PhilTap: dan listermann, I love you!

I recently got several mini-kegs and was curious about force carbonating ’em. With my initial purchase, I got a Philtap system and after weeks of Googling, I came to the conclusion that not many people were force carbonating mini-kegs.

To make a long story short, I don’t currently have any room for a corny keg and a CO2 tank, but I can fit several mini-kegs, (5L) in the garage fridge. So after hours of research, I simply removed the valve from the schrader valve on the Philtap and hooked the CO2 tank right up to it for some force carbonation action.

It worked! And it worked extremely well. I used 12PSI and shook the heck out of it several times over a 30 minute window.

One of the reasons I wanted to post this here is so it would show up in Google.

I was very please with the results!

If you’re interested, here’s the Youtube video of the first time using it!

Comments & questions are welcomed!

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biking to work

Okay, I couldn’t really come up with a fancy or catchy title for this post. But this is great.  It’s actually a dream come true.  It turns out it is really easy for me to bike into my office.  This is an added bonus and I’m so happy about this.

Where we live, we live very near the Silver Comet Trail.  In fact, from my garage to the local access point to the trail is 2.5 miles.  Now, the Silver Comet Trail is cool in its own right, but what’s really cool is that the city of Smyrna, GA has build the “Cumberland Connector.”  Sadly, or suprisingly, there is hardly any info available online about the Cumberland Connector and where it goes.

So, door to door from home to office is going to be just around 10 +/- miles.  That’s totally doable.  So far, I’ve been parking at a grocery store / shopping center which makes my commute about 6.5 miles and I have the option of finishing my morning ride on part of a trail that goes into the Chattahoochie National Forest.  It’s really great.

I have a good friend who has a bike shop right near the trail head of the Silver Comet Trail.

I bought a new set of cycling bibs, (which I highly recommend) and a new bike computer.  So right now, my ride is around 6 miles (as I said) and it takes about 30 minutes to ride in.  And I typically burn 480 – 640 calories, (remember, I’m a big fan of hear rate moniters, HRM’s).

As I mentioned, it’s been hard to find any good resources online, but I did find a nice PDF that explains the new and proposed trails in the area.  I’ll include it here in case it helps you.


running with a time limit sux

I don’t mean a time limit, like in a competitive environment. I mean like “Okay, I got 30 minutes before my son’s tutor is done and I have to get back!”

I’ve been a serious, steady runner since 1994 when I was working in a family owned running shoe shop during my college years. It was great. Then when I got my first job in an office, I ran on my lunch break (yes, our office did have a shower). So I got used to running, or at least being out of the office for one hour every day. I ate at my desk or in my office. I did this for years and have seen the Atlanta area change over time with some really big changes!

Since I’ve been out of the office, I haven’t run as much as I would have liked. I am trying to change that and I am trying to get out whenever the opportunity presents itself. Today was one of those days. I got done with an interview at a local recruiter and was able to get back home in time to get my son off to see his tutor at the library. I donned my running attire and we took off. I planned on doing 3o minutes, and as you might know from my previous posts, I am big on running with a HRM (heart rate monitor).

So, I am out beating the street and feel the overwhelming pressure of the 30 minute ceiling. I worry about being late and my son getting done with the tutor and him worried that I am not there. I actually planned it so if I did run 30 minutes, I’d be back 15 minutes before he would have been done as a buffer.

I started to think at how this sort of limit is much more stressful than say, trying to run three miles in 30 minutes, or even running a competitive race. I began to think back at how I used to feel when I had to get back to get ready for a meeting or a phone call. I felt the same way. When I am running in a race or trying to beat a specific pace, I am really trying to beat myself or improve my time. I have no illusions that I am going to win a price in my age class so I am out there for myself. But today, I was running to beat the clock because others are counting on me.

When I run, it’s my form of mediation. It’s my therapy. It heals my soul. I think about my muscles and how they’ve been conditioned for running for over 10 years. I think of them as a worn in, efficient system. If you have ever seen a steam boat engine, you might know what I am talking about. When I run, it’s when I have my “A-ha!!!!!!” or my “Eureka!!!” moments.

But not today, since I was so consumed with getting back within 30 minutes. Don’t get me wrong… I did have a great run as the weather, although chilly, was beautiful, and I did have a couple of minutes of deep thought, but it was missing the calming, introspective spice I was so looking forward to.

My therapist says, “Awareness is more than half the battle” and she’s right, of course. Having this awareness, I guess, is sort of an “A-ha!!” moment, just maybe not the one I was hoping for.


Today on Slashdot, there was a super-interesting article on Altruism. Here’s the snippet:

Dekortage writes “The Washington Post is reporting on recent neuroscience research indicating that the brain is pre-wired to enjoy altruism — placing the interests of others ahead of one’s own. In studies, ‘[G]enerosity activated a primitive part of the brain that usually lights up in response to food or sex… Altruism, the experiment suggested, was not a superior moral faculty that suppresses basic selfish urges but rather was basic to the brain, hard-wired and pleasurable.’ Such research ‘has opened up a new window on what it means to be good,’ although many philosophers over recorded history have suggested similar things.”

I have always found altruism interesting, especially since I have children. I read an article when our twins were first born that altruism was something innate. I saw the boy twin exhibit altruism time and time again right when he was two years old. It fascinated me that now they saw that this is something we are born with, (lo and behold, hope for humankind).

Here’s the link to the article that started this all.

If you read the article that’s quoted in the /. article, it suggests that we are hardwired to get pleasure from helping others.  Personally, I can relate.   In reflection, other people I am drawn too, also exhibit altruism (much to the chagrin to our wives).   This is an interesting article and since this is something I’d like to help foster in our children, I have a little better understanding.  But given other examples I’ve seen, is this something that can be unlearned so to speak?

Just as much of our characteristics are learned behavior, can being anti-altruistic also be learned behavior?  Unfortunately, I think so.

Kids are amazing.  I have learned much from them and look forward to continuing to do so.

using a heart rate monitor (HRM) successfully….

Man, I should be doing my real estate class or practicing my German, but since I was getting back to exercising after a couple month hiatus, I need to refresh myself and I can get on my soap box.

I’ve had three different HRM’s over the years and I think that each one has been an improvment over the other. The first one I got, I got from Aldi’s for $20. Hey, I figure that it was worth $20 bucks to try it. I was hooked. There was a little learning curve as I learned about the watch and my own body. I was able to see improvements and I minimized my injuries and colds I would get when I pushed myself too hard.

I lost the chest strap on the Aldi’s HRM, and I got a Polar A5. It was a step up but more designed for walkers. Still, I really enjoyed it. I liked being able to see how many calories I had burned on my workouts. My next watch I got on a good deal. I next got a Polar F6 and passed the A5 to my wife.

The F6 was even more impressive since you could upload your data to Polar’s website and track your goals, Lose Weight Exercises, etc. Pretty cool!

Now, using a HRM successfully depends on a strong beginning. The most confusing thing was trying to determine my base heart rate. The first two HRM’s said to simply take your age and subtract your age and multiply that times 60%, 70%, and 80% to get your zone. This is fine if you have never Lose Weight Exercised but this doesn’t take into account your level of fitness. I have been running for years and following this method I was barely breaking a sweat, It was apparent I needed a better way to determine my base HR. Now, you might want to know why the base HR is so important. Once you have your base then you can determine what zone you want to target:

Target Zones

60 – 70% of max HR Weight Loss, building endurance

70 – 80% of max HR Weight Management, improve cardio fitness

Like I said, the Age-Based formula is only good if you have been a couch potato for the last five years. If you have been doing anything… and I recommend this formula anyways, I recommend Karvonen formula. Basically, you take your heart rate in the morning as you are laying in bed for three mornings, average them together, use that number for the basic calculations and you can get dialed in to your personal fitness level.

More details can be found here:

It took me some trial and error to get it right, but I understand it now. In fact, I made a spreadsheet that I’ll share here for you to use to calculate your zones in both the traditional method and the Karvonen method. You can view the spreadsheet here:

Finally, I was suprised at how well the Polar OwnZone works. I have used it and was suprised at how close it was to the results I got from the Karvonen formula. While the OwnZone might be a no-brainer if your unit supports it, I think it is still important to know the logic behind it.

A HRM will let you maximize your Lose Weight Exercises and help you avoid getting hurt or getting sick. In the summer when I push myself on seven or eight mile runs, I would almost certainly get a little cold. A HRM and some L-Glutamine helped prevent that.

Finally, let me close with a story that I think will illustrate why I think a HRM is important for people starting out running or cycling. One day, when I was on a long run in the summer, I caught up to a guy who was walking but wearing running gear. I passed him on my steady pace only to be passed by him while he was running much faster than I. Then, about two minutes later, I passed him again while he was walking. Then he passed me again running fast. This went on another four times until finally we ended up at the same red light.

“I just started running!” he said. This novice runner didn’t have any concept of pace. He was heading down a path of injury or over excertion and didn’t know it. Typically, novice runners will go this route and get hurt or discouraged. A HRM takes the guesswork out and gives you a detailed view into how your body is doing regardless of your fitness level.