Three-dot journalism

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – April 26, 2019 – Three-dot journalism – Spraying to all fields

by Tom P Blake – Orange County, California, columnist

Today’s e-Newsletter reminds me of former San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen. He was a San Francisco icon, who wrote columns for 60 years. His was the longest-running column in the United States. He wrote between five and seven columns per week, totaling–in the neighborhood of–16,000 columns. He often referred to his columns as “three-dot journalism.”

I admired his “three-dot journalism,” (as he defined it), style of writing. His comments were often not complete sentences, but crisp, clear and interesting. He was a gossip columnist. If he mentioned you by name, you’d be famous in maybe a good way, or a not-so-good way.

His mention about people patronizing San Francisco’s Victoria Station restaurant, the restaurant chain for which I worked eight years, virtually launched Victoria Station into becoming the fastest-growing chain in the United States for a period of time in the 1970s.

On occasion, Caen would describe a column as “Spraying to all fields,” which referred to hitters in baseball who would hit to all fields, meaning his column that day was all over the place, covering a plethora of topics or comments, often not related to each other, with three dots…between items.

1994 photo of Herb Caen with one of his famed “Loyal Royal”  typewriters, upon which he typed 16,000 columns
(photo courtesy of Nancy Wong)
At the end of today’s e-Newsletter, there is a link to Wikipedia’s description of Herb Caen.Today’s column reminds me of one of Caen’s “Spraying to all fields” columns; it covers five different items. It’s dedicated to Herb Caen.

               1 Helpful online dating tips from two Champs

Champ A – Cheryl, “I want to add one note about groups. They are not always free. Some are held in facilities that require rent, some serve food, etc., and those places ask for a contribution, although it’s usually minimal.”

(And a reminder from Tom: is not a dating site, but a great place to meet and make new friends. And then, who knows where those new friendships might lead?)

Cheryl added, “Another tip about long-distance relationships: People should maximize the time it takes to know someone by communication through face-time, and telephone a LOT, between in-person visits.

Champ B – Chris, “I have been reading the letters from your Champs, about the problems and questions they have when meeting someone, a distance away. As I read the questions, I kept thinking: Why don’t they just Skype the other person?

“Then, you can better see what and who you are dealing with. I know over my long life (Chris is 84), I more than once have fallen in love with a voice, only to be disappointed because the voice didn’t match my vision of this person.

“I’m wondering, could it be that some of our Champs don’t know about Skype?

First, let me tell them, IT IS FREE! Yes, FREE (after some possible, minimal, set up costs mentioned below).

“Tina (my partner of 14 years and now my wife) and I have been using Skype for over 10 years. When she is in England, and I am in the states, we Skype every day. I call her at 12:30 p.m., my time, and she is sitting waiting for my call at 8:30 p.m. her time. We can see each other and talk for hours. It is almost as good as being there, except we can’t touch.

“This would be the answer for your Champs who are talking to someone on the phone, but still are doubtful about what to do and how to handle the situation.

Setting Skype up on a computer is easy, and it only costs about $25 for the camera and the wires. (Most new computers already have built in cameras). After that it is free. I have it on my computer, and, Tina has it set up on her Ipad. My daughter has it on her cell phone; she and I talk that way when I am in England.

So, my advice–to the lonely widow who has met Mr. Wonderful on line, or, that lonely old guy who is sure he has met the love of his life–is: after you’ve spent time talking on the phone, or emailing, and you are thinking about travelling a good distance to meet them, or sending them money for a plane ticket, start Skyping them first.

“You will learn a lot about the person you are in touch with, when you see them while you talk. You could be pleasantly surprised or you could save yourself from a major disappointment.”

               2 Popular dating site warning

From a male Champ who requested to remain anonymous: “After reading last week’s e-Newsletter (about senior online dating sites), I simply felt responsible to relate what I and several friends have encountered on a certain senior dating site, upon which my membership has been long-since cancelled.

“This website has the most hackers and scammers of all of the dating sites. When I was on the site, a hacker took over my profile, presented himself as me…messaging women, asking for their direct emails, then going after them for money…so many grisly tales of attempted scams…

“Many of the women and men on the site are not the actual person whose picture is posted on the profile.

“My computer guru installed a new super security program on my personal computer due to the scammer hacking my personal computer.

“The site is a dangerous dating site Tom ….

“A caution is simply to never provide your direct email. If, and when, you are persuaded this person is real, you can talk on the phone. Unfortunately, often the person barely speaks English. Plus, a red balloon is when there are misspelled words in their messages and/or incorrect sentence structure.”

While our anonymous Champ was referring to a specific senior dating site–he requested not to mention it by name, even though we’ve identified it previously–what happened to him on it could happen on any dating site. For gosh sake, please be careful when online dating, regardless of which site you use.

                          3 Why wait so long to meet in person?

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about a widower who was planning to meet a widow face-to-face who lived 845 miles away. Many of you suggested he meet someone closer to where he lives.

About the same time, I heard from a widow in New York state who lives a little over an hour away from him, and, I suggested to her that she contact him. She did. Now, they talk on the phone and plan to meet face-to-face in late June.

My question: why wait so long? That’s two months away. At the least, do what either Chris or Cheryl suggested above. See each other via Skype or face time on the phone. That might save disappointment before they meet in person.

However, I guess there is no rush to meet in person, IF,  just being in contact with the other person eliminates the loneliness they both feel. Then, maybe it doesn’t matter to either what the other one looks like, or how they present themselves, or that the other person may not even be who he or she claims to be.

                                      4 Next week’s e-Newsletter

I am planning to write about whether it’s important or not for senior singles to have a written list of the qualities they seek in a mate.

Plus, perhaps, some daters may even have a separate written list of the habits or characteristics in a person that would be deal-breakers. Smoking, for example.

If any of you want to share your list(s) or your thoughts about having a list, I’d love to hear from you.

5 Herb Caen and three-dot journalism information…

Link to Wikipedia’s page about Herb Caen…


One more item about Herb. While I was married to a woman named Debbe, she became Herb Caen’s secretary. That was pretty heady stuff. People would say, “Your wife is Herb Caen’s secretary? Wow…”

As I recall, it wasn’t always a dream job. He was pretty demanding…

…Here’s to you, Herb. We are toasting an Irish Coffee to you at the world-famous Buena Vista Café in San Francisco, where the Powell /Hyde Cable car turns around, and the view from there of Alcatraz, and where it’s rumored that you had more than one or two of those Irish Coffees…

Senior long distance dating – a challenge – but not impossible

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – April 19, 2019

Senior long distance dating — a challenge for seniors — but not impossible

Two weeks ago, we wrote about a widower, age 75, whose wife passed away two years before. He’s dating again. After being shunned by a widow he met at church, he turned to Internet dating sites to try to find a mate.

He emailed, seeking advice. He said he met a woman on the OurTime website, who lives 845 miles away. He was going to send her air fare to visit him.

I suggested, instead of sending her air fare, he should look for a woman who lives close to him. Getting involved in a long-distance relationship might be too much effort for a man his age.

Champs responded, sharing their opinions about senior long-distance dating.

Cynthia emailed: “Forget about long-distance relationships! If you can’t meet people in person within a 50-mile circumference, then it’s not worth it.

“You need to simply look around your own town, church, neighborhood, grocery store, club, senior center or wherever you go for entertainment.”

Art, said, “This man should be able to meet eligible women within an easy driving distance from where he lives. I am in a relationship with a lady I met online, and she lives only 15 minutes from me.

“Together, we belong to several groups, and there are at least four women for every man who attend events. Perhaps he is unfamiliar with, but unless he lives in a very rural part of the country, there are probably Meetup groups in his area.

“A woman living 845 miles away is too far for a meet and greet lunch or dinner, and the cost and inconvenience would make a possible romance very difficult.”

Susan chimed in, “If you are lonely, join a club, an exercise or Meetup group, volunteer, etc.  There are so many ways to not be lonely. If you enjoy children, volunteer at your local school or library. ( is not a dating site, but a place to meet lots and lots of new friends, and when you meet lots of new people, who knows what could evolve? )

“When I was off work for a few months, I volunteered at our senior center. I was NEVER lonely there. Lots of seniors hanging around wanting to talk with someone.”

Joanie stated, “This 75-year-old man should make sure he looks extra good, smells nice, wears fitting, well-cut clothes, gets a haircut and takes care of his skin.

“And then, he should take ballroom dance lessons. There are tons of wonderful single women who dance, most looking for a nice man. And there is a shortage of men. He will meet someone quickly.”

Gina added, “I think online dating can be an effective tool, but one should weed out the people who are long distance. Potential mates should be within 50 miles and willing to meet within a few weeks of making a connection via text messaging and phone.”

Linda felt differently; she said, “I think he should visit the woman 845 miles away, see where and how she lives. You can tell a lot about people based on how they live.”

Liza emailed, “My advice for your lonely widower is to slow down and relax.  Smelling desperation on a member of the opposite sex is a huge buzz kill.  Most seniors don’t want to be alone but that big of a rush would scare off any decent woman–but would certainly appeal to a scammer.”

Shelley said, “Yes, indeed; loneliness can cloud a widowed person’s thinking! I lost my beloved husband of 39 years five years ago. My judgement was impaired for at least 2 1/2 years!

“The widower should look for a woman he can meet in person and not have to send plane fare to. That has scam written all over it.’”

                  And yet, long distance relationships can work

A while back, I wrote about Sally, a widow, from New Jersey, who had been married 41 years. Two years before, she had corresponded with a widower (married 48 years) online. But he lived in Atlanta.

Through the online site, she sent him a message that she was removing herself from the site and included her personal email address. He didn’t receive her message.

When her online site tried to get her to renew, she checked her mailbox, one last time, and found a message from him. She said, “I emailed and we picked up writing again. I guess it was meant to be!”

They agreed to be just pen-pals. “No pictures. No, ‘Are you the right one?’ and, no plans to meet,” says Sally. However, a senior long-distance relationship began.

“We were very careful in the beginning when we wrote. We never mentioned the names of our children or grandchildren, just funny stories about different things. We both had long, stable marriages and our families were the center of our lives. We had successful careers. Neither felt threatened by the past.”

Then their arrangement changed. She said, “About 8 months into the pen-pal thing, he tells me not to get serious or marry anyone until we meet. At that point we exchanged photos, talked on the phone, and it kept getting better.

“He came to NJ for a two-day visit and stayed a week, and then kept returning every two-three weeks. I visited him in Georgia.”

Sally liked the Atlanta-area lifestyle. She visited a recreation community catering to all ages and particularly liked the quaint homes with porches. She told her gentleman friend that if she relocated, it would be incidental to–and not dependent upon–their relationship. “Marrying again was not in our plans,” said Sally.

Sally sold her New Jersey home and bought a home in the recreation community. She and her widower friend maintain separate residences, and have a LAT (Living Apart Together) relationship.

“We spend weekends together; we cook for one another once a week. We love to shop together. He visits his family and I visit mine, keeping these issues apart,” says Sally. “I am very lucky. It’s an open, honest, loving relationship without it ever getting routine, stale, or to the point of too much togetherness. We are committed to one another, but, observe that space that people need.

“We never intended it to turn out this way, but we gave it a chance. As seniors, we accept who we are and enjoy what we have now.”

And, you Champs likely remember Chris and Tina. They were 14 years in a long, long-distance relationship: England and California. Nearly 4,400 miles. But they made it work. Now they are married. She’s in her 70s and he’s in his 80s.

And, how about Champs Terry and Daeng. California and Thailand? Want to see happiness? Look below.

 Champs Terry and Daeng–who says long distance romance can’t be fun

                              Tom’s five senior long-distance dating tips

  1. Try local first. Focus on what’s near you. There are many options, as mentioned above, where seniors can go to meet new people and make new friends. Who knows? They might meet a potential mate by being out and about. is not a dating site, but it has endless choices to pursue activities that one might enjoy—like learning a language or hiking, and there’s no cost. Senior centers will have like-minded people who want to chat. Volunteering is a great way to pay it forward and meet people at the same time.
  2. If you Internet date, perhaps Cynthia’s and Gina’s suggested 50-mile dating radius is a good rule of thumb. However, it depends. Does the man still drive? Does the woman still drive? What happens if they become a couple? Who moves? Or, does the relationship become a Living Apart Together (LAT) relationship?
  3. Seniors must realize there are lots of scammers online, even on the most reputable senior dating sites—OurTime,, and, for example. Regardless of what the sites claim, scammers slip through the cracks and target vulnerable, lonely seniors.
  4. When you make contact with someone who lives near you, the two of you can meet in person and decide if there is a mutual attraction, without the challenges and expense of traveling long distances. Keep your search as close to home as reasonable.
  5. Long-distance relationships can work. Before giving up on your Internet site, check every message, just in case. It only takes one, as Sally discovered, but we never know which one.

Magic Johnson’s retirement from Lakers

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – April 12, 2019 – What Magic Johnson’s retirement from Lakers words might mean to Champs

About ten years ago, one of my employees at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli, my Dana Point, California, restaurant, came into the office and said, “Magic Johnson just walked through the door.” I didn’t believe it until I walked to the front and saw the 6’9” Magic ordering a sandwich.

I introduced myself and welcomed him to the deli. We chatted and then I tried to keep the mob away from him so he could enjoy his lunch. People were running to their cars, getting their cameras and hoping to get a photo with the “Magic Man.”

Magic told me that he and his wife Cookie had purchased a vacation home in Dana Point, next to the Ritz Carlton Hotel. That summer, he returned to the deli three times, and even had a business meeting there with his employees of Magic Johnson Enterprises.

Magic only knew me as Tom, the deli owner; he had no idea I was a columnist.

  Greta, Magic Johnson, and Tom at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli

Later that year, I was a speaker at the AARP national convention in Las Vegas. In addition, both Greta and I had press credentials as I also wrote columns about the convention, so we had access to AARP press conferences.

Magic was also a speaker that year. Before his presentation, he was introduced at a press conference with about 25 newspaper people in the room, including Greta and me.

While he was answering a reporter’s question, he noticed Greta and me sitting in the front row. He held his hands up as if he were calling a “time out” during a game.

He announced, “Do you see those two people in the front row? They make the best sandwiches west of the Mississippi River in their Dana Point deli.”

People looked at us–two people wearing press credentials–and wondered, what the hell was going on. It was a funny and special “Magic Johnson moment” for Greta and me.

He was one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. The last time I saw him at the deli was in 2013, this photo was taken. Look at the smile on his face.

 Magic and Tom at Tutor and Spunky’s – September, 2013

So, that’s my history with Magic Johnson. I did send him a congratulatory tweet after Michigan State (his alma mater) advanced to the Final Four last week in the NCAA 2019 tourney. Of course, I didn’t get a response (he probably received thousands of tweets).

This past Tuesday night, before the Los Angeles Lakers final game of the season, Magic unexpectedly resigned as the president of Lakers basketball operations after two years in that job. His bosses, owner Jeanie Buss and General Manager Rob Polinka didn’t know the news was coming.

At an impromptu press conference, he said “I want to go back to having fun. I was happier on the other side (the non-business side of the sport).”

He also said, while trying to hold back tears, “”What am I doing? I’ve got a beautiful life. So, I’m gonna go back to that beautiful life.”

He has always relished being an ambassador for basketball, which he enjoyed much more than being shackled by the demands of a job that required him to hire and fire personnel, and trade players. And, who knows what goes on in the executive suite of a highly visible professional sports team?

So, what does this story have to do with On Life and Love after 50? What might Magic’s comments mean to we Champs?

My interpretation: At this stage in our lives, we should pursue what is beautiful to us. Everybody’s different. What’s important to me for the next x years, will be different for what’s important to you for the next x years.

I don’t want to sound idealistic. However, we should try to not let a job, or a living situation, or adversity or whatever, lessen the meaning and happiness of our lives. We have x number of years left. We should pursue and enjoy what we love to the fullest. We must follow our passion as best we can. We must do our best to live in a way that makes us happy.

That’s what Magic just did; and that’s the message that I take away from his words.

Advice for a lonely widower

  On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – April 5, 2019 

by Columnist Tom Blake

Columnist Tom Blake gives blunt advice for a lonely widower

A 75-year-old Champ is a lonely widower of two years. He emailed me last week seeking dating advice. This is the third time he has written me.

In January, he asked if I thought he had a chance for a relationship with a widow of nine years, to whom he’d been introduced by friends at church. She was 65 and he wondered if the 10-year age difference might matter to her. I told him that it shouldn’t, unless she had a fear of suffering another loss.

He also said she told him she had no interest in being romantically involved. He hoped if he accepted her “no romance” position, she might change once she got to know him. I told him to be patient.

They had six dates in six weeks. She told him she didn’t have the energy to go out more than once per week. Despite her “no relationship wanted” type of statements, he stated, “I really want to be with this woman.”

When he sent her flowers on Valentine’s Day, she telephoned him in tears, and broke off the relationship by saying, “‘This is what I was afraid of, I can’t do this anymore. We can still be friends, I’ll see you around at church. Goodbye.”

My impression was, he was trying too hard, probably out of loneliness and desperately wanting a mate. After all, loneliness can cloud thinking.

Two months passed.  Three weeks ago, he emailed again, “I’m embarrassed, I went back on Dating site OurTime. I found a lovely Christian lady several states from me, 845 miles away, although I didn’t want a long-distance relationship.

“She is a three-year widow, about my age. First, we messaged on the OurTime website, as OurTime tells you to do. Then, we graduated to texting via phone. Now we talk on the phone most every evening.”

                All seemed to be going well…until this info surfaced

He continued, “She has confessed she was scammed last year for over $190,000. She had to file for chapter 7 and get an equity loan on her home. I was taken back. Red flags went up in my mind.

I don’t feel she is trying to scam me. She hasn’t asked for money. She said most things have been settled with her lawyer and she will be fine except she will have to pay back, over the next 10 years, a $11,000 equity loan.

“The thing that nags at me: why is she still on a dating website after being scammed?

“I have invited her to visit me this June so we can get to see each other. I will supply the round-trip ticket money so she can make the trip.

“We have been communicating three weeks and neither one of us have mentioned feelings for each other, other than wanting to get to know each other more. I don’t have feelings for her–I like her but I’m not about to get crazy about her–until I spend time with her.

“Do you think I am making a mistake here? Do you see any red flags I’m missing because my heart is involved?

I responded: “Don’t be embarrassed about online dating. But be careful. You asked for my opinion. I am going to be blunt; I don’t want you to get scammed. Loneliness is causing you to not think clearly. Yes, I see red flags.

After only three weeks, you say your heart is involved. That’s foolish. You are falling in love or are at least infatuated with an image, not a real person. Until people meet face-to-face, they can’t have realistic feelings for each other, only imaginary feelings. Have you talked on Skype, where you see her?

Also, again in just three weeks, you are already offering to send her money.

June is a long way off. If you want to see her, why don’t you visit her soon? Do not send this person money for a round-trip ticket. The next thing you might hear from her is, “I’m stuck at the airport (see airport below). I had to change my ticket. Can you send me another $1,000? I will pay you when I see you.”

This may be the airport  from which she would be flying 

I think you are slowly being reeled into a scam. You even admitted that you suspect that.

Please read the reviews about OurTime on Consumer

You will notice that similar scams have happened to many, many people posting to Consumer Affairs. Scams happen to men as well as women.

“And finally, do you want a long-distance relationship with a woman so far away? Take a deep breath. Find a nice woman near you. Maybe even another church woman sitting in a different pew than the woman you met there in January. Don’t be so eager.”

He replied, “Please ask Champs for their opinions.”

Part 2 – Regarding seniors saving money

Ellen, “Incredible article last week on ‘cutting the cord.’ Keep sending those money-saving tips!”

Joel, “Outstanding compilation of useful info… maybe you should start blogging about bargains for seniors. Many of us don’t have time to shop around the maze of information.

If you do more on this topic, check out ordering from Google Express (free delivery from many stores if you buy enough) or Walmart (some free delivery, free pickup). I am buying all my groceries this way because of price, selection and ease of shopping/buying. Won’t suit those who like to touch before they buy, but it works for me since I know exactly what I want, most of the time.

Comment to Joel from Tom: “I enjoy buying groceries in person because it gets me out into the world to chat and interact with people. As we age, and we don’t get out as often as we used to, having social interaction with people is essential for our mental well-being.

Virginia, “Prescription information, another new scam? Several seniors I know have found their prescriptions are shorted by 2 to 5 pills per bottle, and it’s apparently not an error or a coincidence. Please advise our Champs to take time to count the pills on each prescription as soon as they get them (particularly from CVS). If short, call back the pharmacy immediately and report it (or return in person and report it).

“Gone are the ‘Mayberry Days.’  tsk.”

Note from the publisher: Tom’s article on this topic appeared in: