Nature’s Parking Lot: Georgetown, Grand Cayman

The super expansive parking lot for the numerous cruise ships anchored near Georgetown, Grand Cayman. The shuttle boats run almost continuously from ship to shore and back again.

The area is affectionately known as Brand Cayman for all the expensive commercial retail brand boutiques. One shop alone carried nearly every major luxury watch and jewelry brand in the world. Don’t forget to bring your American Express Centurion Card (formerly Black Card) with you, as you would need a briefcase of US large denomination bills¬†to purchase anything of significance here ūüėČ

Seven mile beach is a welcome alternative to the shop-until-you-drop mentality of Georgetown. Snorkelling and diving along the reefs is a good third choice.

#LoveLife

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What time is it in Ochos Rios, Jamaica?

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On August 2, 1971, US astronaut Colonel Dave Scott on Apollo 15 made lunar history‚ÄĒand with it a Bulova moon pilot chronograph.

This is a true story of my long journey to acquire a reproduction timepiece with an interesting and significant history during the era of the NASA Apollo Space Program to the moon. I will not go into the details of the watch that Dave Scott wore as a backup to his broken NASA issued Omega Speedmaster Professional Chronograph (crystal popped off during the mission on the moon), but suffice to say that the original Bulova (pictured above) recently sold for 1.6 million US dollars at an auction.

As a horology enthusiast and watch collector, I recently read about the history of Scott’s¬†watch and desired¬†to acquire an official reproduction moon watch from Bulova. The reproduction issue is nearly identical to the original, but with an extremely accurate ultra high frequency (262 kilohertz) movement. It is one of the most accurate watches in the world with +- 10 second per year accuracy. The accuracy exceeds even the most expensive¬†high beat automatic watches from Rolex¬†at a fraction of the price.

I was a man on a mission, and was beginning to drive my extraordinary patient wife a little crazy with my incessant search in the Caribbean for the aforementioned watch. Although one can purchase the Bulova moon watch online or at a major Canadian/US retailer at widely varying price points, I wanted to take advantage of the duty free/tax free status of many retailers in the Caribbean. First stop РOchos Rios, Jamaica. Unfortunately, many of the employees/owners in the jewelry and watch shops had either no clue of what I was searching for, or had priced the Bulova watch kit considerably above Canadian and US online prices.

I was beginning to get a little discouraged, like a spoiled kid who couldn’t have his way at the candy store. I began my internal dialogue – a military boot camp self-motivation routine.

Suck it up… you pitiful excuse of a MAN. Put on your BIG BOY¬†pants and keep on trying. Persevere if you must!

If you have ever been to Ochos Rios, then you may know how politeness, patience, and perseverance can pay off. From the moment we disembarked from the ship we were approached and literally hassled and harassed into participating in questionable excursions, taking a cab (to an unknown destination), or buying weed. It was almost as if we had been bombarded by a bunch of crazy-eyed stockbrokers on Wall street. We were the fat, tasty chicken drumsticks about to be devoured by the locals.

Fortunately, I was prepared for the onslaught of hawkers – Google is my friend¬†and confidant. At the same time, I understand the predicament of many of these rather vocal and insistent Jamaican people¬†trying to sell their wares. This may be¬†their only way to make a living in the increasingly expensive tourist industry of Ochos Rios. Twenty years ago, the tourist resort was merely a quiet fishing village along the Northern coastline of Jamaica. I am not without a heart, and do understand the relative poverty of the two-thirds world. But, honestly, I can only do so much as one individual in a sea of relatively wealthy tourists from all over the world. We contribute to the local economy by purchasing luxury items and eating and drinking in local restaurants. The RBC group that we were travelling with also donate considerable sums of money and supplies to NGO‘s, schools, and charity groups¬†throughout the Caribbean.

