like a million tiny crystalline ninja stars falling from the sky, the snow started coming down this morning. with all this talk of global warming, who knows when's the next time i'll get to see snow again, so i went out with my camera to get some snowflake photos for the scrapbook. every winter i try to at least stop one time to admire these snowflakes. it boggles the mind that something so intrinsically beautiful and ephemeral can cause so much havoc. bruce and i tentatively agreed to do some snow walking once i found more time.

maybe it was all that precipitation falling outside, but for some reason i decided to do water changes on both my aquariums. i started with the guppy tank, vacuuming the gravel and siphoning out 2 gallons of water. after dumping the old water, i filled the bucket up again with tap water and treated it with ammo-lock to remove the chlorine and chloramines and detoxify the ammonia. while waiting for the chemical to work its magic (although it's supposed to be instantaneous), i scrubbed the tank walls to clean off the algae. winter tap water is about 40 something degrees so in order to not freeze shock the fish to death, i had to warm up the water somehow before pouring it into the tank. so i boiled some water on the stove then added it to the bucket. the temperature only went up to 55 degrees but it was better than before. while rinsing out the filter, it literally deteriorated from the cartridge holder. this gave me the perfect excuse to swap out the whisper filter with the biowheel filter.

it took a few moments for the biowheel to turn but once it did it added a certain rustic charm to the aquarium. the water cascading from the wheel was distractingly loud, but once i put the specially-designed cover on the wheel, it was relatively silent, with an occasional gurgle. (bonus: watch a homemade quicktime movie of the biowheel in action). once the guppy tank was finished i moved on to the 7 minibow. vacuumed the gravel, replaced 2 gallons worth of water (with heated ammo-locked water), and scrubbed the walls of algae. the old water from the minibow was cleaner than the guppy tank (which makes sense, i clean the minibow more often).

by the late afternoon i went out to shovel the sidewalk (first of many shoveling) before meeting bruce to take a tour of the wintery landscape. the snow, though light, came down at a pretty good clip - fast enough that after shoveling a new layer of powder would soon accumulate. there was also a great deal of wind, which would become a factor later. we first went to brooks so i could stock up on some sweets. bruce discovered a carton of post-valentine candy, necco hearts for just 5 cents a box. we then walked to the radcliffe quadrangle, where we almost died when a woman lost control of her car on the slippery road and plowed onto the sidewalk. granted, she was going 2 miles per hour, and we were standing a few yards away, but still, WE ALMOST DIED. from radcliffe i proposed we walk all the way to harvard square, but bruce didn't think he could make it that far and compromised to harvard common and back. returning via mass ave, the weather got progressively worse, as we were pelted by a blustery mixture of snow and sleet.

when evening rolled around, i went out to shovel the sidewalk once more before heading to jerica's new place in central square for her mac lovers' tagine dinner night. for some reason i thought i could walk it but with the serious blizzard i opted for the overpriced MBTA.

besides the hostess, eliza was there as well as their co-worker stephen. jerica, just back from morocco, made tagine, a moroccan dish. she made it in a special slow-cooking pot (also called "tagine") shaped like a cylindrical pyramid.

the recent slew of layoffs at their company was the topic du jour. jerica also answered questions about her trip, from the treatment of women to moroccan smells (worst smell: the tannery). she showed us some of the stuff she bought (and didn't buy, like the smoking pipe) and took out ziploc bags filled with saharan sand. some of it spilled out on the table and both eliza and i tasted it just for kicks (not everyday you get to taste the sahara, which is salty and has the consistency and color of cinnamon powder).

we never did get to any real mac stuff, despite the fact that i had my macbook in my bag. the topic shifted to myspace and that's when i found out stephen rides a motorcycle as well. i don't know a whole lot of people who ride so i instantly had a bunch of questions to ask him. all the while eliza was debating whether she should get a scooter this summer or possibly a motorcycle.

since all of us got here via public transportation, once it started getting close to midnight we decided to end the dinner party before the MBTA closed for the night. jerica walked us out to mass ave, fearful that maybe we'd get lost in the snowdrifts, despite being inebriated enough herself to possibly not make it back home. it was still snowing, but more sleet than flakes, and all the snow on the ground started to become wet, compacted snow. eliza and stephen went inbound while i grabbed the outbound train. at porter square i recharged my charlie card before walking back home. after dropping off my stuff, i went back outside to shovel the sidewalk for the 3rd time. now that it was raining, it was better to shovel now before everything freezes up in the morning.