it was supposed to be snowing late last night but i was up pretty late and didn't see any snow. by the time i finally went to sleep, there was a split second of thunder and lightning before it started raining. maybe the weather forecasters were wrong.

the beauty of snow is it falls silently. and one of the great wintertime joys is waking up and seeing the landscape covered in fresh snow, which was the case this morning. although nowhere as much as the snowstorms back in december, we still got 5-7" here in cambridge. it wasn't the light fluffy stuff either, but rather the wet heavy snow, which coated all the trees like the whole world was dipped and deep fried in white tempura batter.

i could already hear the scraping sounds of my neighbors shoveling the snow and felt compelled to go outside and clear out my stretch of sidewalk as well. this would also afford me what little exercise i get during the winter season. my upstairs neighbors were nowhere to be seen even though i could hear them. i have no doubt they knew i was outside shoveling our sidewalk but had no intention of helping. only after i finished did they come out and dig free their 3 cars.

after thinking about it last night, i went ahead and wrapped the outside of my grow shelves with mylar (actually just a 53"x82" coleman emergency blanket). why mylar? it's just a way to recycle the light, bouncing it back onto the plants. i could use other reflective surfaces but mylar is the best, reflecting 90-95% of the light (matte white paint reflects only 75-80%, while aluminum reflects just 60-65%). maybe it was just wishful thinking, but the area felt warmer once i surrounded it with the shiny stuff. it felt like the inside of one of those fancy science laboratory. i still need to collect more potting containers before i can start growing, and i may also need to figure out a better potting mixture for my eventual seedlings. doing some reading last night, i found out that seeds germinate best in warmer conditions. if anyone has ever been to my place during the wintertime, they'll know that my house is not synonymous with warmth. however, they only need it for germination, and then afterwards it's best to grow them in a bright and cold environment, in which case my grow closet becomes the perfect nursery. my solution: i'm putting a wire shoe rack above the forced air heating grill in the kitchen. besides being next to a window (for some light, although not necessary), the forced air heats up that region to as high as 85°+. the only problem now is i hope it doesn't get too hot, although their are other forced air vents around the house i can put the germinating seeds. i also did a temperature measurement of the closet. because the the forced air intake is located inside, it actually creates a draft which helps with the air circulation. however, this breeze makes the closet rather cool, and this morning measured it at 58°, a few degrees colder than the rest of my house. hopefully with the mylar insulation it'll trap some of the heat, although the cold temperature will prevent the plants from growing too tall.

in the afternoon i went to the dollar store to buy a plastic bin and some candy. along the way i took some snow photos. if i missed thing i'll get another chance at the end of the week since another snowstorm is predicted for thursday.

in the late afternoon a package arrived on my doorstep. i thought maybe it was my amazon books but instead it was my order of LED christmas lights. i quickly took them into the closet and plugged them all in: 105 blue LED's and 50 red LED's. it was pretty impressive, like a closet full of lightning bugs or a sea of stars.

i still haven't figured out how exactly i'm going to use these LED's for growing since i'm already set up for fluorescent lighting. i think i have to make some sort of board and poke through each LED light to create a mosaic of LED's. i left the lights on in the closet: the combination of red and blue produced a purple glow.

i performed water changes on all 3 of my aquariums. the one that needed the most maintenance was the tetra/barb minibow (as evidenced by the photos i took a few days ago), but i wanted to do a water change in my guppy tanks as well to try out my basic buffering solution. the problem with cleaning these fish tanks is i need to turn off the aquarium light when i do. of course once that's off, it's hard for me to see where there's algae on the glass and i always end up missing a spot or two. i haven't seen any problems with the male guppies tank ever since i did that series of daily water changes and added some seashells hoping to make the water harder and increase the pH (guppies like a high pH level). i also did a major disassembling and clean-up of all the external filters (i think this was on new year's eve), and that might've helped as well.

the female guppies tank gives me the least problems. the plants do well (at least they're not dying) and because of that there's very little algae. the females also never show the occasional listlessness that the males display. tonight i added some shells to the female tank. because they're conch shells, they also act as mini-caves for the fries to hide in once the pregnant females give birth. as for the tetras/barb tank, they seem to be doing well, although the tetras always seem to just hang out in one corner of the aquarium and doesn't seem to swim around very much. i wonder if that big hunk of driftwood has anything to do with it? but the java ferns seem to be doing very well; good enough that i've taken some buds and transplanted them onto the big driftwood to grow. next time i might try reconfiguring the large driftwood so there's more open space for the tetras to swim in. i also recently bought a test tube brush and gave the filter tube a more thorough cleaning, scrubbing out the algae growing inside. i threw away the old activated carbon (i haven't replaced it in months) and filled the filter bag with some fresh carbon. i've always thought the whole carbon filtration thing was just a gimmick, but after i soaked the activated carbon in water, i could hear it crackling, so it's definitely doing something.

dinner: the final portion of my rice noodle soup. since i woke up earlier than usual, i got a bit sleepy during the evening, and almost fell asleep on the couch, before getting my second wind.