Scott Pantall

spilling my brains…

Eulogy For My Friend, Lewis Imperiale

My friend, Lewis Imperiale, died early in the morning of October 20th, 2020 after getting sick with the coronavirus. He was 40 years old.

Please donate to this GoFundMe for Lewis’s funeral expenses. Even a small donation helps and shows love for Lewis and his family and friends https://www.gofundme.com/f/for-lewis-in-loving-memory

Lewis Imperiale, 2009, likely just before saying some smart-ass remark.

Now that the logistics are done, it’s time to write the hard part… I don’t want to write this post. I don’t want to admit that he’s dead even though that’s been true for almost 3 weeks already.

On the other hand I really want to write this post. I want to tell you all about Lewis and what he meant to me and I want to write volumes because it was only after he died that I realized how much he meant to me. For that, this post will be disappointingly short.

I don’t remember meeting Lewis. He was just kinda…. there. Before my junior year of high school I switched to Bear Creek High School. I only knew 2 friends who went to school there, Anthony and Dan, so I fell in with their friend group. Lewis was a part of that group.

During our senior year we would spend our lunch periods and free periods in the Senior Lounge of the school where we’d play Magic: The Gathering. Whenever I saw Lewis I would gleefully greet him by jumping into him mosh-pit style. Since I was scrawny and Lewis was not scrawny, he would just stand there and I’d just bounce off of him. It was, admittedly, a strange greeting, but it was a greeting that underscored the joy I felt whenever I saw Lewis.

I was ALWAYS happy to see Lewis. When I think of Lewis I hear his laugh and it hurts to think of his laugh now. He was always supportive. Lewis was one of my roommates when I started dating my wife, Corrine in 2002. He ended up being the third-wheel on some of our first dates and we were proud to have him as a groomsman for our wedding in 2009. Lewis was a fixture at our gatherings at our house which have usually been either for my birthday or for New Year’s Eve and he would usually bring some new bottle of whiskey as a gift. I have tried liking whiskey and mostly failed at liking it, but I knew that I would like any whiskey that Lewis brought with him.

The last time I talked to Lewis was in March to celebrate my 40th birthday when he came over with my new favorite whiskey (I didn’t know it was my favorite yet). I regret not talking to him more. I regret not taking all the chances I had to be around my friend that brought me joy whenever I saw him. We both liked pool and Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers and Flogging Molly and Dropkick Muphry’s and online games and hockey and so many other things and I kick myself thinking of all the times we could’ve spent more time together and didn’t. I can only hope he had half an idea about what he meant to me and everyone else who loved him. I can only hope now because I can’t tell him now.

I’m not good at letting friends know I love them. It’s something that us men are generally bad at. If I’ve ever said “Thank you” or “It’s good to catch up” or “We should hang out more” it’s been me saying that I love you and I’m proud to know you.

I wish I had known Lewis more. I am proud to have been his friend. Lewis was kind, selfless, easy-going and yet stubborn. It’s these traits that made us love Lewis and it’s these traits I blame for his death. If only… well it’s not good to dwell on the what-ifs as tempting as they are sometimes. Lewis is gone and no amount of guilt or regret will bring him back. Instead of guilt and regret, it’s better that we focus on being thankful for Lewis.

I wish we could all get together to share stories to help us appreciate the influence he had on our lives. I wish we could hug and drink and laugh and cry with each other at the same time in the same place to celebrate that we knew him and loved him. But instead of standing in front of you while reading these words and failing to hold back tears, allowing us to show our love for Lewis and each other in real-time, you are reading these words on a glowing screen and I’m doing something else.

We will be able to get together one day, likely on more than one day, to memorialize Lewis. The next Peacemakers show, the next Avalanche/Islanders game that we are comfortable going to, the next game of pool and my next sip of whiskey will all be events to memorialize Lewis. I’m looking forward to doing those things with you when it’s safe.

Please donate to the GoFundMe in Lewis’s name https://www.gofundme.com/f/for-lewis-in-loving-memory.

Thank you for reading this. It’s good to catch up. We should hang out more.

How we respond to “Black Lives Matter” says volumes

When we say “Black lives matter” we are simply saying that we believe that the lives of black people matter to us.

If we are listening, there are only 2 things we can do with the statement “black lives matter”. We can either agree with those three words or disagree with them.

If our reaction to someone saying “black lives matter” is not agreement or disagreement then we are not listening

When we don’t listen to someone we are showing them that we don’t care about what they’re saying. Therefore when we respond to “black lives matter” with anything but agreement we are showing that we do not care about black lives.

This may lead some of you to start a thought with “But what about…” Don’t do that. When we do that we are showing people who care about black lives that we are not listening and that we do not share their opinion and that we do not care about black lives. This may not be what we intend to communicate. It doesn’t mean that we don’t care about black lives. It just means that we are not showing that we care. It’s a small distinction but an important one that separates the malevolent from the ignorant.

If you don’t believe me, try an example of something less controversial and more mundane. Imagine you said “Scott, we should go to Tommy’s Subs for lunch.” and I said “But what about Robert’s Italian Deli?” You could then assume that I’m not listening to your opinion about lunch. You might also assume that I do not like Tommy’s Subs. But remember this is just an example because this post is talking about race and racism, not lunch.

This is why I get upset when I see people responding to “black lives matter” with “blue lives matter” or “all lives matter” or any other “something something matter.” It is blatant whataboutism (https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Whataboutism). It shows you’re not listening. It shows you don’t care and it creates a false choice. It’s these false choices that hurt me the most.

Agreeing that black lives matter does not mean that you cannot also support law enforcement. I believe that black lives matter. I also believe it is important to support the people and good intentions of law enforcement. There is only one charity that I currently donate to on a monthly basis and that is the Bitner Memorial Fund because Jeremy Bitner was someone I admired while working as a police dispatcher. He was killed by a drunk driver in 2012 while on duty as a police officer and the fund in his name is set up to help the families of fallen law enforcement officers. I cannot choose between caring for families like the Bitners and families like the Floyds. Both Jeremy Bitner and George Floyd had their lives taken from them by people who did not care about the lives of their victims. If you cannot see how I can support both, then we need to talk.

Agreeing that black lives matter does not mean that we need to agree with everything said by anyone who says “black lives matter.” This is likely another well-defined logical fallacy that I don’t know but I do know that it’s stupid tribalism. If Democrats say “black lives matter” this does not mean that Republican’s have to disagree with the statement. Republicans need to be more than anti-Democrat. It’s stupid and lazy and I expect better from people. 

Alternatively if I agree that black lives matter, it does not mean that I agree with everything said by anyone who says “black lives matter.” Making this assumption is just a way to justify that we are not listening and not caring about black lives by using a different subject as our excuse to not listen or disagree with someone who is saying “black lives matter.”

I have always thought of myself as not-racist. It wasn’t until this year that I realized that being not-racist is not doing enough. It wasn’t until I read “How To Be An Anti-Racist” by Ibram X. Kendi that I realized that being anti-racist was a thing and that I could be anti-racist so here’s how I categorize our responses to “black lives matter”.

  • Saying “Black lives matter” and meaning it and acting on it is an anti-racist action.
  • Saying “Black lives matter” and meaning it and not acting on it is a non-racist action.
  • Listening when someone says “Black lives matter” is a non-racist action.
  • Not listening or disagreeing when someone says “Black lives matter” is a racist action.

I categorize these actions because doing one racist action by itself does not mean that person is racist. Just like doing one anti-racist action by itself does not mean that person is anti-racist. It is our continuous actions that define who we are and who we want to be. I hope you’ll do anti-racist things with me.

Inspiration, Knowledge, The Internet And Wasted Time

The allure of the internet and social media is that you can get inspiration and knowledge in unending quantities. However if you get inspiration and knowledge but don’t act on it, did you really get it? I don’t think so.

