Wednesday, July 31, 2019

I've Talked to Myself in a Desert... on a Mountain... in a Blizzard... Etc.

In today's blog post, I'm going to admit to something that I initially denied for quite some time following my solo run across America in 2006. There were times, nearly daily, when I would talk to myself. After the run was over, I did numerous school assemblies and occasionally I would be asked if I ever got bored to the point of talking to myself. For some reason, I thought that if I admitted that I talked to myself people would think I was odd. But then again, I chose to run from one ocean to another pushing a jogging stroller the entire way -- which many people would say is odd in itself!

I've shared before in this blog that I've run the equivalent of at least a couple of laps of the planet. I've spent tens of thousands of miles completely alone in rather desolate locations... running. When you go for many hours without hearing another voice, it's not unreasonable to talk to yourself. So, I admit it. I did in fact talk to myself while running across the country... and other adventure runs that I've done.

A popular urban legend is that talking to yourself is supposedly the first sign of impending insanity. However, age five is when the majority of people begin engaging in out loud, self-directed speech. Within the last several decades, scientists and psychologists have come to understand that talking to yourself is a biological mechanism that better enables humans to shed stress, solve problems, reason through difficult decisions, and concentrate with greater accuracy.

The fairly common habit of talking aloud to yourself is what psychologists call external self-talk. Although self-talk is sometimes looked at as an eccentric quirk, research has found that it can influence behavior and cognition. Many psychologists believe that when we talk to ourselves we're trying to see things more objectively. Therefore, it matters how you talk to yourself. The two types of self-talk most people are familiar with are instructional self-talk -- like talking yourself through a task -- and motivational self-talk, like telling yourself, “I can do this.”

I can tell you that on all of my adventure runs across states and countries I used motivational self-talk. There was nobody around to cheer me on or to encourage me, so in order to accomplish the challenging tasks I had to motivate myself. If I were to add up all of the times I've talked to myself while running endless miles, well... it would be astounding. I retired from ultra-endurance running a couple of years ago and don't talk to myself near as much these days. I prefer genuine conversation with friends and family... engaging with others in a back-and-forth exchange of ideas, thoughts, perspectives and opinions. I've had more than enough days of hearing only my voice.

So, if you talk to yourself now and then don't think that you're stepping toward insanity. You just might be moving toward genius! Even Albert Einstein admitted to talking to himself.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

"Remember, If It's Out During The Day... It Will Be Out At Night!"

I've been driving for nearly 40 years. The last car accident I was in occurred in 1990 when a vehicle rolled backwards into me. This past January I struck a deer for the first time on my way to work. The last time I was stopped by a police car was in 2008 when I was driving in eastern Montana on a bright summer's day. The reason? I had a burned out headlight and was in a car that (for some reason) had headlights that were always on. I was given a warning.

This morning I was driving to the office on a usual summer day when I passed an oncoming police car in a 35-mile-per-hour zone. I was driving a couple of miles below the limit, but noticed the police officer put his lights on and do a u-turn... speeding up behind me. I assumed he had just received a call and was on his way somewhere. I pulled over to get out of his path only to see his car pull right up behind me. I was absolutely puzzled as I looked in my rear-view mirror at two young officers who couldn't have been any older than my eldest daughter. Neither of them were getting out, and I observed them chatting for a couple of minutes as I sat there on the edge of the road.

Then, one officer got out and started to approach my car on the passenger side... very slowly and cautiously. At this point I was completely baffled as to what was going on. I rolled down the passenger side window and said good morning. He looked at me with both hands gripping the front of his belt and said, "I stopped you because you have a headlight out. I'll need to see your license and registration." I didn't even know my headlights were on! I asked if he was going to write a ticket over something like this -- as the morning sun was shining down. He informed me that he was writing a warning ticket and that I had to get it fixed today. He walked back to his patrol car and proceeded to take at least 10 minutes as I watched him in the rear-view mirror chatting to his partner.

Eventually, the officer returned to my vehicle. He handed me my license and registration, along with the warning ticket about the burned-out headlight, and said in a deep and rather serious tone: "Remember, if it's out during the day... it will be out at night!" I had to bite my tongue to not respond with, "Thank you, Captain Obvious."

Perhaps some small town police officers are bored, or have to make their quota by the end of the month. Regardless, writing a warning ticket for a headlight being out on a sunny day seems absolutely ridiculous to me -- as ridiculous as it did over ten years ago when the same thing happened in Montana. You know where I'll be heading after work... to get a new headlight bulb.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Monday, July 29, 2019

1972 Nike Olympic Running Shoes Auctioned For $437,000



It has been 20 years since Bill Bowerman passed away -- the co-founder of Nike, Inc. as well as a respected track and field coach. Over his career, Bowerman trained 31 Olympic athletes, 51 All-Americans, 12 American record-holders, 22 NCAA champions and 16 sub-4 minute milers. His most notable creation, the waffle shoe, was created by pouring rubber onto his wife's waffle iron in order to make the prototype sole.

