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Thanks, Loki.

It is ghoulish to admit, but no less genuine than my emotions of dismay and anger at his senselessly death were the technical problems of offering him the respect and dignity we each deserve, however flawed our choices, plus creating for readers who didn't know our world a sense of his stature within it. The piece was heart-felt and wrote itself first draft. I could fuss with it, fleshing out the narrative, spinning the lessons other ways, as Kierkergaard does with the Isaac story in Fear and Trembling, but we on the waterfront are unlettered folk, and I was already pushing hard in playing off of Conrad's portrait of Lord Jim.

When I got into the trade at the late age of 34, I was a mere kid to the men who worked the waterfront, many of whom had built or sailed the Liberty ships. Now, I'm one of the graybeards, but no new blood is coming into the marine trades, and we are dying off, a couple of guys a year, and generally from things that could be sidestepped or at least better managed. How to balance personal freedoms and group responsibilities? the choices one makes that affect only yourself against the choices one makes that affects others?

How must his family feel? “Dad went to work today and he died.” A friend saw Jim going out the gate at quitting time the day before and said “Hi” to him but was struck by the fact that Jim didn't respond coherently and seemed disoriented. Clues were there that Jim should have been at the doctor's office that day instead of coming to work, as he should have been at the doctor's months ago, doing preventative maintenance and the necessary repairs. It's not like the concept is foreign to us, of doing things right to begin with before the problems snowball. But the saying is easy and the doing is hard, and Jim is dead, and we miss him.

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When Life Gives You Lemons
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