Tag Archives: tennessee

Amateur Radios and Their Use Saving Lives

Recently our world was rocked with the news that Annie Schmidt, daughter of Jon Schmidt of The Piano Guy’s, had gone missing while hiking in the back country of Oregon State. Immediately Jaime and myself, along with many others, began praying for her safe return. Days turned into weeks as the search for Annie continued, which lead to my wondering of what may have happened to her. Tragically the news came in weeks later, that Annie had fallen from a cliff and sadly perished. Her body was found at the base of the cliff weeks later by Search and Rescue teams, led by cadaver dogs. We all were praying for her safe return, and were heartbroken to learn of her fate.

A few years ago, Geraldine Largay went missing while hiking the Appalachian  Trail in the great state of Maine in 2013. Searches were performed without success, and she was presumed dead, and the search halted. Unknown to would-be rescuers she survived for nearly one month, and weeks after the search was halted, in the back country of Maine, along the Appalachian Trail. She was left to die alone and afraid, waiting for help that never came. She tried to send multiple text messages to her husband requesting help from police. It would not be until the year 2015 that her remains would be found by a forester, two years too late.


What is the point of this article you may wonder? Well, when I heard of Annie Schmidt’s case where she was missing, and ultimately found deceased, I wondered what if she was like Geraldine Largray. Because I first poised the question when I heard about Geraldine’s case and her disappearance. What if they were so far back in the woods, conventional cellular telephone reception was not available. How would someone call for help?

Amateur Radio is how someone could call for help.

See, Amateur Radio is far more reliable than typical cellular telephones. Amateur radio operators, “Hams” as coined by our ranks, often build repeaters, similar to cell towers, that cover areas in remote mountainous regions where cell phones do not work. The only difference is our radios have far more power than cell phones, and they are far more reliable. If someone is stranded and in need of help, where cell phones fail, a simple 5 watt radio with Amateur Radio Repeaters programmed into the memories, may be the difference between life and death.

See I have a view from both sides of the coin, as a public servant, and as an amateur radio operator who enjoys his time spent in the mountains and back countries of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Cherokee National Forest, and everywhere in between.

While I am in the back country I employ the use of the Yaesu FT1DR, a handheld radio that is equipped with an internal GPS capable of use on APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System) and transmits my location on 145.390 MHz, which is received by digital repeaters, and the information can be located at www.APRS.fi by searching the call sign of the amateur radio operator, and the SSID if one is used. For example my call sign and SSID is N2AL-7. If something should happen to me I can transmit messages via text on APRS to other stations, requesting help, and communicating back and forth with other stations. Most importantly APRS.fi can be used to find station locations when they have their GPS enabled.

I can also use my handheld radio to transmit on amateur radio FM repeaters which are programmed into the radio, and request help that way. I use a program called RT Systems for my radio, and I can automatically program all repeaters within a 100 mile radius of where I select, into the memory banks. This way I have all the repeaters available for use, and can signal for help if needed.

This can mean the difference between life everlasting, and death all alone. It would not have saved Annie Schmidt unfortunately, but it may have saved Geraldine Largray. The cost for amateur radio use is not expensive at all. My radio, with the software, and an extra battery, and an MFJ 12.5 inch dual band VHF/UHF antenna cost me close to $300.00 a few years ago. Add some solar panel chargers for the batteries, and you can take the radio with you, charge it on the go, and have the capability to signal for help if needed. You are not constrained to finding a wall power outlet to charge the radio with. You can use the solar panels and let them do it for you, while you hike.

The knowledge required for amateur radio operations, and testing to obtain a license, is not complicated at all. It actually is quite easy. I studied for three days, mostly consisting of watching The Ham Whisperer on YouTube, where he went over all the questions, then the answers, for the test banks. I received my Technician Class license a week later and I was on the air.

The Technician Class license, next the General Class, and finally the Extra Class license, are not difficult to obtain. But for the purpose of VHF & UHF FM communications while portable and hiking, or driving, about the back country or the city, all that is needed is the Technician Class license.

To conclude, Amateur Radio has the ability to save lives, and they save lives far more than someone might think. Where I live in East Tennessee is close to The Dragon, The Cherohala Skyway, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee Forest, and other places that are prone to cell phone coverage lapses. Often when trouble occurs in these hard to reach places, Amateur Radio operators use their radios to summon help. It happens quite frequently, and as of this article, I know of two cases this week alone in East Tennessee. If we could get more people who spend their time outdoors in remote regions to use Amateur Radio’s, then we could save more lives when disaster happens.

Now as a side note I DO NOT recommend using Amateur Radio as the sole method of signaling for help. A lot of professional companies have developed ways of requesting assistance during an emergency.

One such device is a PLB, also know as a Personal Locator Beacon, which is very similar to an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio-beacon Station (EPIRB) used on marine vessels across the world. These devices are relatively inexpensive, although you cannot put a price on your life and safety. The basic concept is relatively simple -It can be automatically activated when certain conditions are met, or manually activated when emergency assistance is required. The devices are battery-powered and some work via GPS and radio beacon. More information on these devices can be found at the links below.

Please join me in continuing to keep the families of both Annie Schmidt, and Geraldine Largay, in our thoughts and prayers. These are two tragic cases where two families lost loved ones. God bless them, and God bless us all.


Tail of the Dragon

Today is the first opportunity this year to drive what many around the world call The Tail of the Dragon! While off work today I took the chance to take my Honda Civic to Deal’s Gap store inside North Carolina, and turn around. A good friend of mine, Al otherwise known as WA4HSM, has a photography business called Moonshine Photo, and he sits on US Hwy 129 near Calderwood Dam, and snaps photos of cars and motorcycles on the Dragon. I recommend checking out his website at moonshinephoto.com and see what pictures you can find of yourself!

Al told me about the old community of Calderwood, where people who worked at the dam lived. I took a moment to drive through the delapitated community, which is open Monday – Friday until 3 pm, and viewed where the old houses and churches stood. A few buildings are still standing and they are quite remarkable. This also happens to be a nature reserve and the wildlife is bountiful! I had the chance to see deer and turkey, and while no bears were spotted, beware if you are in the mountains as many live in the woods.

On my way back towards civilization I took a moment to stop and marvel at the Little Tennessee River. Currently (as of today, Friday, August 12, 2016) repairs to Calderwood Dam have forced the company that owns the three dams on the river to drop the water level. I rememver when this was initally done the police found a bounty of cars and other items discarded in the river, that some parties probably wish were still underwater. Ha who knows, maybe Jimmy Hoffa is at the bottom of the river.

I took Foothills Parkway back to Maryville and enjoyed the drive through the mountains and nature. I do recommend careful driving as some drivers choose to drive recklessly, but law enforcement stay on the Dragon to keep them in proper check.

Another reason for driving the Dragon was to see how well simplex radio communications were received a distance away in Philadelphia. To our surprise and joy it received quite well! The only place that had difficulty via simplex and repeater was at Deal’s Gap store, located just inside North Carolina. Transmissions were still readable, although with significant static and difficulty. But along the Dragon, radio communications to the W4YJ, 145.250 MHz and KK4DKW, 145.270 MHz repeaters were nearly full quieting the whole trip, and with minimal difficulty. A note to other ham radio operators in the area, these two repeaters can be of assistance while on the Dragon, and all of US Hwy 129 from Tennessee into North Carolina.

Take a look at the pictures below!

Day’s 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 & 38 – Approaching Day 40!

Wow! It is difficult to believe but Day 40 is just around the corner! When I started the NutriMost program 38 days ago, forty days seemed so long to look forward too. But after beginning the program the days have flown by! During the program I have learned a lot about not only myself, but how to better myself and my health, and how to keep myself healthy.

Still unbelievable to me is the fact I am using barely ANY insulin! As a type-1 diabetic, I have grown accustom to large bolus’ of long and fast-acting insulin. But that has since changed! While eating healthy and taking proper care of my body and my health, I have stopped nearly all fast-acting insulin mainly due to there being no need for it. While I eat healthy I have cut out the bad fats, starches, breads, and other sugar intake. On the flip side of the coin I have introduced healthy fruits, vegetables, and meats in healthy portions.