The best way to deal with hawkers is to be polite, but firm with a “NO THANK-YOU”. Sometimes I would stop and talk to an individual in a personal way and try to be considerate¬†– I only hoped¬†they would reciprocate in the same way. After all, we are all in this together (the human element on planet terra firma) whether we recognize that or not. Unfortunately, that usually brought on more soliciting and haggling. Sometimes, I just had to walk¬†away, as we were beginning to get high from all the wacky tobacco pouring out of some shops ūüôā

I finally found what I was looking for in a small jewelry store in the Taj Mahal mall. A beautiful young woman was showing us the product, and at the same time we were mutually discussing personal details of our lives. I wanted the Bulova Moon watch kit with two bands and a pin spring tool rather than the Bulova with a steel band. The price was also proving to be considerably outside my planned budget. I was about to walk away when the store manager came over and struck up a sincere conversation with me. He had overheard that we were from Regina, Saskatchewan, and mentioned that he knew a real estate developer in our city. What a small planet that we live on. A gentleman from New Delhi, India, now living in Ochos Rios, Jamaica, knew someone in our beautiful city Рthousands of kilometres away.

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Bulova‚Äôs making history again. Our new special edition moon chronograph replicates that original timepiece, updated with our exclusive high performance quartz movement with a 262kHz vibrational frequency for unparalleled accuracy, to continue a history of precision timing. Other features include super-luminous hands and markers, tachymeter, and calendar in a 316L stainless steel case, and water resistance to 50 meters. There‚Äôs also a choice of bracelets: a stainless steel version, or a set with two interchangeable straps‚ÄĒa black nylon with nubuck leather patch and a textured black leather.

The well-dressed gentleman explained that his family had a number of businesses in the community. I was later to discover that his family owned the entire mall and numerous residential and commercial properties in Jamaica. After our brief conversation, he looked towards his employee and said,

“give him whatever he wants…”.

I stood there almost dumbfounded. I reiterated that the watch was outside my price range and he simply replied that he would take care of it. We talked for about fifteen minutes more (from soup to nuts), when another employee arrived, rather out of breath, with a package. Much to my surprise, the businessman had kept me in conversation until an employee was able to deliver exactly what I wanted from another one of their retail stores.

In the final analysis, I was given an enviable discount off suggested retail, plus tax free and duty free. Wow, I was so happy and thankful to be at that particular place, at that particular time, in my history of sojourning on this great blue marble called EARTH. Funny thing was that my dear wife knew all along what was going on РI was completely oblivious to the intentions of a very kind and generous man from half-way around the world. Kindness, patience, and persistence had paid off for both of us. I have his business card and will continue to purchase products from him in the future. I have also made a new associate and friend. Every time I find myself in those kind of situations, I look towards God and give thanks.

There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered. Proverbs 11:24,25

If you have read my story this far, you may be wondering why time pieces are so important to me. Well, outside of the obvious bling factor and utility of a fine watch, I am constantly reminded of my own finiteness – living my life over a relatively short period that we call time. Invariably, I am reminded that I am merely dust in the wind compared to the eternity or infiniteness of God.

I close my eyes, only for a moment
And the moment’s gone
All my dreams pass before my eyes, a curiosity
Dust in the wind
All they are is dust in the wind
Same old song, just a drop of water
In an endless sea
All we do crumbles to the ground
Though we refuse to see
Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind
Oh, ho, ho
Now, don’t hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away, and all your money won’t another minute buy
Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind [x2]
Dust in the wind
Everything is dust in the wind [x2]
The wind
 
Dust in the Wind by Kansas

In the simplest sense, God dwells outside of time as we understand it. He is eternal, He always WAS and always IS existent and present in our lives, even before we were conceived.

I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations. Jeremiah 1:5 NLT

He is the Creator, the Alpha and Omega of all time as we understand it.

But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. 2 Peter 3:8 NLT

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Revelation 22:13 NLT

#LoveLife

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Caribbean Cruise: Labadee, Haiti Day 2

A beautiful day at the resort area of Labadee, Haiti. Our best day on the beach with lots of sunshine and swimming. The local workers are delightful and full of exuberance. Music is upbeat, and the food was delicious. The Haitian rum makes a great gift for someone back home. The resort area is much improved since our first visit in 2015.

#LoveLife

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Caribbean Cruise: Fort Lauderdale, Day 1

First morning of our Caribbean cruise aboard Celebrity Silhouette. Overlooking the Fort Lauderdale harbour from our cabin deck. A new adventure about to begin!

#LoveLife

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Can’t sleep…

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The Silhouette

It is 3:00 AM and I can’t sleep. The wind is howling outside and it is -39C with the windchill. That is not tolerable for man or beast. A¬†cab is swinging by to pick us up in less than a couple hours. Thinking of a cool¬†ocean breeze and sun drenched white sand. The temperature differential between home and our destination(s) in the Caribbean is currently 70 degrees difference. Wow, we are adaptable creatures as human beings.

The word that comes to my mind in this early morning hour is PEACE. I can’t explain it, but I am experiencing such peace in the dark early morning hours of what is proving to be a very cold winter. The cup of coffee brewed in a French press is tasting rather extraordinary, almost as if my tastebuds and senses have come alive.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

Earlier this morning, as I lay beside my beautiful wife, I sensed her quiet and gentle spirit. Even her breathing seemed to exude a quietness and stillness so comforting to my soul. God…I am so thankful for the companion you have given me. She has been my joy and my comfort since youth. So many years have passed by, yet I am more in love with her today than every moment that has passed.

A good woman is hard to find,
    and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
    and never has reason to regret it.  Proverbs 31:10

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Poetry with a Punch: The Indictment of Humanity

st-paul21
An artistic representation of St. Paul

There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.
Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.
The poison of vipers is on their lips.
Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.
Their feet are swift to shed blood;
ruin and misery mark their ways,
and the way of peace they do not know.
There is no fear of God before their eyes.

The Apostle Paul quoting various Old Testament passages in the Book of Romans 3:10-18

Paul the Apostle, commonly known as Saint Paul, and also known by his native name Saul of Tarsus was an apostle who taught the gospel of Christ to the first century world. Wikipedia

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A Shallow People

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I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. John 8:12b NIV

I can’t speak for others, but I can relate my story as to the quality of people, or lack thereof, that I have met in my lifetime. For the most part, people in North America are pretty ordinary folk who tend to go about their daily lives in a quiet fashion without drawing too much attention to themselves. Of course, there are others who are always screaming out for attention, positive or negative, they will have their way.

Of all the kinds of people out there, I find a number of the Hollywood personalities as being some of the most shallow people on the planet. Rock stars and other music celebrities are a close second.

What puzzles me is that the aforementioned are the very type of people that the general public tends to mimic and follow after like dumb sheep heading for the slaughterhouse. It boggles my mind how anyone can admire and emulate the type of people that live shallow, materialistic, unethical, and immoral lives. Perhaps, it is merely a justification for our own less-than-desirable lifestyles. It just seems that the obnoxiously squeaky wheels always get the oil.

OK, I get it! One cannot take a broad sweep of Hollywood and Music personalities and claim that they are all debase degenerates. There are many good quality people in the industries of film and music respectively. How do I know that? Because I have worked professionally in video, film and audio post-production. I have met genuine and sincere people throughout the creative industry. For those in the know, Canada has a well developed film and music industry that is not bogged down with unionism (although that is rapidly changing) compared with our neighbours to the South. Hollywood North is an apt description.

A person I once knew said to me,

I don’t suffer fools any longer.

I could appreciate what she was saying. After almost three decades of working with the general public in retail sales – she had her fill¬†of rude, self-centred, and rather stupid customers. The “customer is always right” no longer applied in her way of thinking.

I have often thought about her statement about not suffering fools and wondered how that applied to me, as an individual, and my relationships in the present.

Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions. Doing wrong leads to disgrace, and scandalous behavior brings contempt. Proverbs 18:2-3

As a blogger, there is a considerable danger that we will stumble into foolishness based on something we have written. I am not talking about someone else’s opinion of our blog, but rather how God sees us in light of what has been presented to humankind in the modern form of literature we call the Bible. I find it quite convicting to do a simple word study on fools and foolishness as depicted in Scripture. We accept and internalize so much of contemporary culture that we are not even aware of the foolishness of our ways. What is often normal to contemporary North American culture and society is the very opposite of what God expects of us – we have become fools in the eyes of God and will continue to suffer the consequences in this life and the life to come.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 NLT

Is there a way out of this foolish madness? Yes there is, but we must start somewhere, fully realizing it will take a lifetime of surrender and commitment to God as we understand Him. The tools to discover who God really is are there for the taking. It is up to us what we do with them. He is waiting for our response.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. Revelation 3:20 NIV

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12 NLT

#NoFear

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