April Monthly Gathering – 28,800 Rubber Duckies

On the night of January 10, 1992, an enormous container ship from China, crossing the north Pacific, ran into a storm and eventually lost several tractor trailer sized containers to the sea. This actually happens quite often and some people get their kicks hunting down Adidas sneakers, or the ten thousand catcher’s mitts or hockey sticks that bob to the surface after the ocean pops the container open. But on this Friday night the cargo was 28,800 floating bath toys.

Join us at 7:00 pm (Eastern), on Saturday, April 20, when Donovan Hohn, our guest speaker, will relate how he read an article about the 28,800 floating toys, and the search for information about them took over his life for the next three years! He figured he would interview a few oceanographers, talk to a few beachcombers, read up on Arctic science and geography, and ascertain the global ecological impact. But questions can be like ocean currents: wade in too far, and they carry you away. Hohn’s accidental odyssey pulls him into the secretive arena of shipping conglomerates, the daring work of Arctic researchers, the lunatic risks of maverick sailors, and the shadowy world of Chinese toy factories. This is the true story of a journey into the heart of the sea and an adventure through science, myth, the global economy, and some of the worst weather imaginable.

Donovan Hohn is the author of The Inner Coast: Essays (2020) and Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea (2011)New York TimesNotable Book and runner-up for both the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction and the PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. His essays have appeared in such publications as Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Lapham’s Quarterly, and The New Republic. A recipient of the Whiting Writer’s Award and an NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, Hohn spent a number of years editing essays, fiction, and literary journalism at Harper’s. He has taught nonfiction in the MFA program of the University of Michigan and is now Director of Creative Writing at Wayne State University. 

You can attend Mr. Hohn’s live presentation at the Northwest Unitarian Universalist Church in Southfield, at 7:00 p.m. (EDT), on Saturday, April 20, for a chance to also mingle with your fellow Mensans and guests, or join us via Zoom.

There is no charge for the Zoom presentation, but, due to rising costs, your donation via PayPal is greatly appreciated. Please donate $5! To donate go to http://www.paypal.com and click on the “Send Money” tab. Enter the e-mail address treasurer@nullmensadetroit.com and your payment amount. Be sure to include a notation that your donation is for “SEMM Zoom Presentations.”

The Zoom room opens at 6:30pm (Eastern) for mingling. The program starts at 7:00pm (Eastern). Please remember that all attendees need to pre-register by clicking on the following link: https://tinyurl.com/SEMM-2024-Gathering