My long-acting insulin has decreased too! While I will always need long-acting insulin to sustain my blood sugars at a normal level, due to the changes in my diet and lifestyle I too have seen a decease of insulin intake. My long-acting insulin dosage has been cut in half from where I was 40 days ago, and the more I adhere to the NutriMost program, the better it becomes!

But this new healthy and positive way of life is not temporary. While approaching Day 40 I shall continue to follow the program through Phase 4 and beyond, but I shall above all else use this new knowledge of proper eating and healthy lifestyle choices, and enjoy the longer lasting health I am growing used to.

On another note for a moment I have tried a new take on a recipe I have previously shared. Bison Meatballs is a recipe for Phase 2, Phase 4, and Beyond, that I tweaked to my own tasting.

First you can customise the recipe to any meat on your meal plan-this time I used ground lean turkey. Instead of using mushrooms, I substituted a tablespoon of jalapeno, and pour in a dash of jalapeno juice, with crushed red pepper, and a few spices (onion & herb, and garlic), then baked in the oven as the recipe specified. The result was amazing! Not too spicy but it had a small jolt and tasted fantastic! Side note for a moment I need to submit this customized recipe to NutriMost Recipes.

But if you are interested in NutriMost and you are in the East Tennessee (Johnson City & Knoxville) area, I recommend that you contact NutriMost Knoxville. Their information is below for your convenience.

NutriMost Knoxville
306 Prosperity Rd.
Suite 102
Knoxville, TN 37923

(865) 262-8079

NutriMost Johnson City
2 Worth Cir.
Suite 3
Johnson City, TN 37601

(423) 202-9636

Day 30 & 31 – Clothes Shopping!

Wow Day’s 30 & 31 have been great! I finally went clothes shopping, for a polo actually, and left with blue jeans too! I have dropped a pants size and I am looking to drop more! It feels great knowing I am fitting into clothes that I once wore, so now all I need to do is continue the success!

One problem that I have ran into is I cannot seem to drop more than about 20 pounds. When I do it just stops at that point. I plan to call the great staff at NutriMost in Knoxville and obtain their opinion on how to fix that. If I can get past this plateau I can continue losing weight and get to looking more like my old self!

I have continued to cookfrom the NutriMost Recipes website and that has been fantastic! I can cook some of my favorite foods, but with a healthy twist instead of using bad products that contribute to weight gain. Some of the recipes I have made are below:

If you have not checked out NutriMost Recipes please take a moment to do so! Their link is http://nutrimostrecipes.com and you will love their recipe submissions!

Please comment below and let me know what you link, and any great recipes I may enjoy or would want to share with others!


Day 27, 28 & 29 – One Month Fast Food Free

Day 27, 28 & 29 have blown by! After a plateau of weight loss I am once again on the losing band-wagon. Dropping two more pounds I have realized I may need to look into shopping for new clothing, which is great news!

I have realized that some of my previous weight gain may have had something to do with my carrer choice. Staying stressed all the time is never healthy, and some of those poor health choices made is eating to releive stress, and eatign fast food because having time to stop and eat something healthy is not always a viable option.

But today marks Day 29 and I am one month without fast food! It is amazing to think that such an accomplishment has been possible! The reason Americans are so overweight is due in part to fast food and the large amount of which we consume. I am proof that cutting fast food, breads, starches, bad vegestibles, bad fats, heavy food intake, etc. really does play a positive role in your health. Taking my supplements has furthered my health that much farther too. Still I have decreased my insulin intake dramaitcally and knowing that I can eat porperly without the heavy insulin dosage is uplifting! It is uplifting because I know with every continued day I am one more day healthier than the last!

I still have 60 pounds to my ideal weight, which I ballparked on an even number rounded to the nearest hundredth, but everyday I see a difference made toeards acheiving that goal! I am looking forward to the future of my health and to see what other positivie gains will be made! This all has been made possible due to the NutriMost program administered by Dr. Andy Harris in Knoxville, and by my mentor who is going through the program with me.

Day 22, 23, 24, 25 & 26 – Continuing Steps Forward In The Right Direction

Days 22, 23, 24, 25 & 26 have gone okay, with yesterday consisting of an “Apple day”. Not being completely satisfied with no loss of weight, I consulted with the great staff at NutriMost in Knoxville and we chose to go that route. Six apples later I believe it has helped. I saw a reduction in weight and looking in the mirror I continue to see results.

I am currently at nearly one month without fast food which feels wonderful! It is amazing how bad fast food, and eating out in general, is to our bodies and our health. Instead of eating healthier options, eating out often incurs deep fried foods, and foods cooked with oils and butters that are terrible for our health, and most importantly stack on weight.

I was speaking with some guys at the auto service center yesterday and we had that conversation. One mechanic detailed the reason he continues to gain weight is due in part to his fast food breakfasts that he eats each morning. That was the same position I was in prior to starting NutriMost, and looking at where I was before and where I am now, I can see a positive difference in my health!

One key though is not to cheat. I know for some that is easier said than done, but cheating and eating foods that you are not supposed to eat is a quick way to go backwards on the diet, rather than forward. Every bite of the wrong foods is another step in the wrong direction, and you will see the difference when you step on the scale each morning. We need to continue making steps forward in the right direction, and cheating by eating bad foods is not the way to go.

Another key element of this program is following the regime of supplements, and a healthy lifestyle. This includes drinking appropriate water, in my case spring water, because it keeps the fluoride and other chemicals found in water from entering your body. This is why following the program’s requirements is such an important issue. The diet works hand-in-hand with supplements and a healthy lifestyle, and when it all works together it produces results.

Day 20 & 21 – Checking In At The NutriMost Clinic

Today I had my appointment at the NutriMost Clinic in Knoxville, and it was a wonderful visit! If anything it was a confidence and morale booster, but to see that I have lost 16 pounds, decreased my BMI and visceral fat, and increased my water intake was great! Still overall I feel healthier and seeing the weight continue to drop is fantastic. I am becoming healthier in a healthy way.

I chose to eat out yesterday while at lunch during work. I ate at Cracker Barrel and ordered very healthy portions to eat. Grilled chicken strips cooked without any oils or butters, and grilled tomatoes cooked without any oils or butters. The calories were appropriate with my diet, and truthfully the food always so much better without the oils and butters. I see the oils and butters as grease that clogs the system, and in this case the system is my veins and arteries. The less “grease” that I consume, the better that I feel, and the healthier I become. Even after I complete the NutriMost plan I will continue to live this lifestyle of appropriate eating to continue my healthier way of life.

My diabetes has still been great! I am barely taking fast-acting insulin for the meals I eat. Instead of eating fried meat and potatoes where I have to take large amounts of fact-acting insulin to compensate for the tremendous amount of sugar in my body, I am choosing to consume grilled foods and healthy fruits and vegetables, such as spinach and tomatoes. Eating the healthy option allows me the ability to not need the fast-acting insulin because I am not consuming a tremendous amount of sugars. If you are wondering too, I have not experienced many low blood sugars either. Truly continuing this lifestyle choice has effectively stabilized my type-1 diabetes!

In the continuance of eating healthier I have been following a lot of recipes from the NutriMost Recipe site. Their link is http://nutrimostrecipes.com . It is all the great food we enjoy, beef, chicken, seafood, healthy vegetables and fruits, but with tasteful and healthy recipes to help continue the proper way of eating right and making yourself healthier. This website has become a browser favorite and I use it almost daily.

According to NIVA today I have hit my halfway mark on the program, and I have three weeks left! Wow I never thought the halfway mark would come so quickly! Truthfully I do not want to come off the program because I want to continue the goals I have made. But regardless my choices I choose to make regarding NutriMost, I will continue to follow the regimen of eating healthy and taking supplements to continue the upkeep of my health.

On the topic of supplements I need to bring to your attention something important. I am not a health nut! Now that we have it in the clear, allow me to explain. I am not one who abundantly believes in supplements and hugging trees or anything of that sort. BUT what I do believe is results. A friend of mine started this program last year and I saw the difference it made for her, which is the reason I chose to start NutriMost as well. I’m not saying go hug a tree, but this balance of eating healthy and taking supplements HAS WORKED! I don’t know the science behind it but I know when I see results, and currently I am at 16 pounds of results. As for my friend who started NutriMost last year -she is at 90+ pounds of results.

Please feel free to drop a comment below and I will be more than happy to respond back! Take care everyone and until next time, stand by for my next check-in

Day 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 & 19

Wow, what a week! So far I am down sixteen pounds and I feel fantastic! It’s wonderful to see the scale dropping every morning I step on it. But most importantly I feel wonderful, I have more energy, and I am become healthier!

I found last week that you can in fact eat at Waffle House, and it be healthy. Granted you cannot have the hashbrowns scattered, covered, topped, and country, but still there are other healthier options available. For example I had an egg white omlet, steak, and grilled tomatoes, cooked without butters or oils, and it tasted fantastic! I would atrtribute that to all the fat and unhealthy options available that I chose not to eat. As a disclaimer I do not recommend Waffle House everyday, but if you plan to get out every once in a while, it is something to keep in the back of your mind.

I also had the opportunity to attend the Tennessee Smokies vs. Mississippi Braves, minor baseball game in Sevierville last week. While they did not have any healthy food options at all, the coffee at Smoky Mountain Brewery located inside the ball park was great! My much better half won tickets from a local radio station so we spent Wedensday at the ball park, third row behind home plate.

I leave you all with this advice, although the gains may sometimes be slow do not give up the fight.

Day 11, 12 & 13 – Pop Rox!

Pop Rox! No not the kind you eat, but the 80’s & 90’s cover band you listen to! Jaime and I went out last night to hear them play in Knoxville at the Smoky Mountain Brewery! As always they played great music and raised the roof off the place!

While in attendance we became hungry, so I pulled out their menu. Nothing I would really eat on their diet, so I slid over to the salad section where I found a shredded chicken salad with roasted tomatoes. Well, not being able to eat the salad on this NutriMost diet I opted instead to have grilled chicken with roasted tomatoes, and let me say that it tasted delicious! But more importantly than tasting delicious, but it was healthy and at a restaurant!

It’s not everyday you can go out somewhere and find good food worth eating, and I was really surprised at how well it was. Today was an important day and proved the other part of my testing the waters of eating out: Would I lose any weight? Why I expected to see myself hopefully not gain any weight, I was in disbelief when I stepped on the scale this morning and saw that I lost 2.7 pounds from the previous day!

So to answer the question, YES you can eat healthy while eating out, and still meet the goals set for yourself!

To date I have lost 13 pounds, which is on track with 1 pound per day! The NutriMost diet has proven itself effective so long as it is followed properly. I throw in that disclaimer because this diet is very unforgiving. My goal weight is 200 pounds and while I still have a ways to go, seeing the weight drop with every day that I follow this diet is uplifting.

Day 8, 9 & 10 – Ten Pounds Lighter!

Wow, day’s 8 – 10 have been unbelievable! I have already lost 10 pounds and I am feeling great!

I stumbled upon a picture of myself in July 2006. I was at least 100 pounds lighter, thin, and I looked great. Flash forward ten years later, and I realize that the weight did not pile on overnight, but it was gradual and I allowed it to happen. I want to get back to that weight, better health, and how good that I looked. Below is the picture I was speaking about.

Have the temptations been there? ABSOLUTELY! But the key is to not give into those food cravings and temptations. When I have cravings I think of the picture from 2006 and about the weight I want to lose to be healthy, and I further myself towards that goal!

10 days and 10 pounds lighter is amazing! I encourage others on this journey to continue to follow your diet, take your supplements, and keep track in your food journal. It is amazing to see the goals obtained and the amount of calories eaten when you turn the pages.