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Monday, October 26, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Column: Mass puts our aging knees to the test

At Easter Mass a few weeks ago, the crowd was bigger than usual, and I had plenty of time to observe an aging boomer trend.

It’s harder to kneel as you age, if you’ve had knee surgery, especially knee replacement. And lower back problems can make impossible a long kneel.

So during kneeling time, I noticed many folks resting their behinds on the edge of the pew with their knees on the edge of the “kneelers.”

We need a new name for this church position. Sneeling? Snitting?

A fallen-away Catholic suggested the new stance be called “the falling away.”

A friend said the half-kneel-half-sit stance is called the “Episcopalian squat,” but I think he was joking, because he is not an Episcopalian.

The correct name for this stance would be the “Episcopal squat” anyway.

The Associated Press stylebook, a journalist’s bible, explains: “Episcopal is the adjective form; use Episcopalian only as a noun referring to a member of the Episcopal Church: She is an Episcopalian. But: She is an Episcopal priest.”

Your suggestions welcome. Email me at rebeccan@

SPEAKING OF AP STYLE: The stylebook is clear about the word elderly. “Use this word carefully and sparingly. Do not refer to a person as elderly unless it is clearly relevant to the story.”

How about senior citizen? The AP entry reads: “Use the term sparingly. See elderly.”

The elderly discussion came up recently in our newsroom after Sandra Mize of Spokane, a 63-year-old grandmother of 10, kept a burglar at bay by gunpoint until police arrived. Initially, police officers told our reporter that the woman was “elderly.”

As the story was breaking, that was all the information our reporter had, and so the word elderly was used to describe the woman. As soon as the reporter learned the woman’s age, elderly was taken out of the story.

The older we get, the younger 63 sounds. That’s why Associated Press says be careful using the term. We try to be.

TRENDING ON FACEBOOK: A photo of the old-fashioned window cranks in cars. It’s how you got the windows open in the old days. A 2008 USA Today article declared window cranks a vanishing species.

Some boomers may remember the fears associated with the first electric windows. What would happen if your car flew into a body of water? You’d be trapped.

Turns out “a car’s electrical system should work for up to three minutes in water, so try the method of opening it electronically first,” advises wikiHow in its article “How to escape from a sinking car.”

TOO TRUSTING: Why are older people more prone to scams? Two UCLA studies, funded by the National Institute on Aging, concluded that “older people are less adept than younger people at discerning visual clues of dishonesty in others.”

In the first study, 119 older adults (average age 68) and 24 younger adults (average age 23) viewed 30 photographs of faces “intentionally selected to look trustworthy, neutral, or untrustworthy.”

Both groups identified correctly the trustworthy and neutral faces. But younger adults reacted more strongly to the untrustworthy faces.

In the second study, older and younger adults underwent brain scans while looking at the faces. When viewing the untrustworthy photos, the younger participants had a lot of activity in the part of the brain associated with gut feelings. Older brains didn’t light up as much.

GAS SCAM: PART II: In last week’s column, I wrote about the well-dressed, 20-something man who tried to scam me out of gas money downtown until I told him I wasn’t going to fall for his “it’s an emergency and I’m out of gas” story.

After the column ran, a reader named Dennis emailed me his gas-scam story.

“In the last year, I have been nailed by this scam three times. Two were men, one was a woman. The first time was on a downtown street while I was waiting at a stoplight.

“The last was in a Costco parking lot. The lady was quite greedy. I gave her five bucks, and she tried to go for 10. (Opening bid was 20.) I fell for it twice, when I finally started realizing what was happening. The last time I blew the guy off.

“It is tough to potentially leave some innocent person stranded, but one has to presume that there aren’t that many innocent stranded people around after all.”

THIS WEEK, A SAMPLING: “King Richard III and the Princes in the Tower: Historical Mysteries Considered.” Gonzaga University’s history department’s new lecture series will feature a talk by associate professor RáGena DeAragon, inspired by the announcement from the University of Leicester in England that it had discovered the remains of King Richard III; 7:30 p.m., Thursday in the Jundt Art Museum’s auditorium on the GU campus, (509) 313-6695.

Women’s Drop-In Hockey, tonight, 6:45 p.m., Frontier Ice Arena, 525 W. Seltice Ave., Coeur d’Alene, (208) 765-4423.

For more events, go to

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