Wednesday, October 16, 2019


When I was a Sophomore in high school (back in 1980), the obesity rate in the U.S. for youth ages 12 to 19 was five percent. Now, about 40 years later, it is 20 percent. Yes, 20 PERCENT! American teenagers are heavier than ever and it has become such a 'norm' in our society that people are truly just accepting it as the new normal.

What about adults? Adult obesity rates now exceed 35 percent in nine states, 30 percent in 31 states, and 25 percent in 48 states. Mississippi and West Virginia have the highest adult obesity rate at 39 percent and Colorado has the lowest at 23 percent. Between 2017 and 2018, the adult obesity rate increased in Florida, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, and Utah, it decreased in Alaska, and remained stable in the rest of states and in Washington D.C.

Yesterday, one of my sons -- who is in attendance at a university -- sent me a text to tell me that he was writing a paper about obesity and that he was including information about me and my ultra-endurance running endeavors to promote youth health and fitness. It's nice to know that my son remembers what I did many years ago when he was between the ages of 6 and 11.

I have written countless times in this blog about America's (and the world's) obesity problem. Unfortunately, things are not getting better. I'm proud of my son for writing about the topic in one of his university classes. It's going to take young people talking more about it in order to turn things around. I'm in my mid-50s and I can often see the eyes of young people glaze over when I start to talk about America's obesity issue. However, younger voices stand a greater chance of actually being listened to. So, let's go young people! Get talking about it, and then get to changing it!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Friday, October 11, 2019

Scientific and Technical Inventions and Innovations Since 1965

A recent conversation with my 21-year-old son, Kyler, was about technology and advancements that have occurred over my lifetime. I took a look at some of the most prominent and/or popular inventions for each year since my birth in 1965.

In fact, there have been numerous scientific and technological innovations that many would say have revolutionized our lives, including:
  • 1965 -- Kevlar (body armor)
  • 1966 -- Surveyor 1 Satellite
  • 1967 -- Coronary Bypass Surgery
  • 1968 -- Integrated Computer Systems
  • 1969 -- Smoke Detector
  • 1970 -- Fiber Optics
  • 1971 -- Floppy Disk
  • 1972 -- Electronic Ignition
  • 1973 -- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • 1974 -- Rubik’s Cube
  • 1975 -- Digital Camera
  • 1976 -- Supercomputer
  • 1977 -- Video Game Console
  • 1978 -- Global Positioning System (GPS)
  • 1979 -- Sony Walkman
  • 1980 -- Compact Disc
  • 1981 -- Personal Computer
  • 1982 -- Artificial Heart
  • 1983 -- Microsoft Word
  • 1984 -- DNA Fingerprinting
  • 1985 -- Microsoft Windows
  • 1986 -- Electronic Mailing List
  • 1987 -- Disposable Camera
  • 1988 -- Caller ID
  • 1989 -- World Wide Web
  • 1990 -- Photoshop
  • 1991 -- First Internet Website Launched
  • 1992 -- Text Messaging
  • 1993 -- Cell Phone
  • 1994 -- Sony PlayStation
  • 1995 -- Scroll Wheel (on a computer mouse)
  • 1996 -- DVD
  • 1997 -- Hybrid Car
  • 1998 -- International Space Station
  • 1999 -- Bluetooth Version 1.0
  • 2000 -- Camera Phone
  • 2001 -- Wikipedia
  • 2002 -- Blu-ray Disc
  • 2003 -- Digital Guitar
  • 2004 -- Facebook
  • 2005 -- Google Maps
  • 2006 -- Nintendo Wii
  • 2007 -- iPhone
  • 2008 -- Android-powered smartphone
  • 2009 -- Bitcoin
  • 2010 -- Siri
  • 2011 -- Medical Mirror
  • 2012 -- Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset
  • 2013 -- Google Glass
  • 2014 -- The Selfie Stick
  • 2015 -- Self-balancing 'Hoverboard' Scooter
  • 2016 -- Amazon Echo
  • 2017 -- Fidget Spinners
  • 2018 -- Metal 3D Printing
  • 2019 -- Solar Roadways
Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Have You Ever Heard of the St. Therese of Lisieux Sacrifice Beads?

I was recently given some very special beads by my friend, Rita — who is the Director of Religious Education at the church my family attends. The background of the beads begins with St. Therese of Lisieux, a Patron Saint of Missions that died of an illness at the young age of 24, back in 1897. As a Carmelite nun, she actually never went on missions, never founded a religious order, and never performed great works. However, her conscious choice to do good deeds and to make little daily sacrifices showed that even the smallest of gestures can have a profound and lasting impact.

