“I’m running for re-election.” The party sez, “No, you’re not.”

Teuvo Hakkarainen, who hails from the same Finnish town where my grandfather was born, is not a known relation. He was a member of the Finnish Parliament and, most recently, one of Finland’s representatives to the European Parliament.

Hakkarainen announced that he is a candidate for re-election. His party, the Finns Party (formerly True Finns), had told him that he was not on its list of candidates. He wants it in writing. “I get so many calls…,” he said.
Finns Party and Hakkarainen at odds over European election candidacy

Although Hakkarainen claims that he has served Finland well, particularly on forestry issues, he has not always acquitted himself well in the past. He showed up drunk on his first day in the Finnish Parliament, was reprimanded for being too racist in his racist party, and, well, more.

It appears that he’ll seek re-election without his party’s support. The elections take place in June.


Friend and tech-writing colleague Tom Parmenter used to say, “We write our manuals for the one person in the office who’ll read them.”

Crime in suburbia – December 28

From The Landmark – December 28

There were 10 animal-related calls, nine suspicious incidents, and several additional incidents that suspiciously weren’t deemed suspicious.


November 28

5:51 p.m.: Phone, assist Rutland, East Country & Pommogussett roads. Rutland advises they have a stolen Ashburnham ambulance and request assistance. Ambulance was returned to Heywood Hospital.

December 2

10:15 a.m.: Phone, disturbance, Wheeler Road. Caller requesting officer to her residence she is selling. Reports she is having an open house and her neighbor has come and is causing a disturbance. He is putting up signs and causing an issue with her realtor.


November 22

10:17 a.m.: Suspicious activity, area of Overlook Road, Wachusett Street. Caller reporting a party in a tan-colored Malibu trying to shoot a deer from their car. 202 check the area, nothing found.

5:34 p.m.: Motor vehicle, at Holden, Main Street. Caller requested an officer after hitting a deer in Rutland and now parked over the town line, no injuries or fluid, deer no longer on scene.

Nov. 25
12:18 p.m.: Threats, Pommogussett Road. Party receiving threats from a user she met on tiktok after she received a tarot card reading. User threatened to kill her and her entire family if she did not pay hm $400.

Hakkarainens in 2023

Our 2019 letter signed off with this:

Little did we know what was coming at us for 2020.

Four years later, we’re older. It’s too soon to tell if we’re wiser.

January took us to the studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama in preparation for a course that Karl would teach on studio musicians.

On our way back, we were 20 minutes behind a tornado that overturned a truck and wrecked buildings. That afternoon, a bigger storm hit Selma on its 100-mile deadly path.

The rest of the year was quieter. Our long-time friends, the Credes, visited in May. Sandra’s cousin, Phyllis, joined us at the lake in July, joining in our annual summer gathering.

As you can tell, the tribe continues to expand. Jade Adora, daughter of grandson Michael and his wife, Quillah, was born in September. That’s seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. The great-grand team will gain one more; grandson Joe and his wife, Molly, are expecting their third child in June.

Sandra continues to volunteer with Wachusett Earthday, a reuse and recycling center that serves seven towns north of Worcester. Karl finished teaching a course on the Luddites for our senior education program and will take a break from all that in the new year.

Leading to the hopeful uncertainty that awaits us in 2024. We’ve accepted an offer to sell our condo and will move someplace sometime next year. Where and when we know not.

These are scary times. We have war and rumors of war overseas and at home. A neighbor’s front yard features an inflatable Santa Claus arresting Biden and Obama.

Sending wishes and courage in the new year.

Karl and Sandra

Crime in Suburbia – Trouble on the loose


December 14, 2023


Nov. 15

3:26 p.m.: Animal call, Greene Road. Caller reporting a large white long-haired dog chasing at the tires of the school bus.

November 16 4:12 p.m.: Animal call, Wheeler Road. Caller reporting an older female, little black mix (35 lbs.) brindle dog missing. Dog’s name is Troubles. Animal located.

November 19
12:08 p.m.: Phone, animal mutual aid, East Princeton Road. Caller reporting two stray dogs that wandered into his yard. A shorthared dog and a blackand- white long-haired dog. ACO notified. The dogs have moved along.


Nov. 5
6:42 a.m.: Road hazard, area of Princeton line, Wachusett Street. Caller reporting traffic cones in the roadway have been hit by numerous vehicles. Hazard removed.

9:17 p.m.: Fire-motor vehicle collision, Pommogussett Road. Caller reports large beaver in roadway with a car bumper, unsure if there is a vehicle over the guardrail. 208 advised appears vehicle struck beaver and lost its bumper. No vehicles in water.

Nov. 7
5:47 p.m.: Road hazard, Barre Paxton Road. Party in the lobby to report a deceased deer in the road. 208: It was grass clippings wrapped in a tarp.

Nov. 11

2:17 p.m.: Disturbance, Maple Avenue. Party reports he hears screaming and banging coming from the upstairs apartment. Peace restored.

Prescription Saga

I’ve had a prescription for a particular medication at Walgreens for years. Last month, they only had enough for a partial refill.

A few days before that partial ran out, I requested a refill. The product was not available, but they’d reorder. Three days later, I stopped in to inquire. The clerk said that the shipment was due that evening, and they would call me when it was ready.

Three days passed. I was on my last doses. I went to the store. The clerk told me that the manufacturer would accept re-orders until the end of the month.

I went to my car and called my doctor’s office. The nurse said I should call CVS or Walmart to see if they any.


I called the local CVS store. They had none, but said that a store in Worcester had some. I tried calling the Worcester store and waited on hold for 15 minutes before I had to hang up to go do something else. An hour later, I called again, but the pharmacy was on its lunch break. At 2 PM I called Worcester again, waited 15 minutes on hold, and gave up.

“I’m going to Worcester,” I told my wife.

I went to the Worcester store and learned that they didn’t have any, but the inventory system indicated that Auburn had some. I called Auburn. They confirmed that they had a supply. I drove to Auburn, waited in line, and learned that, while the inventory system said that they had some, the shelf was empty. The clerk said that there was some in Oxford.

I drove to Oxford and ran into a twist. The Oxford clerk took my insurance card, recorded the information in their computer, and then stared at what I guessed was an error message. After a few retries, she called my insurance company and chatted with an agent who worked some magic to let the prescription order be submitted. Of course, as we know, Oxford didn’t have any of the medication.

The Oxford CVS clerk called Webster CVS, on the Connecticut border. Webster confirmed that they had two months’ worth on the shelf. I drove to Webster.

The clerk in Webster acknowledged my order and hollered to the crew in back, “Expedite QL,” or some other code. A half hour later, a pharmacist called my name.

“We know that the prescription is for a 90-day supply. We only have enough for 60 days. Is that ok?” I said that it was. “Alright, we’ll get that ready for you shortly.”

I was back in my car and on my way home 15 minutes later. It had taken four hours at four different CVS stores, not counting the trips to Walgreens and the various phone calls.

I don’t know what will happen after this. CVS holds the prescription for which I have two-thirds of an order. I’ll check in with CVS somewhere, somehow, next month. Let’s get through the holidays first.

There’s no question that we have a crisis in our pharmaceutical industry. The medication that I’m on was approved for use in the early 1960s. It’s not commonly prescribed. As a result, there is not a lot of money to be made. Shortages of other meds have been covered extensively in the news. Each person who takes each of the medications has a personal story about their condition, their healthcare options, and their finances. These are private instances of public events.

WISE Tech Tip – November 2023

Word is 40

I know of no one who says that Microsoft Word is the best word processing product. I have friends who claimed that WordPerfect 5 was and is the best. (My favorite, Interleaf, was made by the company of the same name. The company failed to take personal computers seriously as an emerging market. Both product and company were left on the side of the road in the late 90s.)

Word is the thing that nearly everyone uses, and few people love, the product so deeply associated with Microsoft and yet wasn’t even first released on Windows. In

October 1983, Microsoft released a big floppy disk containing its word processing software for installation on the Xenix operating system, a version of the UNIX operating system that ran on personal computers, and on MS-DOS. Microsoft brought Word to Apple’s Macintosh computers. The Word for Windows didn’t reach the market until 1989.

Two score years later, nearly one billion people use Word each day. We can only imagine the number of illegally obtained copies of Word in use.

Word has helped to make English a global language. Further, its automatic correction features have degraded our spelling and language skills. We don’t see and learn from our spelling mistakes or our mismatched subjects and verbs. Word takes care of it so we don”t have to. Plato complained that writing would degrade our memories. Imagine his screams if he learned what has happened

Today I Learned (TIL)

  • An unknown Babylonian discovered Pythagoras’s Theorem 1000 years before Pythagoras. While Pythagoras can be credited with being the world’s first known mathematician, proclaiming that “Numbers rule the universe,” new archeological findings show the way that Babylonians divided land equally.
  • Roxbury Russet https://search.nal.usda.gov/permalink/01NAL_INST/178fopj/alma9916346259007426Your government at work. First of all, did you know that there is a federal apple division? In 1887, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Division of Pomology commissioned paintings of the known apples and other fruits. The project continued until 1942. You can explore the more than 7500 watercolors on the USDA website. FWIW, my favorite apple is the Roxbury Russet.

An afternoon of cancellation

I wanted to close my business Internet account with Charter/Spectrum, so I took my modem and went to their storefront on the other side of Worcester. There I waited for 15-20 minutes because, although there were plenty of people working, each customer took a long time. Finally, my name is called, and I go to the agent’s station. explain what I want to do, and confirm my account information (with ID).
The agent looks things over on his screen, leaves for a few minutes, and comes back to say that they can’t close a business account here. I have to call a special number, which he writes on a yellow stickie note. I ask if I can turn in my modem. He said no, but I could drop it off at any UPS store.
Puzzled, I left. From my car, I made the call. The automated system asked if I wanted to use voice recognition to speed up the verification for the future. I said ok and then waited.
The call center agent took my information and said, several times, that she was “waiting for the page to populate.” Oh, and did I have my security code. No, I didn’t. I was calling from my car and couldn’t get at any billing statement. She found another way to confirm that I was who I said I was.
After another five minutes, she said that she couldn’t close the account because there was a pending work order. I had had messages about an outage, but didn’t respond because I wasn’t going to be at the place where my business Internet was located and was going to close it anyway. This work order had to be cancelled so that I could close my account. I heard the agent say softly “Customer changed mind,” as she cancelled the work order.
“I’m going back out and try it again,” she said. “This should allow me to move forward with the disconnect.” While waiting, she asked if I wanted their mobile phone service. I didn’t want to ask if I could do that without being a Charter/Spectrum customer because that would prolong and already too long conversation, so I said no.
Finally, the account was closed. She gave me a 20-digit confirmation number and told me to go to any UPS store to drop off my modem.
That 15-minute phone call, after a comparable wait at the store, could have been handled either at the store or by a web transaction. But, in the name of customer service, I guess, they made it a lot harder to do something so very simple.
And, yes, I did drop off the modem at the UPS store. That was easy.