What do you do at work on a typical day?
hrmm.. check LJ.. read web-comics.. cruise random interesting pages from del.icio.us or MeFi.. oh, you meant what *work* do I do? ahhh. hehe..
I fix computers. My job title actually has some rather impressive fancy words in it, but the reality of the situation is that if something happens or needs to happen, and it involves computers in any way (seriously, *any* involvement of computers at all), people call me if they either need help doing it or are simply too lazy to do it themselves (I shit you not, I've had to carry computers from one room to the other and dust off the space behind a desk where it was to be going -- nothing technical involved, just physically moving the computer and smashing dust-bunnies). This covers things ranging from helping people decide which computer they want/need/can afford, to installing software and training them how to use it, to moving all their data from the old system over to the new one, and on.. I evaluate older systems for appropriateness of use in future applications, I debug system errors with systems currently in use and try to squeeze as much efficency out of them. I also take care of scavenging any usefull parts of systems before they get junked and manage marking off systems that are to be recycled or surplussed. I set up and maintain a few servers, I help maintain a few others, I help debug network problems and help to predict network/server usage/need over the comming years. I also have a few committies that I'm on where I meet with other folk around campus in similar positions to mine where we discuss campus-wide issues and essencially do the same thing we normally do, but on a university-wide level instead of only looking at our individual colleges.
And all this has happened over this past week. :) Fortunately I'm not alone. I have one co-worker and we have about 4 student assistants.
so, yeah, I work with computers in the beautifully vague area known as "IT".
Do you get excited about math or science? Is it an interest you like to share with others?
I truly do love math. I'd have to, to be torturing myself like this. :) Not many people enroll in an graduate program in Mathematics if they don't somehow love it. Science I'm fascinated by, but not so much as I feel scientists often ignore far too much and they try to reduce things beyond what is reasonable. I am highly energised by math and I love to try and share this with everyone. It's something of a crusade of mine, actually, to attempt to share what I percieve to be true math with everyone I meet. Far too many people either dislike or fear math, when I feel they don't even know what math is. And no, this isn't just like the guys that say "if you don't like sex, then you haven't been with the right man". The way I see it, numbers have nothing to do with math. Most people only get through the basic high-school "math" requirements and perhaps take a simple "Algebra1" course in college, but then stop saying that they "hate math". Sorry, but those classes have nothing at all to do with what Mathematics is truly about. Mathematics is about patterns. Mathematics the language of the spheres, not just a bunch of dizzying equations describing when X or Y may or may not be equal to Z. Mathematics is the art of considering a topic, and comming to a conclusion based on nothing other than intuition and reason. Mathematics is learning that if you need Foo before you can do Baz, then you better not try doing Baz without first ensuring that you have Foo (a simple enough concept, but one that I notice far too many people lack understanding of).
In all, Mathematics is the art of describing the world and perceiving the workings of what we perceive about us. It is not just something I have a fondness for, it is (and has been for half my life) a passion that keeps me waking up in the morning. I take every opportunity to discuss Mathematical ideas with people. On the Light Rail (public transportation) on the way home from work, in the grocery store looking at tomatoes, during a pizza party while half-drunk. Math is everywhere around us and I try to get people to forget all that boring shit about "a squared plus b squared" and open their eyes to the relationship between a point, a circle, and a sphere. Or how many more points there are in a line than a circle, or a line and the plane. How the leaves along a branch of a tree allways grow in a spiral, and that spiral is the exact same for every member of a species, and how all the species of tree (all plants, in fact) use a spiral that approximates a certain particular spiral. Simple concepts, nothing that requires more than about 5 minutes of thought and certainly nothing that requires any formal mathematical training, but enough to hopefully open people's eyes to the fact that there is far more to math than what they've been exposed to -- and none of it is hard to understand.
Well, I suppose it could be inferred from the length my my answer that yes, I am a bit excited about math. I don't like the way it's taught (or, rather, not taught) at the lower levels and I feel it is simple enough for anyone to understand. I'm sort of considering trying to put together some mini-lessons.. introductions to various areas of math, assuming no background knowledge, and helping to open up people's eyes to "what it's all about". This is something I'd like to eventually do, but nothing I'm spending much time on unfortunately.