Last week, a pair of extremely rare, never-worn Nike running shoes designed for the 1972 Olympic trials set a new world record after selling for more than $437,000 during a public auction. It has been reported that collector Miles Nadal surpassed the world auction record for sneakers after he purchased the shoes for his private collection. Only 12 pairs were ever made. Nadal has said that he plans to display the waffle shoes at his Dare to Dream Automobile Museum in Toronto, Canada – a private museum featuring an extensive collection of classic cars.

The amount paid by Nadal shatters the previous world record for the price a single pair of sneakers, which was previously held by the sale of a pair of limited-edition, self-tying Nike Air Mag “Back to the Future II” shoes that sold for $200,000 in November 2016. The new world-record amount is also more than double the price of the most expensive game-worn shoes – the Converse Fastbreaks – that Michael Jordan wore during the 1984 Summer Olympics, which sold for $190,373 in June 2017.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Beards -- Maturity, Dominance, Social Status, Cancer, Bacteria, Poop!

Just before I graduated from college in the late 1980s, I decided to grow a beard. I thought it would make me look older. Then, in 1990, I became a fifth grade teacher and a high school track coach and felt that without the beard I would look no older than the high school runners I was coaching. So, I kept the beard for a couple of years (see accompanying photos). However, when I reached the age of 27, I decided to shave my beard off. Now, nearly three decades later, I'm still clean shaven and haven't had a beard since then.

So, why am I writing on the topic of beards? Last week, I read an article about things that happen to men when they grow beards. The article began with, "Research shows that beards can make guys more attractive, protect them from certain diseases, and help them convey a quiet yet confident sense of masculinity." Wow... all that just because of some facial hair? Then the article launched into some of the "scientific things" that can happen. For instance, of the bearded subjects tested, some had fecal matter in their beards, and some had more bacteria that dogs!

The article went on to say that some studies have shown that men with beards may be seen as more mature and as having higher social status. It's also been reported that men with beards exhibit more dominance. Aside from that, research from the University of Queensland in Australia shows that beards can protect men from 90 percent of harmful ultraviolet rays. As a result, bearded guys may be less prone to skin cancer.

Studies also suggest that bearded men may be more attractive to women, but apparently this depends on whether that woman’s father had a beard. Scientists suspect this may have something to do with sexual imprinting, or the theory that future mate preferences are formed at a young age and modeled after parents. Again, I'm just sharing what I read.

The article concluded on a rather dark note. One study found that infrequent shaving of facial hair was linked with early deaths from all causes, but most notably cardiovascular disease. Researchers suspect that this increased death risk is mainly due to lifestyle differences, because bearded men were more likely to be shorter, less likely to be married, had fewer orgasms (again, that's what was in the article!), and were more prone to smoking.

I've been without a beard for decades and I don't see that changing in the foreseeable future.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Would You Drive In Circles Around a Roundabout For Over 3 Hours?

A few years ago, an Indiana man set the world record for the longest time driving in a roundabout (3 hours, 34 minutes, 33.24 seconds). Mr. Oran Sands -- age 64 at the time -- chose Carmel, Indiana as the location where he would go around and around for 65 miles in his 1987 Volkswagen.

Carmel, Indiana has become internationally known for its roundabout network. Since the late 1990’s Carmel has been building and replacing signalized intersections with roundabouts. Carmel now has over 100 roundabouts, more than any other city in the United States.

I've driven many roundabouts, both in the United States (including Carmel, Indiana) and Europe. I can tell you this... they're not my favorite. There are simply too many people who don't know how to properly navigate a roundabout. I know that the idea behind roundabouts is to keep traffic flowing and to increase pedestrian safety. However, I've had several near collisions with people who don't know how to properly drive in a roundabout.

According to extensive research and traffic data taken from around the world, roundabouts decrease intersection collisions while increasing traffic efficiency. This idea is wonderful in theory; however, confusion and lack of education on how to use roundabouts can make them as dangerous as normal intersections. The three most common errors made by drivers in roundabouts are:

  • Disregarding yields: Yield signs are posted at roundabouts to remind motorists who has the right of way. When entering a roundabout, you must yield to any traffic that is already in the circle, as they have the right of way. Ignoring these signs, or thinking you can get ahead by speeding up rather than slowing down, is extremely dangerous.
  • Braking while in the circle: Roundabouts are designed so that traffic can flow continuously. When you suddenly stop, you can cause serious consequences. If you become confused and miss your turn off, don’t stop! Instead, continue around the circle in order to get you bearings and find your exit. If you slam on your brakes, you could cause the car behind you to rear end you.
  • Mid-circle lane changes: Since roundabouts are circles, lanes break off around the edges and veer in different directions depending on where you need to go. The entire purpose of a roundabout is to limit the need for traffic to cross by allowing cars to smoothly enter and exit without needing to stop and turn. In order to keep traffic from crossing each other, lane markings are clearly indicated before roundabout entrances. These markings allow you to make sure you enter in the correct lane for your eventual exit. If you enter in the wrong lane, you unfortunately need to follow it through. This means that you’ll either have to take the wrong exit and turn around or continue around the circle until you once again approach your exit and can legally follow your lane through it.

A few years ago, Jeffersonville, Indiana opened a new roundabout and within 9 months there were 134 crashes -- including two semi trucks that tipped over. The Indiana Department of Transportation has boasted national figures that show roundabouts are safer, more efficient and greener.  According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, roundabouts (compared to four-way intersections) increase traffic capacity by 20 to 50 percent and decrease traffic delays by 20 percent, thus saving fuel use and reducing pollution.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, roundabouts are proven to decrease fatalities by 90 percent and all crashes by 35 percent. However, the Indiana Department of Transportation has stated that it excludes data from the first three to 12 months of a roundabout opening because "it should be expected that motorists are adjusting to the new intersection during this time frame." In other words, the transportation department knows that there's going to be a spike in accidents during the first year following a roundabout opening and doesn't want that data included in its safety records.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

36 Years of Cutting My Own Hair -- A Savings of Nearly $4,000

A couple of days ago, I cut my own hair. I figure that it was about the 180th time that I've done so. Let me explain.

When I was growing up, my mother would cut my hair. I remember watching her technique in the mirror as I went through the various "hair stages" of my teen years. In the late 1970's I had it long and parted on the side, and in the early 1980s I opted for shorter hair parted in the middle. My mother did a great job every time and I went off to college in 1983 having never been to a barber.

As a typical broke freshman in college, I had little money for extras. In an effort to save myself a few bucks, I decided to cut my own hair -- recalling the countless times I watched my mother in the mirror. With a pair of paper-cutting scissors and a tiny cracked mirror, I gave it a shot at the age of 18. Well, suffice it to say it wasn't quite like my mother did it and I ended up wearing a hat for many weeks thereafter.

When I once again reached the point of needing my hair cut, I decided to try again. This time I got a better pair of scissors, a mirror without a crack, and went slower. I had better success, but the hat was once again needed for a time. Suffice it to say, I went through my college days without going to a barber -- and got to the point where a hat wasn't needed after a cutting! Keep in mind, this was long before the existence of the Internet. Today, there are many YouTube videos on how to cut your own hair.

As the years went by, I continued to cut my own hair. It was convenient and a money saver. If you figure that the average cost of a guy's haircut is $20, then I've saved nearly $4,000 since 1983 by cutting my own hair. On average, I cut/trim my hair every two to three months. A 2015 survey showed that 11 percent of men cut their own hair. It was reported that 12 percent allow a family member or friend cut their hair, while 32 percent go to a hair salon and 45 percent go to a barbershop.

I've been cutting my own hair for 36 years and will continue to do so until I'm simply unable to. Someday I may walk through the doors of a barbershop for the first time, but until then I'll be my own barber.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Monday, July 22, 2019

I've Traveled Countless Miles on The Alaska Marine Highway System



Attending high school in Southeast Alaska, I would often get to track and field meets by using the Alaska Marine Highway -- a 56-year-old state ferry system that connects communities across the waterways of Alaska. I graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in 1983 and have fond memories of traveling with teams on the ferries through some of the most breathtaking scenery. I'll admit, back then I didn't really look out upon the nature and wildlife with such awe as I do today. As a teen, I would be on a ferry heading to a track meet and see whales breaching or grizzly bears along the shoreline and didn't really think anything of it. Now, at the age of 54, I realize how fortunate I was.

Recently, the ferry system's budget took a $44 million cut by state government. Overall, there will be a decrease in the amount of ferry services to several communities. That's very unfortunate, especially since so many communities throughout Southeast Alaska rely on the "blue canoes" (as Alaskans typically call the ferries). Alaska is working on a feasibility study about the ferry system.

When I coached high school runners in Montana several years after leaving Alaska, we would get on a bus, drive to another town, compete in races, and drive home the same day. That's certainly not how it was for me when I was a high school athlete in Alaska! If we were competing in Ketchikan, Alaska, we would board the ferry in Juneau; ride for 20 hours one way; sleep in a church or spread out in homes of those we were competing against; participate in the track meet; and then board the ferry for the 20-hour return ride. It literally took several days to be able to compete in one track meet.

There were usually few fans on the "road trips" (water trips) because of the amount of time the travel required, and the cost. Sometimes the athletes' parents learned how their son or daughter performed in competition by reading it in the newspaper before the athlete ever got back home. Remember, that was in the days before cell phones.

The Alaska Marine Highway System was absolutely wonderful to travel on as a high school athlete in the early 1980s. Back then, the 'blue canoes' transported over 300,000 people and over 75,000 vehicles annually.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Friday, July 19, 2019

More Businesses Are Offering 'Summer Fridays' To Their Employees

I must say, I've never heard of "Summer Fridays" until this week. Essentially, Summer Fridays are a business offering to employees where they're given paid time off (typically on Fridays that occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day) in addition to employees' regularly allotted paid time off. Recent research shows that 42 percent of companies offered Summer Fridays last year.

No matter how the policy is defined, the goal is the same: to give employees time off separate from their allotted vacation, sick, and personal time.

According to the Harvard Gazette, 36 percent of U.S. workers suffer from workplace stress -- and it costs U.S. businesses $30 billion a year in lost workdays. This is one of the statistics that is driving the popularity of Summer Fridays. The theory is that having a head start on the weekend makes employees happy, and when employees are happy they are more productive when at the office. Supporters say that Summer Fridays improve mental health, heart health, and even relationships. Some businesses are offering Friday completely off, while others are opting for an early departure from work -- such as at 1:00 pm.

Several workplace studies have shown Tuesday to be the most productive day for employees, with Friday being the least productive. What about overall productivity? Inc. magazine recently reported that current research suggests that in an eight-hour day, the average worker is only productive for two hours and 53 minutes. The most popular unproductive activities listed were:

  • Reading news websites -- 1 hour, 5 minutes
  • Checking social media -- 44 minutes
  • Discussing non-work-related things with co-workers -- 40 minutes
  • Searching for new jobs -- 26 minutes
  • Taking smoke breaks -- 23 minutes
  • Making calls to partners or friends -- 18 minutes
  • Making hot drinks -- 17 minutes
  • Texting or instant messaging -- 14 minutes
  • Eating snacks -- 8 minutes
  • Making food in office -- 7 minutes

So, if the average worker is only productive for about 3 hours each work day, why are Summer Fridays needed? I think that businesses should focus more on getting increased productivity out of workers during the course of the week rather than just accepting the fact that today's employee will only be productive 3 hours per day so Fridays should be a day off to keep them happy. I got my first job in 1980 and I've worked professionally for over 30 years. I've never been given any part of Friday off from my job for "Summer Fridays"... and I can tell you, the employees in the law firm I work at are much more productive than only 3 hours per day!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Thursday, July 18, 2019

New Zealand Long-distance Runner Falsely Claims World Record

In November 2018, a New Zealand man by the name of Perry Newburn claimed that he had set a new world record for the fastest run over the length of New Zealand. However, eventually he announced that he didn't actually achieve what he claimed.

In a November 28, 2018 Facebook post, Mr. Newburn wrote: "Now that I am back home and the brain has started to clear from the fog and fatigue, I have been able to think and reflect on the run. First of all I am not going to claim the record for some obvious reasons. There were parts of the run where road /bridge conditions were totally unsafe to run and therefore I made the call to be driven through these parts - these decisions were my decisions. The traffic was the main culprit in these situations but there were some parts where road conditions were unsafe as well so therefore the process happened. The conditions down south at times were also totally unsafe (there were parts where I was being blown all over the place ) and with sleep deprivation taking a big hold , this added to the problem." One comment he received is: "Mate, your a bloody cheat, period." Another commented, "Epic run???? Epic drive more like it."

Did his conscience get the best of him (like it did for Rosalynn Frederick who falsely claimed that she ran across America), or were the post-run questions and doubts he received about his performance simply too much to bear? MarathonInvestigation.com examines closely world record claims in distance running. In a January 2019 article the website reported that Graeme Calder was a crew member for Mr. Newburn during the New Zealand attempt. Mr. Calder provided an example of Mr. Newburn's cheating by stating that over a two-day period Mr. Newburn traveled by vehicle for over 60 miles -- rather than running. Mr. Calder stated:
"It kept on continuing, getting worse. The people we were staying with, he was lying about what he was doing, where we finished, where we started, times, distances. He was making out that he was running 110... 115... even 120 kilometers a day when he wasn’t even coming close to that. His lies were just increasingly constantly. To me he was bathing in the glory of what people think he was achieving. It is more than being addicted to the running. I think he is really addicted to the publicity and the people complimenting him on what he’s done and the likes he gets on Facebook… he bathes in the glory of it all. He was smoking constantly. He tried to hide the smoking initially. He was making out he was someone different than he was. I wished I was never involved in it."
Rosalynn Frederick and Perry Newburn are long-distance runners who claimed that they achieved something that they actually didn't. Both used vehicles to transport themselves over considerable distances while at the same time claiming that they were pounding out the miles... stride after stride. They were dishonest and both of them raised thousands of dollars for their runs, and chosen charities, without genuinely doing what they claimed. I started in long-distance running back in 1980 (nearly 40 years ago) and have seen many runners either found guilty of cheating or ultimately confessed of cheating. It's truly a sad commentary on modern-day distance running and the apparent need of some people to put up a false front in order to gain accolades.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Purdue University Has Some Out-of-this-world Graduates!

I was recently in a grocery store and couldn't help but to notice the number of magazine covers commemorating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. On July 20, 1969 man walked on the moon for the first time. I was only 4 years old, but the media coverage about space exploration that followed for many years sparked my interest during my elementary school years and I wanted to be an astronaut.

Although I wanted to be an astronaut, I couldn't handle any motion rides (carousel, roller coaster, etc.) without feeling ill, so I knew there was a barrier between me and speeding into space on a rocket... motion sickness! Suffice it to say, I've never gotten higher off the ground than about 40,000 feet on a trans-Atlantic flight.

Putting a man on the moon was a national goal set by President John F. Kennedy on May 25, 1961. "...I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish."

In the coming days you'll be hearing a lot about the 1969 moon landing and about Neil Armstrong -- the first man to walk on the moon. I reside in Indiana and Neil Armstrong is an alumnus of Purdue University, located in West Lafayette, Indiana. Purdue University is called the "Cradle of Astronauts" because nearly a third of all U.S. spaceflights have included a Purdue graduate, and 10 missions have included multiple Purdue grads. Of the 25 astronauts that have come out of Purdue University, Neil Armstrong is the one most often heard about. However, what about the last man to leave his footprints on the moon? Purdue University graduate, Eugene Cernan, was the last man to ever walk on the moon's surface -- back in 1972. Purdue University certainly has produced some out-of-this-world graduates!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Rob -- A True Friend For Nearly Four Decades!

I just got off the phone from speaking to a friend that I've had for 39 years. His name is Rob and we went to high school together. Fourteen years ago this week I was running through northern Idaho during my solo run across America. Rob was the one who would update my running website with photos from the road that I would mail to him on CD (before the days of smart phones and instant uploading of images). Rob and I reside on opposite sides of the country, but our friendship has been going strong for nearly four decades.

On this day 14 years ago I had stopped at the Powell Campground in Idaho after logging a 39-mile day in 95-degree temperatures. I called Rob on a satellite phone since my cell phone could not get any reception. Rob was always very good about listening and sharing an encouraging word. Usually, I could post writings to my daily blog, but in situations where I had no Internet connection, I would call Rob and he would post an update to my blog so that those following the cross country journey via the Net wouldn't worry. In fact, in the online guestbook for the U.S.A. run my mother wrote, "Thank you Rob... for keeping Paul's journal and photos up to date on the Web. It is a great comfort to see the entries each night and to learn that Paul had a good, as well as a safe day."

I recently read a list of the qualities of a person who has friendships that last. I see these qualities in Rob and appreciate the friend that he is.

Good Listener
Listening doesn’t just mean you stand there and say, “Yeah,” and nod your head up and down. It means actively listening and engaging with your friend. Truly hearing a person makes a person feel special.

Non-Judgemental
Everyone has that one friend you can call anytime and vent to without feeling judged. The beauty of a good friendship is that you can be your true self with that person.

Appreciates Others
Like any relationship, you need to let the other person know how much you care about them. A person who can maintain long-lasting friendships does this with ease.

Loyal
Someone who can maintain friendships knows how to be loyal. This means he or she doesn’t talk behind your back — they’ve got your back. Even more so, they will stand up for you if someone is trash talking you.

Good Communicator
Being able to communicate properly doesn’t just mean a good friend knows how to pick up the phone to call you — it means they can communicate their feelings. A person who has longstanding friendships knows how to address issues head-on.

Honest
You want to know that when you ask your friend for advice, he or she will be honest with you. A true friend is someone who tells you what they truly think, even if it’s hard to hear.

Makes Plans
Friendships are all about give and take. It can’t be all one-sided. That is why people people with long-standing friendships make an effort to be close with their friends. Communication is key. It doesn’t take much to initiate, but it makes a world of difference.

Handles Good and Bad
A true friend is there for you through the good, but more importantly, there to lean on through the bad.

Dependable
People who can maintain friendships are usually dependable people. They are the kind of person that will pick you up at the airport, no questions asked. They don’t dodge your phone calls, or flake last minute. You can count on them. You know when they say they are going to do something, they will do it.

Vulnerable
One big part of having a long-lasting friendship involves the act of sharing. In order for any relationship to grow, both people need to be vulnerable. You need to open up and share things about yourself. This will increase the trust within a friendship, as well as a deeper connection between the two of you.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Monday, July 15, 2019

Mid-life Resting Heart Rate of 75+ BPM May Mean Double Death Risk

I'm sitting at my desk in the middle of the day having lunch at the law firm with which I'm employed. Currently, my resting heart rate is 60 beats per minute (BPM) -- and I'm 54 years of age. A new study finds that middle-age people (specifically in their 50s) with a resting heart rate of 75 BPM have DOUBLE the risk of dying young, no matter the cause. The study states that this is especially true for men.

Published in April 2019 in the journal Open Heart, researchers found that an increased resting heart rate in 50-something men was linked to a higher risk of developing heart disease over the next 11 years. Keep in mind that according to the Mayo Clinic, a normal resting (relaxed) heart rate for an adult is 60 to 100 BPM.

The key finding of the study was this: a resting heart rate of 75 BPM, or more, was found to double the risk of death from any cause, including cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. Also, the study states that a stable heart rate in these men was found to put them at a 44 percent lowered risk of cardiovascular disease in the 11 years following the study's testing. To break it down further, researchers add that every additional heart beat -- above the normal resting rate for adults -- was tied to a three-percent higher risk of death, one-percent risk of cardiovascular disease and two-percent risk of coronary heart disease.

This is an observational study and the research was restricted only to men. However, the researchers state that the findings have clinical implications in that monitoring changes in resting heart rate over time may be important for uncovering future cardiovascular disease risk.

Generally, a lower heart rate at rest implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness. For example, a well-trained athlete might have a normal resting heart rate closer to 40 BPM.

Keep in mind that many factors can influence heart rate, including:
  • Age
  • Fitness and activity levels
  • Being a smoker
  • Having cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol or diabetes
  • Air temperature
  • Body position (such as standing up or lying down)
  • Emotions
  • Body size
  • Medications
Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Thursday, July 11, 2019

DNA Testing Companies and Security: Who Has Your DNA Information?

How much do you know about DNA? Deoxyribonucleic Acid, DNA, is the carrier of our genetic information, and is passed down from generation to generation. All of the cells in our bodies, except red blood cells, contain a copy of our DNA. At conception, a person receives DNA from both the father and mother. All humans have the same genes arranged in the same order, and more than 99.9 percent of our DNA sequence is the same. However, the few differences between us are enough to make each one of us unique. On average, a human gene will have 1-3 bases that differ from person to person. These differences can change the shape and function of a protein, or they can change how much protein is made, when it's made, or where it's made.

Surging public interest in ancestry and health -- propelled by heavy marketing -- is resulting in record sales of DNA tests, which entice consumers to spit in a tube or swab their cheeks and ship the sample back to have their genomes analyzed. By the start of 2019, more than 26 million consumers had added their DNA to four leading commercial ancestry and health databases. If the pace continues, it's estimated that the genetic makeup of more than 100 million people could be gathered within 24 months.

For consumers, the tests offer entertainment, clues to ancestry, and a chance of discovering family secrets -- such as siblings you didn’t know about. But the consequences for privacy go well beyond that. As these databases grow, they have made it possible to trace the relationships between nearly all Americans, including those who never purchased a test.

Generally, those who submit their DNA to these databases are at the mercy of user agreements that they have no control over, just like social media accounts. It comes down to the first rule of data: once you hand it over, you lose control of it. You have no idea how the terms of service will change for your DNA sample. Also, just how secure is your DNA data? It was recently reported that DNA testing service Vitagene Inc. left thousands of client health reports exposed online for years, the kind of incident that privacy advocates have warned about as gene testing has become increasingly popular.

More than 3,000 user files remained accessible to the public on Amazon Web Services' cloud computer servers until July 1, 2019 when Vitagene was notified of the issue and shut down external access to the sensitive personal information. The exposed genealogy reports included customers' full names alongside dates of birth and gene-based health information, such as their likelihood of developing certain medical conditions. Vitagene had promised customers that it would protect their identities. Security with DNA-testing companies is becoming an increasing concern.

Two Senate lawmakers introduced a bill last month that would create new privacy regulations protecting consumer health data collected through health tracking apps, fitness wearables, and direct-to-consumer DNA testing kits. The bill, introduced June 14, 2019, would set a new federal standard for biometric consent.

If you've already submitted your DNA to a company and now want it deleted, you can contact the company and ask for the steps on doing that. However, since the United States government requires these companies to retain DNA information in order to comply with quality control guidelines, it’s never really possible to delete it forever.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Tomorrow The Sun Will Rise. Who Knows What The Tide Could Bring?

There's a poignant moment in the 2000 movie Cast Away where actor Tom Hanks (portraying FedEx executive Chuck Noland) says:

"This feeling came over me like a warm blanket. I knew, somehow, that I had to stay alive. Somehow. I had to keep breathing. Even though there was no reason to hope... So that's what I did. I stayed alive. I kept breathing. And one day... the tide came in, and gave me a sail... I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?"

I believe that those words have echoed in the hearts of many people as they have finally seen the light at the end of a very dark tunnel. I know that in my own life I've said very similar words to myself -- in the past when I faced some dark and difficult times. Many years ago, the sun rose in my life and the tide came in, bringing me peace and contentment. As I read these words of the fictitious Cast Away character, I can relate with the feelings of despair and the conscious choice to keep breathing... waiting to see what the tide could bring. I'm glad to have those days behind me.

As a Christian, I lean on my faith more than anything during difficult times in life. In the past, when I was waiting to see what the tide could bring in, I would often turn to Scripture passages to ease my heart, mind and soul. I'd like to share some of God's Word with you and perhaps these words will feel like a warm blanket.

  • Isaiah 40:31 -- "but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
  • Jeremiah 29:11 -- "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
  • Isaiah 43:2 -- "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze."
  • 2 Corinthians 4:17 -- "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all."
  • Psalm 43:5 -- "Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God."
  • Psalm 147:11 -- "But the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love."
  • Romans 12:12 -- "Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer."
  • Romans 8:28 -- "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

One-third of American Adults Take Naps -- And I'm Not One of Them!

According to a survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, one-third of American adults take naps. Men take naps more often than women, and napping becomes more common with age. Forty-one percent of men over the age of 50 say that they've taken a nap in the past day, compared to 28 percent of women in the same age category.

Sleep experts say that naps make for a better, more functional worker. Also, studies have reported that naps reduce sleepiness while improving cognitive functioning, psychomotor performance, short-term memory and mood. So, overall the idea of napping sounds pretty good. However, I don't nap. I just get a good night's sleep and go about my day. If you really feel that napping is something that you need, you'll have to understand the degrees of napping.

Power Nap: 10 to 20 minutes
Most sleep experts agree that if you want to have a quick increase of alertness and/or decrease fatigue, take a 10- to 20-minute nap.

Grogginess Nap: 30 minutes
Some studies have shown that when you take a longer nap, the effects of sleep inertia begin settling in after you wake up. This is the brief period of grogginess you feel when you first wake up in the morning. Your body is still in a state of rest and parts of your brain are not fully awake yet.

Short-term Nap: 60 minutes
It's understood that somewhere between 30 to 60 minutes we start to encounter the beginning of our deep sleep cycle. This is when our brain waves begin slowing down and we experience benefits such as remembering facts, remembering places you’ve been, and remembering names and faces. The downside to a short-term nap is that the moment you begin waking up, you will feel minor effects of grogginess.

REM Nap: 90 minutes
REM is rapid eye movement. This when you have reached your full sleeping cycle and dream. A 90-minute nap has been said to improve creativity and emotional and procedural memory (such as learning a new skill). In my opinion, if you need a nap this long you are not getting enough sleep at night!

Experts say the ideal time of day for a person to fit a nap in is generally between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Napping later than that could interfere with your night schedule. Also, if you find yourself dreaming while you are napping during the day, this may mean you are sleep deprived and will need to re-adjust your sleep schedule so you can get adequate rest at night.

Here's an idea... try going to bed a little earlier and getting enough rest at night, along with proper nutrition during the daytime. The result will likely be that you won't need a nap.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Monday, July 8, 2019

Have You Washed Your Home's Exterior Lately? It's Worth Doing!

Yesterday, I cleaned the entire exterior of my home. I washed the vinyl siding, the brick, the shudders, and the soffits. I also applied a weather protectant to the shudders and cleaned the windows and frames. In total, it was six hours of work on my two-story home. According to Home Advisor, the typical cost to have a professional power-wash a home is $220 to $380 -- and that doesn't include shining up windows and treating shudders. So, I saved myself money by doing the work myself. I aim to clean the entire exterior of my home once each summer to keep it looking great and to take care of the home.

A home is an investment -- one that needs to be protected. A little preventative maintenance can go a long way towards keeping your property’s value and avoiding costly repairs. Also, washing a home's exterior can reduce the amount of allergens in and around the home. Overall, washing the exterior not only safeguards your investment, but can also safeguard your family’s health.

Your home’s exterior is exposed to harsh elements all the time. Natural conditions like sun, wind, dirt, ultraviolet rays, insects, birds (not to mention things like acid rain, smoke, pollutants and car exhaust) constantly take a beating on your home and contribute to its soiling, discoloration, and damage. Moisture during the winter can cause damage and stains to your home’s exterior surfaces. If you allow the grime to stay on your surfaces, or the stains to sit for long periods of time, permanent damage can result. Crevices are especially susceptible to the accumulation of dirt, algae, and grime, while mildew and mold thrive in shaded areas and can grow unchecked for years if not properly taken care of.

Want to power wash your home? I suggest a homeowner grade of no more that 1500 psi. Hold the pressure wand 3 feet from the surface to start and move closer to one foot as you watch how much force is required to remove dirt and mildew. An extension wand will make washing easier, especially if you have a two-story house. Use eye protection, be aware of power lines and uncovered external outlets, and be careful if you choose to use a ladder because the push back from the wand may cause you to lose balance and fall.

About 60 percent of my home's exterior has vinyl siding, which is a durable, versatile, and resilient building material. However, it does require some routine care and cleaning. Vinyl siding can accumulate a host of dirt, grime, and stains on account of things like pollen, bird and insect droppings, spider webs and rust. In shady, moist areas, mold and mildew can grow. When cleaning vinyl siding with a pressure washer, point the stream straight at the siding, not at an upward angle. That way, you won’t drive water behind the siding. Use caution when using a pressure washer around openings like windows, doors, and plumbing connections.

So, roll up your sleeves once per year and put some work into the exterior surface of your home. Remember, it's an investment and a little elbow grease will pay off in the long run.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Would You Put Chicken Poop On Your Lips? A Lot of People Are!

I'm guessing that the title of today's blog writing has caught your attention and you're wanting to know what in the world I'm going to share. Last night, I was in a local farm store to purchase a few things for our home. At the checkout counter I saw something that I hadn't seen before. I'm not sure how I've never seen it since it has apparently been around for 15 years. If I were to go by the main print on the label, it is 100% pure free range chicken poop for your lips. Yep... it's a lip balm called Chicken Poop. I had to learn more about this unique item, so I did a little online reading.

The inventor of this chicken poop for your lips is Kansas born and raised Jamie Tabor. Apparently, she decided to call it "Chicken Poop Lip Junk" as a result of being inspired by her grandfather's sense of humor. As she explains at the I Love Chicken Poop website, if one was to complain of dry lips her grandpa would say, "Put some chicken poop on your lips so you won't lick 'em". Chicken Poop is in over 8,000 stores in the U.S.A., Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.

On its Facebook page, Chicken Poop Lip Junk states that "All of our health-and-beauty creations are made from all-natural ingredients you will recognize. We seek to make only the best, high-quality products, while also being environmentally responsible with our packaging, our business practices and in our own lifestyles."

To put people at ease, the makers clearly state that there is NO chicken poop in the lip balm. It must be well liked by people because Chicken Poop Lip Junk currently has a 4+ star rating on Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Walgreens, and other popular retail websites. One review I read stated: "Poop isn't something one generally dreams of slathering onto the face (especially around the mouth). And, yet, I want to rub it all over my lips and scream "I Love Chicken Poop" from the rafters."

A couple of years ago, creator Jamie Tabor added two new flavors -- mint and coconut. So, what is her goal? In 2017, she is quoted in a Kansas-based newspaper as saying: "I imagine Chicken Poop replacing ChapStick at some point." If ChapStick gets a little chapped about that goal, I'm sure Jamie Tabor can give them some Chicken Poop to ease their discomfort.

You know, I kind of wish that I had the Chicken Poop Lip Junk when I ran solo across the Mojave Desert in 2011.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Growing as a Step Dad as my Step Daughters Are Growing Up

My two youngest step daughters, Hannah (14) and Kyndal (11), have grown so much recently. Looking back at the photos taken in 2018 at the wedding of Kelley and I show that the girls have grown a lot since then. They are beautiful, intelligent, fun young ladies and I am so blessed to be their Step Dad.

The three of us recently had our photo taken in a similar way as we did two years ago. The photos accompany this writing show just how much they've changed since 2017 -- and I can still hold them both with one on each arm! We might have to take a similar photo two years from now to see how they've changed in that time... and see if I can still hold them like this!

Being the father of my four adult children, I'm quite familiar with how kids grow through their infant, toddler, adolescent and teenage years. Height increases, weight increases, hair grows, teeth come in... come out... and come in again, and eventually puberty arrives. The first year of life is a time of amazing change during which babies grow 10 inches in length (on average) and triple their birth weights. However, I'm long past years of having children at that stage. The stage that I'm experiencing now with Hannah and Kyndal is that of approaching puberty -- which is usually between 8 to 13 years of age in girls and 10 to 15 years in boys. Puberty lasts about 2 to 5 years and during puberty an average boy or girl might grow four inches in a year -- twice the usual average! Generally, girls hit puberty earlier than boys, though some girls might lag behind their peers in breast development or getting their first period. All of this is usually normal. Depending upon when a child starts puberty, he or she could continue growing for several more years. Girls who start puberty late often continue growing into their late teens. Boys who start puberty late have been known to grow taller into their early 20s.

Interestingly, recent studies have shown that children are reaching puberty at a younger age than previous generations. Why? Some researchers believe that diet has something to do with it, pointing to better nutrition as being the definitive change in children over the past century -- good protein, vitamins and minerals.

I treasure this time that I have with Hannah and Kyndal. They've certainly grown a lot in the past two years, and not just physically. They're maturing in many ways and I want to savor these years of their pre-teen and teen lives. Life is about change... about growth... about moving toward, moving up, and eventually moving out. I'm going to hold on to these two girls with all of my heart and I will forever cherish these years of their lives. I'm still pretty new in my role as a "Step Dad," but I am blessed beyond measure to be able to grow as a Step Dad while my Step Daughters are growing up.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Monday, July 1, 2019

A Recent Business Trip to Denver Got Me Thinking About Hotel Health

I was recently in Denver, Colorado, on business and stayed at a nice hotel downtown. It had all of the usual amenities and was comfortable. I've spent countless nights in hotels -- usually while running across a state or country, or preparing to give a school presentation somewhere. Traveling for work-related reasons is unavoidable, and I'm used to sleeping in new places. However, I always prefer being at home with my wife by my side.

In recent years, there have been hidden camera investigative reports of hotel hygiene practices, with the hotels ranging from the mid-priced business hotels to the top of the line luxury establishments (5 star). A blatant disregard for hygienic practices that could lead to serious infection was observed in numerous hotels when housekeeping staff cleaned (or didn't clean, as the case may be) the drinking glasses in the hotel room. Housekeeping staff was caught on film either rinsing the drinking glasses (in preparation for a new guest) with water only, or washing them with industrial cleaner labeled "do not drink." In other cases, dirty bath towels -- from the previous guest- - were used to dry the glasses after their reckless rinse in tap water. Another film clip shows a woman wearing latex gloves cleaning the guest toilet and then proceeding to rinse the drinking glasses, without removing or changing the gloves.

Pest professionals report finding bed bugs in 68 percent of U.S. hotels/motels. A recent survey shows that 25 percent of all people who stay in a hotel check for bed bugs. Do you? Also, in an average year, one of 12 hotels and motels report a structure fire, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Eight percent are intentionally set. What about your data? Did you know that over a third of all known security breaches happen on hotel networks?

According to research from Texas A&M University, 95 percent of hotel whirlpool tubs had fecal-derived bacteria, 81 percent contained fungi, and 34 percent contained staphylococcus bacteria -- the stuff that causes Staph infections. And don't believe that your premier suite at a five-star hotel is necessarily cleaner than a lesser star location. A study conducted by Travelmath found that four- and five-star hotels actually had significantly more bacteria than their three-star counterparts.

A study published in Scientific Reports reveals up to 67 different types of bacteria lurking within the reservoir and drip tray of hotel coffee makers. What about the bed (aside from bed bugs)? According to one UK study, an average of 2,100 people will have slept on the hotel mattress before you! Want to watch TV in bed? Studies have shown that the remote can be holding over two million colony-forming bacterial units, on average. Don't think that the desk in your room is much cleaner. It has been found that the desks can have over one million colony-forming bacterial units per square inch.

Finally, while most hotels have strict laundry practices, that doesn’t necessarily mean that every part of the bed is as thoroughly-laundered as you’d think. In fact, some studies have shown that the duvets on hotel beds are rarely washed, if ever.

Yep... I prefer spending the night in my own cozy home rather than a hotel!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso