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Patrick Stinson, a student at the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts in Hot Springs, was the undisputed winner in the pi contest at the school this year.

How many digits of pi can you recite? For us, it would be fewer than the fingers we might put in a pie.

Pi day at ASMSA is, of course, on March 14 (3-14). On that day, the Batesville native recited 1,020 digits of pi, which is 1,017 more than The Observer knows, and would have been 1,020 had we not gotten a press release.

As a reward, Patrick got to throw a pizza party for the guys in his dorm and to toss cream pies at various (volunteer) ASMSA staff members. Diana Hampo, dean of student affairs, said Patrick threw them, slammed them with two hands, dumped them on heads, pushed to the chest ... he’s a very creative lad.

So that’s how to get into the University of Chicago.

The Observer can’t even memorize a new phone number. But we have a memory, of sorts. It bubbled to the top of the old gray matter the other day, as we watched our teen-ager try to work a Coke machine.

Kraftco, the building supply store on Cantrell, a throwback to an earlier day, with low ceilings and an infinite number of nails, tacks, tools, pots, pans, ice cream machines, batteries and men who can find them in an instant, has a Coke machine that requires only two quarters (that’s 50 cents for those of you in The Observer’s math corner) to get a soda. The teen was thrilled, and put in 50 cents. And just stood there. Like the rest of her generation, and several letters above hers, waiting to be handed her reward.

“You have to open the door,” The Observer informed her. “And get the can yourself.”

So what we remembered was the crank on the Coke machine at Smith’s Drug Store in our pre-pubescent days when we were still allowed to drink Coke (but not later, because it would cause acne, The Observer’s mother insisted). You put in a nickel and a penny and pushed a crank that released a small bottle into an opening. Then you had to use the opener on the machine to open the Coke. That’s all you got, too. Just Coke.

The same teen-ager is the source of this news: Thanks to scheming by the PTA president, on March 20, the booming bass voice of Craig O’Neill came over the intercoms at Central High School. His message: It was principal Nancy Rousseau’s birthday. Her 60th. So tell her happy birthday.

It’s hard not to do what the voice who always gets the God parts at church tells you to do. Happy birthday, Ms. Rousseau.

From an anonymous Observer:

“The world record for safest ad appears every Monday in the Democrat: ‘All the Sushi You Can Eat.’ ”
“The world’s most accurate place name: Nutters Chapel Road in Conway.”

Dr. Seuss published “The Lorax” in 1971, but its message of environmental responsibility has barely made a difference. We continue to sacrifice species for thneeds, those useless items that everyone needs. It’s easier to say that the earth is warming itself in cycles than to admit that we may have to drive less, or, perhaps, seriously think about our children who will have to live in the altered environment we leave behind. Denial is especially pronounced in societies bent on convenience and quick fixes.

As we pondered this at our desk by the elevator, the elevator doors opened and a sweet youngster wheeled in on those flashy “roller shoes” that kids glide all over town in. She politely said hello, breezily disappeared, and then re-emerged with a voluminous trash bag full of cans.

The Observer inquired, “Are you going to recycle those cans?” The youngster smiled and said, “Yeah. I recycle cans, and bottles, and newspapers.” The list continued. She then paused, and asked, “Do YOU recycle?” It was a sublime engagement, one that The Observer was grateful to have been a part of. If this kid can recognize the sheer ease of recycling and the imperative of a non-wasteful existence, then why do so many adults, The Observer wondered, lack the same conviction? The Observer bade the non-denier farewell, feeling far less forlorn for the trees and happy that a younger generation gets what Dr. Seuss was saying: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing’s going to get better. It’s not.”

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