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Woodworking: Under the weather: Blowing snow exposes full-blown addiction

Sometimes you don't know you have a problem until it slaps you right in the face.

I've always thought I was fairly well adjusted, despite holding advanced degrees and a taste for lutefisk and blood pudding.

But I've changed my tune since last weekend's snowstorm, as mentioned in last week's column.

That snowstorm turned my life upside down and shattered my thin veil of self-assuredness to reveal a very sick human being.

I've mentioned before in this column about my love of TV, how I watch it quite a bit, even when it's no good, which is frequent. But I never knew I had a full-blown addiction, similar to a cocaine sniffer or freebase heroin user.

I made the discovery one Sunday morning when I sat down with my Star Tribune, a cup of coffee, a slice of toast and my TV tuned to Channel 2's "Almanac" and its beauteous cohost Cathy Wurzer.

The screen was blank.

I wouldn't be able to see Cathy Wurzer.


I figured the snowstorm bollixed up something in the Cities, so I turned to the newspaper. It takes about 15 minutes to read it now on Sunday, so I was sure the TV would come back on by then.

But no.

I tapped my foot.

I tossed the paper in the corner.

I made more toast, I paced up and down and even had a second cup of coffee, a rare occurrence. I was so desperate I even read the Pioneer Press, which I subscribe to for a dollar a year.

How low can you get?

So low that I even read Joe Soucheray's rant about how nuts people are to support gun-control measures. I had a monkey on my back. I was the man with the golden clicker.

And still no TV.

I stared at the blue screen with anger bordering on suicidal.

Finally, I called DirectTV, my supplier, to find out what could be done.

I connected with a well-meaning chap in Philadelphia, Pa. He said he didn't know what was wrong, but he suspected snow had covered the receiver on my roof.

Nothing he could do about that, he said, "Sorry!"

I was sorry, too as I stared at the monthly bill for $214 from AT&T, which owns DirectTV.

Soon my Beautiful Wife became concerned with my state of mind when I announced I was in the process of making a complicated pot roast dinner when we had earlier planned to eat canned corned beef hash.

So she called DirectTV.

She got a well-meaning chap from Georgia who commiserated with her about the snowstorm, but essentially said there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. "Maybe you could stand outside the house and flag down a DirectTV service truck if you see one in the neighborhood...."

I got to work on the pot roast.

All too soon that was in the oven, and I had nothing left to do but stew in my own juices, which were not as inviting as the ones I had poured on the chuck roast.

I paced back and forth, called my sister, called my brother, called my pal from eighth grade, called a kid whose manuscript I've been trying to read, a rare occurrence.

I cleaned out the dross that had been piling up in my word processor for three or four years. By the time I began itemizing my expenses for the IRS in April, it was time for dinner.

Could I make it through without throwing the gravy through the bay window?

"Maybe you'd like to watch a DVD," asked my wife brightly, my wife who hasn't paid any attention to TV since Kukla, Fran and Ollie.

She doesn't even like "The Sopranos," which is back on HBO, if only that snow wasn't up there on the roof.

"We ain't got no stinkin' DVDs," I replied grumpily.

"Oh, but yes we have," said my wife brightly again. "We've got all of 'Northern Exposure.'"


Now I remembered months ago, a good friend came to our door with a big package made of sheepskin. She explained that her friend and ours knew that I enjoyed "Northern Exposure" as much as he did before he passed on. "So," she said. "It's yours to enjoy."

We discovered that we are in possession of at least 50 episodes, which we began to watch as we dipped a morsel of roast into the gravy I didn't heave through the bay window.

Since then we've been watching Dr. Joel and Holling and that cute Indian kid about three hours a night, which should hold me until the next thaw.

Maybe by that time my withdrawal symptoms will have ceased. If I've learned anything, it's that "Northern Exposure" is better than any show now on TV.