Column: Embracing technology means reaching forefront of breaking news

In last week’s Boomer U stories about embracing new technology, I should have stressed more the advantages of Twitter. When big news breaks, Twitter is instantly filled with information, as it was last Monday when bombs killed three and injured at least 180 people at the Boston Marathon.

People on the scene quickly tweeted 140-character messages, as did reporters throughout the country working on the story. For instance, within minutes of the news, a reporter at another newspaper tweeted a link to the marathon website that listed all the runners registered. Our reporters then found the names of Inland Northwest runners, and they started making calls to see if they were OK. Thankfully, they were.

For those who have never been on Twitter but who remember when urgent news was delivered via telegram, the communication methods are similar. Short, to the point, packed with news.

Sometimes in the rush of Twitter, information is incomplete or incorrect. But in our country’s telegram days, information was often incomplete, as families of World War II soldiers can testify. Some who were announced dead in the telegrams were instead alive. And sadly, vice versa.

SPEAKING OF TECHNOLOGY: If you live in North Idaho and are looking for classes on computer and Internet basics, the ReTool Box computer sessions, offered at the Coeur d’Alene Public Library throughout the year, are free. Classes will begin again in May. Call (208) 769-2380.

EARTH DAY: In honor of Earth Day – which began 43 years ago today – the U.S. Census sent out some “earthy” facts.

• Average time spent commuting in 2011: 25.5 minutes.

• In 2011, 2.3 million occupied housing units used wood heaters.

• About half of all homes heat with utility gas, and just 40,000 homes are totally heated by solar energy.

• In 2011, the nuclear power industry employed about 49,000 people with an average salary of $109,000.

THE KNEELERS RESPOND: Several Inland Northwest readers responded to my observation of the half-sit-half-kneel position sometimes seen in church services due to aging knees and hurting backs.

• Barbara Bell: When I was a child at Catholic school in California back in the 1960s, we went into church weekly to learn hymns and how to conduct ourselves in church. The “sit/kneel” posture you talked about was referred to by the good sisters as a “three-point landing” and corrected immediately. As I raised my own children, they also were admonished by me to not perform a three-point landing in church.

• Gary Miller: I might suggest that most Christian churches experience a population boom on Easter, only to have attendance fall off dramatically the following Sundays. So, maybe it’s a lack of conditioning in those knees? I’m a 64-year-old practicing Catholic, and my knees are holding up well due to conditioning.

• Dan Harbaugh: Your recent mention of aging knees and the problems associated at Mass brought back wonderful memories of my recent stay in Florence. I would frequent daily Mass and when attending, I would complain to myself regarding the old wooden kneelers with no padding for my aging knees.

The complaints lasted until I looked around and saw old men and ladies who knelt without complaint or attempting some contorted posture. I also looked to the cross and knew that someone had suffered far more than I was being asked to suffer. So I continued on with that inspiration. Sometimes it takes simple things to teach you simple lessons.

AGREE OR DISAGREE?: “I’m not a senior. I’m a recycled teenager.” Bumper sticker spotted on a Volkswagen Beetle in downtown Spokane.

SHOOT THE SHINGLES: A relative of mine experienced the shingles-related complication known as “post-herpetic neuralgia.” It’s a life-changing complication. So shingles shots should be a no-brainer for older people, right? Nope.

PLoS Medicine, an online science journal, recently reported on a study that showed the shingles vaccine can cut nearly in half the chances of getting shingles and yet only 4 percent of the 766,000 Medicare beneficiaries studied had received the vaccine.

Part of the reason might be the cost of the shot – between $200 and $300. Aging boomers might consider taking on the cause of lower-cost shingles shots.

THIS WEEK, A SAMPLING: Perennials presentation by Master Gardener Jill Roche, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m., Post Falls Library, 812 N. Spokane St., Post Falls. (208) 773-1506.

Lilac City Cribbage Club, Wednesday, 6:30-9 p.m., Puerto Vallarta restaurant, 6915 E. Sprague Ave., Spokane Valley, (310) 621-3897.

Lightweight Backpacking Basics, Thursday, 7 p.m., REI store, 1125 N. Monroe St., Spokane, (509) 328-9900.


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