14 March 2016

Happy Pi Day

I woke up this morning to a reminder from my brother-in-law that today is Pi Day.  There's nothing quite like waking up and realizing that instead of an ordinary day, you get a great holiday to celebrate instead.

During alumni weekend every year at Walla Walla University, the math department holds the Randy Yaw Pi Contest to see who can recite the most digits of Pi from memory.  First prize is $314.15, second prize is $31.41, third prize is $3.14, fourth prize is $.31, fifth prize is $.03, and sixth prize (perhaps the best of all) is approximately one sixth of a penny, specially designed and carved out by one of the math professors each year.

Then when the contest is over, everyone eats pie.

My freshman year of college, a friend of mine made it through 1212 digits before she faltered.  I'm not sure what the record is now, but I think she had the record then.

I didn't ever officially enter the contest, although I had memorized 50 or so digits for fun, and I had always wanted to work out a system to set Pi to music, even though I never seemed to get around to doing so.

Sometimes the best memories are made when you're not expecting them in the least, and that's precisely what happened once when I was walking across campus on the day of the Pi contest.

Seeing two friends, I greeted them and asked, "What are you guys up to?"

"We're practicing to go sing Pi at the Pi contest."

"Really?  I've always wanted to do that!"  I could hardly contain my excitement, and I'm pretty sure I barged in on their plans without so much as an invitation.  We practiced it in parts, two of us at the octave, and one in the middle at the fifth to imitate the style of perfect parallel organum.  Then we were off to make our debut, only minutes after deciding to stop our performance at a moment in Pi where an 8 followed a 5.  You know, for a good cadence.

We got a standing ovation, and we thoroughly enjoyed our pie.

Little did I know then that one of those Pi-singing  friends would become my brother-in-law, and that he would be sending Pi music videos to the whole family on Pi day.


  1. There you go, making me all homesick again. :) Ahhhh, good memories!!!

  2. Oh, that's such a GREAT memory!! And I had just realized that it was Pi day!! AWESOME!

  3. I had not head this story before. I think it is another reason you were destined to be part of their family,


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