Dallin Crump

intentionism

Listening to one of my music playlists on random, I was reminded of the existence of a beautiful piece of music performed by the supremely talented Norwegian soprano Sissel.

In the summer of 2019 she performed with the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square. The entire concert is remarkable and worth watching. But one song in particular stood out above the rest for me and many who heard it.

You can't tell from the video, but all 18,000+ people in the audience were on their feet during the lengthy applause after the song. They knew they had just experienced something heavenly.

Sissel's performance of Slow Down by Chuck Girard, arranged by Sam Cardon, is one that I keep coming back to. It soothes and heals, reminds me to stop and take a deep breath. It refocuses me on what is most important. It reminds me that God is near.

Discuss...


#100DaysToOffload (No. 49) #music #faith #Christianity #intentionism

Like many of us in the year 2022, I spend most of my weekdays on a computer. It's how I work to support my family.

But then what do I do in my spare time? Most of the time, I get on my computer. I watch TV shows or Movies, play video games (Minecraft these days), listen to music, catch up on social media, write blogs, etc. I do read books, spend time with my family, and other non-digital things, but my current ratio of connected to disconnected free time is extremely skewed towards connected.

So I've been trying to remember what I did in my spare time before I had unfettered access to a computer. That was a long time ago. I watched TV and played video games, but I didn't have a smartphone and I had to share a computer, so I wasn't “connected” nearly as much as I am now.

So what did I do? Mostly, I played musical instruments. Once upon a time, I wanted to be a band teacher at a high school or community college. Music was life. I took piano lessons as a young child, picked up the clarinet in 4th grade, saxophone in 7th grade, and continued through 2+ years of community college. Concert band, jazz band, marching band, pep band, solo & ensemble, jazz combo – if there was any kind of instrumental music thing going on, I was a part of it.

Then, I reached a crossroads and decided to go a different direction. Music suddenly wasn't the focus of my life. I sold my saxophone (a lovely Selmer Mark VI tenor) because it was sitting neglected in a closet and I felt an instrument of that caliber must be enjoyed and shared. Plus, I needed the money. I haven't played my clarinet in years. In more recent years I've picked up the Penny Whistle (aka Irish Whistle or Tin Whistle), Recorder (not the cheap plastic ones from elementary school, a nice professional wooden one), and Native American Flute. I've played here and there at church or community concerts, but I haven't diligently practiced or tried to increase my proficiency on any instruments in a good 15 years or so.

I've missed playing. I've missed performing regularly. Music is the language of the soul and I've always enjoyed expressing myself and uplifting others through it. So if there's any “disconnected” hobby I need to pick up – or return to – I think it's got to be playing music again.

I feel like I want to get really good on my whistles, recorder, and flute. And I've been thinking for a while about finding a good piano keyboard that I can have in my office – maybe even on or next to my desk – so I can just play and tinker and work stuff out by ear like I always used to do. I'd just go to the piano and play. Sometimes for a long while. It was a great outlet. Maybe I'll even buckle down and force myself to practice playing written music on the piano.

I'll be thinking of other disconnected hobbies I can pick up, too, but picking music back up seems like the obvious place to start.

Discuss...


#100DaysToOffload (No. 37) #music #hobbies #intentionism

I enjoy writing letters. I also enjoy receiving them. Emails and texts have their place, but they can never take the place of letters, postcards, and greeting cards.

There is something special about receiving tangible correspondence from another person. If it is hand-written, it's even more special. Handwriting is imbued with one's personality and style. Getting a letter from someone means they took the time to sit down and type or write something especially for you. It means that of all the things they could have been thinking and doing, their thoughts and actions in that moment were focused on you. That is no small thing, for the most precious and valuable commodity we have in this mortal phase of our existence is time.

Five years ago, I conducted an experiment wherein I resolved to write a letter by hand to someone every single day for one month. I enjoyed it so much I think I ended up doing it for two or three months. In addition to writing letters to friends, family, and neighbors, a great help in accomplishing my goal was my discovery of The World Needs More Love Letters (moreloveletters.com).

The World Needs More Love Letters (TWNMLL) organizes letter-writing campaigns for people in need of love, hope, and encouragement. Usually, these people have experienced or are in the midst of tremendous adversity and trials in their lives. I've sent several letters to people through TWNMLL. It's so great to see their blog posts about the reactions and experiences of those receiving the letters. It makes a difference for good in their lives.

There are other ways to write letters to people you don't know. Assisted living and retirement homes often accept letters for their residents. Many people who live in such facilities are terribly lonely and a letter from someone – anyone – can do so much good. I've also heard stories about people leaving hopeful, uplifting letters in public places – usually outdoor common areas or public transportation – to be found by others. Though I have not done this, myself, I think it's a fun idea and might try it in the future.

Whether a friend or a stranger, never underestimate the power of a thoughtful letter to bring peace and hope to someone's life at just the right moment.

Discuss...


#100DaysToOffload (No. 22) #life #intentionism #charity

Why would something so mundane warrant a blog post? I'll answer that question with a question: who uses an alarm clock anymore?

For years I have been using my smartphone as my alarm clock. For years one of the last things I do before going to sleep is get on my smartphone. For years one of the first things I have done in the morning after the alarm wakes me up is get on my smartphone. I don't want to do that anymore. I can't think of a single good reason why using a smartphone should be a part of my morning or evening routines at all.

Each morning, if I am intentional with my time, I can easily catch up on emails, texts, etc. after I pray, exercise, bathe, eat breakfast, and study the scriptures. Each evening, if I am intentional with my time, I can check my smartphone well before it's time to write in my journal, read a book, and pray.

In fact, aside from text messages, there are few reasons for me use my smartphone at all when I'm at home. I am going to make every effort to avoid doing so.

Smartphones are amazing because they allow us to do so much. But their versatility can also be a problem when not used intentionally. If you're looking for mindless distraction, a smartphone can provide a seemingly limitless amount of it. Years ago I vowed to never again install a game on my phone, but there are so many other ways to waste time.

So from now on, I will be leaving my smartphone in my home office at night. I've already been forwarding calls from it to my landline phone when I'm at home. I have wireless landline phones in my home office, kitchen, and family room, and wired phones in my bedroom and downstairs hallway, so I won't miss any emergency calls.

Only a landline phone and an alarm clock on my nightstand? What is this, the 90s?

I like the cheap little alarm clock I bought, by the way. Big numbers, back light optional, and battery-powered (3 rechargeable AAA). And it also shows the temperature! Fancy!

Discuss...


#100DaysToOffload (No. 21) #tech #intentionism

Earlier this month, I went on a trip with my family to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. We stayed at a campground situated between the two parks. We use an MVNO (Ting) for our cell phone service to save money and, therefore, had no service at our camp. In fact, during the few days we spent exploring that magnificent part of the world, we had little or no service at all.

Without cell phone service, my smartphone became a PDA (personal digital assistant) with a camera. Tasks I took for granted suddenly weren't possible. No random web searches. No checking the weather. No catching up on the news. No email, IM, or social media.

I did use my phone to take photos, keep my journal, jot down notes, and use Google Maps (I had the sense to download a local map of the region in preparation for the trip and I was glad I did because it came in handy).

I caught myself, however, regularly reaching for my phone and trying to go through my routine of catching up on news and social media. It's something I do multiple times a day. I don't have any social media apps installed – I check social media via the mobile browser. And except for direct messages, I have notifications disabled on my messaging apps. So instead of being pestered by notifications, I check my social media and IM groups manually. In theory, this is to encourage intentional use of my phone – to use it on my terms rather than as one of Pavlov's dogs conditioned to salivate at the chime of a bell. Being without a data connection for a few days made me realize that, in practice, I have just formed a habit of regularly checking my phone to compensate.

I'm confident the way I use my phone has resulted in fewer distractions and less screen time overall, but even in the absence of distraction, I still seek it.

I'd like to think that by the end of our trip, I was reaching for my phone less. But I couldn't help but wonder why I had been conditioned to reach for it so much in the first place. Was it simply a habit? A behavior so natural and normal that it has become a part of my behavior? Or was I afraid of being alone with my thoughts? Was I uncomfortable with quiet reflection or observation?

What am I really reaching for when I reach for my smartphone? Knowledge? Comfort? Companionship? Entertainment? Direction? Hope? A smartphone can provide all of these things and more to some degree, but it is rarely the ideal source or medium.

Take companionship, for example. Email, messaging, phone calls, video calls. There are so many ways to communicate with others and stay connected with them. Yet, if I had to choose between those digital methods and interacting with a loved one in-person, I'd take the in-person option every time. There simply is no substitute for being in the same room with those you care about. Yet there I was, reaching for my phone for no reason, when the most important people to me in the world were already there with me.

Since the trip, old habits have returned, “real life” has resumed. I'm reaching for my phone, but not thinking about what I'm really reaching for. Maybe I'll say it out loud. Every time I reach. Ask myself “what am I really reaching for?” Just take a couple of seconds to really think about it. I bet most of the time, the answer would be: something more important than this.

Discuss...


#100DaysToOffload (No. 16) #tech #intentionism

A principle is “a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.”

We all have deeply-held principles by which we live our lives. Some of those principles may be innate – a part of us as long as we can remember. Some principles were taught to us by our parents or families. Other principles we adopt throughout our lives as we learn and grow.

Read more...

I've been using Mastodon – a free and open source, decentralized social media platform and a compelling alternative to corporate-controlled platforms like Facebook and Twitter – regularly since June of 2019. Mastodon is part of the Fediverse – a collection of inter-connected apps developed around ActivityPub, an open, decentralized social networking protocol.

In 2019 a company I have been following called Purism launched their own Mastodon instance – called Librem Social – as a part of their Librem One suite of ethical web-based software services. I signed up for a subscription because I wanted to show my support for any company trying to offer viable, non-exploitative alternatives to popular services.

Purism hasn't done much with Librem One since they launched it. I expect it didn't catch on as much as they had hoped it would. Since then, they've focused on their hardware and haven't mentioned hardly anything about Librem One. But I appreciate them maintaining Librem One as long as they have.

Admittedly, I didn't renew my Librem One subscription after the first year. I tried their email, chat, and VPN services, but didn't find them compelling enough to keep using them. Librem Social, however, has become my main personal social media account.

On more than one occasion, I have considered moving to a different Mastodon instance. But there are several reasons I keep using Librem Social.

Librem Social-Specific

Here are two reasons specific to Librem Social.

Disabled Local and Federated Timelines

Most instances of Mastodon allow you to see Local and Federated timelines. The Local timeline is a feed of all of the posts from all of the accounts within your same instance. The Federated timeline is a feed that shows all of the posts across all instances – at least the ones that support posting to the Federated timeline. Not all of them do.

Librem Social has disabled both Local and Federated timeline support on its instance of Mastodon. I see this as its biggest strength and it has been a good thing for me. It means I am not at risk of being blindsided by a deluge of random, unsolicited content that I never wanted to see. From day one, I have had to intentionally seek out content by searching for it. I search for hashtags, keywords, and phrases related to my interests. I have been able to find and follow people across many different Mastodon instances that I find interesting in some way or another.

General Purpose Theme

Some instances of Mastodon are narrow in their theme and focus. Others, like Librem One, don't have a specific theme or topic – they are just general purpose. My interests are pretty eclectic, so I don't want to feel like I'm pigeonholed into posting about specific stuff all the time.

For example, I interact with a lot of good folks from from the fosstodon.org instance. Sure, they can and do post about all kinds of things aside from FOSS (free and open-source software), but the name of the instance still has that implication and that is their main interest and focus.

I like that Librem Social is a bit more generic in scope.

Mastodon In General

The rest of my reasons are likely true of most Mastodon instances, not just Librem Social.

Chronological Timeline

The main feed is in chronological order. No annoying algorithms causing different posts to show up at the top of your feed every time you reload. I never miss a post if I don't want to, and they are always in the same order.

No Tracking, No Ads

It's certainly possible that some Mastodon instances track their users in some fashion or serve ads, but I would bet that most don't.

And what a refreshing experience it is to not be accosted with endless ads in a social media timeline.

Community

I have met some genuinely good, caring, thoughtful, intelligent people on Mastodon. Some of them share my interests. Some of them don't, but are quite good at expressing themselves in a way that I find interesting or make me want to learn new things.

This has been possible because Mastodon is about allowing people to interact and share their thoughts. It's about building communities, not about exploiting and monetizing people.

Conclusion

I have deleted all of my other social media accounts except for Facebook and LinkedIn.

I keep Facebook because I use it to participate in a few important groups, including Church and family groups. And I keep LinkedIn because it is the best way to keep in touch with professional contacts, network with others in my same area of expertise, and find good employment in my field. But I rarely post to my own timeline in either of them.

Librem Social is now my preferred social media platform, and I hope Mastodon continues to grow and evolve. So far, it's the closest thing to my ideal of what social media should be. I think it has tremendous potential.


#100DaysToOffload (No. 8) #socialmedia #tech #intentionism

I enjoy reading books. Real, physical books with paper pages that you keep on a shelf when you're not reading them.

Reading on a phone, tablet, or even a dedicated eBook reader just isn't the same.

You don't have to charge a real book. There's no risk of being distracted by notifications or being tempted to check your social media. You don't need an account or a subscription to access it, and there's no risk it might randomly disappear due to arbitrary licensing agreements or the whims of a big tech company. And those big tech companies can't track your reading habits so that they can try to extract even more money from you and try to sell you things, or let other companies pay them for that information so they can try to sell you things, too.

There's no substitute for holding a real book in your hands – feeling the weight of it, reading the dust jacket (if it has one), thumbing through the pages.

Real books have a smell. A magical combination of glue, paper, ink, and – if it's an older book – age. As soon as this distinctive aroma hits your nostrils, you can't help but get excited at the prospect of learning something new or being taken on a grand adventure.

Books are more than just words on a page. They are a catalyst for thought and imagination. And for me, they are best experienced and enjoyed in their physical form.


#100DaysToOffload (No. 7) #books #intentionism

We are bombarded – assaulted – with imagery and noise all day.

Every day.

Everything is picture. Everything is sound.

Carefully designed to entice, provoke, enrage, influence, addict, stimulate, manipulate, subdue.

The purpose? Lucre. Extracted directly from us or collected from others who are willing to pay for our most precious resource:

Time.

Time is more than money. It's power.

Tomorrow is shaped by what is done today.

If you give them your time today, you let them shape your tomorrow.

Captivation leads to captivity.

Protect your time. Don't squander it.


#100DaysToOffload (No. 5) #intentionism #media