running solo across states and countries, I was often on the receiving end of interesting comments by those who would see me run by while pushing a jogging stroller of gear. I've been retired for several years from such running adventures and haven't received random comments from strangers since then -- until yesterday.

As many are aware, toilet paper is getting more challenging to find in local stores. For some reason, people feel the need to purchase as much toilet paper as possible in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. Yesterday, I ventured out on my lunch hour to see if I could locate any to buy. The first store I went to was completely sold out. Empty shelves are the scene in a majority of grocery stores these days. I was resigned to the fact that I likely would not succeed on my toilet paper outing. My last stop was a Walmart. I walked in hopes of finding at least one roll. As I walked through the store, I kept my eyes open for any shoppers that might have toilet paper in their carts. Unfortunately, I didn't see any.

I got to the toilet paper aisle and saw a cut open brown box at the end of the empty aisle. Much to my surprise, there were about a half-dozen packages of toilet paper! There was a limit of one per customer, but I scored on a 12-pack of mega rolls! Seems ridiculous to be excited about locating such a common item on a shopping list, but under the circumstances I was pretty thrilled.

I tucked the 12-pack under my arm and headed for the checkout counter. I noticed a few people looking at me, nearly in disbelief by what they were seeing -- a guy carrying toilet paper! I checked out and headed for my truck. As soon as I left the building a woman said, "Oh good! They have toilet paper!" As I got closer to my truck another woman said something similar. Before getting into my truck I was asked how much toilet paper the store had. I replied, "Only a few packages, and they'll likely be gone in minutes." The person didn't reply, but headed straight for the store doors.

Why are people hoarding toilet paper? One psychologist explained by saying: "There is comfort in knowing that it’s there. We all eat and we all sleep and we all poop. It’s a basic need to take care of ourselves." Another psychologist says: "If people did not find the food that they wanted, they could buy other food. For toilet paper, there are no substitutes."

Stores are restocking almost daily, but the problem is that certain items, like toilet paper, don't stay on the shelves for long. I went out to do my toilet paper shopping at 11:00 a.m. yesterday and at that point 95 percent of the toilet paper was gone from the local Walmart. If you wait until the lunch hour or later in the day, in most instances you'll be out of luck.

So, just how desperate are people getting for toilet paper? It was reported this week that interstate rest stops have become the target of toilet paper thieves. In Oregon, a thief smashed the back window of an SUV and stole two cases of 30-roll toilet paper - with similar scenes unfolding in other states. There have been other reports of janitorial closets being broken into and cleaned out of toilet paper, and a Utah police department having all of its toilet paper swiped from its public restrooms. The stories of toilet paper theft are growing every day.

Everyone needs to relax and to stop hoarding toilet paper. Think about others, and if you can spare a square then do so.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Shopping in Coronavirus Days -- Buying Half-Face Respirator Masks

I spent my lunch hour yesterday virtually elbowing shoppers online in an effort to secure half-face respirator masks for myself, my wife, and two stepdaughters (ages 12 and 15). There are so many online retailers that are sold out of those items, but I was able to secure four quality half-face respirator masks with multiple replacement N99 filters and valves. All of the inexpensive surgical masks were sold out, as were many half-face respirator masks. However, I was able to purchase quality half-face respirator masks that can be reused simply by changing out the filters and valves. Like my wife said, "It is never a bad idea to have protection of any kind, whether we ever use it or not. It will be nice knowing we have something to protect us in case situations prove we need it."

The world is in uncharted territory with COVID-19. It seems like every day we're seeing a greater impact due to Coronavirus. As a responsible adult and stepfather, I ordered what was needed and the half-face respirator masks will be delivered before the end of the month. We may not need them, but it's like the old boy scout motto says: "BE PREPARED!"

The National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory states that the N99 particulate filtering facepiece respirator can filter at least 99% of airborne particles and an N95 or N99 is the most effective when it comes to the Coronavirus -- so I purchased N99 half-face respirator masks. Now, before you start jumping up and down yelling at this blog in rebuke with words that I shouldn't have purchased these because only people who actually have the virus should wear them, I'll just say that when it comes to my family I'd rather be safe than sorry.

It is true that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that the general public should not use face masks to protect themselves from Coronavirus, but rather only those who are exhibiting symptoms should wear masks in order to protect others. In fact, the CDC's online page regarding COVID-19 treatment and prevention states: "CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19." Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration states: "For the general American public, there is no added health benefit to wear a respiratory protective device." I wonder if there are any CDC or FDA employees and/or their family members who own such masks -- or have worn them as a preventive measure against the Coronavirus. Regardless, if either myself, my wife, or my two youngest stepdaughters begin to exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, at least I'll have masks at hand. Again, when it comes to taking care of my family... I'd rather be safe than sorry.

