Thursday, September 19, 2019

How Many People Have a Jogging Stroller With 10,000 Miles On It?

As most people know, a few years ago I retired from running across states and countries. Over the course of several years, I had pushed a B.O.B. Ironman Sport Utility Stroller thousands of miles across states and countries while promoting youth health and fitness -- giving countless presentations at schools and on military bases. When I first got that stroller in the spring of 2006, it came with an owner's manual that outlined many warnings of what to do and not do. Of course, I wasn't pushing a child in the stroller, but rather gear -- food, water, tent, clothes, electronics, and more.

Here are some of the "Warnings" from the manual that came with my 2006 B.O.B. Ironman Sport Utility Stroller -- and some comments about my use of it.

"The parking brake is not designed as a stopping brake. The brake should not be used to slow or stop the stroller." -- When you're running down the Rocky Mountains or the Appalachian Mountains at a grade of 6 to 11 percent with a heavy stroller of gear, believe me... you will use any braking options available! So, I did indeed use the parking brake as a brake to slow and stop the stroller. It broke about two-thirds of the way across America and had to be replaced.

"Do not attach parcels or bags to the handle or frame of stroller... as stroller can become unstable and tip over." -- I chuckled when I first read this. As you can see from the photo accompanying this writing, I had gear bags on the stroller, a food bag, and water reservoirs hanging off of each side. I had all of it pretty well balanced so that the stroller would stay upright.

"The maximum load of the stroller is 70 pounds. Do not exceed maximum load as stroller will become unstable." -- As I ran across America, Germany, Alaska and Montana, the weight of the stroller was around 70 pounds. However, when I ran across the Mojave it was weighing in at around 100 pounds due to the amount of extra water that I had on the stroller. It did just fine and definitely proved to me that it can withstand more than 70 pounds.

"The stroller is not equipped for use after dark." -- I regularly ran with the stroller in the dark. In order to be safe, I placed reflective tape on the stroller as well as lights that illuminated from the front and back.

"Do not use stroller on stairs or steep inclines. Stroller can tip over." -- The maximum incline I had the stroller on was an 11 percent grade in the Appalachian mountains, and also in a portion of Germany. It took some strength to keep it under control, but I managed. Also, I typically hauled the loaded stroller up and down stairs in hotels and other locations. The shocks on it held up just fine.

"Never pull a loaded stroller backwards up stairs. Doing so could damage the suspension system - leading to frame failure." -- I did this many times due to the extreme weight of the stroller. it was much easier to haul it upstairs by pulling it backwards. After nearly 10,000 miles, the frame has yet to fail.

"Always use Wrist Safety Strap." -- I never used it. Not once. The strap was just a nuisance considering the amount of hours I was on the road each day. However, if  you had a child in the stroller, using the safety strap would be wise!

If you'd like to see my B.O.B. stroller in action, click on any of the links below -- which will take you to online photo albums from my running adventures:
By the way, Runner's World magazine ranked the B.O.B. stroller as its Editor's Choice for 2019. After all of these years, the B.O.B. (Beast Of Burden) stroller is still coming out on top!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

"Tempest" -- My High School Garage Band From 1982-1983

During my senior year of high school (1982-1983), some friends and I formed a garage band. We primarily played to an audience of four people... ourselves! Gerald, Dwayne, Frank and I would try to play some popular songs of the early 80's. We didn't really get 'gigs' -- especially anything that paid money, but did play at a couple of bonfires. Each of us had some average teen music abilities. I was primarily on acoustic guitar and provided some vocals; Gerald was on electric guitar; Dwayne played guitar and bass, and sang as well; and, Frank was on drums and saxophone. Again, it was truly a 'garage band.'

We decided early on that we should have a name for our band. Since I was the yearbook editor and a writer on the school newspaper, I was nominated to come up with the name -- because I was supposedly good with words. I listened to some recordings of us playing our instruments and there was a certain roar to it, perhaps because we primarily played guitars and were inexperienced with reverb settings on our amps. It reminded me of a strong, raging wind. So, I chose the name "Tempest" -- which literally means a violent, windy storm. In the years following, I would learn of other bands forming under the name "Tempest," including a Christian rock band and a Celtic rock band.

When it came time to graduate from high school, we all went our separate ways. The raging wind of "Tempest" blew out and I haven't been in touch with those guys for over 30 years. Since high school, my 'band' involvement has primarily been on church worship teams. However, I haven't done that for about 15 years or so.

Recently, my 22-year-old step-daughter Rachel (who has a wonderful singing voice!) and I have been talking about possibly putting some songs together for "Open Mic" nights at local spots. In fact, my sweet wife recently purchased a six-string guitar for me so that I'll have a new one that can plug into an amp. Of course, I also have my 12-string acoustic guitar that I enjoy as well. So, perhaps I'll be playing my guitars again in front of people. Its been 36 years since the days of Tempest, but I think I can still manage to put some songs together.

I've shared before in this blog that I've been playing guitar since 1975, when I was ten years old. I'm self taught and although I have no idea how to read sheet music, I tend to figure out songs by ear. That's how I first learned how to play nearly 45 years ago. Back then, I listened to a lot of John Denver music on the radio.

Guitar has been, and always will be, a part of my life. My guitars have gathered a lot of dust over the years as I've been busy with other things -- such as raising children; working at my office; running across states and countries; and, so many other things that have taken priority in life. I no longer look like the 18-year-old guy I was with Tempest, as shown in the photos accompanying this post. My hair has receded over the years and I no longer wear sunglasses just because I think it's cool. However, I still love playing the guitar and when it comes right down to it... you have to love the instrument more than the hair. The instrument has more staying power!

These days, the sound from my guitar isn't like a raging wind, but perhaps that's a good thing!  And, I don't have to worry about my hair getting in my eyes when I play. Yep... I have to try and find the positives anywhere I can!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Staso Standard Bleich-Soda of the 1930's

I'm always interested to learn about something related to my last name, Staso. Earlier this year, I wrote a post about my surname. Recently, I learned that the name 'Staso' was also on a German detergent package back in the 1930's. The "Staso Standard Bleich-Soda" was used for bleaching cotton and linen in the textile industry, for bleaching wood pulp in paper factories, and for bleaching washed clothes in laundry.

The Staso brand of bleaching soda never became popular enough to truly compete with "Henkel's Bleich-Soda" -- the leading bleaching soda product in Germany at that time.

I wonder if my German ancestors used the Staso Standard Bleich-Soda.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Monday, September 16, 2019

"Stop And Smell The Roses" -- Count Your Many Blessings Everyday!

The phrase "stop and smell the roses" is a way of saying slow down, enjoy life, notice the beauty along the way. I find that the older I get, the more I understand that phrase. As a 54-year-old man who works a full-time job, is a father and step-father of eight, and partners with my wife on maintaining our home... I stop more. I not only notice beauty in nature, but I'll pause to really take it in. The photo accompanying this writing is one that I took last week on my drive home from the office. I could have kept my foot on the gas pedal and just glanced at the scene in front of me, but instead I actually pulled the car over, got out, and stood there taking it in. The green grass with hints of yellow combined with the brown road, the red barn with it's white roof, and the deep blue sky with a pending storm truly captured my attention. It was a "stop and smell the roses" moment -- and I decided to capture a photo of it.

