Monday, March 14, 2016

Pi to the Maximus for Pizza Lovers

If I had to list my 10 favorite things in the world alongside my 10 biggest bummers, pizza and math would line up at roughly parallel position in the bottom half of each group. I know that sounds uncomfortably close to a math problem—and math problems make my ears sweat. I stopped paying attention to math in seventh grade when Mrs. Anderson introduced that knee-slapper about John taking a train from New York to Chicago at 60 MPH while Jane jumped the AMTRAK from LA to Chitown going 90. She added some more facts I couldn’t follow and brought the whole damn travelogue together with a request to know how much quicker the obviously fake-named Jane would arrive in the Windy City. My elegant one-line homework response was uncluttered by numbers and cross-outs and algebraic symbols: “They should have taken a plane.”

To each her own, but I’d never conflate numbers crunching with delicious pizza hot out of the oven. I’m well aware, though, that you pizza operators have no choice but to do the math. In fact, geometry threatens to subtract from U.S. pizza profits thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s calorie-listing requirements on chain pizzeria menus. Unless the recently passed Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, now awaiting Senate confirmation and President Obama’s signature (could be a long wait), stops this train, pizzerias specializing in “non-uniform” sectors, like the Chicago square-cut-style standout Rosati’s Pizza, might be forced to list calorie counts by the pie instead of the slice.

You know, the only course I ever flunked was high school geometry. I earned that F word legitimately with a semester’s worth of feckless fear tinged with frustration. Finding the value of angles in Isosceles Triangles on a test or homework, for my undiagnosed ADD-short-circuited teenage mind, was equivalent to finding my dad’s missing car keys (ALWAYS lost by me) before the short-fused Naval aviator blew his lid. The probabilities of a solution, in either case, hovered imperceptivity North of Absolute Zero.  Now the number 0, of course, is shaped like a circle—and a clear majority of pizzas—as you left-side brainiacs will so smugly attest.

Which brings me to National Pi Day and Pi’s mystical relationship to the common people’s beloved cheesy dough discs.  I know you thought I was angling for a Mystic Pizza reference, but that’s one of the few 80s flicks I somehow missed. Conversely, you trigheads never seem to miss an opportunity to quote your hallowed axiom that “Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, measuring 3.14 159265… going on forever without repeating. Forever means eternity, dudes and dudettes, and eternity is the opposite of zero, and that’s very cool! It’s awesome, even if I’m much more familiar with Debrah Kerr’s beach-scene position in From Here to Eternity than the position of zero in the set of whole numbers. Point is Pi isn’t lost on math nerds or pizza pie lovers who come together March 14 (3/14, get it?) every year to celebrate two elemental constants that hold our vast universe in balance. And yes, it’s a good day to score discounted pizzas. So Pi to the maximus my math-inclined friends and countrymen!



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