As a child, St. Therese of Lisieux carried a string of beads with her, to count the little gifts of sacrifice and virtue she offered to God every day. She wrote: “What matters in life is not great deeds, but great love.” The beads, which are in my pocket and not just for kids, are a simple way to keep count of little acts of love and sacrifice offered to God. A bead is pulled toward the cross for each act — and it stays in place. Ten beads... ten daily acts! Thank you, Rita, for my 'Good Deed Beads!'

1 Timothy 6:6 — "Godliness with contentment is great gain."

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

I Wore a Pink Dress for 8 Hours -- But Kept My Head Out of The Toilet!

I was recently digging in the back of my closet and came across a shirt that I've had since 1980 -- when I was a Sophomore in high school. In fact, it's the oldest piece of clothing I have. You're probably wondering why in the world I would keep a shirt for nearly 40 years... a shirt that I haven't worn since I was 15 years old. Well, there's a story behind the shirt!

First of all, I must say that the shirt is in pretty good condition after nearly 4 decades! It's a blue Adidas shirt with three white stripes down each arm. I probably only wore the shirt a couple dozen times before it got pushed to the back of my dresser -- but somehow it always managed to make it into a moving box as I relocated here and there throughout the years.

At the start of my 10th grade year in August 1980, I joined the high school cross country running team. I had a good season running with the varsity squad and "lettered" -- earning another running pin to my high school letter jacket. Immediately after the cross country season, I was invited to pledge to our high school's Lettermans' Club. The club was for those who earned a varsity high school letter and wanted to join other letterman in promoting the school and (supposedly) be role models. However, getting in the club was actually an experience I'll never forget.

Back in 1980, the high school I attended allowed the seniors to control the "initiation" process into Lettermans' Club. I'm sure that many of the tactics that they employed back then would result in suspensions if done in today's academic world. The instructions I was given by the senior Lettermen were clear: Show up at the school Monday morning at 6:30 A.M. to begin a day of "initiation." That was it! I remember showing up at the crack of dawn one late October day at my Alaska high school along with 6 other brave guys willing to do what was necessary to get into the club. Girls were also allowed to go through initiation, but they were separate from the guys.

I recall standing shoulder to shoulder with other wide-eyed guys facing the senior Letterman on a sidewalk next to the school... in the dark... seeing nothing more than the cold fog from each breath we let out. The first challenge was to run around the entire school as fast as possible. The first one to complete the challenge wouldn't have to do the next challenge. Suffice it to say, I wasn't going to lose -- and I didn't. By doing so, I didn't have to get a candy bar out of the toilet with only my mouth! Yes, that was the sort of thing that went on!

We were then brought inside and taken to the boys' locker room, where we had to strip down to nothing but our underwear. We were given girl dresses to put on (mine was pink with a white lace around the collar) and were instructed to wear them all day until school was dismissed at 3:00 PM. If we took our dress off, we were eliminated from consideration for Letterman's Club. I put the dress on and then felt a slap to the top of my head from behind. One of the seniors had slapped grease on my head and I was told to keep it on all day... under a little plastic red fireman's hat, which clashed badly with my pink dress. I recall having to cross my legs in class the entire day, and the amount of whistles and teasing I endured for the next 8 hours was terrible. Regardless, I wore the dress and fireman's hat all day.

We were told that whenever a Lettermans' Club senior told you to do something in between classes, we were to do it or be eliminated. One of my most embarrassing moments came when a senior put a roll of toilet paper on the crowded hallway floor and told me to roll it up a ramp -- while on my hands and knees -- using only my nose. Of course, in my pink dress and fireman's hat, it wasn't easy, and my backside was exposed several times as my dress was lifted up by others. However, I managed to accomplish the challenge... but definitely lost dignity in the process!

There were other challenges that we had to do, some before school and some after. For instance, when we were told to undress before being given our girl dresses to put on, we were blindfolded temporarily -- which was just long enough for the senior Letterman to bring some girls into the locker room to see us standing there in just our underwear. Again, if some of their actions were done today, they would likely be suspended or expelled. We had to do a naked obstacle course, or sorts, in the locker room and other embarrassing tasks. Regardless, I endured the entire day and was given the shirt that I've had for almost 40 years.

Every time I look at the shirt I remember what I endured to get it... the humiliation, the teasing, the downright juvenile and idiotic treatment. It was as though I willingly accepted being bullied just to get into a club of morons. I guess the shirt is a reminder to me that a person should never put aside their principles or shelve their self respect for the mere amusement of others and a chance to join a club. At the end of the school day I handed the senior Lettermen the pink dress with one hand and took the blue Adidas shirt with my other hand. The shirt meant that I was in the club, and I took it home.

It was then that my father announced, to my great surprise, that our family would be moving out of town within the month. All that I had endured was for nothing. However, the humiliating experience did instill in me a deep conviction to never again compromise my principles or self respect. It was my first and last initiation experience!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso