on january 10, 1992, a great tragedy occurred on the high seas. a cargo ship going from hong kong to seattle was swallowed by a terrible storm. when it emerged from the maelstrom after a long, dark night, several 30-ft cargo containers had been washed overboard. one of them contained a shipment of toys; not your garden-variety toys, mind you, but 29,000 yellow rubber duckies, blue turtles, red beavers, and green frogs.

all were presumed lost at sea, never to be cherished by small children in bathtubs across america, never to be chewed lovingly by the family dog. a brief memorial service was held by the captain to mark their passing.

but wait! ten months later, our intrepid little friends began washing up on the shores of sitka, alaska, and have been circling the oceans of the globe ever since. nations rejoiced, and 11 years of oceanographic research was spawned (a science now referred to as ‘flotsametrics’, its practitioners calling themselves ‘driftologists’).

when asked why they engineered these little toys to be so tough, the chinese engineers replied, ‘well, we didn’t want some poor child to cry because his rubber ducky sank in the bathtub.’

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