Friday, March 22, 2019

Parents: Don't Let Your Kids Sleep With Electronics in Their Bed

Many people have come to rely on electronics in their daily life, but there have been instances of spontaneous explosions of cell phone batteries, tablet batteries, and laptop batteries. In recent years, there has been a recall of 88,000 Android tablets due to exploding batteries; a recall of 2.5 million Samsung Galaxy smartphones due to exploding batteries; and, over 100,000 HP laptop batteries recalled due to explosions. Not all explosions occurred only when the device was plugged in to charge.

If you're a parent, you may see instances (perhaps frequently) when your son or daughter is asleep on their bed with a phone, laptop, tablet, or some other electronic device in the bed with them -- perhaps plugged in and charging, or perhaps not. Regardless, it is NEVER a good idea for anyone to sleep with electronic devices in the bed with them.

Research has revealed that 53 percent of kids and teens charge their electronics on their bed, or under their pillow. This can cause a dangerous situation in that the heat cannot dissipate and the charger will become hotter and hotter, increasing the risk of starting a fire. Nearly 90% of teenagers have at least one electronic device in their sleep environment and it's important that parents teach them the dangers of having electronics in their bed as they sleep.

There are stories about this across the Internet, such as the Newton Fire Department in New Hampshire posting photos online from a mother whose teenage daughter fell asleep with her phone charging under her pillow. The 16-year-old girl woke up due to a strong odor and realized that her phone was incredibly hot -- too hot to touch! It didn’t smoke or start a fire, but it did leave alarming scorch marks on her pillow.

Another teen wasn't so lucky. In November 2016, one teen's bedroom went up in flames and authorities said that the girl's iPhone was the source of the fire -- having overheated while being left to charge on top of the 15-year-old’s bed.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, smartphones should be charged in locations that allow for adequate ventilation so they don’t overheat. Charging them under a pillow, on a bed, or on a couch doesn’t allow for this. To be safe, adhere to manufacturers’ guidelines: charge on a flat surface with no flammable materials around. If your phone, or other device, does start to overheat, turn it off to help it cool down. If it becomes so hot that you can’t touch it, there’s most likely something wrong with it and you should take it for repair to make sure it’s not a safety risk.

Parents, educate your kids about the danger of sleeping with electronics in their bed.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Thursday, March 21, 2019

I'm a Supporter of the Rails-to-Trails Program in the United States

Rail-trails are multipurpose public paths created from former railroad corridors. These paths are flat or gently sloping, making them easily accessible and a great way to enjoy the outdoors. Rail-trails are ideal for many types of activities (depending on the rules established by the local community) including walking, bicycling, wheelchair use, inline skating, cross-country skiing and horseback riding.

A railroad corridor is considered abandoned when rail service is discontinued; the Surface Transportation Board officially approves the abandonment; tariffs (pay schedules) are canceled; and, the railroad files an abandonment consummation notice with Surface Transportation Board. In most cases, the local, state or federal agency that buys the corridor builds the trail. The agency develops it using its own labor and equipment or hires an independent construction company. In a few cases, groups of citizen volunteers have constructed trails. Trails are generally managed by public agencies, but some are operated by other types of organizations, such as nonprofit citizen groups, land trusts and community foundations. There are more than 2,000 rail corridors that have been converted to usable trails, with at least one in every state. An additional 700+ are in the works, with new projects beginning each month.

I've always enjoyed bicycling and plan to purchase a new bike this spring. My first experience riding on a rail-trail was in the summer of 2001 when I rode the Hiawatha Trail in northern Idaho. One of the highlights of that ride is the St. Paul Pass (or "Taft") Tunnel -- a cavernous, very dark tunnel under the Bitterroot Mountains, connecting Idaho and Montana. It's 1.66 miles long! When each of my four children reached the age of 10, I took them on a one-on-one bike ride on that scenic trail through the Idaho Panhandle National Forest.

Back in May 2017, I officially retired from the world of long-distance running... after 42 years of logging miles. Two years ago, I wrote in this blog: "Cycling has always been my favorite cross-training activity. I've bicycled countless miles as I've prepared for solo ultra-endurance adventures... Over the years I've bicycled in various places, such as Alaska; Idaho; Oregon; Montana; Delaware; Maryland; Virginia; Indiana; and elsewhere... often taking advantage of the rails-to-trails pathways. It seems like a logical transition for me to go from running to bicycling."

I'm now focusing in on how I would like to make cycling more of a part of my life. I've shared with my wife that I would like to cycle the longest rail-trail in America, that being the Katy Trail, which extends about 240 miles across the state of Missouri (which I would likely do over the course of 5 days). Over half of the trail's length follows Lewis and Clark's path up the Missouri River, and I've already run and cycled large portions of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail in Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. The Katy Trail includes towering river bluffs, meandering farmland, and plenty of opportunities to encounter small-town Americana.

The Katy Trail is on my radar for the future and I already know where I'd like to begin that east-to-west ride -- at Our Lady of the Rivers Shrine, located in Portage Des Sioux, Missouri (along the Mississippi River), population 331. It is only 4 miles from the Katy trailhead at Machens, Missouri. The Shrine was placed by the St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church and the Legion of Mary Parish in gratitude to the Blessed Virgin when their prayers to her spared the City of Portage Des Sioux from flood waters in 1951. The name "Portage Des Sioux" was given to the city because the area was used by the Native Americans as a short-cut between the Missouri River and the Mississippi River. Instead of continuing to paddle down either of rivers to get to the other one, they would carry or "port" their canoes across the two mile stretch of land between the rivers, saving themselves considerable time and over 20 miles of paddling!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

One Result of Running Across America is Seen in Leg Transformation

What happens to your legs when you run 3,260 miles across the United States alone? The photos accompanying this writing show what happened to my legs in 2006. Essentially, running 30+ miles per day for 108 days while pushing a jogging stroller weighing at least 70 pounds makes your legs incredibly muscular, cut and strong.

In 2016, a British runner -- Rob Young -- was in the middle of a run across America (with a support crew) when he stopped after claiming an injury, and after receiving a bashing online from people who accused him of cheating. As it turns out, his chief sponsor commissioned two experts and conducted a three-month investigation. The conclusion was that Mr. Young could not have possibly been completing the number of miles he was claiming each day. The 100-page report stated, in part: "We have identified no alternative plausible explanation for the data-of-record other than assistance, most likely in the form of riding in or on a vehicle for large parts of the attempt." Even before the report was released I was skeptical when I looked at pictures of him on the road... and what his legs looked like. Essentially, his legs looked the same in the middle of the run as they did at the beginning, with hardly any tan (it was a summer run) and no increasing muscle tone. That one fact immediately made me skeptical.

The first couple of weeks are the most difficult, as the body adapts to the routine hour-after-hour, day-after-day pounding. Then, it starts to get a little easier. The farther I went, the stronger my legs got. Regardless of the incline of the road, my legs tolerated the pounding well. By the time I reached the Appalachian mountains in the east, my legs seemed like two pieces of steel and I had never felt stronger. I took over 6 million strides across the country and although I did experience muscle soreness at times, overall my legs were like two pistons in an engine... going up and down for 108 days and bringing me to the pinnacle of my running career.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Safe Environment Training Program to Volunteer in the Catholic Church

I've written in the past about being baptized in the Baptist church at the age of 12 (back in 1977) and that one of my B.A. degrees is in Religion. For the past three and a half years I've been attending a Catholic church with my wife, Kelley. I know that the Catholic faith has been under tremendous scrutiny by the media and general public due to the appalling and shocking uncovering of extremely inappropriate and criminal sexual abuse occurrences within the church. I've also written in this blog how such abuse is not confined only to the Catholic faith.

In 2016, I began volunteering in the Catholic church and was required to complete a course in "Protecting Children in the 21st Century." Last week, I took the course again and was tested on the content -- the certificate for completing the course being valid for three years.

The Diocese through which I took the course states, "Everyone who works with young people and/or vulnerable adults shares the responsibility of creating safe environments. We are all charged with treating life with the respect and dignity given to each of us by our God." I agree with that! All Catholic church staff, clergy and volunteers who work directly with children must register with the Diocese and complete the diocesan safe environment training program every three years. Included in the process is a background check. The Diocese evaluates the criminal history background of all diocesan, school and parish employees, as well as volunteers who have regular contact with minors.  Specifically, they utilize the resources of law enforcement and other community agencies. The Diocese makes clear to clergy and members of the community the standards of conduct for clergy and other persons in positions of trust with regard to abuse.

By completing the training and volunteering, I am committing to a code of conduct which includes such things as: safeguarding children and youth entrusted to my care at all times; treating everyone with respect, patience, integrity, courtesy, dignity, and consideration; avoiding situations where I am alone with a child or youth at church/school activities; avoiding all unnecessary physical contact, especially when alone with a minor; and more. Having taken the course twice in the past three years, I can tell you that I am very impressed with the content and the fact that the Catholic church conducts a thorough background check. There is a specific sexual abuse protocol in place and, of course, a mandate under state law to report any suspected abuse.

In my opinion, through the mandatory training the Catholic church is showing that it is dedicated to ensuring an environment that is safe, open, welcoming and protective of all people -- especially children.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Cost of Joining the Ranks of Coast-to-Coast Runners and Walkers

Crossing the country on foot is something that is now being done by 10 to 20 people (on average) each year. When I ran across America in 2006, there were only two people who completed crossings that year -- myself and Christian McEvoy. There were six other people who made attempts in 2006 to either walk or run across the country; however, Christian and I were the only ones to successfully complete the task.

Shown in the photos accompanying this post are three motorhomes, all of which were custom painted for individuals who set out to cross the country on foot within the last 9 years. In essence, these were large mobile billboards to help promote the runners' efforts -- aiding in attracting public attention, media interviews, financial donations, and more. The runners had crews to help meet their needs and to always have at hand various conveniences, including: food, water, bathroom, bed, and basic shelter from the elements. My approach was quite different... to push everything I would need in a jogging stroller and to go coast-to-coast completely self-sufficient.

Sometimes I'm asked what the cost was for my run across America. With everything included, it was around $7,000. The bulk of that came out of my own pocket. There were certainly donations made and I will forever be grateful to each person that handed me some funds to keep the endeavor moving forward. It's safe to say that if you want to cross the country on foot without the big bells and whistles of a fancy motorhome and big crew, you can plan for a budget of $5,000 to $8,000 -- depending on the length of the route, the number of days you anticipate, and the number of hotels you stay in. I know of one man who is currently crossing the U.S. solo with a large budget of $12,000.

You certainly don't need to have a custom-painted motorhome with a full support crew including drivers, chefs, a physician, a masseuse, a public relations manager, and more -- as some of the past individual runners have had. In fact, if you are planning to cross the country on foot, I would encourage you to try and stay in as many homes as possible. During my 108-day crossing, I stayed in 45 residences -- that's nearly 42% of the total lodging that was needed for my crossing. It's a great way to learn more about the local communities you're passing through and to have a more personable adventure.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Friday, March 15, 2019

Closing In On My 54th Birthday -- And Taking a Look Back

I'm 3 weeks away from my 54th birthday and I recently looked at a picture of myself from the age of 27. I'm now twice that age! My hair has certainly receded as the years have gone by and I'm 25 pounds heavier than I was back in 1992. Thankfully, the wrinkles have stayed minimal and the gray hair hasn't come on yet... but it will, and I'm okay with that. I'm blessed to be the father of four adult children, and the step father to four others -- two adults, one 14-year-old, and one soon-to-be eleven year old. Last year my greatest prayer was answered in that I got to marry my best friend and the love of my life, Kelley. All in all, I'm going into my 54th birthday incredibly happy and content.

Plato is credited as saying, "He who is of calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressure of age, but to him who is of an opposite disposition... youth and age are equally a burden." I believe there's a lot of truth to that statement. My aim has always been to go into my 'mature years' with more laugh lines than wrinkle lines. I realize I'm on the 'other side of the hill' at this point in my life in that I have more years behind me than in front of me. However, I am just as excited about all that is in front of me at this point in my life as I was at the age of 27. Life is a journey and I'm going to appreciate each and every step I am given from this point forward.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Many Y.M.C.A. Locations Around The United States Are Closing

In 1978, the American disco group Village People released a song titled "Y.M.C.A." and it immediately became a hit -- soaring up the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the U.S.A. and becoming the #1 song in the United Kingdom. A line in that song states, "And just go there, to the YMCA, I'm sure they can help you today." Sadly, fewer Y.M.C.A.'s can help you today because there are many that are experiencing significant membership declines... even to the point of having to end programs, and some closing their doors completely.

The opening shots of the official "Y.M.C.A." music video features the Y.M.C.A. McBurney Branch in New York City. That location appears to be holding strong in membership. However, a couple of years ago the South Chicago Y.M.C.A. had to close its doors after serving the community for 90 years. The same happened to the Y.M.C.A. in Tyler, Texas after being in existence for 64 years. Many other long-time Y.M.C.A.'s have had to close across the United States, and several are currently slated for closure.

There are two driving factors behind these closures: (1) declining memberships due to other competitive workout locations; and, (2) decreased donations. The Y.M.C.A. is the nation's 10th largest charity (dropping from the 5th largest in 2016), with an annual revenue of $7.4 billion. Each Y.M.C.A. operates as a charitable not-for-profit organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Tax Code.

Essentially, the non-profit Y.M.C.A. is losing members to for-profit businesses. Locations like Planet Fitness; Workout Anytime; 24 Hour Fitness; and, Anytime Fitness are certainly pulling some Y.M.C.A. members away. According to a 2018 study from sports and nutrition company My Protein, Americans (primarily Millennials) spend, on average, the following each month: $33 on gym memberships; $56 on health supplements; $35 on clothing and accessories for working out; $17 for healthy meal plans; and, $14 on trainers. That's $155 per month! Larger for-profit fitness locations can spend more on advertising and make introductory offers that can be quite appealing to those willing to pay to workout. Y.M.C.A. members may be enticed to try such locations, and perhaps benefit from many fitness outlets that offer 24-hour access.

The Y.M.C.A. (Young Men's Christian Association) was founded in London, England, on June 6, 1844, in response to unhealthy social conditions arising in the big cities at the end of the Industrial Revolution. Today, many simply refer to the Y.M.C.A. as the "Y." In fact, the rebranding to "Y" has been going on for several years.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Cars Driving on Bike Trails is Becoming an Increasing Problem

Earlier this month I read a news article about a bicyclist that was cycling to work when he was passed by a car -- the problem being that he was on a path designated for use only by bicyclists and pedestrians! I looked into this and found that it isn't an isolated event. In fact, there have been many reported instances of vehicles using bike trails as a means of trying to get from point A to point B while attempting to avoid congested streets.

The Camp Chase Trail in Columbus, Ohio; the Monon Trail in Carmel, Indiana; and, the FDR bike path in East Village, New York. Those are just a few locations where vehicles have been captured on camera driving on bike paths. Only emergency vehicles and designated maintenance vehicles are allowed to drive on bike paths.

Only once have I encountered a car on a bike trail, and that was in northern Idaho on the Hiawatha Bike Trail. A situation like that can truly catch you off guard and quickly become dangerous. Even if you see a vehicle on a bike path that you're riding on, there may not be any space to get out of the way. In cases where the police have stopped drivers on a trail designated for only bike and pedestrian use, the penalties have been severe.

When a situation of a car driving on a bike trail arises, people will start suggesting that bollards be put up, or a gate, to make it hard for a car or truck to drive onto the trail. A bollard is a short post that creates a physical and visual barrier, guiding traffic and protecting pedestrians and property. It's a popular solution because it seems pretty simple, but the Federal Highway Administration actually recommends bollards only after a "documented history of intrusion" (i.e. repeated instances of drivers on bike paths/trails). That's because bollards -- especially ones that aren't well thought out or poorly designed -- can be a big hazard themselves, and they can make it harder for everyone, not just drivers, to access a trail.

If you witness a car using a bike trail, you should: make sure you're safe; call 911; and, warn others. Try to provide the license plate number when you call 911 and give the direction that the vehicle is traveling. If you can guess at the nearest intersection, that may helpful as well.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

No, I'm Not an Attorney -- And That's What I Prefer!

When people hear that I work in a law firm, they immediately assume that I'm an attorney. Well, I'm not! I first began working in the law profession back in 1993 at the age of 28. I had just become a father and being a fifth grade teacher simply wasn't providing enough income. Sure, I operated my own business for 16 years (1998-2014), but law has been something that I've been around -- in one way or another -- for 26 years. I've worked in small firms, large firms, and in the legal division of the U.S. Department of the Interior. All of the work I've done in firms and at the federal level has been done as a Senior Paralegal.

Although I have a couple of B.A. degrees,  I didn't receive formal education for becoming a "paralegal." Back in the early 1990's when I started, no paralegal training, certifications or degree programs existed. The paralegal arena was something that I was tossed into and had to learn quickly. Essentially, a paralegal builds a case through legal research; document analysis; extensive writing; conducting interviews, and more, while the attorney argues the case. Now, there will be attorneys who take exception with my succinct definition, but I can tell you that it is the paralegal who is the 'puzzle builder' -- identifying and putting together the pieces of the case. The attorney communicates with the client and opposing counsel; selects supporting case law; engages in meetings, mediations and hearings; and, argues a position before a judge and jury. Truth be told, paralegals perform a large array of tasks, and each day can bring new challenges -- depending on the case and area of practice.

Yes, I could have become an attorney, but I chose not to. In 2001 (after working as a paralegal for 8 years), I was approached by a prominent local attorney who had been on the opposite side of a case that I had researched and written a successful summary judgment brief for to ultimately bring the matter to a positive conclusion for our client. He was familiar with my work and told me, "You should be an attorney." He encouraged me to obtain my Juris Doctorate degree so that I could add "Esquire" (.Esq) after my name and join the world of lawyers. I smiled... and declined, for one very good reason.

At the time, I was 36 years of age and had four children ranging from 1 to 8 years old. In the eight years I had been a paralegal up to that point, I had seen many families of attorneys suffer due to the attorney working long/late hours and not able to spend time with his or her children, or regularly attend their events. The divorce rate of attorneys is 27 percent, compared to 24 percent for doctors. At many large firms, lawyers often bill 40 or 50 hours a week even if they are actually working 60 to 70. I've worked in law offices ranging from a sole practicing lawyer, to 20+ attorneys, to the federal government level with large staffs of attorneys, paralegals, and administrative law judges. I've seen families broken apart because of the negative impact the legal profession can have on relationships. Simply stated, I wasn't willing to risk missing out on time with my children.

Sure, I don't drive a Mercedes or Lexus like some of the attorneys I currently work with, but I have a decent Buick that gets me from point A to point B. I don't own a million dollar home like some attorneys, but I do have a very nice home that is filled with love and laughter... one that I get to clock out and go to each day at 4:30 pm while I see several of the attorneys settling in to work evening and weekend hours. Yes, there are times when I have to work overtime as a case is gearing up for trial, but those times are not that common because most cases settle before trial (about 95 percent of pending civil lawsuits end in a pre-trial settlement).

Recently, an attorney who has been in practice for several years told me that he wished he had just become a paralegal, stating that the time and headaches involved with being an attorney are simply not worth it to him -- but that he does enjoy helping people with their legal matters. In the past, I've also had an attorney tell me that his job keeps him from being a father the way that he would like, and that his wife feels like a single parent. There are several professions which can negatively impact a family, but the world of law is what I've witnessed for the past 26 years and I have no regrets for not becoming an attorney.

Employment of paralegals is projected to grow 15 percent between now and 2026. Currently, there are 264,000 paralegals in the United States, compared to 1.3 million attorneys. My retirement is about 14 years away and I'll exit the legal world with the title I've always held -- Senior Paralegal.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Monday, March 11, 2019

It Will Now be Illegal to Text While Bicycling in the Netherlands

Starting July 1, 2019, a new law in the Netherlands will go into effect making it illegal to call or text while on your bicycle. It has not yet been announced how this will be regulated, but more details are due to be released as the date of the ban approaches. The ban will also be extended to tram drivers and drivers of all vehicles for the disabled. The use of a mobile phones by cyclists was not initially forbidden due to the belief that they were less at risk because they travel at low speeds.

Cora Van Niewenhuizen, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, states that using a phone is just as dangerous on a bike as it is in a car, saying, "The fact is that whenever you’re on the road you should be paying full attention and not doing anything at all on a phone."

A recent report showed that last year, 20 percent of bike accidents involving people between the ages of 12 and 25 involved a smartphone. The Netherlands has more bikes (about 22 million) than people (17 million). Almost a quarter of the population cycles every day and bicycle use has increased by about 12 percent since 2005. The average Dutch cyclist now covers more than 600 miles a year.

Opinion polling in the Netherlands suggests that 75 percent of the Dutch believe the "active use" of a mobile phone (calling, texting, playing games, downloading music, posting on social media or using other apps) on bikes should be outlawed, with a majority saying they had witnessed "dangerous situations" involving cyclists and smartphones.

The drafted legislation reads: "It shall be prohibited to hold a mobile electronic device during the operation of any and all vehicles, including the bicycle." The legislation uses the term "mobile electronic device" as this is broader and keeps future technological developments in mind.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Friday, March 8, 2019

True Words From a Teenager on International Women's Day

One of my step-daughters is only a few weeks away from her 14th birthday. Recently, she had to write a short statement to read in her 8th grade health class. Today is International Women's Day, a day that celebrates womanhood. Although my step-daughter is still 4 years away from becoming an adult, I want to share with you her writing... because she is currently a small point of light in the world and I believe one day she will shine so bright that her words and actions will effect positive change in whatever her heart is convicted to focus on. So, please read these wise words of a young teenage girl -- who will one day be speaking from her heart as a woman in a world that desperately needs people like her.
Life is more than just a 'cereal.' It is more than just a 'game.' Life is a gift, and sometimes we forget that. People take their life for granted. People will take their own life -- and even other lives -- away because they don't respect themselves and others. You need to appreciate yourself and others. You are important enough to be alive today. Each individual makes up earth. Without us, there is nothing. We are the pinnacle of intelligent life on earth. There has been a rise in abortions the past few decades. Researchers find abortion is the leading cause of death, surpassing heart disease and cancer. If we are killing babies before they even experience life, then we don't respect life. If we don't respect our own lives, then how do we expect to take care of our own planet and other life forms? If we can't respect life, then there's no basis to respect and love anything. So, let's learn from the candy and not be life takers, but instead be 'life savers.'
Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Shadowbox -- "Each Grain Like a Step That is Taken in Time"

The guest bathroom of my home has a beach theme. On a small shelf in that room sits two bottles of sand... the sand that I collected from the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans during my 2006 solo run across America. I'm sure that most people who use that bathroom just glance at the sand and think that it's a cute touch to a beach-theme bathroom. Most don't know how much blood, sweat, tears, sacrifice and prayers went into obtaining those two small glass bottles of sand.

There is actually only a couple of inches of sand in each bottle. I had more, but many years ago I gave some of that sand away to one person whom I believe deserves to have it. You see, my daughter Ashlin is the one who triggered the entire run across America in 2006. Those of you who have followed the story already know that. She was there during the planning; she was there at the start; and, she was there at the finish. She and her fifth grade class encouraged me and literally put me on the starting line of that 3,260-mile endeavor -- one that would last for 108 days. Ashlin turned 12 years old one week before I finished that coast-to-coast journey. Today, Ashlin is 24 years old and engaged to be married.

On her 17th birthday I gave Ashlin a shadowbox (shown below). I wrote a poem to her and surrounded it with a few photos of the two of us. I also included a mixture of sand in the base -- which I had collected from the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans at the start and finish of my Oregon to Delaware run. It was made with love and gratitude for all that she contributed to that incredible endeavor, and for being a daughter that made me so proud each day for her choices, her work ethic, and her heart. A portion of the poem I wrote to her includes the following lines... and they are as true today as they were then -- and always will be.
"The sands of time will continue on, like an endless melody in a favorite song. And no matter how many grains of time that pass, always know that my love will last. It will endure anything that comes our way, and is unconditional and committed to stay. I ran across America with you in my heart, and in each step you were truly a part. The sand in this frame is from the start and end, a mixture of grains like two hearts as they blend. Each grain like a step that is taken in time, two lives as they look for their rhythm and rhyme."

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Nine Years Ago This Week I Took On A 500-Mile Run Across Germany

This week marks 9 years since I began a solo run across Germany to promote youth health and fitness at U.S. Department of Defense schools on military bases across that country. It was an experience that I will always remember fondly. While in the country, I did about 25 school assemblies and presented to thousands of children. I ran 19 marathons in 21 days and over 22,000 school children from 9 countries ran along with me virtually in teams at their schools. Photos and videos of that Germany adventure are still online. The Bavarian News (an authorized publication for members of the U.S. Department of Defense) published the following article as I was in Germany and I decided to share that today as a flashback to that run across Deutschland.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Friday, March 1, 2019

Teens Are Concerned About How Much Time They're On Their Phones

There are 365 days in a year. A recent study has found that the amount of time that the average teen spends looking at his/her cell phone in a year adds up to 45 days (an average of 3 hours per day of cell phone viewing). That's 12% of each year looking at a cell phone. The majority of use is texting and browsing apps. If you take into consideration the fact that the average teenager gets 7 hours of sleep daily, that means 42% of a teen's year is spent sleeping and cell phone viewing!

A Pew Research Center survey of U.S. teens and parents has found that 60% of teens — those between the ages of 13 to 17 — say that spending too much time online is a "major" problem facing their age group, with about nine in 10 teens dubbing it a problem. More than half of teens (54%) say they spend too much time on their cellphones, and 41% say they overdo it on social media.

Based on survey results, 44% of teens say that they often check their phones for messages or notifications as soon as they wake up — and 28% say they check at least sometimes. Girls are more likely than boys to say they spend too much time on social media (47% vs. 35%) while boys are four times as likely to report spending too much time on video games (41% of boys vs. 11% of girls). The top emotion teens associated with not having access to their phones is anxiety (42%), with girls reporting more anxiety from phone deprivation than boys (49% to 35%).

About two-thirds of parents (65%) say they worry about their teen spending too much time in front of screens, and one-third say they worry a lot. More than half of parents (57%) say they put limits on their kids being online, or on their phones, with a quarter saying they often do this.

One very interesting part of the Pew Research Center survey is how kids feel about their parents’ use of technology. While 72% of parents say their teen is sometimes or often distracted by their phone while having real-life conversations, more than half of teens (51%) say the same about their parents! Clearly, parents need to be aware of the technological behavior they model to their children.

Some positive news from the survey is that many teens are trying to cut back on their phone use, with 52% of teens saying they are trying reduce mobile phone use, and 57% saying they are trying to limit their use of social media.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso