Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Montana Business I Operated For 16 Years (1998-2014)

Back in June 2016, I wrote in this blog that running is not my job. With all of the running I've done in the past across states and countries, there have been those who have believed that I just run around and somehow make a living at that. Well, that's not how it is. After obtaining my two B.A. degrees, I began teaching 5th grade in an elementary school. Then, in the early 1990's, I began working in a law firm. I still work in law, focusing on insurance defense and securities litigation. Just recently, I wrote about working my job from the side of the road as I ran across America in 2006. I was recently asked what that job was. For 16 years I owned and operated a website development and online marketing business called OnTrack Designs. Today, a company in Germany operates a web development company under that name.

You see, in the mid-1990's I could tell that the Internet (which had been around for a couple of years) was not going to fade away. While I was working in law I began learning website coding (HTML, JavaScript, etc.) with an eye toward possibly starting my own business. After learning what I needed to, I took the plunge in 1998 and created OnTrack Designs. I worked the business as a second job for several years (which was beneficial since I had four children), and then it became my full-time job from 2003 through 2014. It was during that time when I did my running adventures across states and countries.

Since I owned the business, I had subcontractors that I used to work on projects. While I was on running adventures, my business kept operating. Essentially, OnTrack Designs developed websites for law firms, banks, physicians, realtors, insurance companies, accountants, and other commercial businesses -- including e-commerce websites for online product sales. I would contract companies to utilize the services offered through OnTrack Designs, which included website development; search engine optimization; online marketing; website hosting; photo/video presentations; social media services; e-commerce platforms; online payment systems; and more.

In 2014, I decided to close the business and return to law work full time, which is what I now do to make a living. It was a wonderful experience owning my business for 16 years and gave me the opportunity to be flexible with my time in order to attend my four children's school and sporting events, as well as promote youth health and fitness globally through my running endeavors.



The days of needing a "website developer" are quickly fading. Today, there are tons of options for creating your own website, many of which are free. However, when I launched my business back in 1998, you could only get a website from someone who knew how to create the behind-the-scenes code needed to make the text, images and functionality work. I taught myself the needed coding and created a successful 16-year business from that knowledge.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Friday, February 22, 2019

Romance-related Scams are a $143 Million Per Year Problem

Did you know that 40% of Americans use online dating? Today, 27 percent of young adults report using online dating websites. However, romance-seekers beware! Online dating websites, such as eharmony, report that 53 percent of people lie on their online dating profile (typically about age, height/weight, and job/income). For instance, 20 percent of women will use photos from when they were younger, while 40 percent of men will lie about their jobs. According to Online Dating Magazine, there are more than 7,500 online dating websites — over 2,500 in the United States and 5,000 around the world.

USA Today has reported that in 2018 people reported losing $143 million to romance-related scams – a higher dollar amount than any other type of scam reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The average median loss is a whopping $2,600. Those ages 70 and older reported a median loss of $10,000. Some individuals even reported losing $100,000 or more.

Victims aren't just losing their life savings. Some are taking on new debt in the name of love – taking out home equity loans, opening up new credit cards and even getting payday loans to solve somebody else's crisis, medical emergency or business trouble.

According to the FTC, romance scams soared in 2018, with the number of reported hoaxes rising to nearly 21,400 from about 16,900 in 2017. The spread of such cons is dramatically increasing. In 2015, there were about 8,500 romance scams that amounted to $33 million in losses. Today, over 21,000 romance scams amount to $143 million in losses.

The FTC reports that romance scammers often find their victims online through a dating site, app or social media. They typically create phony profiles using a stranger’s photo they found online, making up a name or assuming the identity of a real person. Once these fraudsters have people by the heartstrings, they say they need money, typically for a medical emergency or some other misfortune. They often say they’re in the military and based abroad – that’s why they can’t meet in person. A common ruse is that they need help with travel costs for a long-anticipated visit.

Americans age 40 to 69 reported losing money to romance scams at more than twice the rate of people in their 20's. However, those 70 and over suffered the highest median loss.

