(Note, this article was originally published in Mouse Tracks / August 2021, written by Steve Welsh, founder and President of the Oregon MacPioneers User Group, and past member of Apple’s User Group Advisory Board, not to mention that Steve was the originator of the popular You Don’t Know Mac user group events. Please check out the link provided at the end of the article for information about OMUG.)

By Steve Welsh

Oregon MacPioneers User Group (OMUG)

When a long-running community Apple Users Group makes the hard decision to call it quits, it’s much like watching a dying star’s light fade from view — in this case in the twinkling Apple universe sky. You are looking for an old friend up in the MUG constellations … but you can no longer find them.

This is what it felt like on a Wednesday evening, July 21, in Eugene, Oregon. I was there, virtually, via Zoom (as were all the meeting participants).

After decades of providing Apple wisdom, support, laughs and friendship to Eugene and the surrounding areas, the Eugene Macintosh Users Group (EMUG) leaders came to what felt like a seemingly inevitable decision that their shrinking officer staff, membership — and an almost final kick in the rear end by the global pandemic calling a halt to in-person meetings for more than a year — and all the other variables that MUGs must compete with in today’s online world … well, sometimes the batteries just won’t recharge themselves anymore.

I’ve attended many EMUG meetings via Zoom over the past year, as I have with PMUG and other groups. That is what the statewide Oregon MacPioneers User Group (OMUG) was created for — to help other Oregon community user groups. Like many of you, I made a lot of friends when I first joined a MUG decades …Eugene Macintosh Users Group (EMUG) leaders came to what felt like a seemingly inevitable decision and I enjoyed the spirit of sharing and the excitement of all things Apple so much that I became president of the group, then years later formed OMUG in Corvallis. So I knew well many of the faces on the Zoom window that Wednesday night. Some of those faces have been to MacCamps. Or to a PMUG meeting.

The Final Meeting

So when the words were officially said, even though I could sense what might be coming months ago, I wasn’t really prepared … or wanted to accept the news. But I also knew this was a majority decision by EMUG’s leadership, so this was, indeed, time to say goodbye.

I also wasn’t prepared for what would happen near the end of the EMUG meeting — but I’m not surprised, because the final 20 minutes, even after a few officers had already checked out, personified what a community MUG is all about. Before I describe what happened, here is the “on the fly” EMUG announcement first draft shared by Kerry in the Chat window:

“EMUG has chosen to disband. We recommend that members explore the Corvallis Mac Users Group (CMUG.com) and the Portland Mac Users Group (PMUG.org). Our final meeting/wake will be in person at 5:30 PM on August 18th. We will have a potluck at the home of Richard L. He will have the grill fired up if you wish to cook something.”

The EMUG officers or members attending that Wednesday evening were Kerry, Richard, Larry, Dick, Webb, Andrew, and Bruce. Dan from Dan’s Tutorials was also nice enough to show up, too; he did his utmost to assist EMUG in creating a new website to attract new members the final 2-3 months.

Typical of most MUG meetings, whether in person or virtually, the “business at hand” topics often blend into other tangent topics — the weather, what happened on someone’s Mac or iPhone, a cool t-shirt someone was wearing, SCSI terminators, or advice on cellphone plans. That Wednesday night was no different. After EMUG made its decision to disband official, the chatter turned to appreciating each other, and reminiscing about some EMUG memories. One of mine was EMUG as one of the participating 3 MUG teams on-stage at the annual “You Don’t Know Mac!” Statewide UG Celebration event in 2000, in Newport (hosted by MUGport), for the trivia contest. Richard was one of the 3 EMUG team members, and Kerry was there to support EMUG.

The YDKM Event that year was held on a small stage at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. Our special guest Master of Ceremonies was none other than Apple co-found Steve Wozniak. It was just one of those shared memories you can’t forget.

After EMUG made its decision to disband official, the chatter turned to appreciating each other. Well, the last 4-5 of us remaining at the end of that EMUG meeting, found ourselves laughing out loud, smiling, nodding in agreement as the topics continued to jump in random directions. I started to talk about how colleges first choose their athletic mascots, school colors and “cub name” when the institution is first founded (Blue Devils, really??! … Duke University). That led to Bruce mentioning the University of Kansas, and the one year he lived there he had — get this! — Wilt Chamberlin (the 7-foot-1 NBA legend) as his neighbor! Stunned, I told Bruce I met Wilt on a beach volleyball court as my best buddy and I strolled the sand near Waikiki (I also saw Wilt play in the professional volleyball league; his team was called The Big Dippers).

It is, indeed, a small world, after all.

Now there were only 3 of us left in the Zoom window: Larry, Dick and myself. Right before we were about to say our final goodbyes, I suddenly remembered that Dick was a performing magician … so I boldly asked him if he would perform a trick or 2 for me. He was delighted to, and left his chair for a moment (he disappeared, then reappeared, but that wasn’t the trick). He actually performed 4 tricks for us! The first was a metal paper clip he held in one hand … and we saw it bend an inch or 2 in realtime without his other hand touching it! Then he did the classic “pick a card and remember it” trick (he got my card right), and followed that with a colored balls and string trick, and then finally a GIANT card trick (using, yeah, giant cards).

I mean, where else are you going to see that kind of free entertainment? Oh, yeah … at a user group meeting.

I’m sure I’m going to see some of those EMUG faces again in the near future; maybe as new PMUG or CMUG members … but I’m sure going to miss the ones I won’t. If you run across any of them at a picnic, MacCamp or at a meeting down the road, give them a hearty pat on the back (if you are vaccinated) and thank them each for providing that special MUG effort and spirit for several decades. 



Thanks to Steve Welsh for letting us share this article.

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