Sunday, March 06, 2005

Sight Unseen

I shouldn't be allowed unfettered access to my money. Here's why:


I saw a message on the fjet list: 18-speed mountain bike for sale, $50. Now, I already have a bike, but it's a 1-speed, and my visiting school is up a hill, so I would like to have lower gears so I could ride my bike to school (and lose some weight).

I asked the poster what kind of bike (so I could look up reviews of it). He said:
The mountain bike is blue, w/ front shocks and a shock absorber in
the frame. The gear shifts are in the handgrips and the handle bar ends have openings at the ends for extensions. I bought it at COPA. I don't know the name and I removed all the stickers. It is your run of the mill department store mountain bike. This bike isn't spectacular, which is why it's going cheap. But it is reliable, which is why it isn't going for free.
I asked about the size. See, another problem with my existing bike is that it's a bit too small for me. I would prefer a full-size, adult-size bike, so my knees aren't banging against my chest when I ride. He said:
It is an adult sized frame. I'm 6 feet tall and it's fine for me. I think it's a 21 inch frame.
So far, so good. I don't know how big a 21 inch frame is, but I'm 6 feet tall, too, so if it works for him, it should work for me. I told him I'd take it.

We meet up in Fukui city (neutral ground), he gives me the bike (and a bike pump, and a bike lock, and oil, and a light), and I pay him. He asks if I want to ride it around first, but I trust him, so I say, no, it's OK. Besides, I'm in a hurry. He points out that the tires should be replaced. This hadn't been mentioned in the e-mails, but it's kind of too late now (I'm thinking) to change my mind, even though the value of a $50 bike has just dropped considerably, since for not much more I could buy a NEW generic-mall-bike with NEW tires anyway. Sigh.

So I take it home, and pull it out, and....what? It looks kind of small. I'm sure it's my imagination though, since he says it was fine for him. Plus, he had lowered the seat to fit it in my tiny tiny car, so maybe that's it. I raise the seat. I raise it some more. I raise it until it comes off the bike. Hmm. I put it back on, as high as it can go. I then put my old (too-small) bike next to my newer (works-fine-for-me-and-I'm-6-feet-tall) bike.

My old bike, of course, is bigger.


So, I try to take it for a ride, and that's when I notice how rusty it is. Not so much that I fear it will fall apart (yet), but a significant, noticeable amount of rust. Clearly, this bike was not kept under cover from the weather. Anyway. I ride it around for a while, and that's when I notice that it sometimes has trouble shifting. Perhaps that's due to my inexperience with this particular shifting mechanism. Perhaps.

I rode it to work today (I paid for it, I'm going to USE it!). My knees bang on my chest. It's much too small. And the handlebars are misaligned (to go straight, they have to be at a slight angle), but that's fixable. I hope. If I can get a seat that goes higher, so my knees don't bang against my chest, it'll be OK. And new tires of course. And maybe a new frame. And perhaps new gears, or whatever the problem with shifting is. Other than that, everything is good. Such a bargain!



At almost the same time, I saw another ad for Japanese books, with the description:
All these books have been well looked after and will help with your study.
Since I'm always on the lookout for good Japanese books, especially Kanji books (and the two in this lot were marked 'Good' and 'Great'), and because these were being sold much below the original cost, I snatched them up right away.

Well. I get them home, excited about my new acquisitions, and my native-Japanese friend immediately points out the obvious flaw, as I'm still removing the books from the bag.
"Those books are too old."
What do you mean, too old? I look closer at the books. Some are 10 years old. Some are older. Has the Japanese language changed so much in the past 10 years? Of course, is the answer. But...the Kanji, certainly that is the same? Nope, there are a bunch of new Name Kanji.

Sigh. It's been a rough couple of days.

Final financial note: I still haven't received confirmation of my transfer account (which I foolishly assumed might come by Friday or Saturday). So, I still can't send money home to pay my credit card and student loan bills. And the first due date is TOMORROW. So, I'm starting to sweat a little.

(fingers crossed)

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