Monday, September 30, 2019

Some Schools Are Starting to Install Vape Detectors to Curb Vaping

Earlier this month, the Olentangy local school board in Ohio voted to install vape detectors in its four high schools. They are spending nearly $64,000 on the detectors. Many other American schools have either installed or are considering vape detectors. The sensor devices, which resembled smoke or carbon monoxide detectors, can detect vaping in places such as bathrooms or closets -- the kind of places where kids have tried to smoke for decades.

Some of the vape detectors are even equipped to detect THC oil, a compound found in marijuana, and pick up sound abnormalities like shouting, which could be helpful in preventing bullying. Once detected, a notification is sent to administrators, who can then step in and stop the culprit.

Ten schools in New Jersey have implemented vape detecting technology, and several schools in Chicago, Illinois have done the same. Instead of punishing students, schools are encouraged to provide them with counseling. Also, anti-vaping clubs and assemblies have been increasing in schools across the country.

It's great to see proactive steps being taken in preventing students from smoking e-cigarettes.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Friday, September 27, 2019

Too Much Physical Exertion Appears To Make The Brain Tired

On my drive to the office this morning, I was listening to NPR on the radio and it was reporting on a study of endurance athletes that was published this week in the journal Current Biology. Researchers found that after several weeks of over training, athletes became more likely to choose immediate gratification over long-term rewards. At the same time, brain scans showed the athletes had decreased activity in an area of the brain involved in decision-making. The finding could explain why some elite athletes see their performance decline when they work out too much — a phenomenon known as over-training syndrome.

Essentially, when an athlete trains too hard, a sort of brain fatigue sets in and the person has less ability to push their body. Other research teams have also found evidence that physical exertion can affect both decision-making and brain activity.

One of the researchers said, "We find that people as they have repeatedly exerted effort over time, they tend to be less willing to continue exerting effort for rewards. But the brain may not be simply choosing between long-term goals versus immediate gratification. The calculus may be more about cost and benefit."

Research suggests that when the body becomes physically depleted, the brain begins to experience "motivational fatigue," which affects decision-making. When that happens, the brain may not consider it worth it anymore to wait for higher rewards. The brain appears to be constantly reassessing the value of a goal. So, your brain is constantly asking: is it still worth the effort? And the answer to that question may change as the body's level of fatigue increases.

Having pushed my body to extreme levels for many years (2005 through 2011) as I ran solo across the United States, Germany, Alaska, the Mojave Desert and other locations, I can tell you that motivational fatigue is real and there were certainly times when my brain was telling my body to stop... but I pushed forward anyway. I accomplished every ultra-endurance run I attempted. There was a price to pay for that, both physically and mentally. As many know, I retired a few years ago from extreme endurance running. Since running across the Mojave Desert in 2011, I haven't taken on any ultra-running challenges. In many ways, I feel that my life as a whole is now much healthier, more balanced, and more enjoyable.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Thursday, September 26, 2019

How Often You Poop Should Tell You Something About Your Health

Some might say that my blog topic choice for today stinks!

Did you know that your bowel movements are one of the easiest ways to gauge your wellness and predict any oncoming or current health issues? The characteristics of your poop can indicate everything from bacterial infections, to letting you know if you need more of a particular food group in your diet.

A recent survey of thousands of people showed that 50 percent report pooping once a day, on average. About 28 percent report pooping twice a day, and slightly more than 5 percent report only pooping once or twice a week. How often you poop can be impacted by a number of variables, including your fluid intake, diet, exercise, hormones, and stress.

In some cases, the frequency of your bowel movements may indicate that you have a health issue, or that you may be developing one. Before you get your colon in a knot, you should know that pooping more than once a day doesn't mean that you should be dashing to see a doctor. Alcohol, sugary drinks, and eating your food too fast can make you poop more regularly. However, if you’re making several trips to the bathroom in a day, and your stool is mushy, loose, or watery... there may be some need for concern.

Often times, the amount of fiber intake is a cause of more frequent bowel movements, but depending on the consistency of your poop, it may indicate that you have an underlying digestive health issue that needs to be addressed. Be sure to check out the Bristol Stool Chart.

Also, experts say that pooping more than once a day may mean that you're feeling more stressed or anxious than usual. In fact, research has shown that your digestive health is directly linked your mental health. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control, diarrhea is also a universal symptom of many common illnesses, such as food poisoning and a stomach virus.

Medical experts agree that chronic health conditions may also impact the amount you poop -- these issues involving the intestines, pancreas, or gallbladder because these organs are essential for breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, and removing waste. Also, people with food allergies, food intolerances, and pancreatic insufficiency may have more frequent bowel movements.

Knowing and understanding your own body and what frequency of bowel movement is 'normal' for you is essential to determining whether or not the frequency should be cause for concern. As noted from the survey results, pooping once a day is a solid average. Just be aware of how much you poop on average, and if it fluctuates it will be an indication into the state of your health.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

A New Children's Book by the Director of the Boston Marathon

Its been almost 13 years since I ran into the Atlantic Ocean to finish my solo run across the United States. Back then, I was encouraged by Dave McGillivray -- the Boston Marathon race director who has personally run 156 marathons, including 47 Boston Marathons (32 of them were run after the race was over and he was off the clock as race director, including last year after having triple bypass surgery). Dave sent me words of encouragement as I worked at running over 3,200 miles across the country.

This month, Dave released his second children’s book: Running Across America: A True Story of Dreams, Determination and Heading for Home -- which he wrote with Nancy Feehrer. The book is about his 3,452-mile run across America in 1978, from Medford, Oregon, to Boston, Massachusetts.

Here's what Dave has said about the book: "There’s a lot of messages in “Running Across America” ... about understanding your own ability, setting goals and then the hurdles along the way. Sometimes you don’t anticipate them or you can’t train for them, so you have to deal with them as they come at you — whether it’s running over the Rocky Mountains or running through a swarm of grasshoppers. Whatever it might be, we’re all confronted on a daily basis with challenges and hurdles. It’s just a matter of how you process them and how you deal with them."

Shortly after finishing my coast-to-coast run, I thought about putting together a children's book that would feature my support stroller as sort of a character... and which would be the voice of what it's like to go across the entire country. My book project never left the starting line, but perhaps in my retirement years I'll pen it out.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Odds of One Person Fulfilling 300+ Prophecies: Only Jesus!

Recently, I saw an elderly gentleman standing on a street corner holding a white board with black writing announcing that Jesus is coming back soon. There are many Scripture verses which contain words about Jesus Christ returning to earth from Heaven (such as Matthew 24:36; Revelation 1:7; John 14:3). In fact, a national survey conducted a few years ago showed that 48 percent of American Christians believe that Jesus will return in the next 40 years.

Scholars have determined that the Bible contains more than 1,800 predictions (some that are very specific!) and that about 25 percent of the Bible is prophecy. Unlike any other book in existence, the Bible offers a multitude of specific predictions (some hundreds of years in advance!) that have been literally fulfilled or point to a definite future time when they will come true.

For instance, the Bible contains hundreds of fulfilled prophecies specifically about the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, such as: He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2); He would sojourn in Egypt (Hosea 11:1); He would live in Galilee (Isaiah 9:1–2); He would enter Jerusalem on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9); He would die with transgressors and be buried in the tomb of a rich man (Isaiah 53:9, 12); He would be resurrected after three days (Matthew 12:40; Hosea 6:2).

Hundreds of Bible prophecies accurately foretold specific details of Jesus' life, centuries before He lived. How do Bible prophecies compare to today's predictions by men and women? A recent survey found that nearly 40 percent of Americans believe in psychics. However, a study of 25 top-rated psychics revealed that 92 percent of their predictions were completely wrong, while the remaining 8 percent could be explained by chance or general knowledge of circumstances.

The prophecies about Jesus are in the Old Testament, which is the part of the Bible that was written before Jesus was born. The Old Testament was completed hundreds of years before Jesus' birth and it contains over 300 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled through His life, death, resurrection and ascension. Mathematically speaking, the odds of anyone fulfilling this amount of prophecy are unfathomable. Mathematicians put it this way:
  • 1 person fulfilling 8 prophecies: 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000
  • 1 person fulfilling 48 prophecies: 1 chance in 10 to the 157th power
  • 1 person fulfilling 300+ prophecies: Only Jesus!
The 22nd chapter of the Book of Revelation, verse 12, quotes Jesus as saying: "... I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done." Based on the number of prophecies fulfilled by Jesus Christ, I'll choose to believe -- regardless of how Jesus may define the word "soon."

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Monday, September 23, 2019

My Dad is as Old as Chocolate Chip Cookies!

My father's 86th birthday is next week and my mother recently took this photo of him -- which she modified the color of in a photo editor. You can see him sitting in an old wooden chair outside of a rustic Alaskan cabin. He's been married to my mother for 65 years and they enjoy living in the middle of Alaska's wilderness in a beautiful home that my father built himself (not the cabin shown in the photo!). They raised seven children and are quite content to see out their remaining years side-by-side in the beauty of Alaska.

Recently, I was thinking about all that my father has seen develop in the world during his lifetime. He was born in 1933 when Franklin D. Roosevelt was the U.S. President. The average annual wage was $1,550.00 and a gallon of gas cost 10 cents. My father can say that he's older than the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco since construction began the year he was born and wasn't completed until 1937. Also, back in 1933 Wiley Post became the first person to fly solo around the world, and Albert Einstein emigrated to the United States from Germany. Also, my father was born in the year that the first drive-in movie theater was opened in America.

Can you imagine being born the same year that the chocolate chip cookie was invented, or when the board game Monopoly was created? My Dad can say that he was born when those things came into existence! He has certainly seen a lot in his 86 years! His path in life has taken him to many places, and at the age of 43 he took our family to Alaska to live and that is truly home for him. He likes to share that beautiful state with others through his drone photography, which you can see here.

My Dad was born 32 years before I was and although he gets to say that he's as old as chocolate chip cookies, I can say that I was born in the same year as The Pillsbury Doughboy -- 'Poppin' Fresh' (1965). Hmm... just doesn't sound as cool as saying you're as old as a cookie!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

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 (but not at the same time!). 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