I discussed this with Ben. Although I am sure he knew perfectly well how to do it, he was not the typical guy who was anxious to show off his manly fix-it-all skills and offer to do it. (I've never been able to pull off the helpless girl act well, and come to think of it... some guys I've asked for help on stuff have ended up being, well, less-than-helpful). But knowing my independent spirit, he kindly said, "that will be an interesting project for you to learn about tonight, won't it".
Ok. I'm up for the challenge! what first? pull out the manual? oh wait...find the manual...do I even have a manual? stratch that...that's why there is Google! Read some pointers from howstuffworks.com and it turns out furnaces can all be quite different. I just decided to inspect it myself and figure it out. 30 seconds later, I was done. Really. That was it?
Is it sad that I feel so empowered by the fact that I can change my own furnace filter?