Sometimes I suspect I may be insane.

I am prepared to spend the next 10 years studying Linear Algebra, Multivariable Calculus, and Differential Equations to see how these are interconnected. If one is young, perhaps they imagine this leading somewhere, but does it make sense to strive day after day, year after year, to gain a deeper understanding of these subjects for no apparent purpose whatsoever?

I don't know the answer to this. Were anyone to question me as to why I am devoting my life to this pursuit at this stage of my life, I honestly might consider confessing that I am insane.

I have to consider the guilt and shame many must experience when chasing euphoric blasts of crack co-caine, and while I may feel guilty for collecting used math textbooks at bargain prices, there are those moments of great peace I experience when I settle down and proceed through a text.

The thing is, as you know, there is no racing through a mathematics textbook. In fact, the more "honest" my engagement with the text is, the slower I will proceed.

What is the point of all this studying? There doesn't have to be a point.

All I know is that this is what I am most interested in. If I were placed in a cell, I would most miss access to such textbooks - as well as computing technologies.

By the way, while searching for texts which combined Linear Algebra and Multivariable Calculus, I noticed a couple books that were recently released by Robert Ghrist that have been optimized for phones and tablets.

Calculus BLUE Multivariable Volume 1: Vectors & MatricesCalculus BLUE Multivariable Volume 2: DerivativesThese are colorful, and while I first thought it's not really my style, on second thought, they look kind of promising considering I want to develop my appreciation for interweaving linear algebra concepts with multivariable calculus concepts. What better place to start than vectors and matrices (in 3-D). One of the basic mind shifts I would like to experience has to do with harmonizing algebraic and geometric representation of phenomena.

I wonder if the reader of such electronic texts is going to need pencil and paper to follow along ... Actually I am curious to see how the author goes about describing the "geometry of determinants". Insight like that would be just what I'm looking for. I mean, determinants reveal the characteristics of what the matrix "does" right?

I found an 876 page text called Multivariable Calculus, Linear Algebra, and Differential Equations selling for $5. It's from 1986.

And yet, the phone books might give food for thought for one who is on the road like our Holden here.

I am half way through

the large Poole text, but, at this point, since I have just been liberated from a kind of hell (for me), I want to be much more spontaneous. I mean, I want to go through several textbooks simultaneously, each kind of interconnected with the others.

I am sure that what I am "doing with my life" would be considered a waste ... and yet universities all over this world of ours have no problem putting millions upon millions of students in debt for doing just what I do in my leisure.

On some level what I am doing feels deviant. One may sympathize with someone who chases chemical euphoria through drugs or booze or sex, but to study mathematics and programming in an obsessive and compulsive manner day after day may seem downright creepy, weird, and horrific - unless, of course, the one doing the studying had some kind of practical goal that involved gainful employment.

I just want to understand more. Cryptic notation ... I want to understand more of it.

It is a difficult obsession to justify. Mathematics ... philosophy ...

Why would I want to figure out the determinant of a 4 by 4 matrix?

OK, so my life has taken a dramatic turn.

I am glad I sent The H Files out to Holden just before my downward spiral was "arrested". Perhaps I won't ever again be talking into a recorder drunk.

So, if it seems as though my obsession with the kind of math twenty year old math majors and engineers study in the universities is a total waste of time, it would have to depend on the effects this activity has on my psychological state.

For all intents and purposes I am staying alive out of habit and to be a companion to my aging mother. In the meantime I want to really learn what I studied 16 years ago. Why? Why bother?

I don't know why. I don't have to justify it. Or do I?

Oh well, that's enough crying for now. I'm going to compute some determinants of a few 4x4 matrices. No, I have nothing better to do.

Someone could place a case of Molson Ice in front of me, and I would have to remove it from the domicile. It is crucial for me to PREFER to compute determinants over taking refuge in alcoholic oblivion.

I will have to use my "loser" status in "the social order" to my advantage as a student of mathematics.

Also, my age will protects me from employment. I'm just a lifelong student ... a Dostoyevskian character, really.

The computer algebra software, Derive, that we used in 1994 no longer exists. Now a Derive-like kernel is built right into the TI-Nspire CX CAS graphing calculator.

Why not continue my education in private?

I really don't have anything else I would rather be doing.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

I am so Hikikomori!

Of course, just because I focus on certain areas these days does not mean I am any less interested in Number Theory or Abstract Algebra. I had fun working with the Chinese Remainder Theorem from September through November, and I intend to return to the code eventually.

The thing is, we only have so many hours available since we have to eat and sleep. Fortunately I escaped many harnesses since I have not reproduced. It's all quite a paradox, but not quite a mystery, as far as how I have come to have time to love mathematics again at this point in time.

And so I say PEACE to you, Holden.