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The toughest part of winter is the capacity to survive it.

We are working our way through another one. In fact, it is the first real one we have had for many years. The winter of 20018, brought back the snows and cold that all of us who live in Northern New England have come to both love and hate. Along with the weather of winter comes another famous tradition, cabin fever anxieties.

Cabin fever comes in many forms. The name comes from the necessity of all that live here to stay in their house to stay warm and dry. The days are shorter and the nights seem endless with the below zero wind chills and perpetual humming of our heating systems. Strange things happen to us during this time of year. We become aggravated by the most trivial of things.

For example, I enjoy those little pudding in cup snacks they sell at most grocery stores. I guess this is because I was fed the little jars of custard pudding baby foods when I was little until I was a senior in high school. The only problem is you can never tear off the plastic top on each portion. I understand there are arrows showing where one is supposed to pull but the easy open tabs never open. The company must use the same glue they use to keep the space lab together.

The other day I got so frustrated trying to open my Swiss Miss tapioca pudding cup that I resorted to using my teeth. Needless to say it took a bunch of paper towels and ice to stop the bleeding. I still didn’t get the thing opened.

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Another annoying product is cartons of orange juice. In the past they used the type of cartons that opened at the top by having one tear up the corner that created a kind of funnel in which you could pour your juice. This system also made it easy to drink out of the carton. I don’t do that any more of course. At least that is what I tell my wife.

Today’s cartons have an opening in the middle that is covered by a twist off cap. Underneath the cap is a plastic shield that has a little lip on it so it is easy to remove. I know they use the same glue the manufacturers of those pudding snacks use. The cartons make it almost impossible to drink out of the carton. I assume all the mothers and wives of the world invented it.

CD’s and DVD’s are also a problem this time of year. They put a type of plastic around them that only the sharpest of razor blades can remove. The manufacturers of these products don’t stop there. They also seal the plastic container by taping it together with a type of plastic glue. I wonder if all these companies use the same supplier? In order to get to your music or movie one has to literally break the plastic covering in two. The problem does not stop there. After you finally open the container you have to figure out a way to get the disc released from the claws inside the container without snapping the disc in two. Opening a CD or DVD makes me long for the days of the 33 1/3 LP.

Products are not the only things that drive us mad during this time of year. During the off-winter months my morning paper was always found leaning on my garage door. Now that my outside yard looks like the Alaskan Tundra my paper can be found anywhere on this side of Route One. During the days of reasonable weather two plastic bags usually double wrapped my paper. Now during the cold and wintry conditions of our present time the paper is simply wrapped in a rubber band. I wonder if the concept of what the plastic bag is supposed to do is foreign to the carriers.

During this time of year the telephone becomes the machine from hell. I get at least a dozen calls a night from people trying to sell me things I could not possibly ever need. The classic aggravation comes from the computer that makes the calls that hesitate to answer when you answer the phone. All you hear is a silent void that either rushed you away from the dinner table or rushed you from a place that has become your only quiet domain.

If you hang up on these calls they will surely call you again right after you return to your meal or whatever else you were trying to do. I once called the Telephone Company and asked them to take me off all the telephone solicitation sales lists. After that I didn’t get a call for three weeks. No one called me. I began to think the Telephone Company put me on the list for people who were presently deceased.

Television is another medium that becomes maddening during this time of year. The football season is over and Saturday and Sunday afternoons have become the domain of ice-skating, gymnastics, and golf. Of course there is always the NBA or the NHL but after watching a bunch of spoiled self-gratifying egomaniacs play a sport that was once filled with professional pride I guess ice skating, gymnastics, and golf isn’t that bad.

So, here we are enjoying the first real winter we have had for many years. I just hope my wife will talk to me again by the 4th of July. But, things are not all that grim. The pitchers and catchers of our baseball season meet in Florida soon. Watching a bunch of spoiled self-gratifying egomaniacs playing a sport in short sleeved shirts is not that bad?

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and are not not necessarily either shared or endorsed by iPatriot.com.

James Fabiano

James G. Fabiano Born: July 28, 1950 A retired teacher and writer living in York, Maine Education: College of the Holy Cross University of New England University of New Hampshire

 

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