October 30, 2006

Studying Spanish and Traveling to Mexico

I like to pretend that I will get back to Mexico though that is highly unlikely at age 87, so I’m practicing my terrible Spanish once again. I could probably use some help here, especially with syntax and oxymoronic daily usage. If anyone reading this speaks Spanish as a first language (or second) - I know this is unlikely, since I seem to have so few readers - please correct my Spanish. I make up study sheets that apply directly to what I will need to say, rather than use ready-made stuff. Here is one of them.

Traveling in Spanish

1. I would like a round trip ticket to Cozumel.
Quisiera un boleto (redondo del viaje) (de ida y vuelta) a Cozumel.

That will cost 10 pesos.
Eso costará diez Pesos.

Good. Here it is
Bueno. Aquí lo tiene.

Thank you, and here is your ticket.
Gracias, y aquí está su boleto.

Thank you

2. I would like a one-way ticket to Playa del Carmen.
Quisiera un boleto unidireccional a Playa del Carmen.

3. How far is it to Tulum?
¿Está cómo lejos a Tulum?

It is about 35 kilometers to Tulum.
Es cerca de treinta y cinco kilómetros a Tulum.

4. How much do you charge to go into Playa del Carmen?
¿Cuánto carga usted que entre Playa del Carmen?

I charge eleven pesos.
Cargo once pesos.

You gave me thirteen pesos.
Usted me dio trece pesos.

You gave me thirteen pesos instead of eleven.
Usted me dio trece pesos en vez de once.

Yes. That includes your tip.
Sí. Eso incluye su extremidad.

5. I need to go to Tulum. How much do you charge to go there?
Necesito ir a Tulum. ¿Cuánto carga usted que vaya allí?

It will cost you seven pesos.
Le costará siete pesos.

6. Can you recommend a good restaurant? We would like one that serves authentic Mexican (Mayan) cuisine.
¿Puede usted recomendar un buen restaurante? Quisiéramos uno que sirve la cocina mexicana auténtica (la cocina auténtica del indio del maya).
And, how do we get there?
¿Y, cómo conseguimos allí?

Just tell the taxi driver the name and street address of the restaurant.
Apenas diga a conductor del taxi el nombre y la dirección del restaurante.

7. I would like to rent a small car for the day, one that will
seat the four of us (one that will seat myself and three other people).
Quisiera alquilar un coche pequeño para el día, uno que asentará los cuatro de nosotros (uno que se asentará yo mismo y a tres otras personas).

Do you need air conditioning?
¿Usted necesita el aire acondicionado?

What about automatic transmission or stick shift?
¿Qué sobre la transmisión automática o cambio manual?

Would you like automatic transmission or stick?
¿usted tienen gusto de la transmisión automática o cambio manual?

If I am able to go back this year, I’ll do it during the coldest weather here in Palm Beach County, January or February, and I’ll go to the Mayan Gold Coast in the state of Quintana Roo. However, not Cancun – might as well go to Atlantic City, New Jersey. Instead, I’ll go down the coast farther, around Playa del Carmen, Akumal, Perhaps even Tulum. I might even take a trip into Valladolid in the interior of the Yukatan, and visit the pyramids at Chichen itza. There is a wonderful colonial hotel there, the Meson del Marquis that is located on the central plaza of the small city. I would, however, like to have a travel companion, or companions.

We’ll see.

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October 26, 2006

I Go For Walks

The weather finally cooled down a bit in Palm Beach County, only 80 degrees yesterday, and 77 the day before. I’ve taken mile long walks both days. In fact, I drove to the beach in Jupiter yesterday, and walked along the sidewalk above the beach. The water was a magnificent blue-green and aqua. The town of Jupiter has got to have one of the prettiest oceanfront walks anywhere. Here’s a picture looking down onto the beach.

October 22, 2006

Real Estate Market Falls and Goes…

October 21, 2006 - Adam Called
He’s so excited because he and Stephen have found several houses they like. And, in two cases, the price dropped since they began looking.

“Did the bubble burst, Grandpa?”

“Looks that way, doesn’t it.”

“Yeah, Stephen’s sister and her husband have had their house up for sale for over a year with few bites. They’ve changed realtors twice, but nothing happens.”

“What will they do?”

“They’re talking about adding onto the house instead of selling it.”

“That makes sense.”

“I don’t understand why builders keep putting up new houses and condos. They're going in everywhere around here. And, you saw Rehoboth Beach - thousands of new units are going up down there.”

“Same here in South Florida. I don’t know if resorts are feeling the pinch yet. Also, many condominiums and other projects here in Palm Beach County, and I guess everywhere, have been in the pipeline for years. The buildings going up now were actually in the planning stages 3 to 4 years ago. And once one of these big projects is started it can't be stopped without everyone and his brother losing his shirt, his tie, and his hat.”

“But, what happens if most of us guys in the middle class can’t afford the high prices of houses and condos that are on the market?”

“Is it going to stop you from buying?”

“Stephen’s talking about waiting until spring because he says prices are bound to come down further.”

“You might adopt a wait and see posture. I think a lot of people are doing that right now.”

“Do you think prices will come down?”

“Who knows. I think housing is over-priced. I guess I’m more afraid the bottom will fall out completely because the market is so full of new housing, and prices are so high that the people who need it can’t afford it, and those who already own one house, have speculated and bought a 2nd, and even 3rd with interest only loans.”

“If the bottom falls out, prices would really come down.”

“Yes, lower than low.”

"Like the 29 crash."

"Actually, the stock market crashed in 29, but price inflation had been rampant during the 1920's, property included. Frightening thought isn't it."


"Well, I'm an old man, and I've been told recently that we old folks tend to dwell on the negative too much. Besides, other areas of our economy haven't been terribly inflationary - just oil and real estate. I'm probably wrong."

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October 18, 2006

Peter’s Visit Continued

“Of course the Democrats will take back the majority of seats in Congress and the Senate, Isaac.”

“That would be one heck of a lot of seats, 15 in Congress, and 6 in the Senate, I believe.””

“We will do it. I feel it in my bones.”

“I wish I had your confidence. Besides, your bones are too young to have that kind of feeling. You’ll have to get old, and crotchety like me first.”

“Right. Actually I think you’re a time-bot, Isaac, a kind of disguised eternal type pretending to be an old man. Sometimes you act like a kid. Sometimes you talk like a person my age. Don’t think I haven’t seen you take a sudden skip, jump, and hop as you walk toward the pond and fountain on your morning walks.”

“Actually, I do perform as a silver foil man, who travels to alternate realities- and you don’t know how I hurt after I do my morning skip-hop-and-jump, the heart pounds, and the head floats off into a spin, as I struggle to catch my breath."

"So, Why do it, and you do?"

"Yes, and because I’m stubborn, and I refuse to give in to this body of mine. I’m just a thirty-seven year old person trapped in an eighty-seven year old body. And, time-bot indeed! You are a science fiction fiend, my friend.”

“I do like science fiction, especially Isaac Asimov.”

“He’s one of my favorites too.”

“Did you see I Robot?”

“Yes - but the movie seemed anachronistic to me. That's not quite the right word either. It's because the movie is of the action hero ilk, and Asimov’s positronic creatures become super robots, leaping through the air, and jumping buildings in a single bound. Things get smashed and broken constantly. I think Asimov’s stories are more thoughtful, and his robots, more gentle, if sometimes extremely threatening in their benign superiority.”

“That’s because the 3 laws of robotics prevent them from harming humans, but also cause them to prevent humans from harming one another, like hovering over protective parents.”

“Or, like a limited evangelical vision of God, who is prevented from harming his children physically by his own moral universe, but, instead ends up punishing them through limits placed that stunt their potential growth.”

“U-m-m-m-m-m. I don’t really want to go there, Isaac. I get so angry at Christians!”

“Be careful, Peter. I’m a Christian. You need to separate evangelical from other Christians.”

“Are there others?”


“I was being facetious.”

“I know. Sometimes it seems as though the only kind of Christian out there is the kind that hates us while unwilling to admit that it is so. They pretend that they love all people and blame God and the Bible for their prejudice.”

“But the Bible does make statements against homosexuals.”

“No, it doesn’t. It makes negative statements about sodomy based in a culture that had no understanding about a type of human being who desires and has sex only with the same sex. And there is much more to it than that, such as Hebrew and Greek words with multiple meanings, or meanings that are not the same as those words used in translations of the original languages in which the Bible was written. Have you read What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality?”


“I’m not remembering the author’s name. But the book is right over there in the porch.” I began to lift myself out of my chair in order to retrieve the book, but Peter was up and out of the glass slider before I could stand up.”

“Where on the porch, Isaac.”

“On the table next to the rattan couch.” I watched as he rummaged through the short stack of books and magazines there.

“Yeah, here it is. Helminiak is his name. Daniel A. Helminiak, Ph.D.

“I’ve finished it. You want to borrow it?”

“Yes, I would. Ye gods! It looks like a college freshman’s text. It’s dog eared, underlined, highlighted, and the margins are filled with notes.”

“That’s a habit of mine. It’s the only way I can remember. If I don’t scribble all over a book while reading, I end up having to go back and reread entire pages and chapters. It helps my old brain to retain the stuff I want to know.”

“Isaac, everyone who reads for understanding has to do that.”

“Not geniuses with photographic memories.”

“Yeah, well. Those are few and far between.”

“So, why couldn’t I be one?”

“Why couldn’t we all?” I wonder what the world would be like.”

“That’s one of those unanswerable questions -imponderable. However, if Isaac Asimov were alive, and here, talking with us, he might decide to write a science fiction story based on the idea.”

"Now that's an idea I'll take home with me. By the way, you need to tell me about your silver foil man."

“When you have an hour or longer to devote to him, I’ll broach the subject.”

And, so it went, on into the night. I hope Peter will visit more often.

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October 15, 2006

Peter’s Visit

October 14, 2006

First, he called on the landline.

“Hi, Mr. Stolzfuts.”


“It’s Peter.”

“Hey, Peter. How’ve you been?”

“Good. Busy with school and all, but good.”

“So, to what do I owe the honor of this call?”

“Just wondered if you were open for a visit this evening.”

“Absolutely,” I said. After all, I’m starved for conversation. Besides, sad to say, the dirty old man will have some eye candy.

“What time?”

“How is 7:30?”

“Good. What kind of liquor would you like me to bring?”

“Grand Marnier is my favorite.”

“You’ve got it. I’ll see you then. Bye.”

So, I ran around like a mad man or, at least as fast as I can, cleaning the place though I doubt most male “twenty somethings” would notice how clean a place is. “He’s gay, Isaac, off course he’ll notice!”

There I go talking to myself again. I swear there are two of me, and the second me is a pain in the (bleep!) because he is always correcting me. Anyway, Peter did visit and stayed until almost midnight. We talked about politics, art, science fiction, my art, his classes, his work out techniques, his coming out process, and his search for a small inexpensive apartment of his own, something that is hard to find in this area. But, I’ll cover more of that conversation in my next entry. Needless to say, I had a wonderful evening, and I think Peter did too.

If I were 60 years younger…

“Dirty Old Man!”

See, there he goes again. And, yes, I do answer back.

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October 11, 2006

Relaxing on the Porch

Presently, I’m sitting on the porch with my trusty laptop. I love to sit or sprawl here on my rattan couch, work on the blog, read, look out at the tops of live oaks and palms – I can see queen, royal, and coconut from here - and/or snooze. I keep several books on the table next to the couch and peruse them depending on whether or not I want heavy or light reading. Currently in the stack are Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), The Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact by Ludwig Fleck (1982 edition) on the heavy side, and, on the lighter side, Flight of Aquavit by Anthony Bidulka. The Fleck book is there because of Kuhn’s, as the latter seems to be an extension of the former. I Googled both on line, and found out that my conclusions are correct because, Kuhn himself claimed Fleck as an inspiration. I’m not far into either, but there are two ideas I’ve gathered from Kuhn and Fleck’s works so far. First, scientific theory is dependent on culture, and therefore, a particular scientific revolution is unthinkable in times and places other than ones own. Therefore, we can look back through time and understand those scientific revolutions that exist in the past. However, by way of example, an aborigine from the Seventeenth Century would not have been able to understand Newton’s theory of gravitation. Secondly, it seems that a particular way of looking scientifically at the universe (a paradigm) from a particular place in time would have been viable and appropriate at the time, though to us it may no longer be correct and applicable. At first, it seems as though Kuhn is making a claim that scientific revolutions are somewhat random, though he claims not. Instead, my understanding is that while dependent on culture to exist, scientific revolutions (paradigms) are none-the-less based in actual fact and capable of being theorized, studied and hopefully proved by scientific method, though, at the same time, our conceptualization of “science” itself could not exist in a culture other than our own. Fleck’s work precedes Kuhn’s by decades, and as such was way ahead of its time. Both fit logically into the postmodern way of looking at man’s understanding of all things as culture based.

So, there you have it, one of my intellectual digressions. I can’t help it. What else have I to do at my age, but think in circles and spirals loosely woven together in frayed and tattered fabrics? Thank God, I’m still able!

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October 08, 2006

Adam and Stephen

I talked with Adam by landline telephone last night. I still prefer the old fashioned telephone because it doesn’t break up, voices are clearer, and I can understand better. I don’t think it’s a hearing problem so much - though I don’t hear as well as I used to – as just my preference based on a seventy year history of telephone conversations. Be that as it may, Adam said they just had a nasty northeaster in southern New Jersey, and I thought, “I’m happy to be in sunny South Florida.” We did have a half-inch of rain day before yesterday, but most of the day was clear with intense bright sunshine, as was yesterday, high 86, and low 72. I, of course, gloated and rubbed it in.

Adam also informed me that he and Stephen were planning on making a weekend trip to New York City in November, and were trying to make up there minds as to what musical to see. I said that they had better start trying to get tickets to any of them right now, because sometimes they’re booked solid six months to a year in advance.

Finally,his voice quavering a bit, Adam told me that he and Stephen are once again talking about moving in together. He even showed Stephen photographs of some of the small houses he’s been looking at with the intent to purchase, and Stephen suggested they might buy one together. I was so pleased, especially considering Adam’s indiscretions and the break-up they went through this past spring.

I know those two young men think of me as an important person in their lives. I also know that I'm on the minds of other family members. For instance, Ruth worries and obsesses about me, and I’m sure she loves me in her way as do Samuel, her brothers and their families. However, those two men really like me, and enjoy spending time with me. The difference, I think, is that I am valued by Adam and Stephen, while other family members just worry about old, strange Isaac, spending his money, getting older, queerer, more frail, and perhaps senile.

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October 05, 2006

Mark Foley’s Situation Reflects Unfavorably on Us All:

I woke up this morning at 4:00 AM and could not get back to sleep. Today I’m exhausted and miserable thinking about the national news. Originally, in 2005, I separated my political material from this blog because I felt it distracted attention from the details of my diurnal existence. However, I am so upset and miserable about what has happened in this congress in general, and now specifically with the Foley affair that it is affecting the pattern of my daily life. So, here it is, my attempt to clarify my worries about Mr. Foley’s sad situation in order to put an end to this disrupting influence in the pattern of my existence.

As I lay tossing and turning in the dark this morning, I tried to apply some logical thought to my upset. I thought about the accusation that Mr. Foley had cybersex with at least one of his past pages. First, I questioned the implications of a cybersex act. The term involves no physical contact. One cannot crawl into ones computer and meet another person in the circuitry, nor in the empty space of wires, host computers, and satellites that comprise cyberspace, and make corporeal contact. Thus, the term “cybersex” at least as it exists at this point in time, is a misnomer. One can type messages to another person, even see the other person in real time as a small pixilated image, moving in fits and starts, fantasize that he or she is physically present, and fantasize having sex with them. However, having actual sex with them is impossible. Thus, cybersex involves an act of masturbation. It may be more erotic than looking at a photograph of a naked man or woman, I don’t know, not having done such a thing (H-m-m-m-m), but it is no more than masterbation. Second, I questioned the pedophile connection to Mr. Foley. I remembered that our conception of pedophilia as sick and evil is a contemporary idea. For instance, the ancient Greeks looked upon the physical/sexual relationship between an older educated man (erastes) and a younger man (teenager) who was involved as apprentice, and/or as student (eromenos) to the older man’s role as educator and mentor, as noble and special. While I realize that we live in a culture that considers a pedophile to be vile and sick, and has laws in place to punish him, I know it has not always been so. These thoughts do not in any way exonerate Mr. Foley, but they do serve to place his possible role as pedophile – remember, he stands accused only - in context.

Unfortunately X-Congressman Mark Foley’s descent into the abysmal pedophilic degradation in which our culture seems to revel, like a gourmand on a binge, reflects on all gay men because so many people in our already diseased culture believe that all gay men are pedophiles. In actuality, scientific research into pederasty (the actual sex act performed between an older individual and a child) shows that our expectations concerning the two participants in pederasty, and the results of such a relationship are totally incorrect. First, empirical research is difficult to find, and is often unreliable.1 Second, it would appear that it is rare for an act of pederasty to stand in isolation. Third, more often than not, it involves a long term relationship between the younger man and older man, not a single act. Forth, more often than not, the younger member of the pair grows up to be heterosexual. Fifth, often the older man is heterosexual and married. Sixth, more often than not, the younger member of the pair grows up to be married, father children, and lead a monogamous heterosexual adult life. 2 In fact, it would appear that much of the current view of pedophiles as sick predators is a contemporary reaction that is at least partially based in hysteria. 3 Having said all that, I certainly will distance myself from the homosexual or heterosexual pederast who would rape children just as I distance myself from the heterosexual male who would rape a grown woman. That this particularly frightening incident (because of its national focus) involves a closeted homosexual man who just happened to be a six term congressman in the United States Congress, and who also had so much to do with The Child Protection Act of 2005, should give caution to us all, homosexual and heterosexual. That it comes at a time when it will undoubtedly influence the upcoming mid-term elections is a plus for Democrats does make me happy. However, I ask the question – how much of our reaction to Mr. Foley’s pedophilia is pure hysteria based in a social malaise that has to do with a more than myopic cultural preoccupation with sex in general?

1. Brongersma Edward, JD, “Boy Lovers and Their Influence on Boys: Distorted Research and Anecdotal Observations.” Journal of Homosexuality, 20-1/2, 1990. http://www.ipce.info/library_3/files/brong_90_frm.htm. Viewed Thursday, October 5, 2006, 10:54 AM. EDT.
2. Tindall, Ralph H., PhD., “The male adolescent involved with a pederast becomes an adult.” Journal of Homosexuality, Vol 3 (4) Summer 1978. http://www.ipce.info/library_3/files/tindall.htm. Viewed Thursday, October, 5, 2006, 10:56 AM. EDT.
3. Gieles, Frans, “Is pedophilia a mental disorder? Discussion in Archives of Sexual Behavior (Dec. 2002),” in Ipce Newsletter, Number E 15, March 2003. http://www.ipce.info/newsletters/nl_e_15.htm. Viewed on line, Thursday, October 5, 2006, 11:02 AM, EDT.