i went to the harvard kennedy school today to attend a noontime discussion on china's belt and road initiative. it was held in the wiener auditorium, which i've never been to before, and it took me a few minutes to find it, only after i saw where all the catered food was. one peculiar feature of some of these harvard lectures is occasionally free lunch or even dinner is provided. nothing fancy, some sandwiches, some chips, some salad, some drinks, but if you know the schedules, it's entirely possible to eat for free five days a week off of harvard's dime. of course that wasn't the reason why i went, and i felt a little embarrassed for eating, but anything left over would probably get thrown out, so in a way i'm helping out.

the lecture itself wasn't very long, less than half an hour, given by lucy hornby. maybe because she was a great speaker, the time went by quicker. the topic was whether BRI is a new form of colonialism. hornby argued it was colonial in the tradition sense - where a country settles a previously uninhabited location or a colonization by conquest - but china might be setting up an "accidental" empire when countries fall into debt traps - agreeing to mega projects they might not necessarily need nor can afford and end up renegotiating the terms of their payment to china, in which case china always gains additional concessions. china has so many overseas BRI projects in developing countries they don't even have an actual total. developers also game the system: knowing that pakistan is a pet project for xi jinping, every developer has a pakistani BRI project, regardless if it's true or not, just because it's easier to secure loans for those projects.

afterwards there was a lengthy Q&A session. a lot of people didn't follow the rules, and their questions felt like little lectures themselves. everyone had their own self-interest: the pakistan guy asked about pakistan, the russian girl about russia, the ethiopian girl about ethiopia.

afterwards instead of going home, i traveled down brattle street to get to the cafe. i was picking up my father's spare TYT 9800 quad band radio. he also showed me his amplified baofeng setup in the car, so instead of transmitting at less than 5W, it could transmit at nearly 25W. my mother packed me some leftovers for dinner, along with a crumbled muffin.

when i came home i connected the TYT 9800 to the DBJ-2 antenna hanging from my living room window. i was getting terrible SWR (3.31) but i was still able to contact my father on both his amplified baofeng from the car (25W) and the QYT repeater setup (25W). when i added the BNC extension cable to the antenna (making it longer), i got better SWR (2.21) though my father said the sound quality degraded. the real test would come later, when my parents return home and we can try testing from the car as well as back in belmont.

i opened the bar of tony's chocolonely milk chocolate with caramel. it tasted pretty good, the caramel bits were hard and tasted salty, but i liked it. it's unfortunate that i discovered tony's chocolonely right around the time i'm trying to lose my winter weight. the one thing that bugs me about chocolonely is the bar is not cut up into grids, but rather this crazy pattern that's hard to break and creates a mess when you do try to separate the chocolate into pieces.

going to walgreens was just an excuse to visit some poke stops to get more poke balls. but i came across so many new pokemons, i probably ended up using more balls than i picked up. this is mostly because i haven't played pokemon go since 2017, and since then a lot more pokemons had been added to the game. it's cool that i'm seeing so many new critters, but all the pokemon trainers i see at the gyms are level 40 or above (i'm just at 27). i grabbed some smoked almonds on sale at walgreens and a package of pink himalayan salt from the dollar store before returning home.

when i got back i went over to bruce and jack's place to help bruce fix his ipad texting issue. i had an idea of what it could be, and bruce probably could've solved it on his own, but i wanted to be there in case it was something more serious. so the fix ended up being pretty easy: just a setting on the iphone to allow text forwarding on his other apple devices, in this case his ipad and his imac. once that was turned on, he was able to text me just fine. i was a little jealous: life used to be good when i lived in the apple ecosystem, texting and calling from my macbook pro as well as my iphone. now that i've made the jump to android, i can't do that anymore, but at the very least my mi band will alert me when i received any text/calls.

when evening came i tested the TYT 9800 to my father's amplified baofeng while my parents drove back to belmont. i played around with the antenna and managed to get the SWR down to 1.9 (with a transmission rate of 90%). we used the repeater as an intermediary. we were able to hear each other the whole way. back in the house, my father tried his TYT 9800, which is a more powerful radio, capable of transmitting at 50W maximum power. the TYT can also connect the chimney-mounted 2m DIY ground plane antenna, which gets the best reception and transmission based on its height.

we were able to talk to each other via the repeater, but my father decided to test simplex (direct radio-to-radio talk) by turning off the repeater. to our surprise, it worked fine without the repeater, we were able to both receive and send. as it was getting dark, i closed the blinds and turned on the lights, in which case i could only transmit but couldn't receive. i thought it was because of the blinds, but it was actually the living room lamps with led bulbs that seemed to be interfering with the radio. i could only receive with the lights off. anyway, my father could hear me even when i was transmitting on low power (8W), with quality just as good as when i was on high power. on his end, i could only receive him if he brodcasted on medium-1 (21W) or high power (47W). this is because i'm in a radio signal canyon, and need a much stronger signal to receive; since he's higher up, he can easily pick up my signal even when i transmit on low power. we've tested simplex in the past but never with as much success as tonight.

i was too busy with other stuff today to notice we set another production record for 2020, 42.37kWh, although the graph wasn't perfect, with a gap at midday during peak production.

kevin came home right around when i was radio testing with my father in early evening, about 5:45pm. he went back out to get groceries, in which time i took the opportunity to microwave my leftovers and have it for dinner before he came back. he made something simple tonight, i didn't see what, but he didn't take too long and it didn't smell up the house very house, so i was thankful for that.

later in the evening, around 9:30pm, i called up my father again. since simplex worked so well with me transmitting in low power (8W), how come we never experimented with me transmitting on the low power baofeng and him receiving on the TYT? we must've done it before, but i don't have any recollections, and maybe the experiment failed, before i learned today i can't have lights on when i'm receiving. also since my father can receive me when i transmit on low power, i decided to switch to the smaller power supply (4.5A tripp-lite versus 30A MFJ). the tripp-lite was showing a voltage of 14.1V (ideally it should be 13.8V) and unclean power at that because my father could hear loud background noises (i could hear it as well, over the phone). with me transmitting at low power, he could barely pick out my voice. the more power i used however, the clearer the signal. i could only go as far as medium-1 (20W), since when i cranked it up to high, the LED on the power supply and the LCD screen on the TYT radio would starting getting dim and flickering, and transmission would drop to just 12W. when i switched back to the MFJ power supply, the signal was cleaner. however, unlike earlier, now my father was having a hard time hearing me on low power; i could still hear him clearly at medium-1. as before, the more power i gave it, the clearer the signal. medium-2 (12W) was still a little noisy but intelligible, while the signal cleared up by medium-1 (20W). maybe it has something to do with night conditions and the proliferation of interfering LED lights.

before i went to bed i bought a 20-pack assortment of ferrite cores of various sizes ($8.99); i'm going to put them around the lamp cables in the hopes of getting rid of the interferences. if they don't work i can always return them. they won't arrive until saturday.