Most of us know of those “inspirational” folks on social media who spend most of their time bitching and moaning and complaining but who also sprinkle in inspirational posts about love and togetherness and all that feel-good stuff. Then there’s those inspirational accounts that just post sayings and images that make you feel inspired but you just read them and continue scrolling. It makes me wonder: If I feel “inspired” by something I see and I don’t do anything with that inspiration, was I really inspired? I don’t think so.

Recently I talked with a friend about doing things on purpose and choosing the things that really interest me and make me feel good. This got me thinking about knowledge the same way I think about inspiration. I use the internet and social media to stay up to date on the world. I read about world events, national and local politics. I read a listen to podcasts about industry trends and topics and I feel like I do that to keep me well informed. However I don’t do very much with that knowledge. If I “learn” something and I don’t apply that knowledge in any way, did I really learn anything? I don’t think so now.

I reconsider how to do things many times in a year but this time just so happens to match up with the end of the year so for the foreseeable future (which is much shorter than any of us realize) I will take stock of what inspiration and knowledge I’m actually making use of. Then I can choose to make more use of the inspiration and knowledge I’m currently getting and/or actually take action on the inspiration and knowledge that I’m consuming.

Inspiration and knowledge without action is just wasted time.

Igashiigadoo Syndrome: A Productivity Version of FOMO

I am frustrated with perceived time. My frustration is similar to imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is when you think everyone around you knows more than you. So what is it called when you think everyone around you has more time than you? I’m trying to come up with a word or phrase for it but I want to hurry up and figure it out cuz I’VE GOT SHIT I GOTTA DO!

Maybe that’s what we should call it? We’ll call it Igashiigadoo Syndrome! It’s pronounced as if you’re saying “I’ve got shit I gotta do” but you’re in too big of a hurry to say it correctly.

This is a similar issue to Perfect Life Fatigue which is a name I just made up for that feeling you get when you’re looking at social media and thinking “Her life is so perfect!” cuz she only posts the good things that happen to her. The difference though is that Igashiigadoo Syndrome focuses on the amount of things people are doing, not just the overall result.

If you talk to someone who run 5 miles everyday, operates 2 businesses, watches the latest shows, spends quality time with their wife and kids, has a clean house and non-embarrassing yard and has time for a hobby or two and you start wondering, “Why can’t I do that?” you have Igashiigadoo Syndrome because it’s not you. That person is full of shit.

I suffer from Igashiigadoo Syndrome because I admire creative people. I follow artists and cosplayers on Instagram. I listen to podcasts where people talk about their various projects and interests. I follow creative people on Twitch. I can’t even watch Twitch streamers as regularly as they broadcast! Meanwhile I’m struggling to find time to create the 20 ideas I have for things while I make sure my house, self and kid isn’t gross and it’s bothering me because I want to do it all and I want to do it all right now!

So how should I combat Igashiigadoo Syndrome? Considering that I just defined it, I should give myself some time to think about this. Do you also suffer from Igashiigadoo Syndrome? What do you do to fight it? After I ponder my answers I’ll post another blog with those answers.

My Common Sense Gun Laws

tl;dr We need to do more to change the gun culture in America so that everyone knows that guns do not solve their problems. Laws do not change culture but they can prompt communities to change cultures. I think this can be done with local gun registries, community service requirements for semi-automatic rifle owners and required disclaimers for gun industry advertisements….

There needs to be a change in the overall outward facing gun culture in America. Unfortunately, the answers cannot fit on a bumper sticker or be expressed in a 280 character tweet. The questions around guns in America are not easy to ask, easy to answer, or easy to agree upon. That means answers to these issues are nigh impossible to find. Here are my recommendations to change the gun culture in America.

  • Gun Registrations for Gun-Owners
  • Community Service Requirement for Semi-Automatic Rifle Owners
  • A “Shoot Responsibly” Ad Campaign Requirement for Gun Industry Companies and Groups

Gun Registrations for Gun-Owners

Each county in America should have a gun registry. Anyone who registers their gun will pay a registration fee. This fee will help pay for public gun ranges, gun safety courses and other activities to benefit gun owners. The registry will only be accessible to state and federal law enforcement if they get a warrant for a specific purpose. County and local law enforcement will be able to access gun registry information in the same way they access county vehicle registration information. This will be voluntary for most gun owners. Only owners of semi-automatic rifles will be required to register their weapons (more on that later).

Local gun registries can also act as an integral part of implementing the second amendment. Let’s say the federal government goes whack-a-doo and decides to attack your community with military force or the Soviets invade and only your community knows about it. Instead of depending on group of scrappy teenagers shouting “WOLVERINES!” a local gun registry would allow community leaders to organize a fighting force. As highly unlikely as this is, it’s the argument I hear from “Don’t touch the 2nd amendment” people so I thought I’d address it.

Community Service Requirement for Semi-Automatic Rifle Owners

I don’t want to ban semi-automatic rifles. In fact, I’d like to own an AR-15 and I don’t have a good reason for it. However, I would feel more comfortable if there was a way for me to know that the people who own these rifles are responsible, community-oriented people. Therefore, all semi-automatic rifle owners would be required to register those guns and they’d be required to do some sort of community service once a year. The community service requirement is designed to instill care for your general community as well as (and I think this is the most important part of it) serve as an example to anyone who wants to own or use a semi-automatic rifle that the people who own these guns are responsible, community-driven people.

A “Shoot Responsibly” Ad Campaign Requirement for Gun Industry Companies and Groups

I condone drinking, gambling and shooting guns (just not all at the same time please). When these things are done responsibly they are fun and risky. When they are not done responsibly they can ruin and end lives.  Two of these three industries have disclaimers with every advertisement such as “Drink Responsibly” or  “Have a gambling addiction? Call…” Why should the gun industry be any different? These disclaimers do not prevent DUIs or prevent people from gambling away their life savings, but what they do is they encourage a culture of responsibility. Organizations involved in the gun industry are not doing enough to encourage responsible gun usage.

How would we enforce these laws?

The hardest part about gun regulation laws is the enforcement. Too strict and the people who are already claiming that we’re “coming for teh gunz!” will see any law enforcement contact as enemy engagement. Too loose and the regulation is pointless because it’s not being enforced.

I recommend that these laws be enforced primarily as secondary enforcement. This means that if law enforcement contacts you for a different reason and find a gun they can run the serial number. If the gun comes up as wrongly registered or stolen they can confiscate it. You can then get the gun back only after showing correct registration. If the gun is not registered and not a semi-automatic rifle, there’s nothing law enforcement can do about the gun. I am not sure how strongly we could enforce the community service and registration requirement for semi-automatic gun owners though. Home visits seem too strong. Warrants, while not as direct as home visits, also feel too strong. However, just waiting for a secondary contact for this seems too loose.

My ideas are far from perfect but they are not a ban on guns, nor are they promoting libertine values of gun ownership so I think they have some merit. Let me know what you think!

My Atheist’s Prayer for My Grandfather

grandpa

On Thursday, February 9, 2017, my grandfather passed away. He had been dealing with health issues for the past decade and was facing the choice of living attached to a machine for the rest of his life or to disconnect from it and die. He made the decision on Wednesday and passed away Thursday afternoon. I got to see him briefly Thursday morning to let him know that I love him and to say goodbye. The last thing he said to me was “Pray for me.”

When your grandfather, on his death bed, asks something of you, you say “Yes” no matter what the request is. Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure initially how to complete his request because I am an atheist. I respect that other people have religious beliefs and I’ve been jealous at times of the comfort they receive from their faith but I have never been able to accept the idea of a God or gods as much as I may have tried.

When asked about faith, I have said that I place my faith in humanity. It’s easy to have faith in an all-knowing God. It’s difficult to have faith in people because we’re petty and jealous and we let each other down and a hundred other reasons I could list. But I have faith in people because… well I really have no other place to put my faith.

My grandfather, Richard Hammack, was a large man with a large voice and a large heart. He was the husband of Peggy Hammack and the father of four daughters: Kathy, Kerry, Jennie and Janet. He was the grandfather to me, my sister Sam, and my cousins Charlie, Corey and Amber. He was also many other things to many other people and I am ashamed to say I don’t know as much about those relationships as I should. He was a fan of the Broncos, Fords, good vehicle maintenance and small yappy dogs. He spent most of my life living on Lillian Lane in Thornton, Colorado.

This is my atheist’s prayer for my grandfather, Richard Hammack:

I ask that if you have religious beliefs that, even though I cannot share them with you, you share them with me and pray for him.

I ask that you thank him. If his life benefited you in any way, whether it was something as small as holding a door open or something as big as being the reason you are alive, take some time to show your appreciation for him.

I ask that if he, or anyone he influenced, crossed you in any way that you forgive him. Forgive him for the obvious things that he has done wrong and forgive him for the small things. Don’t hold on to any anger towards him because now all it is doing is hurting you.

And lastly I ask that you share your love for him. If the news of his death hurts, let it hurt and know that the pain you feel is love. Actively do something to show your love.

Grandpa, thank you. I forgive you. And I love you.

Let’s stop the cycle of ignorance, fear and hatred

12208856_1200956393252431_4621641387118705642_n

I refuse to respond to the Paris attacks of November 13, 2015 with ignorance, fear and hatred because responding to ignorance, fear and hatred with ignorance, fear and hatred only promotes more ignorance, fear and hatred.

Attacks like this do not happen because of guns or gun-free laws. They don’t happen because of a certain religion, skin-color, nationality, music or profession. They don’t happen because of poverty or government or “Them”, whoever “They” are. They happen because people are taught that ignorance, fear and hatred are acceptable.

If you promote ignorance, fear and hatred; if your worldview assumes the worst of groups that include thousands of people; if you think that those who do not think the same way as you are evil, then you are inspiring terrorism.

The terrorist may come from a group that you hate and you may feel so proud of yourself for being right, but don’t be. You inspired them. By flaunting your hatred for that group you will prove them right, too.

The terrorist may come from a group that agrees with some of your views and this will cause you to defend those views because those views don’t inspire terrorism and you will be RIGHT, but be careful how you do that. Make sure you are showing that those views are good.

If you are spending most of your time bashing other views then you are only promoting fear and hatred. If you cannot support your views without bashing other views, maybe your views need to change.

I can’t say how France and other countries should respond to these attacks. I can only control my response so here’s what I’m going to do:

If I see you post things that promote ignorance, fear and hatred I will point them out as posts that inspire terrorism. I will be direct, but I will strive to always be polite. It’s not much, but if I can influence those around me to fight ignorance and hatred and they can do the same to those they influence, and on and on, then we can make a difference.

Series: What Happens When I Call 9-1-1?

carl

On February 22, USA Today did an in-depth article called 911’s deadly flaw: Lack of location data. I noticed the article when it was tweeted by 9News, a local TV news channel. The subject also came up on one of my favorite tech podcasts, Daily Tech News Show. I’ve sent both news sources a link to my post “What happens when I call 9-1-1 from a cell phone?” and it was well received and shared with their audience which is pretty damn cool!

To make it easier to find, here are the links to all of my “What Happens When I Call 9-1-1 From…?” posts:

  1. How Does 9-1-1 Work? – Introduction

  2. What happens when I call 9-1-1 from a land-line?

  3. What happens when I call 9-1-1 from a cell phone?

  4. What happens when I call 9-1-1 from a VOIP phone?

I am always willing to discuss my job with people who are willing to listen. The easiest way to reach me is on Twitter at @scottpantall. If you are interested in my tech-related posts, you can visit my more active site: www.scottpantall.com or www.coloradotechweekly.com (psst, they both go to the same site).

YOU will always be the best way for us to find your location! If you don’t know (or can’t say) your address or location, then cross streets, business names and family member names are some of the best ways to help first responders find you. Stay safe!

No More Dispatch/Law Enforcement-Related Posts From Me

new-years-resolution-be-more-awesome

I’m starting my New Years resolutions early. No more tweets or posts about dispatching or law enforcement from me. I have two huge reasons for this. One reason I like, the other reason I hate.

Reason #1: I’m a burnt out dispatcher

burn-out

As much as I hate to admit it, it’s true. I’m tired of this job. They say the burn out rate for emergency dispatchers is 5-7 years. I’ve been doing it for almost 10 years. I am slowly losing the battle against compassion fatigue and that bothers me. I’ve noticed lately that my dispatcher-related tweets have been mostly bitter and sarcastic. Sarcasm is a great way to relieve stress privately, but it’s not the best thing for me to post publicly. I answer the most trusted phone number in the country. By being outwardly bitter about it, I feel that I am eroding some of that trust. With the relationship between public safety and the public as it is lately, we need all the trust we can get.

I also use my publicly facing social media to show off who I am to the Colorado tech community so I can get an awesome programming job soon. Nobody wants to hire a bitter, sarcastic asshole so I need to focus on my enthusiasm for my future job instead of my disappointment with my current job.

Reason #2: It could put my life, and my family’s lives, in danger

online-threats-to-policeSounds dramatic doesn’t it? This reason pisses me the hell off. My pride in my job has been one of the only things that hasn’t waned in my years as a dispatcher. I am proud that I serve and protect the men and women who serve and protect the public. When I leave for work, I tell my wife that I am going to “Save the world… from itself.” Unfortunately reactions to recent events in Missouri, New York and Ohio have highlighted the dangers of working in law enforcement so I am forced to hide something that gives me pride. That fucking sucks.

I got an email at work right before Christmas encouraging us to delete our social media accounts because dangerous people are targeting those of us who work in law enforcement. I joked about it last week, but after news about people making threats in Colorado and the reaction to last week’s shooting in Berkeley, Missouri I’m finding it’s not something I want to joke about anymore.

The only time I’ll mention public safety publicly will be when it has to do with technology (public safety needs a LOT of help with their technology). Other than that, I’m keeping my mouth shut. I’ll still joke and tell stories with friends and family and I’m willing to talk about anything law enforcement-related with anyone privately, but I won’t do it publicly anymore.

We are there for your darkest times

basement_series_sadness-500x332

We are the extras cast in the scenes titled “Worst days of my life”. Whenever you hear someone talk about the worst days of their lives, you’ll hear us mentioned. We are rarely mentioned as individuals. You’ll mostly hear about us by our job titles:

911 dispatchers

cops

paramedics

firefighters.

We are the dispatchers who helped talk you out of committing suicide when you had no hope; the dispatchers who stay calm while you scream for help or scream in rage.

We are the cops that took you to detox multiple times; the cops that responded to the many domestic violence calls at your house; the cops who convinced you not to hurt yourself, your family or those strangers when you had that scary mental breakdown.

We are the paramedics who saved your life whenever you overdosed; the paramedics who treated your injuries and the injuries of the victims of your outbursts.

We are the firefighters who pulled you out of your mangled car; the firefighters who fished you out of the water after you tried to jump in to kill yourself.


We are also the dispatchers who listen as friends and family react to the death of someone you love. We hear your panicked cries, your grief-filled sobs, and your quiet shock. We hear your fights, your screams, your deaths.

We are also the cops who are the first ones to your fatal accident; the cops who console your kids when you destroy yourself with drugs and alcohol. We are the cops who could not convince you to live another day. We are the cops who arrived too late.

We are also the paramedics who see family members beg for you to come back to life; the paramedics who couldn’t save you. We are the paramedics who watch you destroy yourself.

We are also the firefighters who have to remove your body and the body of innocent kids from your DUI accident. We are the firefighters who clear the carbon monoxide from your house so your mourning family members can safely go back inside.

I hope your darkest times were as short as possible. For some people those times last years. For others they last months, days, or only hours. But regardless of how long your darkest times were, there’s a good chance we were there.

But the thing is, we’re not just there for your darkest times. We are there for everyone’s darkest times every day. Your worst day of your life is our Tuesday morning, Friday night and our unplanned overtime shift.

We are there for your darkest times. Always.

Post Navigation