when taking off my engine cover, i noticed a connector of some sort on it. exactly what is it for?
It is for the warning indicator circuit which illuminates a indicator in your gauge cluster in the event the hinged lid for the removable top compartment is not latched properly.
Look carefully at this indicator located in your cluster. There are two indicator lamps. One is for the glass engine cover and the other is for the clamshell cover for the top storage compartment.
Ground the wire in the black plug(red/yellow wire) and it will illuminate as it will if the clamshell is open. Latching the storage compartment interrupts the ground and the light stays out.
Taking the engine cover off and disconnecting these two wire interrupts the ground circuit so the indicator is out and will stay out unless you connect the wire in the black connector to ground.