#50 – Mary Ellen Mueller: Back to the future with Technology.

Moderators note: Mary Ellen apparently had e-mail long before I knew what it was.  She defines for me the best among the many ‘progressives’ I know: “with it”, but carrying many bedrock ‘conservative’ values as well!  Thanks, Mary Ellen!
Mary Ellen: I was amused to see my ancient email address mentioned in [your] P&J#2028A [an e-mail network on Peace and Justice issues: “P&Jer’s Grace Kelly and Mary Ellen Mueller were busy photo and video documenting the [Al Franken] event [July 1]…. Mary Ellen has easily the oldest existing e-mail address that I know of: it consists of 9 numbers #####.####@ compuserve.com I seem to remember her telling me once that she and her husband never got around to joining the 21st century and giving themselves a name. Who said Progressives were “progressive”?!”]

Here’s the story:
There are many progressive values. We were progressive enough to have one of the first email addresses in the 1980s. There are other factors involved here.
We are fans of historical technologies, with several examples to show the evolution of mimeographs, typewriters, and various computer systems (from the Zenith Z-100 dual floppy computer my husband built from a kit in 1983 – running C/PM and Z-DOS 1.0, to a 286 running DOS 5.x, and a 1996 laptop running Win95.) We volunteer at the Minnesota Streetcar Museum, and Newspaper Museum at the Minnesota State Fair.
Last year I brought our Win95 laptop with dialup modem to show my 7th graders. It was older than them, and they couldn’t imagine computers without Twitter, FaceBook, or wireless Internet access. (Volunteers at historic house museums report that rotary dial phones confuse children.)
We use the best of the technologies when appropriate, both historical and current. I also have a solar radio, windup lanterns, and a solar oven used every sunny day. We also have Windows XP computers.
If we changed our email address, I would lose a lot of people. People claim they can’t keep track of my house address because I move so often. My last move was 27 years ago. Given that, how many would keep track of my new email address? The nine digits remind them I am contrary.
Avoiding aggravation is the main factor. Dealing with ISPs is such a nuisance, so “if it still works fairly well, don’t change it.” The thought of converting my existing system makes me want to scream and run out the door. I don’t like the idea of computer systems being obsolete so quickly, so I wait to see what new features I will actually use. I’m tired of being a guinea pig, so I wait to see when new features work correctly and reliably. That way I keep things out of the landfill, and more hair on my head. I also avoid being a “fool and her money are soon parted.”
I value my time, and try to spend it wisely. Computers can eat up huge amounts of my time. So I limit myself to a certain amount of Internet time each day, just to keep my life balanced.
My husband and I decided to have one person use the Internet at a time, for the same reason we have one car. We have to talk to each other more often, and coordinate our time and schedules. It sounds unnecessary and odd, given the technology advances, but it improves our lives.
Retired telegraphers are amazing. They will always have the latest technology. Telegraphs were the cutting edge in communication technology at one time, and telegraphers know how quickly it all changes. So they keep current with their profession’s innovations. I bet the telegraphers use Twitter!
Moderators PS:  July 4, we breakfasted with my cousin who has long association with the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting  http://www.pavekmuseum.org/; and The Bakken Museum of Electicity http://www.thebakken.org/, both in the St. Louis Park MN area.  If Mary Ellen hasn’t been there (I’d bet “yes”), she’ll be there soon.