Stay in Your Lane: Part 2    by    Christopher Havens

Ciao! I hope you liked the first part in three of an interesting bit of my story. I’m looking forward to writing more on my current views and endeavors soon, just as soon as we’re done here. Please enjoy this second installment.


Our current research has been interesting to say the least. It gives a good example of what one must go through JUST to study math at a higher level inside of a prison. This new project is so incredibly fulfilling to me. I just want to be a contributing asset to this project, because it’s so beautiful. So I have decided that I would problem solve around my being technologically handicapped. For this, I definitely did not “stay in my lane”. One of the problems in our research involved some serious legwork in pattern recognition. I needed to make lists of.. basically binary strings. I spent several days writing out lists and found that I needed much larger lists. This is where a computer would be awesome. I decided to message Tom Bates, a mathematical artist who makes art via his own version of the chaos game ( I proposed to him that we trade some of my own mathematical art for some computer generated lists. Apparently, “The code, especially in python, …is trivial and the run time is blink-of-an-eye level.”. For me, however, would take approximately 63 gallons of coffee and the run time is something that would be computed by my grand children.

And so I began drawing. I’ll mention that my style of art has evolved into very unconventional applications of ink on paper. I learned that I can thin my ink by removing it from the pen and mixing in some cheap deodorant. I remove it with a straight piece of paper clip, by pushing the ink out of the pen. Let me draw you a picture of what my room looked like while drawing this piece. 1 jar lid full of ink. 1 ink stained stick of deodorant, several metal rods bent from paper clips and a mess contained in a two meter blast radius. By a sarcastic stroke of probability, this was the one day in a two month period where a pair of prison guards stopped by my room. What would have been a quick enter and exit, became a full on search and seizure of what looked to them to be a tattooing operation on a large scale! I was only about 10 feet away when they entered my room and I immediately shook my head.. knowing that everything I use for drawing, is also used for tattooing. As they were in the process of ransacking my things, I peeked in and gave them the old “I know how this looks.. I can explain everything.”. The officers thought I was running a tattoo parlor.. an act that could affect my release date. That was a close call. 

After the art was finished and sent out, the traded computer work was being sent in. It came in four envelopes, since there were somewhere in the ballpark of 800 pages. The first envelope came in fine. This enabled me to begin working on one of the problems that I would not normally have the means to work on. I would have a start, until the rest of the envelopes arrived, where I could finish. Several days later I received a mail rejection notice.. The envelopes were seized for “containing messages written in code”. This just cements my suspicion that there is nothing worse than a conspiracy theorist with math anxiety. The claim was that this coding contained plans for activities that violates state/federal law, the Washington Administrative Code, and several other things. The funny part is that the lists were only the first 2^12 values congruent to 1 modulo m. Basically a simple arithmetic progression of natural numbers written in both base 10 and base 2 along side it. …literally having their direct translation right next to each other. All in the name of science, right? …and “poof” we have research!

These are the things that you can expect to happen in studying and researching mathematics in prison. Even the act of sitting in on a lecture requires an unconventional approach. …unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until the last part, as we have reached the end of part 2.

Next time finishes the story! Until then, have a wonderful day!!