woke up this morning determined to make contact with united solar. from kevin's e-mail signature i had his office and cell numbers. i called the office number first, which i immediately recognized as the general united solar number. a friendly receptionist picked up, i asked if i could leave a voicemail with kevin, she said it'd be better if i called his cell directly. so i did that and got kevin after the first ring. that actually surprised me, because normally it'd take a dozen e-mails before he'd respond. i told him who i was and asked him for an inverter update. he told me he'd been out of the office the past 2 days (true or not, who knows), and promised to get back in touch with me by the end of the day. i'm not sure if that'll actually happen (he's said this before - "i'll get back in touch by the end of the week" - and never happened) but at least i've escalated it to calling instead of e-mails. despite all the gripes about united solar, every time i've ever dealt with them they've been super professional and cordial. it's just scheduling to get any work done that seems to be the headache.

i warmed up another muffin in the microwave and made some decaf hazelnut coffee. i had a bathroom break afterwards; it's definitely the coffee and not the caffeine that makes me go to the bathroom. today was another good spring day, similar to yesterday, intermittent sun, not as warm, though still in the 60's.

my father sent me photos of his 150A meter setup. the meter arrived yesterday in the mail, and if i only checked the mailbox before i left, i would've seen it. unfortunately there are no attachment points on the meter, so my father just tied it to a board with wires.

i moved some of my houseplants outside: the money plant (Pachira aquatica), christmas cactus, aloe, and jade plant. i'm not going to bother moving them indoors even though the temperature will dip into the low 40's tonight. the greatest danger probably isn't the temperature but rather squirrels looking for food and uprooting the plants.

i left around 12:30pm, taking the motorcycle first to the porter square star market to get some fried chicken. a dozen pieces for only $8.99 and actually taste pretty good. i was using one of my mass save rebate card, trying to use up the money before it expires in july. i need to buy items in exact amounts so i don't leave any change on the card, but only afterwards did i realize they charged me taxes on the fried chicken, 6.25% state sales tax but also 0.75% cambridge sales tax, so it threw off my whole balance.

i then went to belmont. i brought in all the garden refuse bins. i set up the webcam so it was pointing directly on the watt meter so we can see the status of the 100W solar panel online. the highest i saw it go up was only 50W though. i left 4 pieces of fried chicken for my father. i took the plastic dish washing cart so i could use it to transport some plants i will dig up from my community garden. before i left the neighbor's contractors dug up a patch of our sidewalk grass to do some cable wiring.

after returning home i ate two pieces of fried chicken (wing and thigh). i also sliced one of the navel oranges i bought from haymarket last weekend. not only was it a deep orange bordering on red, but it was one of the sweetest oranges i've tasted in a while. i may be tempted to return to haymarket again on friday, to get some more.

around 4pm i went down to harvard for a panel discussion marking the 30th anniversary of the tiananmen massacre. it was held at the CGIS south tsai auditorium, which i don't remember ever visiting before. it was a packed crowd, with people resorting to sitting in the aisles. there was a nervous giddiness as a lot of mainland chinese in attendance knew this was a taboo subject back in china. it almost seemed festive, but as someone who remember seeing the tiananmen protest and subsequent massacre live on television in 1989, i didn't think it was all that funny. i overheard a couple sitting next to me saying they had good seats because it was in the back of the auditorium so their chances of getting filmed were minimal. another older trio to my other side seemed a bit rude, the woman not bothering to applaud and snorted out a laugh at one point during something not funny. it was announced that the discussion was being recorded for posterity, but whether the sensitive video would be made public would be decided later. also during the Q&A phase, people do not have to say their names in order to protect them from chinese government repercussions.

rowena he was the moderator, a soft-spoken woman who talked so quietly at first i could barely hear her until they increased the volume on the microphone. as for the speakers, there was wang dan, one of the tiananmen leaders, now living in exile; louisa lim, jeffrey wasserstrom, and hao jian, a beijing film academy professor currently a harvard visiting scholar who has never publicly spoken about his first hand experience of the massacre but was doing so publicly for the first time (what will happen to him when he returns to china is up for debate). of the panel, the native english speakers had better presentation only because they were up against the challenge of using a second language. but wang dan and hao jian were in tiananmen in 1989, so whatever they said had more gravity.

during the Q&A portion, a few questions showed how little the newer chinese generation know of the tiananmen massacre. one person brought up the unofficial body count almost to dispute the number of deaths. hao jian - speaking now in chinese with a translator - told his own eyewitness account of seeing a friend shot in front of him, of piles of bodies with bullet holes on trucks, and visiting nearly a dozen beijing hospitals to find the body of cousin and seeing all the dead bodies in the morgue with traumatic injuries, nearly 40-50. another person asked if it wasn't true that china would've been better off without the protest, and that the protest actually drove the regime to become more conservative. the panel were all in agreement that the government had already turned hardline years before, and that the protest was in reaction to that, not the cause of.

there were also some good questions, one girl asked for about the welfare of hao jian, asked what would happen to him when he returned to beijing. he said he didn't know, but was touched she was concerned about his safety. another person asked if the panel could see another tiananmen-style protest happening in the future. at first everyone sort of laughed it of given how china has increasing become a surveillance state, and the young generation worry more about getting a job, buying a house, and getting married ("there's no future in politics"). but wang dan said something profound, that during his time teaching in taiwan, he noticed the first thing many mainland students do when they leave the great firewall of china is to look up all the taboo subjects they can't see easily back home. wang dan said never under-estimate the curiosity of young people.

i biked home after 6pm. i checked my e-mail and was surprised that kevin actually kept his promise and wrote back. he said he'd try to schedule us for either friday or monday, and would get back to me again tomorrow (thursday). sounds promising, but that's what he said two weeks ago and nothing happened, so i'm a bit leery until i can get something more concrete.

for dinner i had more fried chicken (breast and drumstick) and some more sweet navel oranges. the bruins-hurricanes game isn't until tomorrow; tonight it's just the red sox and the celtics. celtics are down 1-3 against the bucks, after beating milwaukee so soundly in game 1, boston has since imploded, with no help from all-star kyrie irving, whom many expect to opt out of his final year contract and go elsewhere. red sox have their final game against the baltimore orioles. it's sad seeing so many empty seats, a perfectly good baseball stadium going to waste because not enough fans and a last place team in the AL east division. the game went into extra innings, finally ending in the 12th thanks to a benintendi homerun. with the win the red sox are finally a .500 team, 3rd in the AL east, 2 games behind the yankees, 4 games behind the rays.

2 pieces of fried chicken wasn't enough and i ended up eating a piece of thigh as well a bit later while watching the season finale of single parents followed by whiskey cavalier.