Dallin Crump


It has become a tradition in my family to watch the 1994 version of Miracle on 34th Street around Thanksgiving. It’s one of the things we do to kick off the Christmas season. We watched it this evening.

My favorite quote from this film is from Kris Kringle himself:

If you can’t accept anything on faith, then you are doomed to a life dominated by doubt.

This reminded me of a quote from Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf:

It’s natural to have questions—the acorn of honest inquiry has often sprouted and matured into a great oak of understanding. There are few members of the Church who, at one time or another, have not wrestled with serious or sensitive questions. One of the purposes of the Church is to nurture and cultivate the seed of faith—even in the sometimes sandy soil of doubt and uncertainty. Faith is to hope for things which are not seen but which are true.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner and keep us from the divine love, peace, and gifts that come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

At times I have grappled with doubt like everyone else, but I refuse to live a life dominated by it. I choose to have faith in something – in someone: Jesus Christ. I join with millions this Christmas season to celebrate His humble birth.

Merry Christmas!

#100DaysToOffload (No. 60) #faith #Christmas #Christianity #ChurchOfJesusChrist

Another Thanksgiving in the books. Except for one thing, it was a pretty ordinary holiday.

I enjoyed sleeping in a whole 2 minutes (my body usually gets me up, alarm or not). We had the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on while my wife bustled in the kitchen getting the food prepared (I made the stuffing and gravy – just add water).

By early afternoon everything was ready, we loaded it all up into the SUV and drove over to my in-law's home 15 minutes away. There we met my wife's family and her aunt and uncle and who were also visiting and enjoyed a lovely meal and good company for several hours. We came home happy and well-fed.

The out-of-the-ordinary thing happened this morning. I got a text message from a good friend I've known for over 20 years. His wife has been battling cancer for a little over a year. After a valiant fight, she entered hospice care a couple months ago. Today he informed me she had slipped into a coma from which she will not wake. They are preparing for her passing.

Despite the heaviness of heart for my friend and his family, today's festivities with my family were that much sweeter. I held my wife a little closer, sat next to my son a little longer, enjoyed my interactions with extended family, enjoyed delicious and plentiful food a little more than I otherwise might have done.

I have so much to be thankful for on this almost ordinary Thanksgiving.


#100DaysToOffload (No. 59) #life #family #gratitude

It's a Thanksgiving miracle! I wasn't expecting my clarinet to be repaired for at least another week or so, but I got a text from the shop late in the afternoon today that it was ready to be picked up.

A loose key mount has been fixed, several key pads and corks have been replaced, and it's been oiled inside and out. When I got it home I played (fumbled my way through) some scales and an etude, and I felt that old but familiar joy that comes from playing a musical instrument.

I'm hoping to be consistent in practicing every day and get my “chops” back so that I can audition for our community orchestra or band.

The timing couldn't have been better. On the eve of Thanksgiving, I have been reminded how thankful I am for music and for musical talents.


#100DaysToOffload (No. 58) #music #hobbies

I've written several posts about how I acquired and got my current laptop working – a Dell Latitude E7470. It's several years old, but it's been running like a champ and has come into my possession at the perfect time, given my current hobby project.

I started a Mastodon instance this past weekend (ZCMI.social) and I've been on it pretty much non-stop since then when I'm not working.

The past several days I've used my laptop for such tasks as:

  • Register and configure the domain
  • Set up and configure the admin email for the server
  • Set up and configure Mastodon
  • Start a Patreon
  • Use GIMP to design a logo
  • Use a shared Google Doc to collaborate with others on developing community standards
  • Set up a companion website where the community standards and other info will be available
  • Use Discord to collaborate with others on the project and mentor a few who are interested in joining the server in a “closed beta”
  • Research all the questions I related to being a Mastodon admin
  • Play some Minecraft to take a break

Sure, I could have used my desktop, but then I'd have been stuck at the desk I sit at all day for work. It's been nice to sit at the dining room table or in the living room or on the futon in my home office while I'm doing all this Mastodon stuff.

Also, Pop!_OS has been a dream to use. It looks and runs great on this hardware and I'm very pleased with it.

Now with all the typing and writing I'm doing, I wish I had a phone with a physical keyboard...


#100DaysToOffload (No. 57) #tech #hobbies

Getting a new shared Mastodon instance going is a lot of work! I've put in a lot of hours the past couple days on getting ZCMI.social off the ground. It's not just the technical side of things with domain, hosting, and administration – there is a lot more to it.

We've got to figure out what kind of community we want to create and then develop server rules, standards, etc. to help us get there. We've got to figure out how to fund the venture as a community, because as it grows more money will be necessary to keep the lights on.

In addition to hosting a server, we've got to get a companion website going, as that's the easiest way to keep all of our info in one place and help people learn more about what we're doing.

We also need to help and mentor people joining our server who are completely new to Mastodon and the Fediverse, let alone our instance! If they're familiar with other social networks, they will find some things familiar and other things completely foreign and not intuitive.

With all of this, patience is key. I've felt a little overwhelmed at times, but most of the time I've just been eager and excited to learn new things and get all of this working.

Whether this project ends in a month or continues for years, I'm glad I finally worked up the motivation to try.


#100DaysToOffload (No. 56) #tech #SocialMedia #hobbies

It's been a whirlwind weekend, but I somehow started a new Mastodon instance! ZCMI.social is now a thing.

It's currently open only to a small group of close friends and associates for a “closed beta” until I get this whole Mastodon Admin thing figured out. If there is any reasonable degree of success after a month or two, I might opening it up for more people to join.

But let me back up. Why did I name it “ZCMI” and who is it for? The original ZCMI – Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution – was a department store chain founded in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1868. It changed owners throughout the years and went defunct about 20 years ago. (Seriously, how many department store chains have died in the last couple decades? Remember Mervyn's? Fred Meyer? Montgomery Ward?).

The ZCMI in ZCMI.social stands for Zion's Cooperative Mastodon Instance! It's intended for members of my church – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – who are actively trying to live their faith. I envision it as as a safe space for church members to talk about their faith and interact with and support other members trying to walk the covenant path. The name of this new Mastodon instance is a way of honoring our past while looking forward to the future.

There is still a lot of work to do – a few of my colleagues and I are coming up with some community guidelines and refining the server rules (I mostly copied our existing rules from Fosstodon because I think they're a pretty great place to start).

Over the next month I'd like to try to get at least 30 or 40 people on there and actively using it and see where things go from there.

I'm excited!


#100DaysToOffload (No. 55) #tech #faith #ChurchOfJesusChrist #SocialMedia

Occasionally over the past couple years, I've thought about starting a Mastodon instance for members of my church – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Today I've been brainstorming with some friends about it. I actually purchased a domain name and have been looking into hosting options.

With the tsunami of new users that have joined the Fediverse over the past couple weeks due to the turmoil at Twitter, now seems like a great time to get a new instance going. But the increased attention also means that most dedicated Mastodon hosting services have been overwhelmed. One of the most popular providers – Masto.host – has actually suspended new registrations as of the time I write this while they figure out how to accommodate the surge in demand for their existing customers.

In addition to hosting, I've been considering many questions about how to administer and run such a community. How big do I expect it to get? Should I cap the number of accounts? What should our rules and guidelines be? What is our ban policy? Can people appeal? Should I set up a Patreon or similar to help defray the cost? The list of questions is long and continues to grow.

Thinking through these questions has really given me more appreciation for all of the volunteers who host and run thousands of Mastodon instances out there, especially the one I'm currently on – Fosstodon.

Whether or not I actually get a new Mastodon instance off the ground, I'm thankful that such an option exists and allows people all around the world to connect with each other in meaningful ways without for-profit companies trying to exploit them for profit.


#100DaysToOffload (No. 54) #tech #SocialMedia

My new Andor sticker arrived and it looks great on my laptop!

It's been a long time since I have been really excited about new TV shows, and this year there have been three that I have thoroughly enjoyed:

  • Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Captain Pike may very well be my favorite Star Trek captain now)
  • Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (a solid 8 out of 10 for this non-die-hard LOTR fan)
  • Andor (my favorite of the three and my favorite Star Wars production ever)

I'll write another post about Andor once the series is through, but suffice it to say, I have enjoyed every moment of it and couldn't resist getting the sticker when I saw it.

There is still room for more stickers! I better get looking.


#100DaysToOffload (No. 53) #tech #hobbies #TV

The battery cable I ordered arrived today. I installed the battery without too much hassle and now I have a 100% working Dell Latitude E7470 laptop for a total cost of ~$250!

I also received the Fosstodon sticker I ordered, which was just as exciting! I think it looks great alongside the Pop!_OS and System76 stickers. More stickers are on the way, but I won't spoil the surprise. I plan to eventually cover that lid!

I have a work-issued laptop and I use it for personal web browsing sometimes, but I don't have any apps installed on it besides those required to do my job. Now that I have my own laptop again, it will be nice to have access to all of the software I want to use on the go.

I also plan to run Linux exclusively on my laptop. I'm enjoying Pop!_OS at the moment. I may do some distro hopping – I always like to change things up. But unless there is a truly urgent need, I won't be installing Windows on this machine.


#100DaysToOffload (No. 52) #tech #hobbies

Streaming music services like Apple Music and Spotify provide unprecedented convenience and instant access to more music than we've ever had before. But when it comes to my favorite music – music I want to be assured I can listen to whenever I want – I still purchase or burn CDs.

I work from home, so I don't drive very much. When I do drive, it's usually my trusty 2005 Honda Civic, manufactured two years before the first iPhone. It has a basic sound system with radio and a CD player and no aux input or USB ports. If I want to listen to music of my choice, it has to be on a CD. I used to have a Bluetooth FM transmitter that allowed me to play music from my phone through FM radio, but the reception and sound quality were not great. I prefer CDs.

But the main reason I still like CDs is that the music in your streaming music library may not always be available when you want to listen to it. Numerous times, regardless of the service, certain tracks in my library that I have been able to listen to before have suddenly become unavailable due to arbitrary licensing agreements. Some licensees like to rotate their music through different services over time. So they may make an album exclusively available on Apple Music for several months, then switch to Amazon Music, then switch to Spotify, etc. What good is it to have access to millions of tracks when you can't listen to the specific ones you want to?

So I have learned that if I want to absolutely guarantee my favorite music is available to listen to any time I want to, I either purchase it on CD and rip it to my library, or purchase it in a downloadable form – usually Bandcamp or another DRM-free provider – and burn it to CD. I like to have both digital and physical copies for redundancy and backup purposes.

There's something almost rebellious about listening to a CD or a standalone digital audio file in 2022. No internet connection is required. Nobody's tracking me. No subscription is required. It's just me and the music. As it once was. As it should be.


#100DaysToOffload (No. 51) #tech #music