If you haven't stopped lately to appreciate things, make today a day to do so! When I was 9 years old, a singer by the name of Mac Davis released a song titled: Stop And Smell The Roses. I want to share those lyrics with you:
Hey Mister
Where you going in such a hurry
Don't you think it's time you realized
There's a whole lot more to life than work and worry
The sweetest things in life are free
And there right before your eyes
You got to stop and smell the roses
You've got to count your many blessings everyday
You're gonna find your way to heaven is a rough and rocky road
If you don't stop and smell the roses along the way
Before you went to work this morning in the city
Did you spend some time with your family
Did you kiss your wife and tell her that she's pretty
Did you take your children to your breast and love them tenderly
You got to stop and smell the roses
You've got to count your many blessings everyday
You're gonna find your way to heaven is a rough and rocky road
If you don't stop and smell the roses along the way
Did you ever take a walk through the forest
Stop and dream a while among the trees
Well you can look up through the leaves right straight to heaven
You can almost hear the voice of God
In each any every breeze
You got to stop and smell the roses
You've got to count your many blessings everyday
You're gonna find your way to heaven is a rough and rocky road
If you don't stop and smell the roses along the way
Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Friday, September 13, 2019

Parent/Child Estrangement -- Among the Most Painful Experiences

Research out of the United Kingdom has presented some interesting findings regarding estrangement in families. Estrangement is defined as the breakdown of a supportive relationship between family members. Broadly speaking, it is when one or more relatives intentionally chooses to end contact because of an ongoing negative relationship. The UK research participants included parents estranged from their children and children estranged from their parents, casting light on generational estrangement from two different perspectives. Over 50% of those estranged from a parent say that they cut off contact.

More respondents reported being estranged from mothers than from fathers or from both parents. More parents reported being estranged from daughters than from sons. Estrangement from males tended to be longer lasting than estrangement from females. Estrangement from fathers averaged 8 years, whereas estrangement from mothers averaged slightly more than 5 years.

Why do relationships between adult children and their parents break down? It depends on which group you ask. Based on the UK research, those estranged from their parents reported four issues that affected their relationships with both mothers and fathers: emotional abuse; differing expectations about family roles; clashes based on personalities or value systems; and, neglect. Those estranged from their mothers also cited mental health problems, while those estranged from fathers cited a traumatic family event.

Those estranged from their children cited three causes that were common to both sons and daughters: differing expectations about family roles; divorce-related issues; and, a traumatic event. Those estranged from daughters also reported mental health problems and emotional abuse. Those estranged from sons reported issues relating to marriage and issues relating to in-laws.

In another section of the survey, participants were asked to respond to the statement, "We could never have a functional relationship again." Adult children estranged from parents overwhelmingly agreed with the statement. With regard to estrangement from mothers, 79% of those responding either agreed or strongly agreed. With regard to fathers, 71% agreed or strongly agreed. Parents estranged from their adult children presented a rather different picture. Those estranged from daughters agreed or strongly agreed only 14% of the time. Those estranged from sons agreed or strongly agreed just 13% of the time.

When questioned about what they wanted from their parents, adult children said they wanted relationships that were closer, more positive and more loving. Also, they wished that their mothers would be less critical and judgmental, and would acknowledge when they have engaged in hurtful behavior. Adult children wished that their fathers would take more interest in their lives and also stand up to other family members, including their spouses or partners.

Psychology Today printed in 2015 that sometimes an adolescent’s irritability and frustration becomes the adult daughter’s or son’s ruminating anger and resentment -- and the son or daughter opts for absolute distance (physically, emotionally and verbally) from one or both parents. Some studies indicate that 8 percent of adults have ceased communicating with a family member. A 2017 study found that as much as 27 percent of adult children report having strained relationships or no contact with one or both parents. However, family estrangements do not need to be permanent. Even though adult children may say they are unwilling to renew a relationship, statistics show that they are usually willing to give their parents another chance.

There is one fact that is certain -- estrangement from family is among the most painful human experiences.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Earth's Expanding Human Count is a Growing Concern For Many

The year I was born (1965), the earth's population was 3.3 billion. Today, it is 7.7 billion. There has been a 4.4 billion increase in the past 54 years! Now, let's look at the United States, where I live. When I was born in 1965, the population was 194 million. Today, there are 329 million people living in the USA. That's an increase of 135 million!

The United Nations estimates that the world population will reach 9.2 billion in the next 20 years. And to think that just over 200 years ago the earth's population was only one billion. For most of the world's existence, human population has grown very slowly -- kept in check by disease, climate fluctuations and other social factors. In the past century, continuing improvements in nutrition, medicine and technology have seen the world's population increase rapidly. The impact of so many humans on the environment takes two major forms: (1) consumption of resources -- such as land, food, water, air, fossil fuels and minerals; and, (2) waste products as a result of consumption -- such as air and water pollutants, toxic materials and greenhouse gases.

Many people worry that rapid and continuing population growth will eventually cause an environmental catastrophe. A look at the circumstantial evidence certainly shows that as our population has increased, the health of our environment has decreased. The Australian Academy of Science notes, "While population size is part of the problem, the issue is bigger and more complex than just counting bodies. There are many factors at play. Essentially, it is what is happening within those populations -- their distribution (density, migration patterns and urbanization), their composition (age, sex and income levels) and, most importantly, their consumption patterns -- that are of equal, if not more importance, than just numbers."

Most agree that human population cannot continue to grow indefinitely. There are limits to the life-sustaining resources that the earth can provide. Experts call this the "carrying capacity" for human life on our planet. Many scientists believe that the earth has a maximum carrying capacity of 10 billion people, basing their estimate on calculations of the earth's available resources. However, there are others who argue that the earth can sustain up to 15 billion people.

I'm hoping to have another 40 years or so on this earth -- which would put me at age 95 (in the year 2060) when it comes time to say one last... "Gotta Run!"  In that time, I could certainly see the world's population reach 10 billion people -- which the United Nations anticipates to occur around the year 2057.

Finally, keep in mind that out of the current 7.7 billion people living on the earth, 4.6 billion live in Asia while 1.3 billion live in Africa. Asia and Africa account for nearly 6 billion people -- or about 77 percent of the earth's total population.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The "Reality" of Being a Teen Mom is NOT What is Shown on Television

According to an April 2019 report by the U.S. Department of Labor, there are about 82 million families in the United States -- and about 40 percent include children under age 18. Among married-couple families with children, about 81 percent have at least one employed parent, and about 50 percent have both parents employed.

Some experts say that when both parents share duties equally, the couple may be happier, better able to relate to one another and enjoy a greater sense of harmony in the household. Also, working parents must equally co-parent, coordinate activities, and work together to facilitate their child's school events, rehearsals and sports practices.

So, why are half of all families with children finding it a necessity to have both parents working? Opinions differ -- from the cost of living... to materialistic desires... to the basic costs associated with raising children.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the estimated cost of raising a child from birth through age 17 is $233,610 -- or as much as almost $14,000 annually. That's the average for a middle-income American couple. Of course, that's after the average price of having a baby, through vaginal delivery -- which is between $5,000 – $11,000 in most U.S. states, according to data collected by Fair Health. These prices include the total duration of care, the obstetrician's fee (including prenatal care), the anesthesiologist's fee, and the hospital care fee. Keep in mind, that's if you have insurance! The uninsured cost of having a baby is anywhere from $30,000 for an uncomplicated vaginal birth to $50,000 for a C-section.

There are many young girls who get caught up in such "reality" shows as MTV's Teen Mom and think that being a mother as a teenager would be a cool thing. However, that's not the case in most situations because what they see happening on those supposed "reality shows" is truly not real. In fact, InTouch magazine did some digging into just how much these reality TV moms are making to be on such programs. One such teen mom that was featured several years ago (but whose story is still followed), makes about $75,000 per year for being on the show. Another such mom reports to have made up to $250,000 for one season on Teen Mom, while another is estimated to be bringing in $300,000 per season. There's also unconfirmed reports that girls appearing in such shows get a bonus for having more children.

So, are TV shows like Teen Mom scripted? Some former teen moms who are no longer with such shows say that they are. One said that her story line was altered to gain more viewership, and another has said that some lines are taken out of context and put into scenes where the words were not originally said. Another teen mom who decided to leave the "reality" show world said, "a lame, fake, boring and scripted tv show that uses people’s life issues as a way to gather ratings and money."

Let's look at some REAL statistics! In the USA, roughly 1 in 4 teen girls will get pregnant at least once before age 20. Parenthood is the leading reason that teen girls drop out of school, and more than 60 percent of teen mothers never graduate from high school. Less than 2 percent of teen moms earn a college degree by age 30. About 25 percent of teen moms have a second child within 24 months of their first baby. More than half of all mothers on welfare had their first child as a teenager. In fact, two-thirds of families started by a young, unmarried mother are poor. And, 8 out of 10 teen dads don’t marry the mother of their child.

Now, THAT's the "reality" of being a teen mom!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Not Even Polio Could Keep This Tough Ranching Woman Down!

When I ran across America solo in 2006, I spent many nights in different homes along the way. When in the area of Marmarth, North Dakota (population 123), I was fortunate to be able to meet an 80-year-old woman, Nellie Rost. At that time, she was living alone on her ranch -- which she maintained herself. I was impressed with her energy and strength, and recently learned that Nellie is now 93 and is still maintaining her ranch!

At last count, Nellie had 11 grandchildren, 40 great-grandchildren, and 7 great-great-grandchildren. When she became school age, she and her brother would travel two miles by horseback to attend school. During the winter, her father would heat rocks in the oven and then place them under tanned hides which covered her and her siblings to keep them warm as he took them to school.

In 1952, Nellie was stricken with polio. A few years ago while celebrating her 90th birthday, she told a local newspaper, "My doctors told me I would probably never walk again. They did not know my determination." She literally crawled, hobbled, and willed herself to successfully walk again. She worked beside her husband in the dairy business, cattle ranching, livestock feed business, and house construction. Nellie's husband passed away in 1997, but she remained on the farm raising cows, chickens, llamas and ostriches. With the help of her family and friends, she's still active in raising a small herd of cattle and a few chickens. Also, she still drives a riding lawn mower to mow her yard, pitches loose hay to her cows, and plants a garden every year.

Back in August 2006, Nellie opened her home to this long-distance runner crossing the country. She cooked me a wonderful dinner and shared encouraging words. I'll never forget her.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Monday, September 9, 2019

"First Person On Record To Ever Run Solo Across..." WAIT A MINUTE!

An individual recently announced on their website that they are "the first person on record to ever run solo across every individual state in the U.S." -- accomplishing the task in numerous planned runs from 2010 until 2019. I must say, that person's definition of "across" is different than mine. First of all, let's look at the actual definition. "Across" is defined as being 'from one side to the other side of something.' I believe we're all familiar with that preposition. In 2006, I ran "across" the United States, starting on the edge of the Pacific Ocean and finishing the run 3,260 miles later on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. It was truly "across" the USA. It included 15 states, but some of those states I only ran in a portion of. So, I don't claim that I ran "across" 15 states while crossing the country, but I can accurately state that I ran "across" the United States.

Now, getting back to the person who is claiming to have recently become the person to ever run solo "across" all 50 U.S. states, there is something about the claim that must be noted. According to that person's publicized map showing the route taken, there are several states that were minimally run by the individual, including: New Mexico, West Virginia, Iowa, and Alabama -- just to name a few. You can't log only about 10 percent of the distance "across" a state and say that you ran "across" the entire state. You may have run "in" the state, but unless you have truly traversed the width or length of the state (taking into account the average distance to cross it from border to border), then it's not truly "across." Of course, that's my opinion and there are likely those who would disagree.

The other issue I have is this person's claim to have run "solo" across every individual state in America. That, in my opinion, is an exaggeration. In fact, the person frequently had a support vehicles and didn't have to carry any of their gear. How were they solo? Perhaps it's because this particular runner ran most of the miles alone -- but that does not take away from the fact that there were support vehicles covered with sponsor logos during these state "crossings" -- which provided food, water, and other necessities without the need for the runner to carry any of it. Therefore, I take exception with the use of the words "across" and "solo" with respect to the claim of becoming "the first person on record to ever run solo across every individual state in the U.S." If you want to do a Google search, I'm sure you'll locate the individual. I'm not going to promote the individual's name in this blog.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for running endeavors and adventure... particularly those that are for promoting a worthy cause. What I have heartburn with is the how some of these people apply words to their accomplishments that are not completely accurate, but it helps them to promote themselves and to capture more attention and, as a result, more opportunities -- particularly opportunities that may put money into their bank accounts.

As most of you know, I retired from running solo across states and countries a few years ago. However, I do have my attention captured now and then by those who are undertaking such challenges. It's unfortunate to know that some people find the need to exaggerate their accomplishments for one reason or another.

By the way, if you want to read about a true solo ultra-endurance runner who -- for years -- has been chipping away at a lifelong goal of truly running "across" all 50 U.S. states, do a Google search for Brian Stark -- (a/k/a "The States Runner"). I recall that he has at least 34 states completed -- and since he's a middle school teacher, he does these running adventures each summer during the course of a couple of weeks. Brian is a dad, husband, teacher and Eagle Scout who is a very accomplished long-distance runner. I recently read these words from Brian: "Just to be clear, I run from one side of a state to the other, often alone and wearing a backpack. Many of these states are 500 miles across. So imagine running nearly 20 marathons in a row in less than two weeks and I've done that 34 times." 

In my opinion, Brian understands the meaning of "across."

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Friday, September 6, 2019

Sale of Flavored Nicotine Vaping Products BANNED in Michigan

A couple of days ago, I posted a writing titled Vaping Your Life Away -- 215 New Cases of Lung Injury This Summer! That same day, Michigan became the first state to ban sales of flavored e-cigarettes in an effort to curb teen vaping.

Michgan's Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, directed the state health department to issue emergency rules to ban the sale of flavored nicotine vaping products in stores and online. She is also placing a restriction on marketing, preventing companies from advertising vaping products as "clean," "safe," "healthy" and other terms that portray the products as "harmless."

Governor Whitmer used executive authority to impose a six-month ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. Once that time has expired, the ban can be renewed for another six months. She is hopeful that Michigan lawmakers will write the ban into law.

Michigan joins a growing list of governments trying to ban flavored vaping products, which health officials say attracts kids. Earlier this summer, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to prohibit the sales of flavored e-cigarette products. Lawmakers in Boulder, Colorado, also passed a similar measure.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Thursday, September 5, 2019

#instamodel -- Instagram Models Chasing Followers, Likes and Money

Launched in October 2010, Instagram is a photo and video-sharing social networking service owned by Facebook. It allows users to assign filters to photos and share them with followers. As of August 2019, the most-followed person on Instagram is Portuguese professional footballer Cristiano Ronaldo with over 181 million followers, and the most-followed woman is singer Ariana Grande with over 163 million followers.

Over one billion people use Instagram, and 71 percent of those users are under the age of 35. The average user spends 53 minutes per day on the platform, and an estimated 71 percent of U.S. businesses are on Instagram. What you can also find on the platform are those commonly referred to as "Instagram Models." Being a model on Instagram is growing in popularity, and many young girls are spending an enormous amount of time and effort to get their face and body seen by as many people as possible. The most popular Instagram models have tens of millions of followers.

I'm not much of a social media person, but over the past ten years or so I've seen many young people jump onto social media and chase after as many likes as possible for their posts. I decided to do a little reading into the growing trend of "Instagram Models." Gabrielle Epstein, a 25-year old Australian model, has admitted in articles that she makes more money from posting a single selfie than she would from working for a full week as a 'regular' model. With a little more than 2 million followers and up to 200,000 likes on a single photograph, companies pay her to endorse their products because they know the posts will be viewed by a large audience. The more followers someone has and the more engagement they receive on each post, the more money they can ask companies to pay them. However, the exact agreement is up to the individual person, because there are no set rules.

Its been reported that Instagram models with 100,000 followers can receive about $400 per post from willing advertisers. If the Instagram follower count is one million and beyond, then the Instagram model can charge thousands of dollars per post!

One Instagram model with over one million followers has said in the media that she charges between five thousand and fifteen thousand dollars per post. However, there are other models who ask companies to pay them one dollar for every like their post receives in addition to a payment upfront.

There are tons of young people hoping to break into the money of Instagram modeling. The thing about being a social media "model" is that it's a title that is typically self proclaimed. There are young girls with only a few hundred followers who call themselves an "Instagram Model." They're not getting paid anything, but are aiming to increase their follower count -- and ultimately become an "influencer."

There are various rules/guidelines that successful/paid Instagram models have to follow, including: making posts edited and flawless; not being completely honest about products they promote; always watching their weight; taking down photos that don't receive enough "likes;" having to tag sponsored posts; and, having to constantly be posting photos that show them with perfect makeup, quality clothes, effective settings, and more. Of course, there are many other rules/guidelines, but those are a few of the major ones.

There is growing concern that social media platforms can contribute to low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy in young people. In response to this, Instagram recently launched a test in numerous countries (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Italy, Japan and Brazil) of hiding the number of likes on posts. Instagram's goal is to remove the pressure from people regarding how many likes a post receives. Instagram administrators are testing to see if by removing the like feature users will feel less judged. They also want to see if this change can help people focus less on likes and more on telling their story. Of course, the number of likes a post gets is a measure of success or popularity on Instagram. Studies suggest that this kind of instant feedback on content can boost people's self-esteem, but bring others down if they do not get as many likes.

What will Instagram models do if their posts don't show how many people 'like' their makeup, clothes, or exotic location? Maybe they'll find something else to chase after in life other than "likes" of their appearance.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Vaping Your Life Away -- 215 New Cases of Lung Injury This Summer!

At least 215 cases of severe and mysterious lung illnesses associated with vaping have been identified this summer in the United States. One such case is a 20-year-old man from Utah who vaped every day and almost died from a life-threatening lung injury -- and 'vape juice' may be the cause. An 18-year old woman was forced into a medically-induced coma due to vaping. Her symptoms included severe fever, nausea, body aches, appetite loss, and chest pain -- and she had fat particles growing inside of her lungs that were related to the glycerin in vape juice. Both of these people have said that they'll never vape again. It's suspected that the flavor oils may be causing serious lung issues.

The man from Utah had a case of lipoid pneumonia (a condition caused by fat or oil in the lungs), which quickly escalated into acute respiratory distress syndrome, a life-threatening condition that put him on life support. Health experts suspect that his daily vaping habit may have been at fault, and today he has a 25 percent diminished lung capacity. At least 215 similar lung issues have been reported across 25 U.S. states this summer, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) -- all associated with e-cigarette use. One Illinois man died after vaping in August, and the Illinois Department of Public Health says at least 21 others (ranging from age 17 to 38) are having breathing issues in that state.

Health experts don't fully understand why this is happening, but the CDC says that some of the ingredients in aerosols created by vaping may do long-term damage to the lungs. The Food and Drug Administration has received 80 vape samples for testing. Already, health experts are finding some of the first clues that fat deposits from vaping oil could be part of the problem.

In 2018, a 34-year-old British woman who'd been vaping for three years developed lipoid pneumonia and respiratory failure, similar to the man in Utah. The case suggested that vegetable glycerine in e-cigarettes may be to blame. On its website, the CDC states: "Some e-cigarette flavorings may be safe to eat but not to inhale because the gut can process more substances than the lungs."

An overwhelming majority of young people who vape (81%) say tasty vape juice flavors are a primary reason they use e-cigarettes. According to the US Department of Health and Human services, vapes may contain chemicals like acrolein, which they say can cause irreversible lung damage. However, because the devices are not FDA regulated, all of the chemicals found in vape juice may not necessarily be listed on the packaging.

I've written on this topic before (Cigarettes and E-Cigarettes: Inhaling The Dangerous Facts in September 2016, and E-cigarettes (Vaping) May Contribute to Inflammatory Lung Disease in October 2017). I have a feeling that this won't be my last blog writing about it.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Over 44 Million Americans Carry Student Loan Debt Totaling $1.5 Trillion

This week, my youngest son, Brian, started his university studies. He had taken a "gap year" after graduating from high school in May 2018 -- working a job -- and is now embarking on his higher education coursework. I recently read that 20 percent of young Americans plan to opt out of going to college. The 2019 Young Americans and College Survey by The Harris Poll shows that nearly 73 percent of young Americans planning to go to college say they would choose a less expensive school to avoid going into debt.

Currently, 46 percent of young Millennials say they are paying for their educations with student loans. About a third of Millennials say they expect to still be paying off their student loan debt into their 40s (and 15 percent expect to be doing so after reaching 50 years of age). Also, about 18 percent of Millennials say they have delayed moving out of their parents' home (31 percent), buying a home (47 percent), having children (21 percent), and saving for retirement (40 percent) because of student loan debt.

According to the poll, when asked what advice they might give to their "18-year-old self" regarding college, 19 percent recommended working to earn money while in college, and 8 percent said to "take the bare minimum of student loans."

As of June 2019, over 44 million adult Americans (roughly one-sixth of the U.S. population older than age 18) currently carry a federal student loan and owe $1.5 trillion in federal student loan debt, plus an estimated $119 billion in student loans from private sources that are not backed by the government. Its been reported that by 2023, nearly 40 percent of student loan borrowers are expected to default on their student loans. "Default" is when a person has not made a payment toward their education debt in roughly a year, triggering it to be sent to a third-party collection agency.

Back in the 1980's, I obtained two Bachelor of Arts degrees with a total student loan debt of around $20,000. I paid that off over the course of ten years following graduation and never went into default. Some young people don't realize that you must repay your federal student loans even if: (1) you don’t complete your education; (2) can’t find a job related to your program of study; or, (3) are unhappy with the education you paid for with your loan. You also cannot claim that you have no responsibility for repaying your loan because you were a minor (under the age of 18) when you signed your promissory note or received the loan.

What about bankruptcy? You may have your federal student loan discharged in bankruptcy ONLY if you file a separate action, known as an "adversary proceeding," requesting the bankruptcy court find that repayment would impose undue hardship on you and your dependents. You must declare Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy and demonstrate that repayment would impose undue hardship on you and your dependents. This must be decided in an adversary proceeding in bankruptcy court. Your creditors may be present to challenge the request.

Among 2018 college graduates, 69 percent took out student loans, and they graduated with an average debt of $29,800, including both private and federal debt. The average monthly student loan payment is $393.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Conquering Mountains: A Priest That's Reaching For New Heights!

I was baptized into the Baptist church in 1977 at the age of twelve, but for the past four years I've been attending a Catholic church. My wife, Kelley, and I were married last year and she is a 'cradle Catholic' (raised in the Catholic faith since birth). I've attended church all of my life and have had friends of various denominations -- Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist. Prior to September 2015, I had only been in a Catholic church a couple of times with a friend whose family is Catholic. Although one of my Bachelor of Arts degrees from the 1980's is in Religion, I did not have personal exposure to Catholic church teachings in any degree of regularity until I met Kelley four years ago.

Worldwide, there are about 1.3 billion Catholics and 414,000 priests. I can tell you this, out of all of those people I am incredibly fortunate to be a part of a parish that is a blessing beyond measure in so many ways. The priest, Fr. Adam (shown in the accompanying photo), was ordained in June 2010 after some years of "wandering" -- as he calls it -- following his obtaining a degree in Building Construction Management. His discernment brought him to a point of leaving the bricks and mortar of job sites behind to help guide people toward setting and firming up the 'bricks and mortar' of their personal foundation of faith. He was actually assigned as the pastor of the parish I attend just a couple of months before I walked through the church doors in 2015.

A couple of years ago, the Catholic church I attend in north-central Indiana celebrated 150 years of ministry. At that time, Fr. Adam was quoted as saying, "Churches are places where the members of Christ congregate to pray together. We find Jesus here, too, because he said, ‘Where two or more are gathered in my name, he is in the midst of them." He was paraphrasing Matthew 18:20 and I can tell you that is precisely what I feel each week when I attend Mass with my family. Jesus is in our midst as we are gathered together with other parishioners in His name.

One aspect of Fr. Adam's life that I find truly interesting is his passion for climbing mountains. For several years, he has been pursuing a goal to climb the highest peak in each of the 50 U.S. states. He has conquered many mountains and has reached closer to heaven with each step, strengthening his body, mind and faith. He doesn't wander aimlessly, but instead steps toward his goals with God's guidance and strength -- both on mountains and within the church doors.

In September 2014, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, wrote an article for the publication "Today's Catholic" where he recalled the words of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati -- a Catholic man who had a heart for the sick and poor, and who was also an avid mountain climber. Bishop Rhoades wrote, "He said: 'I want to live and not simply exist!' On a photograph taken while mountain climbing, he wrote to a friend: 'To the heights!'... He was referring to Christian perfection, to holiness, and to eternal life."

What an excellent image -- living and not just existing... reaching for the highest heights rather than being complacent. I see this in Fr. Adam -- a man living his life to reach the heights for which God designed him. I'm truly blessed to call him my pastor.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Monday, August 26, 2019

29 Percent of Americans Wish That They Could Travel Through Time

My wife and I recently introduced my two youngest step-daughters, ages 11 and 14, to the Back to the Future trilogy created in the 1980's. The Back to the Future movies have always been my favorite. For those of you who are not familiar with the trilogy, in Part I teenager Marty McFly time travels back to the 1950's when an experiment by his scientist friend, Doc Brown, goes wrong. Traveling through time in a modified DeLorean car, Marty encounters his parents when they were teenagers. Part II follows Marty and Doc as they travel into the future to the year 2015, as well as into an alternative 1985, and finally into 1955 where Marty must repair the future while avoiding his past self from the original film. Part III concludes the story, following Marty as he travels back to 1885 to rescue Doc, who is stranded in the Old West.

A few years ago, CBS News did a poll about time travel. That poll revealed that if given 24 hours to try to stop a historic tragedy, 53 percent of Americans would go back in time and try to prevent the 9/11 attacks. If given the chance to go back in time to witness a historic moment, 35 percent said they would most like to go back to July 20, 1969, and witness Apollo 11 land Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon.

Another poll found that 29 percent of all Americans wish that they could travel through time, and one in ten Americans wish they had their own time machine. That same survey found that people under the age of 50 are much more into the idea of time travel than those who are over 50 years of age. The idea of traveling through time has been made popular for decades by such shows as Dr. Who; Quantum Leap; Outlander; and others.

Interestingly, many time-traveling wannabees tend to say that they would go back in time and give advice to their younger self. Of course, the lesson in most time-travel stories is that the smallest changes yield unpredictable consequences -- sometimes making things in the present worse than they are. Even if time travel were possible, adapting to the future is easier than messing around with the past.

As Doc Brown told Marty McFly at the end of the Back to the Future trilogy, "Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one!"

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Friday, August 23, 2019

As The Old 1970's Sitcom Conveyed -- "Eight is Enough"

Since getting remarried last year, its been a bit surprising how many people have asked me if Kelley and I intend on having any children together.

Those of you who know our story are well aware that I am the father of four children from a previous marriage, and Kelley also has four children from a former marriage. Yep... that makes eight!

The photo accompanying today's writing was taken 8 months ago. It's of my four children -- who are all adults. From left to right are: Ashlin (age 24); Kyler (age 21); Jenna (age 26); and, Brian (age 19). We don't see each other near enough since between us we reside in three different states. However, they are always in my heart each day and I am constantly praying for them. Kelley has two adult children (ages 21 and 22) who have their own residences near us, and she also has two younger daughters, ages 11 and 14, who reside with us. So, six of our eight children are adults.

I'm 54 years of age and if there's one thing I know it's that posting the age of your wife in a blog is impolite. Therefore, I'll just say that Kelley is several years younger than I am. At this point in our lives, we don't intend on having more children. Of course, that's our plan... and God may have something else in mind (although we're in good communication with Him and we believe we're all on the same page!).

When I was a teenager, there was a popular television comedy-drama series that ran on ABC from 1977 until 1981 titled "Eight is Enough." The show centered on a Sacramento, California family with eight children. For those parents, eight was definitely enough. When it comes to Kelley's and my lives, we feel incredibly blessed by our children -- each of us having four children of our own as well as four step-children. I'll admit, I don't even think of the "step" portion of my "Step-Dad" title. I love Kelley's children as if they were my own, and I know that she feels the same about my children.

All of our children are excelling in their lives, and that makes Kelley and I very happy. It's wonderful to hear about their interests and pursuits, and we'll always be cheering them on. Our adult children are making decisions regarding jobs, advanced education, relocation, and more. They are blazing their paths in this world and we truly enjoy watching them handle whatever comes their way. It's important to Kelley and I that our children always know that they can call us if they ever need an ear to listen or a shoulder to lean on. We can't always solve every issue, and we'll never tell them what to do. However, as parents we want to see them succeed and we want them to be happy in life. If we can provide a bit of insight and/or wisdom based on our own life experiences, then we're glad to do that.

Being a parent is a constant joy. For us, perhaps it's not that eight is enough, but that eight is perfect!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Hour Ahead? Hour Back? Lock The Clock? It's Literally About Time!

I've noticed that when my alarm goes off at 6:15 a.m. it's a bit darker outside. We're two months past the summer solstice and I'm now rising before the sun does. Daylight savings ends on November 3 and we'll once again set our clocks back one hour.

Daylight saving time began during World War I, when Germany, Britain and other countries implemented it to conserve energy for the war. The United States followed suit in 1918. After the first World War ended, daylight time was officially repealed in America, but continued to be used in some parts of the country. It was then implemented year-round during World War II, and repealed again after that war ended. However, by that point, many Americans had begun to like daylight time. As a result, some entire states enacted it, while elsewhere, individual cities opted in. Eventually (in 1966) Congress passed the Uniform Time Act — requiring daylight saving time, if followed, to be in effect statewide.

NBC News recently reported that there are studies showing that in the days after the U.S. springs forward in March, Americans face a slightly greater risk of heart attack and stroke. Also, there are more car crashes and workplace accidents. Now, there are a growing number of activists trying to have daylight savings done away with permanently.

It’s a movement that is gaining momentum. Just this year, at least 36 states have introduced legislation to end daylight savings or to do studies on the effect of it, more than any year before. Some bills call for all-year standard time, but most endorse permanent daylight saving time — which would result in an extra hour of evening sunlight for more of the year in exchange for a delayed sunrise in the winter.

Currently, Arizona and Hawaii are the only states that do not observe daylight saving time. Legislation to go on year-round daylight saving time has passed in at least seven states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. On March 11, 2019 President Donald Trump posted on Twitter: "Making Daylight Saving Time permanent is O.K. with me!"

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Average American Adult Has Only Been to 12 States in America

Did you know that 11 percent of American adults say they have never been to a state other than the one they were born in? According to a survey conducted by Livability and Ipsos, the average American adult has only been to 12 states (and layovers at airports don't count!). The survey showed that the most popular states to visit are Florida, California, New York, Georgia, and Nevada. I grew up in Alaska and less than 15 percent of all Americans have visited that state. What's the least visited state? North Dakota (at 10 percent). What's the most visited state? Florida (at 48 percent).

Reading these statistics made me think about the places that I've been over the past 54 years. I can tell you that I've been to 34 of the 50 U.S. states, so I'm well above the average. Also, 32 percent of Americans say they either don’t own or can’t actually remember ever buying any travel luggage. However, 76 percent want to travel more than they currently do, but a lack of finances or simply feeling unprepared prevent many from doing so.

I've stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. I've explored Denali National Park in Alaska. I've gazed up at towering redwood trees in California. I've watched geysers erupt in Yellowstone National Park. I've been on the Las Vegas Strip; the Golden Gate Bridge; Main Street of Disneyland; and, inside the White House. I've been fortunate to see many amazing sights within the 34 states I've visited in my lifetime. Yet, about 54% of all American adults have visited 12 or fewer U.S. states. It's a wonderfully diverse country. Make it a priority to get out there and see it.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

I'm The First of "Generation X" -- Those Born Between 1965 and 1980

I was born in early 1965, which places me at the beginning of the "Generation X" demographic. Before I write anything else, perhaps you'd like to know which generation demographic you're in.
  • Baby Boomers (74+ million Americans): Also known as "Generation W," this demographic consists of people born mostly following World War II -- typically 1946 to 1964.
  • Generation X (60+ million Americans)This is the generation following baby boomers and often called the middle child of generations. Those in this demographic were born from 1965 to 1980.
  • Millennials (83+ million Americans): Also known as "Generation Y," Millennials were born from 1981 to 1996.
  • Post-Millenials (86+ million Americans): Also known as "Generation Z," Post-Millenials were born from 1996 to present.
Last month, Forbes magazine published an article titled, "How Generation-X Is Losing Out In Corporate America To Both Baby Boomers And Millennials." Here's a part of what was written:
Generation-X is the quiet and unassuming middle child of two loud and outspoken generations. Gen-Xers are sandwiched between the Baby Boomers and Millennials -- two of the most talked about and over-analyzed generations... Gen-Xers are now in their early 40s to mid 50s and should be in the prime of their careers. However, according to the Harvard Business Review, this group is being overlooked once again. Gen-X leaders, according to a report cited by HBR, received only one or no promotions in the past five years, whereas Millennials and Baby Boomers received two or more promotions during the very same time period... Ironically, although being passed over for promotions, this generation shows a high degree of loyalty to its employers... U.S. population trends are working against them (Gen-Xers). Due to longer life spans and insufficient retirement savings, many Baby Boomers are delaying retirement and clinging onto their jobs. Meanwhile, Millennials are looking to rapidly advance their careers. This pits both groups against the Gen-Xers. It's hard to climb the corporate ladder when there is a Baby Boomer on the upper rung. To make matters worse, the Millennials are tugging at their legs, while they’re trying to make their speedy ascent... Millennials are viewed as being overly vocal about attaining promotions or switching jobs when they are not promoted fast enough. Management is in a bind. If they don’t take care of this generation by offering promotions, more money and titles, they’ll leave. The Baby Boomers are stubbornly staying put. Therefore, Gen-X is caught in the crossfire between the two generations and often loses out to both -- with respect to career growth. According to HBR, to add salt to injury, Gen-X employees “are bearing the brunt of the workload.” The Gen-Xers are being penalized for their corporate loyalty and tendency to not make waves.
Having been in the work world for the past 35 years, I can tell you that Forbes hit the nail on the head with this article! Many of those in Generation X are losing out in the corporate world to Baby Boomers and Millennials. I've seen it in numerous workplaces. I'm aiming to stroll into retirement with my wife within the next 13 to 15 years. I'm sure there won't be many, if any, changes in the corporate environment for Gen-Xers within that time. We've been a hard-working generation that started our professional careers many years before the Internet was in existence. In fact, many of us started working in offices when typewriters were more common on desks than computers.

Generation X has higher high school graduation rates than previous generations, and has received more university degrees than any other generation. Surveys have shown that Generation X in the workplace generates the most revenue; is most adaptable; is best at building relationships; surpasses other generations in problem solving; and, excels in collaborating. In addition, Gen-Xers are said to have the best balance between work and life. It's about time for corporate America to truly recognize, and reward, the work that is being accomplished by Generation X.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

"Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today."

My life has so drastically -- and wonderfully -- changed in the past 10 years. Ten years ago I was experiencing yet another adventure run, that one being 500 miles through Alaska (where I grew up). I had close encounters with moose and caribou, and even had an opportunity to be a guest speaker at the elementary school I attended in the mid-1970s. The "2009" photo accompanying this writing shows me standing on top of my support stroller in Denali National Park. The Alaska endeavor was just one of many where I would log hundreds of miles alone, pounding my body into the ground. In a way, it was therapeutic for what I was dealing with in my life at the time. Eventually, I would cross a few finish lines in my life. However, there were new starting lines waiting for me.

Prior to that 2009 run, I had lived for 25 years in Montana... most of that time spent working and raising a family. Five years ago I relocated to Indiana and met the woman who would capture my heart completely. Kelley and I were married last year and have enjoyed setting up our home together, along with her two youngest children (ages 11 and 14). I don't feel the need to run at extreme levels anymore and I officially retired from it a few years ago. Life is good. The support stroller I ran thousands of miles with is stored away in the attic; I work my job at a successful law firm; attend Mass weekly with my lovely wife; and, enjoy experiencing life with Kelley by my side -- feeling blessed each and every day. I'm a Dad and Step-Dad; play my guitars; do projects around the house; and, enjoy a generally stress-free existence. Sure, I traded the mountains of Montana for the farm fields of Indiana -- but I also found where I'm supposed to be, and there's a deep peace with that.

Yes, life at 54 is wonderful. Now, I actually look forward more than back -- I live in the now rather than in the what was. I'll never be able to change the past, but I can impact today and the future. I'm a constant work in progress as a human being and will be until I'm pushing up daisies someday. To all of you who have stood by me as I've worked through and have been weathered by this process we call life, I say thank you. To those who haven't, I pray that your life will bring you opportunities to better appreciate, empathize with, and to not judge the trials, tribulations and triumphs of others.

I believe that Mother Teresa's words are so true: "Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin."

Indeed, let us begin!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Monday, August 12, 2019

Recycling Centers Close As Plastic Pollution Chokes Our World!

I was recently in a restaurant with my family and we were talking about ways that cups could be redesigned to do away with the need for plastic straws and non-recyclable lids. Plastic waste in our world, particularly our oceans, is at an unbelievable level. That's why it was unfortunate to hear that California's largest recycling company went out of business last week, closing 284 centers and putting 750 people on unemployment lines. It has left many California residents wondering where to take items for recycling. In fact, prior to this recent closure of California's largest recycling company, the Associated Press had reported that more than 20 percent of the recycling centers in California have closed in the past year.

Experts say such shutdowns are reflective of broader struggles in the recycling industry. It has been reported that China has drastically reduced its imports of plastic and other scraps from the United States and other countries. When China began such strict reductions -- for environmental and political reasons -- it sent recycling markets into a turmoil that they haven't been able to recover from.

California isn't the only state to see recycling centers close. It has also recently occurred in Missouri, Iowa, Texas and Virginia. Perhaps what many people don't know is that 25 percent of all recycling picked up by Waste Management is contaminated to the point that it is ultimately sent to landfills. According to research from Duke University, 80 percent of what Americans throw away is recyclable, but just 33 percent of it makes it to recycling centers. Recycling is important. If all recycling centers were to be closed, all of that waste would go into the trash. Multiply it by 7 billion people on earth and that's about 31 billion pounds of waste in landfills every single day. The impact of not recycling for one day would be incredibly noticeable on the planet as a whole, because our natural resources are finite.

Many believe that recycling is not necessarily the answer to our ever-increasing plastic-polluted world, but rather eliminating the USE of plastic that typically ends up choking our waterways and beaches, and littering our neighborhoods and roadways. Many are boycotting the use of plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic bottles and more. In fact, the impact is being felt. In Alabama, one of the world's largest plastic packaging companies recently announced that it's closing one of its two Alabama plants. The company is blaming the closure on declining sales of plastic food bags.

Plastic objects and particles that end up in the earth's environment adversely affects wildlife, wildlife habitat, and humans. What are you doing to make a change in your life, in your home, in your community, in your world?

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Friday, August 9, 2019

A Mile to Smile About! Four Fast Laps to Beat a 23-Year-Old Record!

An astounding accomplishment in track and field occurred recently and didn't get near the press it should have. The women's mile world record stood for 23 years before Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands lowered it by .23 seconds a IAAF Diamond League event in Monaco. She posted a time of four minutes 12.33 seconds to beat Russian runner Svetlana Masterkova's 1996 record of 4:12.56.

The 26-year-old runner dropped more than two seconds off her previous personal best time in order to get the world record. She is a world champion in the 1,500-meter indoor event and trains with the Nike Oregon Project.

It's not often that you see a decades-long track and field world record fall. However, more occurred in this particular race than a world record being established. There were also four national records set at the race, and nine of the 12 finishers set personal bests.

The men's world record for the mile was established in 1999 by Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj -- a time of 3 minutes 43.13 seconds. It has dropped 16 seconds since Great Britain's Roger Bannister ran the first sub-4-minute mile in May 1954.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Thursday, August 8, 2019

What Celebrities Are The Same Age As You? Ever Looked to See?

Have you ever looked to see what celebrities you're the same age as? I was curious as to what famous people were born in 1965 when I was. Here's a partial list: Sarah Jessica Parker; Ben Stiller; Shania Twain; Chris Rock; Elizabeth Hurley; Charlie Sheen; Diane Lane; Piers Morgan; Kristin Davis; Kevin James; Bob Harper; Brooke Shields; and Slash (the guitarist with Guns 'N Roses). Actually, actor Robert Downey, Jr. (Ironman) was born on the same exact day I was in 1965... and in the same state.

I'm not a celebrity by any means, but I was in the limelight occasionally during my running career. The first time I realized that I was a bit on the edge of social anonymity was during my run across America in 2006. It was then that I was asked for my autograph for the first time. During the course of my adventure running career I would sign my autograph hundreds of times, mainly for enthusiastic school kids who wanted something to remember the day when they saw a sweaty runner pushing a jogging stroller of gear stride past their school. No, you won't find my autograph on E-bay for sale. However, you can find Robert Downey, Jr. autographed photos on E-bay for around $50.

My slight brush with momentary 'celebrity' life showed me that being famous and/or a celebrity is not something I want. Being asked for an autograph is just one part of it. There's also moments of people approaching you to get a photograph, or to have you speak to a group at a school, YMCA, or other location. There's always a lot of questions to answer and you often feel like you have to be 'on' even when you feel like turning yourself 'off' to get some rest. On top of all of the running I was doing in my 40's, dealing with the public as I passed through small towns and large cities was often times exhausting.

