In Which Krista Meets Technology

Last week isn't nearly as exciting now that I'm involved in this week, so I probably should have just written about it then instead of putting it off, drinking beer and watching the Chargers lose (and I am not ordinarily into football, but apparently every American in the Netherlands who cares enough finds the one bar in Utrecht that shows the games and suddenly it's a big party).

So. Last week.

-The camera: I love my camera. It's the fancy end of the portable handhelds, an Olympus SP-310. There are moments when I want to throw it against the wall, but overall I'd say it was a good buy. Last week I was uploading pictures from the camera to the computer when the camera turned off. I knew the battery was sort of low but I suspected that had nothing to do with it.

I spent the next few days sort of not really playing with it, replacing the batteries, replacing them again, plugging the camera into the computer as if to resuscitate it, but to no avail.

Until I discovered, of course, that one of the batteries was installed backwards (this part happened as I was writing this paragraph, as if tinkering with it would expand the narrative. And it did).

I have no idea how the camera functioned without the proper direction for so long, or why it suddenly revolted or even why I am such an idiot to not even look at the direction of the batteries as indicated twice in pretty pictures on the camera itself.

-The Bike: I heard a rumor that students could buy a used bike from 25-70 euro, depending on where and how clunky or ugly or semi-disabled it is, and I had also heard that there's some questionable guy selling rebuilt second-hand bikes out of his backyard for 25 euro. My expert advice in such a situation is 1) to be highly suspicious but also 2) to proceed with caution if others before you succeed.

Other students in my program got bikes from the dude earlier in the week, and as it turns out he not only gives you a cheap bike but brand new locks for 12.50 and free maintenance for big problems-- chain falling off, etc.

With that outstanding record of excellence, Erica and I sought Bike Man right after class let out on Tuesday. This will become relevant later, but I also was carrying my mother's 7.5lb package in my backpack, as well as my computer and class books. But back to the Bike Man. He lives off the map in an Italian suburb. You have to call in advance to tell him you're coming and how tall you are so he tells you if he has an appropriately-sized bike, and after some clever bus maneuvers and kind bus passengers we made it.

The Bike Man is kind of sketchy in a 40-year-old-guy-selling-bikes-as-a-"hobby"-to-complement-his-day-job-at-the-post-office sort of way, but he had a decent-looking wife and a cute dog and a kid, so he's a far cry from Junkie at the Train Station. We had to go after 5 because that's when we are out of class and Bike Man is off of work, so it was dark by the time we got there. He found us two bikes perfectly sized, maybe a little big, and we test drove them around the neighborhood.

Mind you, I have not ridden a bike since I was about twelve years old.

Erica and I were satisfied, though to be honest we have no idea what we are looking for beyond something that goes when we pedal. Bike Man replaces my seat when he notices the cover is loose, adjusts Erica's and we're off.

It starts to rain as we ride back into the city center, but not very hard and we are doing fine. Things are a little shaky, having not ridden a bike since age 12 and trucking the aforementioned large load on my back, but not bad. We are sort of lost trying to find this filmhuis for a required film screening but get directions from a nearby store, and we make it with twenty minutes to spare.

Watch the movie, that's fine.

We get out and it's pouring. Great. 21:30 and we've got to bike back from downtown to the Ikea Palace: a ten-minute bus ride, 45-minute walk, 30-minute bike ride. And no, they don't have bike racks on the buses here. But that's not all-- Erica's tire is flat.

She's pissed off enough to ride on the flat and we trudge back through the rain, bitching (for lack of a better word) about the rain and how her dumb bike is already broken and she should have known better, blah blah blah. I am sympathetic, but also dying from the most extensive workout I've had since carrying all my luggage from the train station. My back hurts from carrying crap, my legs hurt from using them for more than just walking, and I am terrified of being hit by a car.

We make it back and thaw ourselves out over hot Chocomel. Homework drearily ensues.

Since then, Erica has yet to fix her bike, and I have moved into a new place-- the one I'm stuck with for the rest of the semester. Rest assured, I am loving most of it at the moment. Little funky, little dirty, but functional. Pictures when I get around to decorating.

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