my upstairs neighbors shoveled the sidewalks this morning but left the whole backyard for me to dig out; of course since they also had to dig out their 3 cars, i can see how they wouldn't have time to do the backyard as well. i waited for the sleet storm to be over in the afternoon before i went outside to do some shoveling. there was a slight risk i could've been sheared in half by the sliding sheets of snow and ice sliding off from two adjacent 3 story condos, but fortunately that didn't happen.

i don't think anyone grunts as much and as loudly as i do when they shovel. i had good reason to be straining though since this was the wet and heavy stuff, snow on the top but slush on the bottom. carving a path into the backyard wasn't too bad; the hard part came later, when i worked on clearing some snow on the street.

project number 1 was digging a passageway out into the street. digging was the easy part; where to put the snow was the challenge. there was already a mound of snow about 6 feet high. throwing the snow up onto the summit required some effort, but even if it made, chances are it'd just roll off the side. i figured out a trick though: with a shovel full of wet snow, i could quickly swing the handle and dump the snow onto the top of the mound without it sliding back down.

project number 2 was clearing out a parking space. my next door neighbor renee was parked in the 2 spots i cleared out last week. she parked in such a way though that only one car (her car) could fit. that left a partial parking spot that quickly filled up with snow from tuesday and today. i knew if i didn't clear it out, it would stay like that for the rest of the winter. once more i was left the problem of where to put the snow. i pilled it on the snow banks lining the sidewalk, but the snow i was adding was too heavy so it toppled the snow bank onto the parking spot, so i had to shovel all that snow again. i finally cleared the space but it was a pyrrhic victory since no car can fit in it.

project number 3 - the last civic engineering project of the day - was to dig some canals to channel the melting snow into the storm drain. the sleet that fell today didn't do use any favors. it melted some snow, but all the storm drains are so blocked up that the streets began to flood. plus the temperature will go back down to freezing tonight and everything will be frozen solid by morning. in order to get started, i first i had to dig out the storm drain, which i located from memory since it was completely buried. once that was done, the rest came easy. i cleared away enough slush and ice that the water just found its own way down into the storm drain. hearing that water trickle away was very satisfying because i probably saved the street from becoming an overnight skating rink.

so that two day storm finally ended: powdery snow on tuesday, wet sleet on wednesday. although there wasn't much snow to shovel today, what little there was was harder to clean because it was heavier. and now that everything is wet, next comes the freezing. in hindsight, maybe another foot of snow would've been better than all this sleet. next scheduled snowstorm looks to be this saturday; i heard maybe 6" of snow this time.

of course all that manual labor put a kink in my work schedule. it was getting dark anyway, so i decided to print out those passport photos for my father instead. i dug out my old epson stylus photo R200. i printed out a nozzle test strip which looked okay so i printed out a sheet of images on photo paper. the photos were a little large (passport photos have to be 2x2") but the bigger issue was the quality was pretty awful. apparently i didn't read the nozzle test strip correctly and any missing bands meant there'd be gaps in the printed photos. i ended up replacing all the inks since i think the inks i was using were still the originals. good thing i bought 2 sets of inks a while back. once the new inks were in place (6 cartridges: black, cyan, light cyan, magenta, light magenta, yellow) i thought my problems were over but the printer wouldn't recognize the ink cartridges because they were official epson brand (apparently it checks to see if it has an epson microchip). i fixed the problem by mixing and match out and new inks. for some reason that seemed to solve it, and eventually i swapped out all the old inks with the new ones and this time the printer recognized them.

so i put in a sheet of photo paper and printed. the result was pretty awful, the colors were overly-saturated, and there was even more banding than before. maybe the inks went bad from not having used them for so long. or maybe it takes a few prints before the colors stabilize. i was also having nozzle issues and i read online that epson inkjet printers are notorious for clogged print nozzles, and it's cheaper to buy a brand new printer than it is to have the nozzles replaced/repaired. then i read elsewhere that a few simple drops of windex on the inner sponge head might fix the nozzle issue. i tried it and it did clear up the magenta nozzle (the one that was giving me problems) but now a bunch of new missing nozzle bands are showing up for the black ink. i dropped some more windex onto the sponge head and will let it overnight to clean. i may not need to buy a new inkjet printer after all!

for dinner i had some chinese dumplings i got from the cafe last night. and what's dumplings without my garlic sauce? i even went to star market earlier just to get some more garlic because i didn't think i had enough. i nearly finished a whole garlic bulb; i don't think i'll be talking with anyone for the rest of the week.