I had just built a DIY microscope kit for my iPhone when my father-in-law posted a video of people blowing freezing bubbles on Facebook. Having spent the last couple days getting macro shots of everything in my house, I wondered what the freezing bubble film would look like under a microscope. After a bit of Googling I realized that close-up video of bubble crystals were hard to come by. And so I spent the next five weeks discovering just why that was.
It wasn't until my fourth attempt that I realized what I was doing, both figuratively and literally: I was doing crystallography. I was becoming an amateur crystallographer. My breast swelled with romanticism at the thought of several of histories esteemed experimentalists. Becquerel... Franklin... Mason! (That became something of a battle cry for periodic bouts of winter war weariness.)
I went through six iPhone boxes, five laser and three flashlights constructing a decent crystallography stand - not to mention 60 gigabytes of iPhone "film". But all that was a cakewalk compared to attempting to fit the crystallography sessions between my kids' bedtime and my morning commute - I'm much too busy for my own good and only late night sessions were possible for me. In spite of these difficulties, I'd probably still be out in the garage playing mad scientist right now if the weather hadn't came to its bloody senses and delivered some warm weather. I was in my element out there... in... the elements.
There is still a wealth of video to be extracted from those ice crystals - I only scratched the surface. Perhaps next winter I'll have a cadre of fellow amateur crystallographers to help me with the task. (A how-to instructional video is the next order of Teach Me business.)