I retired from extreme endurance running a few years ago, and my name hasn't been in the press for many years. The days of newspaper, television and radio interviews are behind me. My life is far more simple now and I reside in a location where most people have no idea that I ran across states and countries. I was recently reading what some well-known celebrities had to say about being famous, and although I wasn't completely surprised by their thoughts... it was clear that being famous isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Here are just a few examples:

  • George Clooney told Esquire magazine that being a celebrity is no walk in the park. "The big house on a hill is isolating. There's no other way to say it. There are restrictions to this kind of fame. I haven’t walked in Central Park for 15 years. I'd like to, you know?"
  • Kylie Jenner told Interview magazine that she's constantly feeling anxious about unflattering things showing up in the media. "I wake up every morning with the worst anxiety. I don’t know why. I have, like, a problem. I wake up every morning at, like, seven or eight because I think that there’s a bad story about me, and I have to check. My worst fear is waking up and finding something bad about me on the Internet."
  • Johnny Depp said on the Today show that his moves have to be carefully planned. "[Being famous] is a little bit like living like a fugitive. Everything has to be some sort of strategy. To get you into the hotel, to get you out of the hotel, to get you into the restaurant, to get you out of the restaurant."
  • Megan Fox used a bully analogy with Esquire magazine to explain how brutal the public's treatment of celebrities can be. “I don’t think people understand. They all think we should shut up and stop complaining because you live in a big house or you drive a Bentley. So your life must be so great. What people don’t realize is that fame, whatever your worst experience in high school, when you were being bullied by those 10 kids in high school, fame is that, but on a global scale, where you’re being bullied by millions of people constantly.”
  • Robert Pattinson told Premiere magazine that fame means being bothered constantly. "In L.A., I have at least 40 seconds from the moment I arrive somewhere, before I get asked for my autograph."
  • Lady Gaga said on CBS Sunday Morning that as a celebrity you feel like you belong to everyone else. "As soon as I go out into the world, I belong, in a way, to everyone else. It's legal to follow me, it's legal to stalk me at the beach, I can't call the police or ask them to leave. And I took a long hard look at that property line and I said well, you know, if I can't be free out there, I'm going to be free in here [pointing to her heart]. I miss people. I miss, you know, going anywhere and meeting a random person and saying 'Hi' and having a conversation about life. I love people."

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

30 Million Americans Are Not Up To Date With Colon Cancer Screening

According to the American Cancer Society, cancer is a disease characterized by the unchecked division and survival of abnormal cells. When this type of abnormal growth occurs in the colon or rectum, it is called colorectal cancer (CRC). CRC usually begins as a noncancerous growth called a polyp that develops on the inner lining of the colon or rectum and grows slowly, over a period of 10 to 20 years. It is estimated that there are over 30 million Americans who are not up to date with their colon cancer screening.

Early CRC often has no symptoms, which is why screening is so important. Annually, there are nearly 100,000 new cases of colon cancer and over 40,000 cases of rectal cancer diagnosed in the United States. The incidence of colon cancer is fairly equal in men and women. Approximately 4.6 percent of men (1 in 22) and 4.2 percent of women (1 in 24) will be diagnosed with CRC in their lifetime. All total, about 50,000 American men and women die each year from CRC.

The slow course of growth from precancerous polyp to invasive cancer provides a unique opportunity for the prevention and early detection of CRC. Screening can prevent cancer through the detection and removal of precancerous growths and can detect cancer at an early stage, when treatment is usually more successful. As a result, screening reduces CRC mortality both by decreasing incidence of disease and by increasing the likelihood of survival. Screening is recommended beginning at age 50 for people at average risk of CRC, but earlier for most people at increased risk because of family history or certain medical conditions.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force of the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults age 50 to 75 be screened for CRC. There are several options -- Colonoscopy, Colonography, Cologuard, and  Flexible Sigmoidoscopy. There is no single "best test" for any person. Each test has advantages and disadvantages. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of each test, and how often to be tested. Which test to use depends on: your preferences; your medical condition; the likelihood that you will get the test; and, the resources available for testing and follow-up.

I'm 54 years old and after turning 50 I had my first CRC screening. Thankfully, no polyps were found. If you are age 50 or older, see a doctor about CRC screening.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Solo Running Across States and Countries Doesn't Make You Famous

Eight years ago I embarked on a 500-mile solo run across the Mojave Desert. The 17-day adventure will be one that I'll always remember. Running 30 to 40 miles per day and then tenting alone in the desert under a sea of stars is something that is truly difficult to put into words. I was fortunate to become the first person to run solo from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona to Badwater Basin in Death Valley, California -- the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level.

Death Valley is famous as the hottest place on earth and driest place in North America. The world record highest air temperature of 134 degrees was recorded at Furnace Creek on July 10, 1913. By the time I reached Furnace Creek on my run, I was ready to log the final 17 miles to wrap up my Mojave adventure.

I've written before in this blog about my 2011 Mojave Run. You really won't find much more about it online. You see, none of my adventure runs across states and countries resulted in much media. In fact, no news outlets reported on my solo run across the land of the hottest air temperature and surface temperature recorded on earth. Those who are familiar with my running background know that I passed on having a documentary made about my Mojave Desert run. Generally, my solo runs across the United States, Alaska, Montana, Germany, and the Mojave Desert resulted in next to nothing from a media perspective. Why? Because I wasn't knocking on the doors of radio stations, newspapers and television studios. I figured if a reporter showed up somewhere, I'd talk to them. Otherwise, I wasn't out there for trying to become famous. As the decades have gone by I've seen many people aim to be famous by running across a state or country, but 9 times out of 10 it doesn't happen. So, if you're reading this and thinking that you might aim for fame by pounding your body across a desert, it's unlikely anyone will notice.

People who I meet these days that happen to learn of my running background are often amazed. I come across as your typical middle-class guy with a receding hairline -- happily married, working at a law firm, and paying on a mortgage. There are times when I step into my home office and look at some of the photos on the wall (me running through some desolate locations) and I have flashbacks to pounding out the miles all alone. No, it's not like a PTSD type of thing. It's just a clear memory of what it was like. Unless you've experienced it, no amount of written words or photographs will ever truly convey the feeling of conquering 30, 40, or even 50 miles per day through some of the most challenging terrain... all alone... for weeks... or months.

The Mojave Desert was quite a challenge. All of the adventure runs I did were a challenge. I believe those experiences contributed to carving out the man I am now in my mid-50s. I'm content. I'm at peace. I'm actually glad that I'm not famous... that I just blend in with society... that my adventure-running background does not define me. There has always been more to me than just the ability to put one foot in front of the other. Over the past 5 years, I've been able to let people see that. Perhaps there are some similarities between the Mojave Desert and I. We've both endured the elements and have weathered over time. I'm fine with that.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Thursday, August 1, 2019

The Chicken Has Been Crossing The Road Since 1847

Today is the first day of school where I live. As I was driving out of my neighborhood this morning, there were kids darting across the road to get to bus stops. I've had to yield many times to spontaneous roadway crossers in my neighborhood -- and not just people. There have been rabbits, raccoons, dogs, and other crossers as well.

After getting out of the neighborhood, I began to think of the riddle/joke: "Why did the chicken cross the road?" Of course, the common answer is: "To get to the other side!" The riddle first appeared in an 1847 edition of The Knickerbocker, a New York City monthly magazine. As the decades have gone by, there have been variations to the answer -- such as, "It was too far to walk around."

For 172 years people have been clucking -- er, I mean chuckling -- about this riddle/joke. However, kids being able to safely dodge traffic to get to school bus stops is no joking matter. Last year, three siblings in northern Indiana were killed when a driver ignored the flashing lights on a school bus and struck all three as they were crossing the road. At the same time, similar crashes occurred in Florida and Mississippi.

Every year in the United States, at least 100 children are killed in collisions while walking to or from school. About half of all deaths of children in or near school zones involve kids who are 15 or older. The Transportation Research Board reports that 25,000 children are injured every year in school zone accidents.

As this school year gets underway, let's all pay close attention to children in school zones and at bus stops. Be safe and have a great school year everyone!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso