My first encounter with TSP was while working as a laborer for Busse Building and Remodeling in Oakland, CA, during my hiatus between high school and college. Back then TSP stood for Trisodium Phosphate, a nasty cleaner for prepping surfaces for painting, also found in Cheerios. It will dull most anything, including your fingertips.
Since, then I learned a new application for TSP, the Travelling Saleman Problem. I'm sure I came across the problem before, maybe even as a kid when I used to read Martin Garnder books in awe. I used to read his math puzzle column in Scientific American before I even knew what algebra was. For some reason I was always fascinated by math and what it could do. Unfortunately, math turned out not to be one of my best subjects and I couldn't get much past the required math courses in college, even though one of my favorite classes, Control Systems had differential equations as a prerequisite.
My latest foray at conquering my math hurdle involved reading Julian Bucknall's great book, Algorithms and Data Structures. In fact, it is sitting on my desk staring mockingly at me as I type. I read this book cover to cover last summer to kill time while waiting for the horrible bus service at PABT. If you don't know that acronism, consider yourself lucky. Maybe there is a budding mathematician somewhere deep inside me, but at 41, I think, as Hume may have put it, that dream "fell stillborn from my mothers womb." But I persist and one day I may have my cake and eat it, but until then I must trudge on. Lucky for sites like rentacoder and elance. They have helped me immensely.