Pi Me a River



It’s snowing in Seattle today, a rare event that causes an odd mixture of excitement and panic among residents.  Young residents like my eleven-year-old were hoping for a more impressive downfall, but alas, we mostly got streets full of splattery slush.  It’s still coming down, though, so maybe there’s hope for snowy fun tomorrow.


In the meantime, Little Bit can apply herself to learning more digits of pi.


My child has an unusual facility with numbers.  I don’t just mean she’s good at math.  I mean she easily remembers strings of numbers that no one else would recall, and she remembers them over long periods of time.


A typical conversation:


Tigger (my teenager): Mom, I need more money on my lunch account.

Me (writing check): Okay, what’s your student number?

Tigger: Ummmm…

Me: Do I have to ask your sister?

Little Bit: 9450281 (or whatever the heck the number is)

Me: How do you remember that?  It’s not even *your* student number.

Little Bit: (shrugs)


In LB’s 5th grade class, the kids are numbered from 1 to 25 (or however many are in the class—I can’t even remember that number).  Their numbers change every year as some kids leave and new kids come in.  Not only does LB know the numbers of every kid in the class, she knows what every kid’s number was in 4th grade.  And 3rd grade.  And 2nd grade.  It’s a little spooky.


So naturally, she has been memorizing digits of pi.  You know, the number that begins 3.14159…?  That’s as far as I know it.  She’s up to 140 digits.  This is her method: Study new digits in blocks of 10 or 20.  Once memorized, spend a few days practicing, until they are solidly learned.  Then add the next block of 10 or 20.  How far will she go before she tires of this game?  I don’t know.  But it is safe to say this kid will never forget her locker combination.


In other news, it’s mid-January and I have so far kept my New Year’s resolution: throw out, give away, or otherwise dispose of at least one piece of useless crap that’s cluttering up my house every day in 2012.  Actually, most days I dispose of far more than one piece of useless crap.  This has resulted in a neat and tidy mudroom already.  My office is my current target.  Over the last few days I have chucked a pile of manuals for computers I no longer own and instructions for software from another era.  Can I keep this up for an entire year?  Yes, yes, I think I can.  One of my friends on the devil facebook remarked that one could easily find 365 pieces of useless crap in a single junk drawer, and that crap should really be measured in pounds.  Another friend noted that this is a leap year and I will have to find one additional piece of crap.  As if that would be a problem for me.  I assure you, it won’t.


And now I see the snow has stopped but the temperature is dropping, so there’s the hazard of icy roads to contend with.  My plans for the evening include cocoa and part 3 of the John Adams miniseries.  If I’m feeling daring, I may throw a shot of amaretto in my cocoa.  That’s just how I roll.




9 thoughts on “Pi Me a River

  1. Memory for numbers is hard to explain.  I’ve been out of high school for more than 40 years and I can tell you that my locker combination was 32-1-30.  But I can’t remember my locker number.  Kudos to Little Bit.

  2. Get her started on the table of elements and bonds!  Molecular geometry, empirical formulas would probably be really easy for her to pick up especially if her talent for memorization is also true for patterns.

  3. Wow, I never thought I’d know someone close to this fascinating phenomena; I feel enumerated. Tying it all together, I do remember in about 2nd grade praying for snow, so I’d have free time, up in my cold attic room, to continue entries in my little stolen notebook where I had modestly resolved to carefully write down all the numbers clear up to 1000 and their factors. They were my best friends. But my mom didn’t much understand; insisted I clean my room instead. Felt like just throwing the stuff out the window; more room for numbers, which are eternal.Be very proud.

  4. Fascinating bit about Little Bit.  I have always had a very good memory, but I have realized that this really only applies to faces, names, facts, etc.  Numbers just don’t stick with me.  Congrats on all the dejunking.  I am in awe of your office motivation.  My office is a current project in procrastination. The desk and cabinets are beyond disastrous, so I sneak past the door in hopes that the mess won’t jump up and grab me.  OBL would fall over if she saw it. 

  5. Love John Adams miniseries!  I’m not great with numbers.  I do have a facility with random obscure historical information.  Unfortunately, this does not endear me to many in my immediate household… (my son did enjoy the JA miniseries with me, though).  

  6. When did LB get to get in 5th grade?  That’s just wrong!I know all of the phone numbers I have ever had, I think.  But only 3 digits of pi ( maybe 4, if I’m allowed to count the decimal).  And I can’t do roman numerals after the X’s.  But I know addresses and phone numbers for people I haven’t seen in years (as long as they haven’t moved without telling me).  Too bad these aren’t actual useful skills, huh?

  7. I missed reading this while I was having a transformative experience. But I’m such a good internet pal that I stopped by to make sure I hadn’t missed anything…and look! I had! Notice I am only leaving one space at the ends of sentences. It’s an all-around great day for me. I am terrible with numbers and I am also always surprised when I can remember a new phone or address or other identifying number. I always wonder, “how did I *do* that?” It’s such an odd skill, to be able to remember a random assortment of numbers. Yet extremely useful, as you just illustrated.

  8. OMG that sounds like the best night ever. And I thought I was the only one drinking amaretto in my hot chocolate. And the Adams series was amazing; love Paul Giamatti. 

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