Looking for romance online? Be cautious, be alert, and be smart!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Sexual Abuse in Church Settings is NOT a One-denomination Issue

Today, Pope Francis kicked off an unprecedented meeting on the Roman Catholic sexual abuse crisis by making clear what his expectations are. He called for "concrete and effective measures" to be taken against the "scourge of sexual abuse" by priests. Many of us have heard the numbers. The Holy See has said that in the past decade, 3,420 credible cases of abuse worldwide were reported to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the body that defends Catholic doctrine), while in the United States it has been reported that 6,900 priests have been credibly accused since 1950. However, the "crisis" is not simply within the Catholic Church.

Currently, Southern Baptists across America are grappling with a sex abuse crisis in the wake of a startling investigative report detailing more than 380 cases where church leaders and volunteers have been accused of sexual misconduct since 1998. In total, the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News found more than 700 victims. More than 200 pastors and leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention have been convicted of, or given plea deals for, sex crimes over the past 20 years.

Based on insurance company data, some experts have taken the position that more children are likely being abused in Protestant churches than in Catholic churches. Far too often we see revelations of church and denominational officials who chose do-nothing responses and who allowed accused perpetrators to move on to new congregations rather than reporting them to the police. This simply has to stop — in every denomination.

Some have said that what is needed is a full-scale national inquiry, similar to one that was done in Australia — an inquiry that focuses on all faith groups and that not only subpoenas documents but also hears extensive testimony. In a five-year study that experts have described as the "gold standard" of such investigations, Australia’s Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse assessed crimes against children in more than 4,000 institutions, including all religious organizations. It not only examined more than 1.2 million documents, but also heard from 8,000 survivors in private sessions and from 1,200 witnesses in public hearings. Then, based on the common institutional patterns it uncovered, the Royal Commission made recommendations for how to make religious institutions safer for children, including recommendations for improved record-keeping and information sharing.

The pervasiveness of the problem and the high stakes of children’s well-being compel the need for such a comprehensive inquiry in the United States also. If we want our children to be safer, we cannot afford the comfortable delusion that this is an isolated problem of a single diocese, a single state, a single faith group, or a single institution.

The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35 — "Jesus wept." When it comes to the sexual abuse crisis within denominations globally, I have a feeling that Jesus is indeed weeping.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Friday, February 15, 2019

"Adventure Responsibly" -- The Reality of Post-adventure Re-entry

My first thoughts of attempting to run across America were in 1985, at the age of twenty. In the 34 years since, I've witnessed numerous individuals take on the adventure. Having completed the challenge myself in 2006, I understand what is required to be successful. I've written before why I don't coach and/or give advice to those wanting to cross the country on foot. Most of the questions I've been asked have to do with routes, equipment, costs, and publicity. I don't believe I've ever been asked by anyone contemplating a cross country journey on foot what he or she can expect after the road ends and they are tossed back into the everyday life of society.

Last year, I occasionally checked in on the progress of two 30-something men on their own separate journeys across America on foot. When they finished, a couple of their post-adventure thoughts included: "now I've got to find work and pay back the bank for the run," and, "this has been a sabbatical from my usual anxiety and self-doubt." As I read their post-adventure thoughts, I realized that most of those who quit their jobs and run or walk across the country are in their 20's or 30's with very few responsibilities. Many are single and seem to want to break away from the routine of every day life and experience society in a vagabond way. However, it isn't until their journey is over that they realize that they can't wander forever and that they have to actually re-enter the routine of life that they temporarily broke away from. In my opinion, every responsible adult holds a job, pays bills and taxes, and contributes to society in a positive way.

When I ran across America solo in 2006, I was operating a business I owned and was the father of four children between the ages of 6 and 13. Many of the responsibilities of my normal life were still with me as I crossed the country. I would be on the phone with subcontractors who worked for me and would be dealing with business-related issues. I would talk to my children nearly every day and try to do what I could to encourage them in their school work and sports. I still had paychecks coming in and those went to help pay bills back home. I honestly cannot relate with quitting a job and simply escaping life's responsibilities while venturing out onto the road to cross the continent... setting up online fundraising pages to ask people to pay for my wandering (as so many seem to do today). I paid a lot of money to help make my 2006 coast-to-coast running adventure a reality, and I didn't go into debt to do it.

We're 6 weeks into 2019 and there are already individuals who have started crossing the country on foot. It's becoming more common each year. I'm not talking about bicyclists... of which there are many of those annually as well. I'm talking about those who load up a jogging stroller with some food, clothes and a tent and take off for many months to journey from one coast to another. I'm talking about people who are strapping on backpacks and heading out the door to log about 2,500 to 3,000 miles across various states. Many times, these people appear to be homeless. That's how the general population tends to perceive them. Sometimes, these adventurers have banners or signs stating what they are doing, but many times a car zipping by at 50+ miles per hour sees them for two or three seconds and likely perceives them as simply a vagabond rather than an adventurer. That's the reality of life on the road alone.

This year, there will be many people aiming to join the ranks of those who have completed a walk or run across the entire United States. I wish them well... I wish them safety... I wish them enlightenment... and I wish them luck in re-entering society after it is all over. Based on words I've read of those who have quit their jobs and took off for many months, re-entry can be very difficult. In today's world, applying for jobs is competitive and some employers may not want to take a risk on country crossers out of fear that they may just up and leave for another 'adventure.' I heard an alcohol commercial the other day that ended with "Drink Responsibly." I also read a lottery advertisement that included, "Play Responsibly." When it comes to crossing the country on foot, "Adventure Responsibly."

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Thursday, February 14, 2019

My Lovely Daughters -- Jenna and Ashlin Staso

I am blessed to be the father of two lovely women who are blazing their own paths in life. Both have graduated from universities and have been in the professional working world for several years. We reside in different states and there are days when I truly feel more than just the miles separating us. Life is full or responsibilities, activities, and planning. Before we know it, days have turned into months, and months into years. Regardless of how much distance there is between us, or how much time goes by, I want both of my daughters to know that I love them deeply; that I'm proud of their accomplishments; that I'm honored to be their father; and, that I'll always be praying for them, missing them, cheering for them, and loving them with a truly special love that only a father can feel for his daughter. I recently read this poem and wanted to share it since it reflects so much of what my heart holds, and wishes, for my daughters.
What could I give you, to show that I care?
To open my heart and show what’s in there.
How can I tell you with more than mere words,
How I’m wrapped ’round your finger with invisible chords.
And what can I show you that you haven’t seen,
That displays how I love you and all that you mean.
If you run to the desert I would pray for you there,
Or climb the tall mountains to breathe the clear air.
Or sail across the oceans to far away lands,
To find worlds that you’ll conquer
With your own two hands.
Dream your best dreams, don’t leave anything out,
For your hopes and your dreams are what I'm praying about.
Look to the future to see where you'll go,
With faith, strength and courage, you'll get there…I know.
If the road is dark, God will set it alight,
And He'll always keep watch for you all through the night.
What would I tell you that would help you along,
I’d tell you your gift is your heart -- which is so strong.
I’d tell you again what I’ve told you before,
As much as I’ve loved you there is One who loves you more.
I would tell you to walk with His love as your guide,
And trust in His voice as it echoes inside.
What message I’d leave you, what lesson instill...
It would be that I love you,
And I always will.
I love you, Jenna and Ashlin. I always will.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

What Became of My Old Domains -- PaceRun.com and PaceTrek.com?

Those of you who followed my running adventures across states and countries from 2006 through 2011 know that I owned two Internet domains where I posted information about my journeys. Those domains were PaceRun.com and PaceTrek.com. If you follow the links I just provided, you'll be able to read about who owns those domains today (and it's NOT me!). Everything that I have posted online can now be accessed exclusively through www.PaulStaso.com. I chose "PACE" for the domains I operated between 2006 and 2011 because it is an acronym for "Promoting Active Children Everywhere" and it is also included in the name of the non-profit foundation that I have been the President of for 10 years -- The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation. Here is how the PaceRun.com website looked in May 2006, just one month before I began the solo run across America:


And this is what the PaceTrek.com website looked like in May 2008 -- the first year I had it online (and after completing my first "PACE Trek" running challenge involving schools worldwide):



Again, if you want to access anything that I now have online regarding my past running adventures, just go to www.PaulStaso.com.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Do We Look Up to The 'God' of Sitcoms and Movies?

Over the course of the past year, I've noticed something -- television shows which center on God, Heaven and Faith are becoming more prevalent. Most recently, shows like "God Friended Me," "Living Biblically" and "Miracle Workers" have been on the radar as I flip through channels with the remote control, yet I don't watch these programs. Of course, these shows are many years, and decades, after such TV hits as "Touched by an Angel" and "Highway to Heaven."

This trend has been seen in movies as well. Jim Carrey encounters 'God' in the 2003 movie "Bruce Almighty," as does Steve Carell in the 2007 movie "Evan Almighty." As a result, Morgan Freeman tends to be the movie actor that people most associate 'God' with due to his roles in both of those movies as 'God.' Also, Whoopi Goldberg appears as 'God' in the 2011 movie, "A Little Bit of Heaven." There are certainly other actors and actresses who have portrayed 'God' -- either in person or voice.

I was baptized in the Baptist Church in 1977 at the age of twelve. That was the same year that actor and entertainer, George Burns, would release a movie along with a popular country/folk singer who was giving the acting business a try... John Denver. The movie is titled "Oh God!" and is the story of Jerry Landers (John Denver), an assistant manager in a supermarket who receives a visit from God (George Burns) -- who appears in the form of an old man. Reluctant at first, Jerry agrees to spread the word about his visits from the Creator. However, Jerry's wife, Bobbie (Teri Garr), is skeptical, and theologians think Jerry's God is a fake. As Jerry continues to receive visits from God, religious authorities take action and demand that he prove his story. You can see portions of the "Oh God!" movie on YouTube.

In 1977, John Denver was at his height of popularity as a country singer, having released ten albums with such songs as "Thank God I'm A Country Boy," "Annie's Song," and "Rocky Mountain High." He was 34 years of age and teamed up with 79-year-old George Burns to make the "Oh God!" movie. With all of the God, Heaven and Faith-related movies and television shows that seem to be multiplying in our world, I wanted to share with you the simple words of a cherished actor who entertained audiences for most of his 100 years. George Burns said these words while acting as 'God' in the 1977 "Oh God!" movie:
"Why is it so hard for you to believe? Is my physical existence any more improbable than your own? What about all that hoo-ha with the devil awhile ago from that movie? Nobody had any problem believing that the devil took over and existed in a little girl. All she had to do was wet the rug, throw up some pea soup and everybody believed. The devil you could believe, but not God? I work in my own way. Also I'm not about to go around to every person in the world and say, 'Look it's me, I wanna talk to you.' So I picked one man. One very good man. I told him God lives. I live. He had trouble believing too, in the beginning. I understood. I'm not sure how this whole miracle business started, the idea that anything connected with me has to be a miracle. Personally I'm sorry that it did. Makes the distance between us even greater. I know how hard it is in these times to have faith. But maybe if you could have the faith to start with, maybe the times would change. You could change them. Think about it. Try. And try not to hurt each other. There's been enough of that. It really gets in the way. However hopeless, helpless, mixed up and scary it all gets, it can work. If you find it hard to believe in me, maybe it would help you to know that I believe in you. The divine truth is not in a building or a book or a story. The heart is the temple where all truth resides. You know, Voltaire may have had me pegged right. He said I was a comedian playing to an audience who was afraid to laugh. You can love each other, cherish and nurture each other or you can kill each other. Incidentally, "kill" is the word. It's not "waste." If I meant "waste" I would have written "thou shalt not waste." You're doing some very funny things with words, here. You're also turning the sky into mud. I look down, I can't believe the filth. Using the rivers for toilets, poisoning my fishes. You want a miracle? You make a fish from scratch. You can't... and when the last one is gone, that'll be that. Eighty-six on the fishes, goodbye sky, so long world, over and out."
In 1996, George Burns died at the age of 100. Before his death, he stated the following in an interview: "I'm not what you call a religious man. I don't believe in the hereafter. If I don't make them laugh here, I'm not going to make them laugh anywhere else. I don't think there is an audience where I'm going, but I'll take along my music just in case."

Want to get to know the REAL God of the Universe? Open a Bible and meet Him.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Friday, February 8, 2019

I Am The Founder and President of The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation

Today I did something that I've been doing for 10 years. I filed the annual report with the Montana Secretary of State's office for The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation -- which I created to promote youth health and fitness on a global scale. In past years, I've written about


I've also previously written about my real job, which is not as President of The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation.

The foundation I created is just one of 1,689,062 tax-exempt organizations currently in existence within the United States. Estimates vary, but most experts agree that less than half of non-profit organizations survive beyond five years. Of those that survive, perhaps one-third are in financial distress. The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation has been around for a decade and is in good standing with the Secretary of State and the IRS. Currently, my life is focused on my full-time job in law, enjoying time with my beautiful wife, and helping to raise two wonderful stepdaughters. The foundation is something that I maintain all of the corporate filings for, and I make certain that it remains in good standing. However, it is not something that occupies much of my time at this point in my life. Of course, that may change in the future.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Chocolates, Sun Tans, and Retiring. These Must Be Popular Topics!

I started writing blogs for the Internet back in 2006 when I ran solo across America. It was my way of sharing that adventure with people across the Internet and around the world. I then wrote blogs for my other adventures, including my running endeavors across Alaska, Germany and the Mojave Desert. The picture accompanying this writing is of me in a small German village back in 2010, writing a blog post while on a park bench. I'm in my third year of writing in this particular blog that you are now at and it's always interesting to take a look at the blog statistics. To date, I've made 335 posts since June 2016 covering an array of topics. Based on overall post views, the top three writings have been:


Each day, readers come to this blog from 15 to 20 countries around the world. For instance, as I am writing this post I see that there are readers accessing my blog from the United States, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and elsewhere -- including Azerbaijan. I have to admit, I had never heard of Azerbaijan and had to look on a map to see where it is. It's actually a landlocked country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Yep, there's someone reading my blog from between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains.

I use keyword tags to help promote each writing through search engines, and most of my blog traffic comes from Google, Yahoo and social media. Typically, right after I post a blog writing it will receive about 20 hits from readers within the first day. As the writing is cataloged by search engines for targeted keywords, it will then gain more readers from those who find it using search engine keywords that are related to what I wrote.

It's estimated that there are over 150 million blogs on the Internet and my blog is just one in a sea of writings. I appreciate those who take a moment to read my words. In April 2017, I wrote about why I write this blog. Those reasons have not changed.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Why I Don't "Retweet," "Repost" or "Share a Post" on Social Media

I joined Facebook in 2008, Twitter in 2014, and Instagram in 2017. These are all social media platforms and I am very specific in how I use each one, and I am rather restrictive with respect to those I allow to follow my social media accounts. For me, "social" is family and close friends. Of course, I'm nearly 54 years of age and am not in any competition to try and have the most friends or followers -- as seems to be the case with many people much younger than I am. Even some of my own adult children have social media "friends" and "followers" that they've never actually met, let alone spoken to. I simply won't give such people a window into my personal life.

When it comes to Facebook, I have 35 "Friends." On Twitter, I have 21 "Followers." Through my Instagram account, I have 23 "Followers." I can tell you that there is quite an overlap with these people, many of them being friends or followers on all three accounts. Suffice it to say, the total number of individuals who see my social media content actually adds up to about 40 people. Yes, that's the grand total of my actual social media "friends" and "followers."

My Facebook account consists of primarily photo albums. That's how I choose to use it. I also post photos through my Instagram account, and by doing so it helps my family (primarily my four adult children, my siblings, and my elderly parents in Alaska) an opportunity to see snapshots of my life. It's a way for us to try and be connected across thousands of miles. I'll go for days without posting something and then feel the desire to post a number of different pictures so that I can try and bridge the gap between my children in Montana and Minnesota, as well as my siblings and parents in Alaska. I also have some dear friends that I've known for over 35 years that see my photos -- and they live in Oregon, Minnesota and Florida. So, it's nice to be able to let them see glimpses into my life in Indiana.

Aside from posting photos on my Facebook and Instagram accounts, I also post a link on Facebook to each blog writing I do. I leave the blog link on my social media for a day or two, and then delete it. My Twitter account is used solely to post a link to each of my blog writings. That's it! I don't post anything else on my Twitter account.

I don't use any of my social media accounts to take a stand on political issues, and I don't air dirty laundry or criticize people on social media. I don't aim to persuade or dissuade through social media. Also, I don't retweet, repost or share posts on my social media accounts. You may be wondering why. Well, because I primarily have my social media accounts for the purpose of giving my close family and friends a glimpse into my life. I don't see how retweeting and reposting the thoughts, opinions and/or criticisms of others enhances the story of my own life for my dear friends and family to see. I'd rather have them visually see what means the most to me -- and that is shown through the pictures and blog articles I choose to share, which are all prepared by me. I don't need the words of someone else. I just look inside my own heart and share what it feels. Most of the time those thoughts are shared through a photo, because as the old saying goes... a picture is worth a thousand words.

Have a great day in this social media world that we live in!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso