Tuesday, December 29, 2020

2020: Masks, Toilet Paper Hoarding, Unemployment, Death, Sadness

I won't ever again be able to hear the word "pandemic" without recalling the year 2020. It has been a challenging year for people around the world. From a deadly pandemic to a global movement for racial justice, the year 2020 has certainly experienced its fair share of world-shifting events. Deadly wildfires erupted from California to Washington state, burning millions of acres and displacing hundreds of thousands of people. The U.S. President faced an impeachment trial in January, around the same time that the World Health Organization announced that the deadly Coronavirus had emerged in Wuhan, China. COVID-19 triggered a global recession as numerous countries went into lockdown. In March 2020, the Dow Jones industrial average suffered its worst single-day point drop ever.

The police-involved killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor in 2020 sparked waves of demonstrations and riots around the world to demand an end to police brutality and racial injustice. More protests erupted in August when 29-year-old Jacob Blake was shot by a Wisconsin police officer. Joe Biden became the 46th president of the United States, defeating President Trump, in one of the most contentious elections in history. Biden selected Kamala Harris as his running mate and she became the first black woman and the first Asian woman on a major party’s presidential ticket. In late 2020, the COVID-19 vaccine started to be delivered. As 2020 progressed, we lost some well-known people -- such as Alex Trebek; Eddie Van Halen; Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Chadwick Boseman; Kirk Douglas; Kenny Rogers; Little Richard; Jerry Stiller; Kelly Preston; Sean Connery; and, Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna.

As we close out this year, I am focusing more on the blessings of 2020 than the struggles. Amidst a pandemic that had many lose their jobs and businesses, I was fortunate to work every day in my job. In fact, I never had to miss even one day due to the Coronavirus. My wife and I completed many home projects and enjoyed time with our children. Our home has been a constant place for peace, safety and love as the world has struggled through these COVID-19 days. I believe that each of us are ending 2020 stronger than when we began it, and more appreciative of the little things in life that can be so easily overlooked. For many, 2020 has been a year that has brought them to their knees. For me, it has brought me to my knees in prayer and thanksgiving for all that I've been blessed with. May 2021 bring everyone more stability, more happiness, more love, more hope, more gratitude, and more peace.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Monday, December 28, 2020

A Fading Tradition -- Asking a Woman's Father for Her Hand in Marriage

One tradition that has been slowly fading away from Western society is asking a woman’s father for her hand in marriage. There are, however, some who believe it's respectful to ask a future bride’s father for his blessing as a couple starts down the path towards matrimony. Asking is a sign of a true gentleman and lets the father know that the intentions are sincere. It’s an important tradition, a rite of passage, and a bonding experience between the future father-in-law and the son-in-law to be. Also, many women consider it to be a sweet gesture.

Recently, I received a phone call from a fine gentleman in Minnesota seeking my approval and blessing to propose to my eldest daughter. It's a phone call that most fathers (at least those who appreciate tradition) look forward to. He certainly didn't have to call me and ask, but he chose to and I truly appreciate it. I did indeed give my approval and blessing, and my daughter is now engaged. I am so happy for the two of them and I wish them endless love, true happiness and abundant success on life's path together.

A survey conducted by TheKnot.com reveals that 77 percent of men ask for permission from their partner's father or parents before they propose. Even so, some people argue that asking a father for permission is sexist and recalls a time when women were treated like property. One online feminist blogger wrote that men who ask for permission and/or a blessing from a father are "mindlessly following a tradition" and that women allow it because "we don't want to upset our dusty fusty fathers." It's so sad to see such an attitude.

I know that we live in a time when women are proposing more (about 5 percent of proposals in the U.S. are by women); when some traditions connected with engagements and weddings are fading; and, when the numbers of marriages are declining. Even so, it's wonderful that there are still men out there who will respectfully approach a father about marrying his daughter. As a father for 27 years, I am very appreciative of that moment I experienced a few weeks ago.

I believe that there are more women than not who want a man to open their car door, to have the man they love contact their father before proposing, and who do appreciate traditions that allow a man to truly be a gentleman. I can tell you this... at the age of 56, I'm seeing these things less and less in our world.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

A Family Christmas Tradition Continues...

Tomorrow evening is one of my favorite times of the year. As a family, we choose a night before Christmas arrives when we put sleeping bags in the living room and watch Christmas shows on TV, enjoying goodies and just being together. Then, we sleep out by our Christmas tree. My wife and I know that these precious years with children go way too fast and the two remaining at home are closing in on the ages of 13 and 16. Before we know it, this particular tradition will be one of memory.

A U.S. survey conducted last year shows that 90 percent of parents hope that their children will carry on the holiday traditions that they grew up with. At a time when we're wrapping up a year that has been challenging in many ways due to the global pandemic, it's important to hold on to traditions of the season.

Our family will be spending Christmas and New Years at home in Indiana, enjoying time together and counting our blessings. May your Christmas be one filled with tradition, joy and contentment.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

My Christmas Shopping is Complete! Wishing All a Blessed Christmas!

According to a Lending Tree survey, 25 percent of Americans completed their Christmas shopping before Halloween. I, however, just finished my Christmas shopping today. Those of you who usually follow this blog have seen that I've posted only eight writings in the past month. Between decorating and shopping for Christmas, working 40 hours per week at my job, and preparing Sunday school lessons in my spare time... I just haven't had much time for tossing writings onto this blog. That's typically how it is this time of year.

So, my shopping is done and I have about 75 percent of my wrapping accomplished. I guess that's not too bad for there still being two weeks before Christmas. It was recently reported that the average American consumer is expected to spend about $850 on Christmas gifts. As we've seen in the news, this year has seen record online sales -- primarily due to limitations on in-store shopping due to the Coronavirus. Many retailers had "Black Friday" deals throughout much of November!

This year, our home has the most Christmas trees we've ever put up -- a total of three full-size trees, completely decorated. There's one in the living room, one in the formal dining room, and one in our sunroom (as seen in the photos). However, businesswoman Martha Stewart certainly has us beat! She puts up 40 in her Bedford, New York home! She has reported that she puts up at least five trees in each room. So, our three trees are nothing compared to the number in Martha's house!

Our family is truly looking forward to the next few weeks as we celebrate Christmas and then bring in the new year. I pray that each of you reading this has a very blessed time in the coming weeks!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Ready To Light Up The Season -- And To Give Thanks!

Yes... I'm guilty of putting up our Christmas lights a bit early this year! However, I'm not the only one. It has been reported on the network news stations that many Americans are getting into the holiday spirit earlier this year... likely due to the global pandemic and a desire to focus on something positive and joyful.

Although our home has many Christmas decorations in place, we're certainly not overlooking Thanksgiving! It's a holiday that I truly love. Sadly, in recent years it seems that Thanksgiving has become simply a few-hour pause to fill stomachs before dashing off to Black Friday shopping deals -- which typically begin before Friday! This year, many retailers seem to be offering Black Friday deals that last all month!

It's true that 2020 has been a difficult year for most people worldwide. It has been a time of physical, emotional and financial struggle for countless people. Mentally and spiritually, many people are weary. School and church closures, restaurant and retail closures, and more have brought many people to their knees... praying for the pandemic to end and for life to return to a more normal state. Yet, as we head into the holiday season we can all keep in mind the blessings we do have. Family and friends are certainly blessings to be counted. As a Christian, I know that God has not abandoned us and is fully in control.

Eric Liddell -- the British Olympic gold medalist runner and Christian missionary -- once said, "Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins. Our broken lives are not lost or useless. God comes in and takes calamity and uses it victoriously, working out his wonderful plan of love." I believe that, even in these days of a global pandemic.

As you prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, keep in mind that God loves you and is no further away than a prayer in your heart. That's a daily gift, and something to truly give thanks for.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Americans Have Been Heard! Charlie Brown is Returning to TV!

Americans have been heard! No, I'm not talking about the presidential election. I'm talking about A Charlie Brown Christmas. Fans of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Woodstock, and the entire Peanuts gang circulated an online petition that went viral, complaining about the holiday specials being moved off network television. As a result, the animated favorites are returning to TV!

Apple TV+, which acquired the rights to the specials in 2020, will let PBS and PBS KIDS air the specials. The 1965 A Charlie Brown Christmas will air December 13 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time. After long runs on CBS and ABC, the Charlie Brown holiday specials moved off network TV after Apple TV+ obtained the rights. Although Apple promised free streaming opportunities, many fans protested and asked that the animated specials have some sort of presence in their traditional place, broadcast TV.

I think Charles Schulz would be pleased!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Monday, November 23, 2020

This Thanksgiving, Count Your Blessings... Not Your Struggles.

There is so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season! While others may be feeling that 2020 has been a year that should be forgotten as soon as possible due to the global pandemic, civil unrest, natural disasters, and a U.S. presidential election that has been unlike any other in history... I am counting my blessings and am entering this holiday season with an abundance of thankfulness for time with family over the past year and precious memories created.

Kelley and I are celebrating our sixth Thanksgiving together and although all of our eight children cannot be with us, they are truly no farther away than the love in our hearts, the memories we hold, and the prayers that we lift up for them regularly. Our eight children now range in age from 12 to 27 -- with most being adults. They all reside in four different states and will be spending Turkey Day rather spread out. My parents and siblings reside in Alaska while Kelley's family is in Kansas. Both of us feel the miles between us and the family members we won't be able to see, but the love that we hold for them is greater than any distance that we are apart.

Rather than entering Thanksgiving feeling beat up and weary from a year filled with struggles and uncertainty, I challenge you to consciously choose to dwell on the blessings of the year and to be thankful for what you do have. Remember, don't just count your blessings. Be the blessing other people count on.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Friday, November 20, 2020

The "Expert" Said That My Knees And Hips Would Be Shot By Now

In March 2010 -- just before I started my 500-mile solo run across Germany -- I had the honor of being the keynote speaker at the European AHPERD conference, AHPERD being the Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. I gave a message to P.E. teachers who had gathered from all over Europe. Several of the attending educators had their students participating in my Germany adventure by tracking my progress online and virtually logging miles at their schools in teams to try and keep pace with the daily mileage I logged. After giving what I though was an encouraging message, I took my seat as another speaker walked up to the podium. The woman was a health/nutrition "expert" and it didn't take her long to start criticizing my efforts of promoting youth health and fitness through the ultra-endurance runs I had been doing for years across states and countries.

In summary, she stated that my example to young people was not necessarily a good one due to the extreme demands I was placing on my body. She even had the audacity to tell the audience, "Mark my words, when Mr. Staso is in his 50's his knees and hips will be shot." Well, I'm now 55 and you can mark MY words -- MY KNEES AND HIPS ARE JUST FINE! Yes, I've logged the equivalent of about 50,000 miles during my running career (about two laps of planet earth), and accomplished some running feats that had not been done before. Yes, I pushed a jogging stroller of gear that weighed half of my body weight most of the time as I ran solo here, there and everywhere. Yes, I ran more than a marathon every day during my endeavors across America, Alaska, Germany, and the Mojave Desert. And yes, I am still in one piece and have no lingering negative effects of my running efforts -- not to my knees, hips, ankles, or other joints. The "expert" who told that audience that I would, by now, essentially be crippled was very wrong.

Earlier this week, I had my annual physical exam. Every November I see my primary care physician and have a complete exam performed. Each year I hear the doctor say the same thing... "I wish that all men your age would walk into my office in the kind of shape you're in." Most men over the age of 50 are on at least one prescription medication, and many are on two or more. I don't require any prescription meds and the only thing I take daily is a multivitamin designed for men over the age of 50. My weight and body mass index is right where it should be, my blood pressure is 110/78, and I don't drink alcohol, smoke, vape, or do any drugs. My blood labs show that everything is great. Overall, my health is extremely good and I feel fantastic.

Sometimes I wonder how many teachers who attended that 2010 conference honestly believed what that "expert" had to say about me. Perhaps one day some of those attending teachers will stumble upon this writing to see that the words she spoke... that she wanted marked on everyone's minds... were absolutely false and simply showed her ignorance regarding experienced ultra-endurance athletes and their ability to not only endure, but to endure wisely without causing detrimental and permanent damage to themselves.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Monday, November 16, 2020

The Holidays: Present Shopping, Family Gatherings... and Burglaries!

Home burglaries are on the rise and December is the month with the highest burglary rates. Burglars know that people are Christmas shopping and leaving valuable gifts in their home in preparation for Christmas. Packages are on doorsteps and presents are decoratively arranged under trees near windows for all to see. It's a burglar's favorite time of year! Statistically speaking, a break-in at your neighbor's house increases the likelihood that your home might be broken into, because burglars often strike repeatedly in areas they're already familiar with.

Some people make it way too easy for burglars! Surveys show that as much as 20 percent of homeowners keep a spare key under a doormat or flowerpot. FBI data shows that burglaries take place every 25 seconds in the United States and increases 20 percent in the last weeks of December. The average loss from a burglary is $2,799 and a burglary victimization survey revealed that the most common time for burglaries is between noon and 4 p.m.

Earlier this year, I wrote about the home security system that my wife and I have in place for our home. We have outside cameras around our house with siren capability that detect motion and automatically record -- day or night. The system also includes cell phone monitoring for remote alerts and video coverage, and we have security decals on all sides of our home. We also have security alarms on our windows and exterior doors, as well as motion lights. We live in a very nice neighborhood outside of the city limits, so crime in our residential area is not an issue. However, I believe our system would deter any would-be thief who may wander onto our property.

Some may think that our security system is too much. However, I believe there is nothing more important than protecting my family and our home. Of those who have been the victim of a break in, 49 percent reported that afterward they changed their locks, 41 percent added a home alarm system, and 38 percent installed security cameras.

If your home isn't secure aside from a lock on the doors and window latches in the closed position, then I would suggest that you consider adding some home security items to your Christmas wish list. For many people, these are desperate days. The Coronavirus pandemic has been raging for eight months and we've seen on the news that people will resort to looting and theft in these challenging economic times.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Thursday, November 12, 2020

How Do You Fix a Broken Pumpkin? With a Pumpkin Patch! (Ha-ha-ha)

It has been 17 days since my last blog post, and those of you who follow this blog with any level of consistency know that I typically post several writings each week. However, we're in the autumn season -- my favorite time of year! When I haven't been at the office, I've been outside soaking in the beautiful colors, doing some yard work, and preparing weekly junior high Sunday school lessons for teens at our church. I've been enjoying time with my family and just relaxing as the days of winter get ever closer.

Numerous surveys reveal that autumn is the season most people say is their favorite. There are many reasons -- the cooler temperatures, the beautiful colors on the trees, and enjoying evenings of S'mores next to a fire. This past week here in Indiana has seen the temperatures unseasonably warm at around 70 degrees, but today it's only reaching 50. While other parts of the country are seeing snow, we're still enjoying autumn in my neck of the woods!

Last weekend I stored the patio furniture in the shed and got our home ready for the upcoming winter. I'll run the mower over the lawn one last time to mulch up the few remaining leaves that have fallen, and then my outside chores will be done until it's time to shovel. You'll likely see me writing less in this blog over the next couple of months as I prefer to spend as much time as possible enjoying the holidays with my family. I pray that you enjoy the lead up to the holidays and that you appreciate the little things in life.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Monday, October 26, 2020

As Mr. Rogers Used to Sing: "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood!"

My wife and I live in a beautiful neighborhood. This past weekend, we enjoyed a stroll along its peaceful streets, taking in the gorgeous colors of autumn. While some parts of the country are already seeing snow, we are still very much in the fall season in our neck of the woods -- appreciating temperatures in the 50's and even 60, which is very nice for the last week of October.

I've lived in a lot of neighborhoods in my lifetime, but none as lovely as the one that I live in now -- as the accompanying photo shows. My wife and I are truly blessed to have been able to find the perfect home in such a picturesque neighborhood.

There are many things that I appreciate about our neighborhood. It's very quiet with no thru traffic. People maintain their homes and yards very well. There is no soliciting, theft or police activity (and we have police officers who reside in our neighborhood). There are many different types of mature trees -- such as pine, maple and birch. There's no homeowners association, the roads are good, people are friendly, and it's nice to see families out walking or biking together. It's far enough out of town that we're somewhat in the country, but it only takes a few minutes to get to town. There are no registered sex offenders in our neighborhood (something that is always good to research!). We have a variety of birds that enjoy visiting the feeder in our backyard, and at night we can lay down to sleep with no sounds of traffic. There are plenty of deer in the area, but they generally do not wander into the neighborhood. Overall, our neighborhood is peaceful, pleasant, and perfect for us.

A Pew Research Center survey reveals that 57 percent of Americans say they know only some of their neighbors, while only 26 percent say that they know most of their neighbors. I've lived in my current neighborhood for 2 1/2 years and have gotten to know my most immediate neighbors. It's nice to see people in the neighborhood drive by while I'm working in the yard and give a wave. It's just wonderful living in a friendly, clean, safe and attractive neighborhood where homes are on the more expensive side and hold their value. My wife and I agree, we are now living in our last home.

When I was a little boy in the late 1960's and early 1970's, I used to watch Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood on TV and he always began each show with the song "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood." Now, at age 55, I hear that song echoing in the back of my mind as I stroll through my own neighborhood. What a beautiful day it is!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Monday, October 19, 2020

From the Atlantic Shore to the Cornfields of Indiana: A 14-year Journey

Fourteen years ago today, I ran into the Atlantic Ocean to complete my 3,260-mile solo run across the United States. So much has happened in my life in the 5,110 days since then. Those of you who have followed this blog over the years know what I mean. These days I'm surrounded by cornfields in Indiana, and farmers are currently in the process of harvest. Rather than take space in today's writing to recall moments of that 2006 coast-to-coast run, I'd rather fill a few paragraphs with words about how happy, content and fulfilling my life is today.

Kelley and I have been married for two years and the past 5+ years of being in each other's lives have been an indescribable joy. We share a beautiful home, eight wonderful children, excellent health, stable jobs, and a life that is truly filled with love, laughter and happily ever after. I am honestly the happiest and most content I have ever been in my entire life.

This year, I came into full communion with the Catholic Church and as a result have been blessed beyond measure. My family attends Mass each week and I've been teaching the junior high faith formation classes at our church. God has been so good to me and my family. I thank Him each day for bringing the paths of Kelley and I together in 2015 and for blessing our lives with all that both of us had truly desired in our hearts.

Although this has been a pandemic year, Kelley and I have aimed to make cherished family memories in every way we possibly could. Along the way, we worked side-by-side on numerous home projects while enjoying outings with two daughters that live with us. One is in the seventh grade and the other in 10th grade. All of our other children are adults and although we don't see several of them as much as we would like, we aim to keep in touch and they are always in our hearts and prayers. I've been blessed to be a dad for over 27 years, and a stepdad for the past two years. Kelley and I have been given the gift of children who are a joy, and we love having the 'parent' title.

The photo that is accompanying my writing today was taken last week on our backyard patio. The autumn leaves are stunning at the moment and the vibrant colors remind us that the holidays are just around the corner. We're looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas -- building even more special memories.

Yes, so much can happen in 14 years, and 14 years from now I'll be nearly 70. Between now and then, Kelley and I will continue to grow in our love and in our faith... and inevitably begin growing in new roles as grandparents and retirees. Life is an amazing journey and I'm so glad that I get to step through the rest of this journey with Kelley by my side.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Monday, October 12, 2020

I Love The Colors That Are Around And In My Life!

Autumn is my favorite time of year! There's just something about the crispness of the air, the colorful trees, and the overall beauty that comes with this season. We're not even halfway through October and our family has already enjoyed many activities of the season. Orchard visits, horseback riding, pumpkin picking, marshmallow roasting, and more have made this an autumn to remember... and there's still plenty of autumn to go!

This past summer Kelley and I celebrated 5 years of being in each other's lives... and 2020 marks our second wedding anniversary. I am so blessed to be married to my best friend, the most beautiful woman in the world, and my partner for life. We've created countless memories over the past 5+ years and I am incredibly thankful.

In so many ways, Kelley has brought out the colors of my life -- similar to the lovely trees of Indiana that surround us. You see, the gorgeous red, orange, and yellow pigments in fall foliage are actually there all year, just under the surface. Sunlight helps fuel plant cells containing a chemical called chlorophyll, which gives leaves its vivid green color while working to turn light into energy. When sunlight diminishes in fall, chlorophyll breaks down, letting the plant’s hidden red, yellow, and orange hues to shine through. Now, I'm not saying that Kelley isn't a ray of sunshine in my life! She most definitely is. I'm saying that she has also brought to the surface of my life colors that I never knew were there. With Kelley in my life, I see colors I truly had never seen before.

Yes, autumn is my favorite time of year... and I love the colors that are around and in my life.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Friday, October 9, 2020

Cardboard Fans Support Teams and Make Up For Some Lost Revenue

Last evening, my 27-year-old daughter coached her team in a high school volleyball match. She resides in a different state than I and it was nice to see the game streamed online. One thing I immediately noticed was the "fans" in the stands. Let's just say, they weren't moving much! Like many schools across the country, the fans were represented by cardboard images. Aside from the coaches, players, referees, live-stream team, and a photographer... the gymnasium was filled with pictures of supportive parents, students, and school administrators. Unfortunately, that has become the norm for many schools in these days of COVID-19.

Not all schools have resorted to cardboard fans. Some are allowing limited capacity in gymnasiums and stadiums -- utilizing social distancing and mask wearing. However, for those schools, universities and professional teams that have decided the fans will be represented by photos, there's certainly a cost factor. This week, Michigan State announced it will sell fans the chance to have their cutouts fill seats at upcoming football games. Costs are $75 for sideline and end zone sections, $55 for season ticket holders, and $50 for students or a pet. Yes... you read that right. A pet can have its own cutout! If fans want their cutouts after the Michigan State football season is over, there's an additional $25 shipping cost.

The Philadelphia Phillies packed its stadium with 10,000 photographs that fill most of the ballpark’s lower bowl and spots in the upper deck. Other clubs have done similar, with the cost being between $25 and $300 for each photographic representation. Some people honor a loved one who has passed away by purchasing a cutout of that person. Celebrities have purchased cutouts, as have political figures.

Selling cardboard fans could be a small way for teams to make up some lost revenue, and give fans a way to support their favorite teams from a distance. However, there are some pitfalls with printing fan-submitted photos in mass. This past summer, at a rugby game in Australia, 4,000 supporters bought cardboard cutouts -- including a prankster who uploaded an image of a prolific serial killer. No one caught it and the cutout was printed and put in the stands before the team played for a televised broadcast. The National Rugby League promised to tighten its screening process for photo uploads.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

52 Percent of Millennials Are Back to Living at Mom and Dad's House

A recent Pew Research Center study shows that amid economic uncertainty and few job prospects, most young adults have actually moved back in with their parents. In fact, for the first time ever, the majority of 18- to 34-year-olds now live at home with their mom and dad.

As of July 2020, 52 percent of millennials were living in their parents' home, according to the Pew analysis of Census Bureau data. That percentage surpasses the previous high hit in 1940, when 48 percent of young adults lived with their parents. In 2020, the number of young adults living with their parents jumped across the board for men and women, all racial and ethnic groups, and in every geographical region.

If you're wondering why this is, there are many reasons. With many college campuses closed, undergraduates are forced to move back home and study remotely or take a gap year. Those who recently earned their diploma face the worst job market in modern history and have more student debt than ever before -- putting a huge strain on their finances. Also, those young adults who are already in the workforce are more likely to lose their jobs or take a pay cut. In less than six months, the share of 16- to 24-year-olds who are neither enrolled in school nor employed more than doubled due to the Coronavirus and the economic downturn since March 2020.

Even before the pandemic, young adults were increasingly dependent on their parents. The study found that about 60 percent of parents with children between the ages of 18 and 29 had given their kids at least some financial help in the past year -- primarily for recurring expenses such as tuition, rent, groceries or bills. However, for parents the task of supporting grown children can be a substantial drain at a time when their own financial security can be at risk. Medical coverage, auto insurance, groceries and other expenses related to having young adults at home can definitely derail retirement plans.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

10-Day Battle With Iliotibial Band Syndrome in Oregon and Washington

During my 2006 run across America, I had to wear knee brace-compression sleeve for about a week on my left leg early on in the 3,260-mile journey. I began the run on the Oregon coast and for the last few days in Oregon, and the first few days in Washington state, I had to wear the brace to help with an inflamed Iliotibial band at my left knee. Running such extreme distances requires knowledge on how to handle and manage pain, and it was certainly painful for about a week. However, I was able to maintain my targeted daily mileage and with a nightly icing routine -- and a slightly slower pace -- I was able to remedy the situation within 10 days.

Iliotibial band syndrome occurs when the connective tissue (ligament) extending from the pelvic bone to the shinbone becomes so tight that it rubs against the thighbone. Distance runners are especially susceptible to it. The main symptom is pain between the hip and knees that typically worsens with activity. Essentially, the problem is friction where the Iliotibial band crosses over your knee. A fluid-filled sac, called a bursa, normally helps the band glide smoothly over your knee as you bend and straighten your leg. However, if the band is too tight, bending your knee creates friction. The Iliotibial band and the bursa can both start to swell, which leads to the pain.

My 10-day battle with it was a result of substantial downhill running (Oregon's Cascade Mountain Range) and running only on one side of the road -- facing traffic for safety, but my left leg was on the lowest part of the slope. Because roads slope toward the curb, my outside foot was always lower -- which tilts the hips and throws the body off alignment. When you look at some of the early pictures from that 108-day run, you'll see me wearing the brace. Click here to check out the photos.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Monday, October 5, 2020

"Save The Graffiti: We're Not Just a Movement, We're a Generation"

During my adventure runs across states and countries, I saw a lot of graffiti. Most of it was pretty rough looking, but occasionally I would come across a wall of graffiti that was pretty elaborate and really showed artistic talent by the person who put it there. In the United States, most of the graffiti that I saw was on the sides of trains, on the cement of underpasses, and on inner city walls. However, the location where I saw the most graffiti -- and perhaps the most artistic -- was Germany. In fact, Berlin, Germany, is sometimes referred to as the graffiti capital of Europe.

It was near Frankfurt, Germany that I passed a long wall of graffiti and a portion of it read: "Save the Graffiti. We're not just a kind of movement, we're a generation." The person who wrote that clearly had a heart for graffiti.

All U.S. states, as well as many municipalities, have laws that make it a crime to spray graffiti on public property or private property that you do not own or have permission to use. The crime often committed when deploying graffiti is vandalism -- spray painting on somebody else's property without their consent. Anti-graffiti enforcement is expensive. By one estimate, the U.S. spends between 15 and 18 billion dollars a year to monitor, detect, remove, and repair graffiti damage. Also, the penalties can be significant for those applying graffiti. As an example, a graffiti writer in Los Angeles who causes more than $400 in damage to a property can face fines up to $10,000, up to one year in jail, or both. In California, fines are based on the amount of damage done to a property. Also, if a graffiti writer causes more than $50,000 in damage in L.A., they can be fined up to the same amount and see up to one year in jail. Damage totaling less than $400 can carry a fine of up to $1,000 with up to 6 months in jail.

Spray painting graffiti can also be dangerous, and even deadly. Last year in Germany, a person died after a passing train hit him as he was spraying graffiti on a junction box. Also in 2019, a 28-year-old American had been attempting to spray graffiti on a building when he fell through a metal awning and was killed. There are actually many stories of people being killed while attempting to create graffiti.

With this years increase in protests across the U.S., graffiti has boomed in popularity for spreading messages. Churches, national parks, historic locations, and more have been vandalized with graffiti paint as people aim to have their positions, feelings, opinions, and convictions known. During my running adventures I saw people spray painting graffiti -- typically of younger age -- and never engaged in any conversation with them. Along the way I saw historic architecture vandalized with paint and in some instances (particularly in Germany) it appeared that some communities had given up in trying to stop such vandalism. As I had read on a graffiti wall near Frankfurt, Germany -- "We're not just a kind of movement, we're a generation." Sadly, this generation believes that vandalism is acceptable for expressing oneself.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Experts Say Getting a Flu Vaccine in 2020 is More Important Than Ever

We've all heard that public health experts are emphasizing the importance of people of all ages receiving seasonal flu vaccines during the Coronavirus pandemic -- stating that it could be a double whammy flu season this year as the nation already faces a viral deadly disease with nearly twin symptoms. However, a U.S.A. poll shows that just a third of parents believe that having their child get the flu vaccine is more important this year. Also, usually less than half of adult Americans get a flu shot.

The flu shot offers protection against the flu for about 6 months. Historically, I have not been one to get a flu shot. In fact, it has been about 15 years since I've done so. However, I recently got one! Now that I'm 55 years of age, I am a bit more cautious and take more preventive measures than I use to. Next month is my annual physical exam and each year I'm told by the doctor that I'm very fit with no health issues. I don't need to take any medications and am fortunate to be going through my 50's without any concerns about my health. Forty-four percent of all Americans take at least one prescription medication, and 17 percent take three or more medications. And, 75 percent of 50-64 year olds report taking prescription drugs. I'm not in that percentage! 

Flu vaccines will not prevent the Coronavirus, but they will reduce the burden of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths on the health care system and conserve scarce medical resources for the care of people with COVID-19. Last year's flu shot was shown to be 45 percent effective overall against influenza A and B viruses. Specifically, the flu vaccine was 50 percent effective against influenza B/Victoria viruses and 37 percent effective against influenza A(H1N1)pdm09.

The Centers for Disease Control believes it's likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will be spreading simultaneously this autumn and winter. As a result, experts say that getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Friday, October 2, 2020

Tim Bamforth Does Not Have The Stroller I Pushed Across America

Today, I read an article in the Delaware Cape Gazette that contained some details about my coast-to-coast run... and some inaccurate information. You can read that article by clicking here. It was written by Tim Bamforth, a Lewes, Delaware resident who voluntarily assisted with some housing and final day logistics for my 2006 solo run across America. It has been about 12 years since he and I were in communication -- until today. In today's original article, Bamforth stated: "...he averaged 30 miles a day pushing an 80-pound stroller named Bob. I still have Bob. Paul gave it to me as a keepsake of the challenge." That is NOT true! The Bob stroller that I pushed across America in 2006 (and as shown in the accompanying photo) is the same one that I pushed across Montana in 2008; Alaska in 2009; Germany in 2010; and the Mojave Desert in 2011. In fact, click this link to read about the stroller being in my attic! I made a written request to have the article corrected, and the online version was indeed corrected. However, the print version is floating around Delaware today. It even included a wrong website address. The website for my running adventures is www.theusarunner.comIf 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:

In all honesty, there are times when I really wish that I wouldn't have made that promise and run across America in 2006. Over the past 14 years I've seen inaccurate and/or misleading information -- and sometimes direct lies -- about my 3,260-mile, 15-state run from the Pacific to the Atlantic. I personally paid thousands of dollars to do that run -- to keep a promise I had made to 97 elementary children -- and missed an entire summer with my four children, who are now adults and live hundreds (and in some cases, thousands) of miles away from me. In fact, only one of the school children that I kept that promise to has communicated with me since the 2006 run -- and the last contact was nearly 9 years ago.

For 108 days I hurt, bled and cried my way across the country. No fame or riches came from it, and none was sought. There are no documentaries about it, no books dedicated to it, and no awards as a result of completing it. I simply ran to keep my word, and I nearly died 7 times in the process. Was it all truly worth it? There are days when I really wonder. Regardless, I still have BOB... that stroller I got in May 2006 and pushed across the United States, Montana, Alaska, Germany, and the Mojave Desert. Its wheels are pretty worn -- similar to my legs -- and now gathers dust in a dark attic. Together, that stroller and I achieved some running adventures that many said were uncommon, unfathomable and unprecedented. You won't find my name in any record books or the stroller in the Smithsonian Museum. And, I'm okay with that.

At the end of the day, a man's character boils down to his faith and his integrity. I'm determined to go to the grave with both.

Gotta Run,

Rising and Running Before the Sunrise -- Some of the Pros and Cons

In the 1980's and early 1990's, I would have times during my training when I would get up at 4:00 a.m. and run 10 to 12 miles before 6:00 a.m. -- and then eat a well-deserved breakfast. I enjoyed running on the roads before the rest of the community was awake. It was quiet, usually cooler, and was a nice start to the day. I was pretty motivated in my running back then and didn't really struggle with rolling out of bed and putting on my running gear. It was then that I was covering the half-marathon distance (13 miles) in around 80 minutes -- or at about a 6-minute per mile pace. However, when training I typically kept my early-morning runs to around 6 miles per hour.

I usually ran with a hydration belt around my waist, having water handy as well as some PowerBars, banana, and other on-the-go fuel. When I did those early morning runs, I lived in Montana and when the colder months would come I would typically wait until the warmer afternoon hours to log my miles. The other day, I was driving to the office and noticed a lone runner logging his early-morning miles. It made me recall many mornings of doing the same thing. Now, before you begin to think that I'm missing those 4:00 a.m. alarm bells to get up and out the door, I can tell you that it has been about 30 years since I did that. Even when I trained in my 40's to run across states and countries I logged most of my miles in the afternoon. No, I don't miss pounding my body into the pavement to start the day.

Here's what some experts say can be gained from an early morning run:

  • You can lose weight and eat less. Weight watchers vouch for a morning run without breakfast as the body starts burning up fat in the absence of carbs and proteins to burn for energy. If you usually eat a high-fat, high-calorie diet, running in the morning on an empty stomach can prevent weight gain and improve your glucose tolerance. Also, a morning workout has been seen to reduce one’s motivation for eating through the day.
  • You can build muscles. Early morning is a good time if you want to build your muscles. Testosterone, the hormone for muscle growth, is said to peak between 5:30 and 8:00 a.m. However, you need to eat a good protein-rich breakfast after the run. Otherwise, you’ll end up losing muscle mass.
  • Your mood can improve and you can fight depression. Most patients of depression complain they feel the worst in the morning. This is because levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, are the highest in the morning at around 8:00 a.m. Running can help with depression as it helps release mood-lifting hormones called endorphins. And this may show a more pronounced effect in the morning. But running at any other point of the day can also beat depression.
  • You can lower your blood pressure. A study has shown that running in the morning (6–8 am) can bring down the systolic blood pressure (the first number in your BP reading) during the day in patients with hypertension. It also brings down the 24-hour BP in dippers — patients whose blood pressure naturally dips at night. If you have depression and high blood pressure, running in the morning can help. But a good warm-up is mandatory to avoid injuries or heart-related problems. Another study on pre-hypertensive people showed that exercising at 7:00 a.m. resulted in a 10 percent drop in blood pressure during the day and 25 percent during night. People who exercised at 7:00 a.m. also slept better than before.

However, there are also some cons that may come from running early in the morning. The core body temperature remains low during morning, which means that your muscles are stiff, your power output is low, and you are more vulnerable to injuries. Both your oxygen intake and outflow are low, and this can affect your breathing capacity. Your blood pressure is also higher. People are most vulnerable to heart attacks and strokes in the morning.

Honestly, I enjoyed the long distances I ran before the sun came up. Even when I ran solo across America I would typically be on the road by 7 a.m., and when I had a 40+ mile day with the temperature expected to reach 90+ degrees, I would often get on the road at around 5:30 a.m. The earliest I hit the road during my coast-to-coast run was 3:45 a.m. when I was facing a 45-mile, 100-degree day with windy conditions.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Thursday, October 1, 2020

The 3,000-Mile Men and 10 MPH -- Documentaries Worth Your Time!

There are two documentaries available on YouTube that I really like and today I want to share those with you. The first is "10 MPH" and is a nationally-acclaimed documentary that follows two guys (Josh Caldwell and Hunter Weeks) who leave their cubicle jobs in corporate America in order to cross the United States on a Segway -- one of those human transport contraptions that is a gyroscope-balanced two-wheel scooter. The documentary is available on YouTube (nearly 1 million views!) and also on Amazon Prime, and Hunter Weeks not only directed this documentary but also another one that I've previously written about... Ride The Divide.

The premise of 10 MPH hinges on two friends who decide to travel from Seattle to Boston at 10 mph on a Segway in an attempt to change their lives forever. What results is a 100-day trek across America's back roads where they meet many interesting people, and their journey occurred in 2004 -- two years before I ran solo across the USA. The combination of the stories, the scenery and the music in 10 MPH makes this documentary one that is worth 90 minutes of your time.

The other documentary that I want to share with you is "The 3,000-Mile Men". It is the story of two British men (Chris Finill and Steve Pope) who run across America. Their adventure occurred in 2011 -- five years after I finished my coast-to-coast run. This nearly two-hour documentary, directed by Ben J. Southern, shows you America at an even slower pace than the 10 MPH documentary. You'll see what struggles these two men had to overcome in order to run from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. When the run was over, Chris Finill was asked how he tackled the distance each day. He said, "You have to eat the elephant in bite-sized chunks and think today we're going to run from x to y." Yep... that's how you do it!

With summer behind us and the cooler months ahead, pour yourself a cup of coffee (or some hot chocolate), put your feet up, and check out these documentaries!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Repairing Flat Tires and Thinking it May be Time to Retire

During the course of my running adventures across states and countries, I acquired a lot of experience repairing flat tires on a jogging stroller. Depending on the journey, the stroller weighed anywhere from 65 pounds to 105 pounds. On hot days when the pavement's surface was up around 140 degrees, I would have a challenge with flats due to the tires becoming very soft and more susceptible to punctures.

I was asked several times what I did to try and prevent punctures. One item I used was called Slime Bike Tube Protector Liners -- which was positioned between the rim and the tube. I rolled the stroller on Kenda tires, which allowed it to roll more smoothly. I could get about 800 miles out of that tire. I carried puncture repair supplies and would perform a tire repair right along the edge of the roadway, unless it was pouring rain, hailing or snowing -- in which case I would simply put a new tube into the tire and repair the punctured tube once I arrived at my destination for the day.

The most challenging tube repair I did occurred in the middle of the Mojave Desert in 40 mile per hour winds. I had dealt with many flat tires as I ran across the Mojave and was at a point where I was out of new tubes and the ones that I had looked like a patchwork quilt. I was also running low on patches. I got a flat on one of the back tires and was in windswept sand. I needed to repair the tube in order to keep moving with my then 90-pound load -- about half of that weight being 5 gallons of water I was pushing. The puncture wasn't apparent to the eye and the wind wouldn't allow me to hear where the air was escaping from. I used some of my water supply to dip the tube into water and then pumped it with air so that I cold visually see where the puncture was. It was time consuming and challenging, but I managed to repair the tube and wrap up that day.

On every running adventure I did -- whether it was across America, Germany, Alaska or the Mojave Desert -- I always carried an ample supply of tire/tube repair materials. When you're all alone in the middle of nowhere, you have to be able to handle whatever comes up in order to keep moving forward.

I'll admit that there were days as I was repairing yet another flat tire that I thought perhaps it was time for me to retire from pushing a jogging stroller. Well, that day finally came in November 2016 when I officially retired from running solo across states and countries.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Monday, September 28, 2020

USA, Russia, Germany, Sweden, United Kingdom... Readers Worldwide

You're reading a blog, but then again... you probably knew that. This month marks 15 years since I first started blogging. In September 2005, I created a blog as I prepared for my solo run across America in 2006. I've blogged on and off since then, but for the past four years I've been a steady blogger. About a quarter of all websites on the Internet are blogs, and 77 percent of Internet users read blogs regularly. Most bloggers are in the 30-39 age group, so at age 55 I'm definitely on the senior side of blogging. Also, 34 percent of current bloggers are in their first year of blogging.

The average person spends 37 seconds reading a blog post, which isn't much. That's why you'll see that I put certain sentences of my writings in bold text -- to help the 'skimmers' get the gist of what I'm writing about. However, for those who choose to read a blog post in its entirety, the ideal reading time for a post is 7 minutes. My posts take less time than that to read because I know people have busy lives and schedules and can't spend many minutes reading. Two-thirds of bloggers admit that they blog to try and make money. I've never earned one penny from blogging, and have no desire to push ads on this blog to try and get visitors to purchase things. That's not why I write in this blog.

This year, I've been averaging about 1,500 visitors each month to this blog. Most of my blog traffic comes from Google -- as a result of keyword searches that people do. There are days when posts that I made from previous years all of a sudden start getting traffic, likely due to the keywords related to the post. Nearly two-thirds of my blog readers are from the United States, with Russia being the country with the second highest number of visitors. My blog contains an easy translation tool, so those visiting from other countries can easily translate the text into their own language. Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom round out the top five countries that visit my blog.

So far for 2020, I've posted 152 writings in this blog -- which averages to be one post every two days. There are three months remaining in 2020 and it is during the final quarter of the year that I tend to write less due to the busyness of the holiday season. To those who stop by and read this blog now and then, I say thank you.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Tic Toc Biscuits... Tick Tock Cheerleading Stunt... TikTok Social Media

In Australia, "Tic Toc" biscuits are well known for their clock faces that help children learn to tell time. In cheerleading, a "Tick Tock" stunt is when the flyer switches legs -- from a right leg liberty to a left leg liberty. Then, there's the "TikTok" that has been making headlines in the past year. I'm talking about the video-sharing social networking service originating out of China. TikTok was launched in 2017 for iOS and Android in most markets outside of mainland China; however, it only became available worldwide (including the United States) after merging with another Chinese social media service in August 2018. Since then, it has gained worldwide popularity -- particularly among young people. In fact, 41 percent of TikTok users are between 16 and 24 years of age, and 49 percent of all teenagers say that they use the app. A survey of users show that 90 percent of TikTok users access the app multiple times per day, and it is used more by females than males.

You've likely seen the news reports that experts have been split on the question of whether or not TikTok poses a security risk (user privacy concerns), with some saying that it does while others say that it does not. Earlier this month, TikTok filed a request for a preliminary injunction to prevent the app from being banned by the President of the United States. Recently, the preliminary injunction was approved.

There are addiction concerns surrounding TikTok. In April 2018, an addiction-reduction feature was added to the app -- encouraging users to take a break every 90 minutes. There have also been concerns raised regarding users' attention spans with the videos. Generally, users watch short 15-second clips repeatedly and studies say that this could decrease attention span. This is particularly a concern since many of TikTok's audience are younger children, whose brains are still developing. Also, many countries have showed concerns regarding the content of TikTok, which is viewed by some to be obscene, immoral, vulgar and encouraging of pornography. This has caused temporary blocks and warnings issued by some countries.

Several users have reported cyberbullying on TikTok, including racism and ableism. Ableism is the discrimination of and social prejudice against people with disabilities based on the belief that typical abilities are superior. In December 2019, TikTok admitted that it had suppressed videos by disabled users as well as LGBTQ+ users in a purported effort to limit cyberbullying. TikTok's moderators were also told to suppress users with "abnormal body shape," "ugly facial looks," "too many wrinkles," or in "slums, rural fields" and "dilapidated housing" to prevent bullying.

There are currently 7.8 billion people in the world. Last month, TikTok revealed that it has about 800 million active users globally, with 100 million monthly active users in the United States. TikTok says that the app has been downloaded about 2 billion times worldwide. Currently, it is the most downloaded app on the Apple App Store.

I've never seen the TikTok app... never used it... never downloaded it... and simply don't have time to watch short video clips of strangers from around the world. I can find far better use of my time than watching people do dances, stunts and aim for momentary social media fame. Remember TikTok users, the clock is ticking... tick tock... and you won't ever get that time back of watching random people do a dance step, a prank, or striking a pose for attention.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Friday, September 25, 2020

For Many Kids, Presidential Physical Fitness Testing Was Traumatizing

When I was in the 4th grade, back in 1974, I received the Presidential Physical Fitness Award and it bears the signature of Gerald Ford -- who was President of the United States at the time. It would be the first of several such awards I would receive during elementary and junior high.

The Presidential Physical Fitness Test was introduced by U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966 as a way to encourage health and exercise among children through a variety of challenges. Those who scored in the top 15th percentile in all categories were given an award. The test was discontinued in 2012. During the years that I took the test (between 1974 and 1979) the categories included pull ups for boys, or flexed arm hang for girls; sit-ups; a shuttle run; standing broad jump; 50-yard dash; softball throw for distance; and, a 600-yard run. The test scores were based upon the age, height and weight of each individual student. Norms or percentile scores were based upon tests taken previously by students throughout the United States. I was fortunate to consistently place either first or second in each category tested.

This gym-class tradition happened on an annual basis, requiring students to undergo the physical challenges to test their endurance, agility, flexibility, and muscular strength. However, today you can find countless stories on the Internet about humiliation, embarrassment and trauma resulting to some children due to the annual test -- with the impact of it extending into their adult years. Some people were so humiliated having to perform the test in front of their classmates they actually spent years not exercising because of the bad memories. There are stories of gym teachers belittling children if the child didn't perform well, kids crying due to feeling like failures, and students lying or faking injury. The Presidential Physical Fitness Test existed for 36 years and in many ways ended up doing more harm than good for countless students. It was only motivating for those who were right on the cusp of being in the top 15th percentile -- those who were knocking on the door of achieving "the award."

I remember feeling rather proud when I achieved each of my five Presidential Physical Fitness Awards. The high school I attended did not offer the test, so my last time taking it was in the 8th grade. In a scrapbook, I still have the awards. I look back on those days and recall kids who excelled and those who were clearly humiliated and embarrassed. Today, as a father of adult children, I can see that The Presidential Physical Fitness Test wasn't an effective test of overall fitness -- and it certainly wasn't motivating or encouraging for many children who had to endure it. Thankfully, we've learned a lot about youth fitness over the past 50 years and how to best get kids active and moving toward a healthier lifestyle.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Thursday, September 24, 2020

40 Years of Earning a Paycheck -- Life in The Working World

This year marks 40 years since I earned my first paycheck. It all started in my teen years by doing some work for a local parks and recreation department (small tasks, such as stuffing newsletters into envelopes). As my teen years progressed I worked in an animal shelter, a garden center, and as a mall photographer taking photos of kids on Santa's knee. I look back on those teen years of working and realize that it was then that I learned the value of a dollar. Since then, I've had a career that has included being an elementary school teacher, owning and operating a business, and working in the field of law.

States have different minimum wage laws. When I received my first paycheck 40 years ago, the minimum wage for that particular state was $3.10 per hour. Today in that state, it's $10.19 per hour. So, how much time do people actually spend at work during their lifetime? Studies show that the average U.S. employee spends approximately 13 years and two months of their lives at work. If you often put in overtime, you can factor in an additional year and two months. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently published data about the average hours per week worked according to age group:

  • Age 16-19: 24 hours
  • Age 20-24: 35 hours
  • Age 25-54: 40 hours
  • 55 and Over: 38 hours
According to the Center for American Progress, in 1960 only 20 percent of mothers worked. Today, 70 percent of American children live in households where all adults are employed. U.S. Department of Labor statistics back up this data, and notes that 75 percent of those women are working full time. There are certainly a lot of American adults working, in spite of the unemployment rate as reported in August 2020 of 8.4 percent -- or 13.6 million Americans in need of work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average U.S. worker currently holds ten different jobs before age forty and during their career they change jobs every 4 years, on average. And, according to the International Labor Organization, Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers.

In the 40 years that I've worked, I've held jobs in five different states. I'm one of those people who doesn't live to work, but rather works to live. Believe me, during my working career I've known workaholics -- those addicted to the adrenaline that comes from solving a crisis, closing a sale or otherwise tying their worth to their work. I've never been that kind of person when it comes to earning a living. Now that I'm 55, my focus is on the final years of my working life and what I want to accomplish prior to retiring. Most of the world's population (58 percent) spend one-third of their adult life at work. When you consider that another one-third is spent sleeping, that only leaves one-third remaining. I've aimed -- and will continue to aim -- to make that remaining one-third the best that it can be.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Expert Predictions on What The World Will Look Like in 50 Years

In the year 2070 I'll be 105 years of age. Of course, I'm thinking quite optimistically to make such a statement! In all honesty, barring any serious health issues of being hit by a bus, I should live to around the year 2060 -- based on family history. However, my children and stepchildren should see the year 2070. By then, they'll be in their 60's and 70's.

A group of academics and futurists have recently made predictions about what the world will look like 50 years from now. Some of their predictions include: 

  • Underwater highways -- A subsonic tube transport system will be created as a sealed tube that is traveled using pods, enabling connections between the United Kingdom and mainland Europe in less than one hour.
  • Underground skyscrapers -- Structures, called "earthscrapers" (inverted skyscrapers), which burrow downwards for many stories into the ground, enabling the withstanding of earthquakes.
  • Self-Cleaning homes -- At the press of the button, homes will self clean when you leave the house or while you are sleeping.
  • Space hotels -- Holidays to space, in which space hotels orbit the Moon or other planets, generating their own gravity.
  • 3D printing of organs -- Providing replacements for people in need of organ transplants, or to improve performance.
  • Insect-burger fast food -- Insects are said to become a future main food protein source.
  • Flying buses and taxis -- We'll be stepping into the nearest available air taxi as a high power drone-copter will fly us above the traffic to speed us to our destination.
  • Body implants that monitor our health and translate any language -- A digital companion that gets to know us and our health over our lifetime, which keeps track of our health needs.
  • Quidditch-style aerial sport matches on hoverboards -- We'll be cheering on our favorite sporting teams as they fly around the stadium on hoverboards, in Quidditch-style four-dimensional sport matches.
  • Interactive movies... physically taking part in what we watch via VR -- When it comes to watching movies at home, affordable and refined suits will create sensations of touch and will fool all five of our senses, allowing people to physically feel the film or video game.
Fifty years ago the world's population was half of what it is now, and in 50 years from now it is projected to reach over 9 billion people. It will be a highly-populated planet with technology being at the forefront of society. I'm glad that I got to experience the world 50 years ago, when 'big inventions' included such things as the pocket calculator, the weed whacker, and post-it notes. To those who will see in the year 2070... good luck!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Dean Spotlight in 2006 Kept My Run Across America Off The Radar

Dean Karnazes is an ultra-endurance runner who specializes in distances longer than the 26.2-mile marathon. In 2006, I ran 3,260 miles solo across America all alone -- pushing my gear in a jogging stroller. It was 30 miles per day across 15 states, coast to coast... or 125 marathons in 108 days. There were two names that popped up time and time again during my U.S. run... Forrest Gump and Dean Karnazes. I would often be compared to the fictional movie character Gump, and also asked if I personally knew Karnazes.

You see, back in 2006 as I was enduring the second hottest summer on record to cross the country and keep a promise to 97 elementary children, Karnazes was running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days in a nationally-promoted event. That was also the year that he released a book, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner, and won the Vermont Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run. He was also named Competitor magazine's Endurance Athlete of the Year for 2006. So, when the name "Paul Staso" was printed in some small-town newspapers as I logged more than a marathon each day, nobody had any idea who I was. However, they had heard of Forrest Gump and Dean Karnazes!

In 2006, Karnazes sent me an e-mail message telling me that I was an "inspiration" to him. As it turns out, weeks after I completed my U.S. run he attempted the same thing... a solo coast-to-coast run sporting attire and stroller very similar to what I used. However, he quit after 1,300 miles due to missing his family. No, Karnazes and I do not know one another personally. In 2006, he had heard about my solo run across America shortly after I had finished it and I had certainly heard about him. However, we were not in the same league from the standpoint of media coverage, financial endorsements, and popularity. In 2006, Dean Karnazes was the top name people were hearing about from the running world and I wasn't even a blip on the running world's radar.

I had run across America to keep a promise and to promote youth health and fitness, and it was also in 2006 that Karnazes would launch the non-profit organization "Karno Kids" -- with an aim of promoting youth health and fitness. It was challenging to get my message heard as it seemed like Karnazes' efforts were so saturating on the running community and in the media that I wasn't given a second glance. I remember feeling envious about the attention that Karnazes was getting while I was also pounding out extreme miles with generally the same purpose. I also started to feel that my efforts were futile in that I was relatively unknown as I ran in and out of communities across the nation. I knew that I wasn't going to get any sponsorship offers, any big-time media attention, or any finances to help me get my own non-profit organization off the ground -- The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation. I had conceded that those things were only going to go to Karnazes in 2006. Since then, I've let go of any envy and futility that I felt.

It has now been 14 years since I ran across America and was constantly reminded of Karnazes and Gump. Those who took a minute to ask me what I was doing often compared me to one or the other... and it seemed that most thought that Karnazes and Gump were better than I. Today, my journey across America is just a tiny footnote in a few articles and books about the challenge of crossing the continent. The few who heard about my 2006 run have no idea that I also went on to run solo across Germany, Alaska and the Mojave Desert. In short, I'm just a 55-year-old guy who from 2006 through 2011 accomplished some running adventures that few have ever attempted. I didn't make any money from it, didn't gain any lasting fame from it, and certainly am not being called to give motivational presentations about it. I'm just Paul Staso -- lovely Kelley's husband... father to four adult children... and, stepfather to four others. In all honesty, that's all I need.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Only 24 Percent of Americans Report Having a Home Security System

One of the ways that my wife and I protect our home and family is with a security system, which includes outside cameras with siren capability that detect motion and automatically record -- day or night. The system also includes cell phone monitoring for remote alerts and video coverage. We live in a very nice neighborhood outside of the city limits, so crime in our residential area is not an issue. However, many of the homes in our neighborhood are expensive and have security systems to deter any would-be thief who may pass through.

According to the FBI, a burglar strikes every 25 seconds in the United States. That adds up to over 3,300 burglaries per day. Numerous surveys show that break-ins are people's top property crime worry. Despite that high level of concern, only 24 percent of Americans report having a home security system.

The average loss from a burglary is $2,799 and a burglary victimization survey revealed that the most common time for burglaries is between noon and 4 p.m. FBI burglary data shows that 51 percent of all reported burglaries occurred in the daytime compared to 32 percent at night.

When temperatures rise, so do the number of burglaries. On average, burglaries rise about 10 percent between June and August. Also, rural states see more burglaries than those with big metropolitan hubs. According to U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics, burglars hit renters more frequently than homeowners -- and that has been the trend for decades. Of those who have been the victim of a break in, 49 percent reported that afterward they changed their locks, 41 percent added a home alarm system, and 38 percent installed security cameras.

If you haven't already, consider installing a home security system. You can get an alarm system with 24/7 professional monitoring for far less than the cost of the average burglary. Some basic systems start out around $200 for equipment and have monitoring plans for as little as $10 a month. Plus, most burglars admit that they skip a house with a security system to seek out an easier target. At minimum, add a security camera. Sometimes all you need is an outdoor security camera to scare off a would-be thief or intruder -- for either a home or a rental. Video doorbell cameras are another good way to keep tabs on your property and let burglars know you’re watching.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

I Wasn't Always a "Great" Dad, But Have Always Loved My Kids Greatly!

I wasn't always a great Dad. I believe that fathers who are truly honest with themselves will admit that. There are days when we, as Dads, fall short. I could try and list many reasons why this may happen, but I'll refrain from doing so. Instead, I'll just say that I wasn't always a great father.

I recently read a list of what qualities a "great Dad" should have and as I read each point I recalled moments of success and moments of failure. My four children are now between the ages of 20 and 27 and I'm blessed to be a step-father to four other amazing people, ages 12 to 23. Hopefully my stepchildren view me as a decent step-dad.

No matter how hard a man tries to be a "great Dad," there are days when failure results. Eventually, my children will be parents and will certainly have days when they feel less than great at it. Here's the list of qualities that a great Dad should possess based on the article I read.

1. He’s a good disciplinarian
A good father loves his children, but he doesn’t let them get away with murder. He disapproves of his children’s misdeeds and corrects with the power of words, not fists.

2. He allows his kids to make mistakes
A good father realizes that his children are human, and that making mistakes is part of growing up -- such as spending money recklessly or getting into minor car accidents. However, he makes it clear that repeated irresponsibility won’t be tolerated.

3. He’s open-minded
A good father understands that people and tastes change over the years, and he allows his children to move with the times and not be stuck in his past.

4. He teaches his children to appreciate things
A good father never lets his children take what they have for granted. From the food on the table to a solid education, a good father will make his children see the value in everything they have. He may ask his child to get a job to help pay for a part of his first car, or take the time to illustrate how important a good education is.

5. He accepts that his kids aren’t exactly like him
Everyone is different and a father knows this well. He won’t expect his kids to live the same kind of life he does, and do the same kind of work. He also respects their values and opinions, as long as they don’t harm the family or anyone else.

6. He spends quality time with his children
A dad knows how to have fun with his kids too, taking them out to games, movies, attending important performances and games. He takes the time to listen to his kids and have a good, easy chat with them. He also makes time to help them with their homework.

7. He leads by example
A good father doesn’t subscribe to the “do as I say, not as I do” saying. He will not smoke if he doesn’t want his kids to do it, and definitely won’t drink heavily. He teaches them to deal with conflict with a family member and with others by being firm but reasonable at the same time. A good father also illustrates the importance of affection by demonstrating his love for their mother in front of them. And he won’t argue with her in their presence. In all, he lives by the values he wants his children to follow.

8. He’s supportive and loyal
Although he may be a football fanatic, if his son doesn’t share his love for the game, he accepts it. He may be loyal to his alma mater and dream of having his kid follow his legacy, but if his daughter prefers to study abroad, he’ll support her decision. He’s a safety net, the person his kids can turn to when things go wrong.

9. He challenges his kids
A father wants his children to be the best they can be, and gives them challenges that help them grow. This means giving them some liberty to face setbacks and resolve conflicts on their own.

10. He teaches his children lessons
A good father molds his kids into well-rounded members of society. He especially instructs them in proper etiquette, on being honest and keeping their word, and on being thankful. A great father knows he must sacrifice his own comfort for his fatherly duties. For instance, if he comes home from a hard day at work and catches his kids misbehaving, he’ll take the time to address the situation even though he’s tired.

11. He protects his family at all costs
As the main provider of security and necessities, a father will do whatever he can for his family. He’ll take a second job to provide for them, and he’ll put his own safety on the line to keep them out of harm’s way. This is how a father instills in his children the importance of personal sacrifice.

12. He shows unconditional love
This is the greatest quality of a good father. Even though he gets upset at his children’s faults and may lament that they did not attain what he hoped for them, a father loves his children no less for it.

While my children were growing up, I didn't succeed each and every day with all of those qualities. So, I wasn't always a "great" Dad. I can say that in addition to this list, a good Dad is not focused on raising good kids, but good adults. Any parent's child is going to spend more time in life as an adult than as a kid. A Dad's focus should be on raising good adults who are productive members of society. Along the way he needs to also teach them about the importance of faith, honesty and integrity. There are so many elements to being a good/great dad.

I did the best that I could in the situations and environments I was in while my children were growing up. I worked two jobs for several years and did what I could to allow my children to be involved in the activities they wanted to be in. I typically went overboard at Christmas and dressed in the same wardrobe until the material was worn out. I didn't spend lavishly on 'toys' that many Dads collect, I didn't have a "Man Cave" that I hid away in, and I didn't abuse my kids. I was in church with them each Sunday, was at their sporting events, and always tried to encourage them. I laughed with them, joked with them, and have countless photographs of special times with them.

No, I wasn't always a "great" Dad, but I've always loved my kids greatly.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso