12 great quotes about time as the old year winds down

12 great quotes about time as the old year winds down

The end of 2019 is more than a fortnight away. But as the old saying goes, time and tide wait for no man. So I thought I would try to get ahead of the rushing tide (impossible as that may seem) and share some quotations about time. I trust that these will serve as food for thought and a source of inspiration for all ye readers of Marine Café Blog.

Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunderstorm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols.

Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

Time? Time? Why worry about something that takes care of itself so well? You were born with the habit of consuming time. Be satisfied with that.

William Faulkner, Mosquitoes

Time shall show us. The post of honour and the post of shame, the general’s station and the drummer’s, a peer’s statue in Westminster Abbey and a seaman’s hammock in the bosom of the deep, the mitre and the workhouse, the woolsack and the gallows, the throne and the guillotine – the travellers to all are on the great high road; but it has wonderful divergences, and only Time shall show us whither each traveller is bound.

Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit

Let us strive together to part with time more reluctantly, to watch the pinions of the fleeting moment until they are dim in the distance, and the new-coming moment claims our attention.

Emily Dickinson, Emily Dickinson: Letters

Remember that time slurs over everything, let all deeds fade, blurs all writings and kills all memories. Exempt are only those which dig into the hearts of men by love.

Aristotle, letter to Alexander on the policy toward the Cities

There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.

Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

My past is everything I failed to be.

Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.

William Shakespeare, Richard II

The timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness. And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.

Khalil Gibran, The Prophet


I am, a stride at a time. A very short space of time through very short time of space.

James Joyce, Ulysses

The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.

Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changin’

~Barist Uno

Quid Pro Quo: a look at the Filipino maritime version

Quid Pro Quo: a look at the Filipino maritime version

Frankly speaking, I am amused at how much attention the Latin phrase “quid pro quo” has been receiving of late in the US political scene. The expression can be traced back to the 16th century. It literally means “something for something”. In some cases, those who engage in quid pro quo could cross a legal red line as when a boss promises an employee a pay raise in exchange for sex. But what person — or nation — has not been guilty of the practice at one time or another?

As a maritime writer and former shipping journalist, I myself have seen quid pro quo in action in maritime Manila. Here are some examples:

Manning agencies and unions using cadets as unpaid labour in exchange for giving them a shipboard placement

Maritime publications praising a company or its president in exchange for an advert, an all-expenses-paid trip abroad, or cold cash in an envelope

Maritime executives treating a journalist to a sumptuous lunch at a five-star hotel or giving them gifts at Christsmas time in exchange for a favourable write-up or simply to cultivate friendly relations with the press

Union officials playing footsie with manning agencies in exchange for the continuance of their collective wage agreements

Training centres giving kickbacks (the local euphemistic term is ‘rebates’) to crewing managers in exchange for getting more seafarers to enrol in their training courses

Manning agents giving visiting principals the red carpet treatment (iwine, women and song) in exchange for being retained as agents

Indeed, a unique culture exists in maritime Manila which is based on an ‘I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine’ mentatlity. This culture is continually strengthened by the national obsession with seafaring and manning. Many Filipinos think nothing of it. It is normal to them. Yet, one would really have to be undiscerning to overlook what effect this kind of culture has on individuals as well as society at large. It is summed up in my ebook, Close Encounters in Maritime Manila:

It is a culture of qui pro quos in which people are often goaded by ulterior motives and favours are granted in return for something. Human interaction is reduced to a question of using others or being used by them. People tend to lose sight of what it means to be human and, in the process, unconsciously surrender a portion of their own humanity. For society at large, it is a slow descent into primitivism.

~Barista Uno

The Marine Cafe Blog

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Unsung heroes: remembering maritime pilots in art

Unsung heroes: remembering maritime pilots in art

No applause for them from the shipping press. Nor glowing tributes at fancy awards dinners. Yet, maritime pilots quietly perform work that is nothing short of heroic. Just climbing up the rope ladder to board a ship requires courage and skill. Pilots are on call 24/7 in fair or foul weather to maneuver ships through dangerous or congested harbours and river mouths.

To be sure, the job can be rewarding. Compensation for harbour pilots in the US state of Florida is said to range from $100,000 to $400,000 per annum. Be that as it may, the fact remains that pilots and the service they render are often undervalued and taken for granted. To these brave spirits, I wish to pay tribute by sharing the following works of art. Carry on, gentlemen!

Liver’, Pilot Sloop No. 9
Miles Walters (English, 1774–1849) and Samuel Walters (English, 1811–1882)
Image courtesy of Merseyside Maritime Museum
Shared under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial licence (CC BY-NC).

Steamship, pilot cutter
Ludvig Richarde (Swedish, 1862-1929)
Image courtesy of Sjöhistoriska Museet, Stockholm

A pilot comes aboard a ship, in or after 1666
Joost van Geel (Dutch, 1631–1698)
Image courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Pilot goes aboard, 1882
Bror Anders Wikstrom (Swedish, 1854-1909)
Image from Wikimedia Commons

The Pilot, 1928
Charles Herbert Woodbury (American, 1864–1940)
Image courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The pilot takes a smoke, 1912
Christian Krohg (Norwegian, 1852–1925)
Image courtesy of Lillehammer kunstmuseum (Lillehammer Art Museum)

~Barista Uno

The Marine Cafe Blog

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Calm seas in art: 7 seascapes to soothe the spirit

Calm seas in art: 7 seascapes to soothe the spirit

Barista Uno

“Being myself a quiet individual,” wrote Polish-born British author Joseph Conrad in his 1911 novel, Under Western Eyes, “I take it that what all men are really after is some form or perhaps only some formula of peace.” Not everyone, of course, is of similar disposition. There are those — the Type A personalities usually— who cannot be satisfied with tranquility. They need and crave for action. Some even thrive in conflict. But surely, most humans long for some moment of peace and calmness. The following works of art, I hope, will soothe the spirit of those who seek such moments.

View of Fuji from Miho Bay, 1830
Utagawa Kunisada (Japanese, 1786–1865) / Brooklyn Museum

Evening Glow at Sea (Seta no Sekisho), from Eight Views of the Province Omi (Omi Hakkei), circa 1834
Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797-1858) / Brooklyn Museum

Nacht in Shinagawa, 1922
Negoro Raizan (Japanese, 1880–1963) / Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

The Calm Sea, 1869
Gustave Courbet (French, 1819–1877) / The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Marine Landscape, circa 1895
Alfred Thompson Bricher (1837–1908) / The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Glass Windows, Bahamas, circa 1885
Winslow Homer (American, 1836–1910) / Brooklyn Museum

Calm Before a Storm, Newport, circa 1874
William Trost Richards (American, 1833–1905) / Brooklyn Museum

As William Trost Richards’ painting above shows,  calm waters can be a precursor to a storm. There is no permanent tranquility. This is true of the sea as of life itself — which is all the more reason, I believe, to treasure every moment of peace that comes our way in this troubled world.

~Barista Uno

The Marine Cafe Blog

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Close-up of Filipino maritime cadets as unpaid servants

Close-up of Filipino maritime cadets as unpaid servants

Manning agents in Manila may not be living in palaces. But they have servants at their beck and call just like Tsar Nicholas II and his family (pictured above in a 1902 watercolour drawing by Russian artist Elena Samokysh-Sudkovskaya). And the servants are all young, too — maritime cadets who work as unpaid flunkeys (aka “utility”) and domestic servants in the offices and homes of the agents. What makes them endure months of servitude is the thought that they would one day get to sail as apprentice officers.

In the Marine Café Blog archives:

Filipino maritime cadets as modern-day slaves

The maritime flunkey system is so egregious that I devoted one chapter in my e-book, Close Encounters in Maritime Manila, to the subject. I pointed out that the use of cadets as unpaid labour comes back to the need of manning agents to exercise control. It is a feudal mindset which the following excerpt from the book illustrates:

The managers sat quietly like cadets dining in a mess hall in the presence of the naval academy superintendent. They ate their food without saying a word as Captain T. and I carried on with our conversation. I had never seen such deference in crewing managers in my life.

After a fortnight or so, I happened to be in a mall a walking distance from Captain T.’s office and decided to swing by to see him. We only talked for a few minutes as he had to leave for an outside appointment. It was almost twelve noon, so I said I would likewise go. But Captain T. insisted that I stay for lunch and instructed his crewing managers to take care of me.

It was the same arrangement as before, the cadets waiting on us like dutiful attendants in a sultan’s palace. The only difference was that the managers were more relaxed this time in the absence of their boss. They also talked a great deal.

One of them turned to a cadet, raised his right hand and then curtly pointed down to his empty glass with his stubby index finger. The lad understood the gesture and promptly filled the manager’s glass with iced water.

The manager did not say “please” or call the cadet by his name. He could have at least addressed him as hijo, a Spanish term meaning “son” which some elderly Filipinos still use today when speaking to a young male. But why bother with tradition and the niceties of etiquette when you are dealing with automatons?

Sadly, most people in the local manning community do not see anything wrong with this form of exploitation. Neither the local unions nor the foreign shipowners who sponsor many of the cadet-servants have condemned the practice. This is all so surreal, but it’s part of life in maritime Manila.

~Barista Uno

The Marine Cafe Blog

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