It is interesting to note that The World Health Organization declared Europe as the new epicenter of the global Coronavirus pandemic and in Europe there are news reports stating that "Masks are effective at capturing droplets, which is a main transmission route of Coronavirus, and some studies have estimated a roughly fivefold protection versus no barrier alone." Keep in mind that places like Hong Kong and Taiwan -- that took action early with social distancing and universal mask wearing (when being outside of home) -- have the pandemic under much greater control. Hong Kong health officials credit universal mask wearing as part of the solution and recommend universal mask wearing. Dr. Pak-Leung Ho, head of the Center for Infection at Hong Kong University Medical Facility, believes that vigilance on the part of Hong Kong residents is one reason why COVID-19 didn't skyrocket like it did in Iran and Italy. He highlighted universal mask-wearing as one of the reasons widespread outbreak didn't occur in Hong Kong.

To date, Hong Kong, which is home to more than 7 million people, has fewer than 170 Coronavirus cases and four deaths, while other countries and cities have reported hundreds, even thousands, of infections. Also, of the last 57 confirmed cases in Hong Kong, 50 were imported rather than from local spread. Perhaps Americans should really take a hard look at how Hong Kong handled it, including universal mask-wearing.

When it comes to purchasing face masks in these days of COVID-19, make whatever decision you deem is best for you, your family and others. That's what I've done.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Who's Dying From The Coronavirus? Answer: People My Age and Older

In the United States -- as of today -- at least 112 people have died since the first U.S. case of the Coronavirus was reported in January 2020 and the virus has spread to all states, the District of Columbia and some territories. According to a CNN tally of data from state heath officials, older adults are twice as likely to have serious illness from the Coronavirus and the fatal cases in the U.S. appear to reflect that. The majority of people who have died were in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. The youngest were in their early or mid-50s. I'll be turning 55 years of age in two weeks.

Many of those who have died have had pre-existing health problems, such as diabetes, emphysema and heart issues. Some had recently traveled overseas. I'm thankful to be healthy with no pre-existing issues, and I have not done any traveling. I reside in the state of Indiana and to date there have been two deaths here, both of those people in their 60s.

According to Johns Hopkins University, as of today the total number of confirmed cases of the Coronavirus worldwide has now surpassed 200,000, while the death toll has topped 8,000. The World Health Organization has declared Europe the new epicenter of the global Coronavirus pandemic.

Currently, there are over 6,400 Americans with confirmed cases of the Coronavirus.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

As of Tomorrow, Indiana's Catholic Churches and Chapels Are Closed

Earlier today, Bishop Timothy Doherty of the Diocese of Lafayette-In-Indiana, suspended all public celebrations of the Mass and other liturgical services and gatherings of the faithful effective tomorrow until further notice due to the Coronavirus pandemic. You can read his complete statement here.

Bishop Doherty notes: "The following decisions and directives have been formulated with local and statewide consultation. As a bishop, it hurts my heart to limit access to our churches and to the Divine Liturgy. I am in a position to make decisions that others cannot or will not, so I ask your prayers for the yet unforeseen challenges that we face in slowing down the contagion."

Some of the directives for the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana include:
  • Priests are forbidden to celebrate a public Mass.
  • Churches and chapels, including perpetual adoration chapels, should remain closed until further notice.
  • Any scheduled celebrations should be postponed until further notice. This includes the celebration of the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Matrimony. There should be no regularly scheduled Confessions at this time.
Read those items again. This is unprecedented in modern times! As one pastor said, "We're in Lent, contemplating the reality that we are dust and to dust we’ll return, and this has been a powerful reminder of that."

The bishop will offer Masses at Church of the Blessed Sacrament on Sunday's at 8am eastern, livestreamed at http://churchoftheblessedsacrament.yourstreamlive.com. During a time of prayer on Sunday, or while viewing the Mass online, the faithful are encouraged to make an act of Spiritual Communion. Below is an example of a prayer for spiritual communion that Bishop Doherty shared:
My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.
The Catholic church also states that the faithful are encouraged to prayerfully read the readings of Sacred Scripture for the day, or to pray the rosary. During these challenging times, keep in mind the words of Joshua 1:9 -- "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Monday, March 16, 2020

"Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" -- Words That Are Occasionally Needed

One of the television programs that I watched in the 1970's as a teenager was M*A*S*H, which focused on the lives of an army surgical team during the Korean War (1950-1953). The series ran for eleven seasons and ended during my senior year in high school in 1983. The final episode was titled "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen."

I've shared before in this blog that I was raised the youngest of seven children. Today, all seven of us range in age from 55 to 65. Sadly, several of my brothers and sisters have chosen to cut all ties with their parents and other siblings. The first such disconnect occurred when I was only about 10 years of age. A few years later, I would experience the same type of disconnect again when another sibling did the same thing. It has been over 40 years since I've had any connection with either of them -- not by my choice, but theirs. Before you start to think that perhaps they were running from some harmful or hurtful situation within our family, let me put those thoughts to rest. My parents were absolutely wonderful and provided my siblings and I with a fantastic upbringing filled with love, experiences and opportunities.

In the 1970's, two of my siblings chose to selfishly blaze paths in life completely apart from their parents and siblings and clearly did not give any thought or consideration to the trauma that would be caused in the wake of their departure. Being at the ages of 10 and 14 when this first occurred in my life due to the wrongful choices of my eldest brother and sister, I had to learn to cope with the loss to the best of my ability. No, I didn't receive counseling and I didn't pour out my heart to my parents, siblings or friends. Instead, I had to simply deal with the fact that some people will act selfishly and recklessly in life, abandoning others without any notice -- even siblings.

Ultimately, in my heart I had to learn to simply say the words "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen."

Unfortunately, this scenario would play out again later in my life with others very close to me. As a son, sibling and father it has been beyond challenging to deal with each loss. Yes, it is a complete loss. Those who choose to completely abandon a family member for years and decades reach a point of being deceased in the hearts of those they turned away from -- even though they are actually still alive but unwilling to connect. In a way, it's a living death. I've experienced several such 'deaths' of people close to me, and unfortunately it first occurred 45 years ago. Also unfortunate is the fact that I've become quite adept at being able to cope with such a situation and to move on in life, saying "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" in my heart as I choose to look forward and not backward.

Sure, I had years of trying to seek out those who had walked away. I believe that's a natural instinct in human beings, especially when it is a family member who has chosen to break all ties and pursue a life completely apart from either one, some or all of the other family members. However, my heart has had to learn when to let go -- for the benefit of myself and the benefit of those I love who are in my daily life.

Those family members that were by my side in years gone by who have since chosen to completely disconnect from me in every way, I can only say that I no longer know you... but as a Christian I love you and through the grace of God I have learned to live without you. I can only pray that someday you will feel even a fraction of the pain, disappointment and heartache that you have willingly instilled upon me and others through your selfish choices. Perhaps by personally experiencing a degree of such hurt you will learn to be less selfish and more loving.

Goodbye, Farewell and Amen.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Friday, March 13, 2020

My Experience Taking "Selfie" Photographs Before it Was Ever Popular

This photo is of me at Badwater Basin, Death Valley, making a video for my website back in 2011 when I completed my 500-mile solo run across the Mojave Desert. You wouldn't believe how many people have asked me how I captured all of the pictures and videos of myself as I ran solo across states and countries between 2006 and 2011. It wasn't rocket science. I simply got pretty good with a tripod and a self timer!

Nowadays, people take photos and make videos instantly with smartphones. However, back then it wasn't very common and I had to make use of other camera gear. For photos, I would usually set the camera on a tripod, set the timer, hit the shutter-release button, and dash into position before the timer elapsed. Sometimes, it took many tries before I got an image that had me and the support stroller in the frame properly. There were times when the wind blew the camera over and times when a car or truck would come into the photo and mess up the shot. Taking photos of myself while on adventure runs took some patience.

It wasn't until 2013 that taking "selfies" became a trend... a viral activity. I had taken countless selfies before it ever became popular, because I wanted those students who were following my progress online to see me in various locations. Ultimately, my selfies were for sharing and educational purposes rather than for attention or popularity.

I took thousands of pictures as I crossed the United States, Germany, Alaska, Montana and the Mojave Desert. Many of the best ones can still be found online. Click on any of the links below to see some of my adventure photos:
Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Handshake-Free Zones Are Growing in Popularity Due to Coronavirus

Over the past couple of weeks, I've had to attend some business meetings in downtown Indianapolis and I can tell you that greetings and meetings are being modified these days due to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). Today, I was on the 46th floor of the Salesforce Tower on Monument Circle in Indianapolis and it is now accepted that shaking hands is not to occur. Some offices I've been in are still open to a 'fist bump' or an 'elbow touch,' but for the most part human contact is discouraged.

In fact, even greater distance from one another in meetings is something I've noticed. Some have hand sanitizer with them, and others appear to avoid touching conference room tables and chairs -- other than to sit down. While on the 46th floor of the Salesforce Tower in Indianapolis, it was odd to look down at Monument Circle as the lunch hour neared only to see a few people rather than large groups of people that are typically present there during the middle of the work day. Even as I walked to my vehicle following today's meeting, I noticed that small eateries had very few customers. Also, there was more parking available than usual. It is clear that many are opting to stay away from areas where there are typically a lot of people.

Just in the city of Indianapolis there have already been significant cancellations of events. Next week's St. Patrick's Day festivities have been cancelled; performances by Michael Buble and country-pop duo Dan & Shay have been postponed; the Big Ten men's basketball tournament is cancelled; the NBA's Indiana Pacers have suspended the season; area universities are conducting online classes only; and the list goes on. Yes, things are getting pretty serious.

Farther away from Indiana, China has shut down Mount Everest due to the Coronavirus. Even a mountain has been closed! What will shut down next? The Indianapolis 500 in May? The Olympic Games in July? It's difficult to say, but more closures and cancellations appear to be happening every day.

I and my family are currently well and will be praying for everyone to be safe from this pandemic. Remember, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid the virus.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso