i went down to the harvard kennedy school (HKS) of government for a lecture on the rise and fall of china's one country two systems policy given by william overholt. i've had chances to go in the past, but this was my very first time inside the building, much less a lecture. the lecture also included a free lunch, with was additional incentive to go.

because there was some slight rain, i decided to walk down to harvard square, which took at least 20 minutes. the lecture began at 11:45am, but i thought maybe that was to let people have some time to get food before the talk actually started. when i got there i had no idea where to go (rubenstein 414AB). i looked at a map but couldn't make sense of it. i tried looking for a help desk but there didn't seem to be any around. i had a feeling it was on the 4th floor at least, so i took the elevator up. once i got there, it was easy to find, just follow the stream of asian students to the end of the hall.

the lecture room wasn't very large and it was already at full capacity. the food table has already been ransacked, nothing left but empty plates, plastic silverware, and some drink dispensers. i should've known something was up when i saw a caterer pushing away a tray of fruits when i stepped out of the elevator. next time i'll know to come earlier. besides, it wasn't really the food that brought me here (though i was interested to see what they eat at HKS, i've heard good things from other students). while most of the newly arriving students went to the food table looking for scraps, i was the more experienced lecture attendant and went looking for a place to sit instead. all chairs were taken up, so i sat in the far back corner of the room on a thin window ledge, my feet propped up on some collapsed study tables. it was a little awkward, but at least more comfortable compared to the other people who either had to sit on the floor (and not be able to see anything) or simply stand.

william overholt give a terrific talk. i learned more about one country two systems (1C2S) than i ever knew before. it was interesting to learn that back in the 90's, before hong kong was returned to china, that the british could've negotiated a more lasting political infrastructure for the return. but the last british HK governor chris patten has a disdain for the chinese and didn't feel necessary to consult with them on key decisions right up to the handover. nevertheless, the chinese back then were very keen on honoring their international commitments, and 1C2S worked for the time being. there were of course the occasional civilian protest, which china learned to tolerate. all that changed when xi jinping came to power, who took a more heavy-handed approach to HK. things like freedom of the press and prosecution with due process were all thrown out the window when it came to decisions from the chinese government. a very enlightening talk, i may try finding some of overholt's books to read.

the lecture ended at 1pm. leaving the HKS was much easier than arriving. having been denied a free lunch, i was determined to eat something delicious in return. that deliciousness came in the form of bonchon fried chicken, as i made a beeline to the basement restaurant. i put in an order for their fried chicken lunch special (11:30-3pm): combo (4 wings + 2 drumsticks) half soy garlic, half spicy, with a side of pickled radish and colesaw ($9.58). the friendly waiter told me about 10 minutes, so i went outside to walk around a bit.

i admit i haven't been to harvard square in a while (i hate it, all my favorite stores are gone, it's a cesspool of empty storefronts and banks), so i was shocked to see a large central section of the square had been torn down. i read news how developers had brought up that property, but i didn't think they'd start working now. this was where the former urban outfitters used to be, i've spent many hot sweaty hours during high school looking for presents to get people during the holidays.

i went back to bonchon. they had seats outside for people to wait on their order. some girl on her phone had taken up three seats, one for her jacket, one for her bag, i nearly said something, but as soon as i sat down, a waitress came out and said my name and gave me my order. i managed to put it in my carry bag before walking back home. it wasn't so much raining as it was misting, and strong winds had a tendency to invert umbrellas. i alternated between having my umbrella opened and closed, but finally just decided to put it away. it was also unusually warm today, temperature in the 70's. by the time i made it home, i was covered in sweat.

the bonchon chicken was very good, they even gave me an extra wing. bonchon spicy is no joke, real hardcore hot, even i was in pain and i like to think i have a high spicy tolerance (i did live a year in chongqing). i washed it all down with a bottle of IBC root beer, my soda of choice for those times when i dabble in the sweet carbonation.

later in the afternoon i went out again, this time in search of halloween candy. very few children ever knock my door, but i didn't want to be caught empty-handed if they did, or be one of those people who cower in fear and pretend not to be home. earlier i saw there was a candy sale at the harvard square CVS, but when i turned around and saw how deep the line was, i noped right out of there. instead i tried my luck at the local walgreens. their selection was lacking, i ended up going with the cheapest option (smarties) which was also what i like to eat, so whatever candy got left over would be a bonus. coming back, i saw a moron stop his car on the train tracks. a minute later, i heard the sound of an approaching train. i was almost tempted to run back and see what happened to that car.

end of the month, time to tally up the solar production score. october 2019 was dreadful. we did not end up beating october 2018's production, missed it by 10kWh. the only other month worse than the one we just experienced was january 2018, when we first got our solar panels, in the dead of winter, with several heavy snowstorms that covered up the panels. we also didn't know the proper way to clear the snow off the roof at that time. there was just no sun. 18 of the 31 days we were at a deficit solarwise, meaning we used more electricity from the grid than we gave back. it was also this month we set up our indoor grow room, which uses 5-6kWh/day. no surprise, this month we started paying again, owed belmont light $26, which was taken out from our credit. fortunately we have a pretty sizable credit (nearly $400) so my parents still aren't paying for their electricity. here's hoping november will be better, but whatever the case, we are now entering the period of the year where we will run a deficit each month, until march arrives. the solar dark age has arrived.

i went out at 6:30pm to check out the neighborhood halloween festivities. it's a little weird walking around alone with a camera with so many children around, i felt self-conscious. when did parents begin dressing up as well? i remember when i was a kid, we never had any parent chaperones wearing a costume. this year felt a little underwhelming. the weather wasn't helping, windy, with hints of rain. i always wonder: the houses around the heavily traffic areas, how many bags of candy do they go through? they must spend at least a few hundred dollars on candy alone, not to mention the expenses of decorating their houses. as for me, no one came to my door tonight. i'm not too sad about it, means more smarties for me. i did accidentally glimpse a boob when i walked by zoe's and a mother was nursing her baby outside. so there's that.

basic pasta meat sauce

1 lbs. ground beef
1 lbs. ground sausage
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced

28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
15 oz. can tomato sauce
6 oz. can tomato paste

2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
ground black pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp italian seasoning
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 bay leaf

sauté meats and onion and garlic. added remaining ingredients. simmer for 30 minutes or longer.

i couldn't take another night of beef barley stew. i ended up packing the leftovers in a two pyrex bowl when i put in the fridge. either i eat it sometime in the near future, or i eventually throw them out. instead i made a meat sauce for some pasta.

i found a recipe for a basic meat sauce that combined ground beef and ground sausages. in the past i've always just used ground beef, but knew i could amp my meat sauce game by doing a combo. this recipe also used 3 different cans of tomatoes: crushed, sauce, and paste. i can understand the crushed, and i know the paste is to thicken the sauce, but why the tomato sauce? my usual recipe is just a 28 oz. of ready made pasta sauce which i mix with the cooked ground beef. this recipe also called for a lot of sugar (2 tbsp), which i balanced with some salt (1 tsp).

while the meat sauce was simmering, i used the bathroom and took a shower. by the time i was done, the sauce was ready, thursday night football was about to begin, and i was going to boil the package of cheese raviolis i bought a few weeks ago.

the meat sauce was good, a little different in flavor than my usual meat sauce, sweeter. i'm not sure whether that's because of the sausage meat, of the canned tomatoes, or the sugar. or maybe a combination of all three. next time i'll leave out the sugar and see what happens, or maybe add it if needed. i like my sauce on the savory side, less sweet. i ended up with enough leftover sauce to fill 2 quart containers.

tonight's game was between the 49ers and cardinals. jimmy garoppolo was of course quarterbacking san francisco, but chandler jones was playing defense for arizona, so former patriots favorites on both sides. i was kind of hoping the 49ers would lose, so new england would be the only undefeated team (though still not sure what sunday's outcome will be like versus the ravens). but san francisco surprised me, they ended up winning, even though the cardinals got within 3 points to tie the game. are the 49ers for real?