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Top Ten facts you didn’t know about Peeps!*

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10. Peeps were created by then-governor of Virginia Thomas Jefferson, a confirmed vegetarian, in 1781. Having had great success with his introduction of the French Fry to the colonies, Mr. Jefferson took some homemade marshmallow, formed it into sticks, dipped the sticks into a bath of sweetened lemon juice, and then into granulated sugar, thus forming something oddly similar to today’s Peeps. Forming the candy into a chick shape came much later, during the Truman presidency.

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9. It takes 18,489 Peeps to fill the inside of a new-model Volkswagen Beetle. The old models of the Beetle, discontinued in 1977, held only 14,570 Peeps. The Super Beetle model held 138 more Peeps than the original VW Beetle.

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8. Actress and comedian Sofia Vergara has never eaten a single Peep.**

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7. The Peep is the only candy represented by a marble statue in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall. Created by students of the Wilfred Brimloon Junior High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1967, this one-inch-high Peep is made of Vermont marble and can be seen behind the much larger statue of Kentucky’s Henry Clay.

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6. Noted pop singer Elvis Presley’s favorite sandwich was peanut butter and bacon topped with Peeps between two slices of toasted Wonder Bread.

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5. A baseball bat made of compressed chocolate Peeps was used by Baltimore Orioles outfielder Ronald Basset in a 1987 game against the Boston Red Sox. In his at-bat in the crucial ninth inning of a 4-4 game, with two Birds on base, Basset connected with a slow-speed pitch thrown by Sox hurler Clint Alsop. The ball embedded into the head of the bat, and while Red Sox catcher Walt Brulander and umpire Dennis Wall frantically looked for it, Basset rounded the bases and scored. Look it up!

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4. Peeps hold the honor of having been the only candy ever eaten on the moon by both American and Chinese astronauts. The legend that Neil Armstrong accidentally dropped a Peep onto the lunar surface from the Eagle landing vehicle prior to returning to Earth cannot be proved, though it is entirely possible.

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3. In a 1992 experiment at MIT, engineering students held a contest to find out how thin a Peep could be flattened. Unbelievably, they were able to flatten a single Peep to a thickness of 14 microns, and the Peep, thus flattened, was large enough to cover their football field with a tiny bit left over.

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2. Little discussed by Peeps maker Just Born, Inc., is their ill-fated venture marketing a Peeps version of a Pez Dispenser. The Peeps Hatcher, as it was called when introduced in 1971, sold for $3.99 and came with eight Peeps. Its ungainly size and propensity to gum up combined to make it unsuccessful in the marketplace, though examples on eBay have been known to fetch hundreds of dollars.

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1. Actor Marlon Brando had a Peep in each of his cheeks for his iconic film role as the aging Don in the Godfather. It was said the multiple retakes of his scenes, combined with his love of the marshmallow-based candy, resulted in panicky runs to several Ralph’s supermarkets for supplemental Peeps and substantial production delays in filming. Brando tried to replicate this unusual technique in his Superman movie turn by using Twizzler candy sticks, but the results were unremarkable.

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*Mainly because these facts are not true; I just made them up. Peeps are a registered trademark of Just Born, Inc., Bethlehem, PA, USA. No offense to Just Born or their fine products is intended.

**She eats them in multiples.

Murphy Inspects . . .

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Tremolux & Barris Custom, Murphy

Murphy inspects my 1966 Fender Tremolux amp in its custom JD Newell cabinet with two Weber 12A125A speakers; the amp has been at Don Oliver’s studio for a couple of years and returned last evening.

Murphy hasn’t seen this amp before!

The Tremolux is not a Fender amp that’s often seen; they were only made for a couple of years. I had wanted one since I first saw the cover of the Blind Faith album; Clapton is shown here with that amp at the Rolling Stones December, 1968, Rock and Roll Circus event as a member of the one-shot Dirty Mac Band, consisting of Clapton, John Lennon, Keith RIchards on bass, and Mitch Mitchell on drums.

Clapton's Tremolux

I believe Clapton endorses a new Tremolux combo amp made by Fender nowadays, but I’m sure it isn’t much like the original ones. For one thing, they cost over two grand.

I have the original piggyback head cabinet for my Tremolux, restored by Rocco Egizio of Rockometer Amp Cabinets in Chicago, but I don’t have a proper speaker cabinet for that configuration, so it lives as a combo. One day I’ll find a speaker cabinet, but it has to be a 4-ohm one for the Tremolux.

The guitar is my Hallmark Barris Kustom, which sounds nice through the Tremolux. For you gearheads out there, the Barris Kustom has a single pickup with just a volume control; the pickup is Bob Shade’s recreation of the old Carvin AP-6 classic.

Murphy and His Toys

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Our Boston terrier, Murphy, is quite a character, as all who know him will agree.

He is curious about many things. Shown here last year, he wonders about my grand-daughter Maddie’s toy laptop.

Murphy And Maddie

Murphy has strange beliefs. To you and me, who see with our eyes, this is an ordinary vacuum cleaner. To Murphy, who sees with his nose, this is a dog trapped in a cloth bag attached to a machine. Every evening, Murphy comes to me barking, and won’t stop until I’ve walked to the vacuum cleaner on the back porch and patted it and told him that all is well; there’s no dog inside the machine. He believes me for the next 24 hours, but then doubt sets in, and we go through the procedure another time. Every day!

Vacuum Or Dog?

Here’s Murphy in my bedroom with all his toys. He used to keep them in a group on the living-room couch, but he slowly began transferring them to my bedroom, one by one. He’ll take a toy downstairs to play with for a while, but he always brings it back to the bedroom upstairs when he’s done playing.

Murphy's Toys

I’ve numbered the toys so that you can easily identify them as you look at the photo. 1) A hard red rubber ball (Bostons are strong and determined chewers, so their toys must be durable). 2) Another hard red rubber ball. Murphy can tell them apart, but we can’t. 3) A JCrew tie I decided was too ugly to wear. Murphy has gone through four ties in the last year. This one is ready for the trash. 4) A tug-of-war rope. 5) A blue-and-white hard-plastic bone, also ready for replacement. 6) A ridged hard-plastic bone. 7) A red-and-beige hard-plastic bone. 8) A hard-plastic S-shaped object. 9) A hard-plastic propeller.

His favorite toy, not shown because it was in my bed when I took the photo, is a black Kong Extreme dog toy, shown here.

Black Kong Toy

Murphy thinks I love this toy as much as he does, and he wakes me in the morning by pushing it into my hand as I sleep. That means he’s decided it’s time to wake up and play!

They Say It’s Your Birthday! Happy Birthday To You!!!

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One of my best friends in the world is having a birthday tomorrow! Our Boston Terrorist, Murphy, turns five!!!

Murphy, 12:20:12

“How can you refuse my plea for more chicken?!?!?!?”

If you detect a woe-is-me expression on Murphy’s face in this photo, it’s because I wouldn’t give him another piece of the Kentucky Fried Chicken that Patty brought home tonight. Murphy would eat a herd or flock or whatever they’re called of chickens if he thought that he could get away with it!

Our everlasting thanks to Lori and Kevin, Murphy’s original parents, who are such wonderful people. We keep in touch and Lori reports that when she asks her children where Murphy is, they respond, “He’s with Jim and Patty!”

Thanks also to Christine, director of the Old Dominion Boston Terrier Rescue, who arranged for Murphy to join our lives on October 29, 2011, after Patty and I became part of their foster program. Thanks, also, to two wonderful people, Dani and Elizabeth, who saw me moping around the office daily and convinced me to take a chance on loving another dog.

It has been a wonderful fit and Murphy has brought such joy and fun into our lives. Our granddaughter Maddie loves Murphy and he loves her in return; when they play together my face hurts from laughing so much. That’s unusual, because my face normally only hurts other people.

Murphy The Storm Dog, 10:29:12

Murphy Chews a Toy During the Recent Hurricane

Anyway, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Murphy!!!

Jim’s Nature Corner: Know Your Moths, Part 2

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My son, Aaron, creates skillful digital imagery, as a previous post spotlighted. Below is the first photography I’ve seen from him. It’s a photo he took of the outside of our basement door with a Luna moth (actias luna) perched on the window:

AA's Moth

It’s a pleasing photo; I like the soft colors and the different textures. The weathered doorknob and the bare wood where the knob has rubbed the old door over the years add interest and contrast. It also provides a sense of scale; everyone knows how large a doorknob is.

As in my earlier post about moths, I have to provide a little bit of background info: Lunas are silkworm moths, and one of the largest moths of North America; some can have a wingspan of four inches. They only live for a week. Seems a pity. The round markings on their wings are said to resemble eyes for scaring off predators.

Nice photo, Aaron!

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

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Been busy and haven’t posted in a couple of weeks, but I wanted to wish you all a safe and joyous Thanksgiving holiday!

–Jim

Murphy Supervises The Construction

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Murphy, our Boston terrier, is very interested in the sewer-pipe replacement activity going on in front of our house. As the photo shows, he pays strict attention to all that goes on, though he is sometimes nervous about the loud noises and shaking of the house that are part of this effort.

Here we see Murphy watching as the LBT is smushing the dirt in the big hole dug by the other machines.

I have been on the lookout in case the final resting place of Jimmy Hoffa is discovered, but so far, he has not surfaced. One of the crew said to me the other day, “This is a big pain and inconvenience for the folks on your street, but just think: In a week or so you’ll have brand-new feeder pipes for your sewerage!”

Yes; that is a wonderful thing to contemplate, and I hope that I can restrain myself from lording it over those with lesser sewerage-feeder pipes. They can’t help it, and it would just make them jealous.

It’s a Gas Gas Gas!

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I’m so proud of my Boston terrier, Murphy. He is truly a wonder dog.

Aaron and Murphy during our excitement.

I was taking a nap this afternoon about 3pm, and, as is the norm, Murphy was sleeping at the foot of my bed. My son, Aaron, who has a cold, was also asleep. Patty was at work.

Suddenly Murphy jumps on my head and starts barking incessantly. He’s never done that before. So I get up, get dressed, opened the bedroom door and was overpowered by the smell of gas. I ran downstairs, thinking that perhaps Aaron had somehow started a fire in the kitchen and the smell was even worse there.

Then it dawned on me: The street repair folks out front must have broken a gas line. I ran out on the front porch and the smell of gas was overwhelming and you could hear it hissing loudly. The crew, except for one staunch fellow and one staunch woman, had hauled ass down the street a ways.

My neighbor next door, Karl, who works nights, walked onto his front porch with a cup of coffee and an unlit cigarette in his mouth. I yelled, “Hey, Karl; I wouldn’t light that if I were you!”

Neighbors Karl and Bill; we’re cracking jokes once safely down the street.

I got Aaron up and leashed Murphy and, joined by Karl, we all went down to the corner; on the way, we saw Buddy, another neighbor, poke his head out of his front door and told him to get out of his house. By now the smell was super strong.

I called 911 and the Hyattville Fire Department showed up very quickly. The Washington Gas folks weren’t as prompt, but they showed up after about 40 minutes and sent a crew down to the hole in the street where gas had been spraying out all this time.

Hyattsville Fire Department pros suit up before walking to the gas leak.

Washington Gas trucks arrive.

Brave young men.

After about 40 more minutes, the gas line was capped and the Washington Gas techs gave us the all clear. One of their techs, a really nice man, brought a sniffer wand into my house to make sure it had aired out after I had turned on all the ceiling fans and opened the windows.

From my front porch.

So all’s well that ends well. My only concern, and I expressed this pointedly to the WSSC contractor’s supervisor, the fire department folks and the folks from Washington Gas, is that somebody should have alerted the residents of the street that there was a problem and that they should (a) not turn on any flame and (b) vacate their homes until everything was safe again and (c) the contractor should have called 911.

And I am so proud of Murphy for knowing something was amiss and waking me up!!!

That white PVC pipe down in the hole is what broke.

Words to live by . . .

7pm Update:

Still at it!

The contractors are still hard at work; now they’re filling the hole where the gas line broke. I guess they’ve got a few more hours of work ahead of them.


I love the colors in this iPhone photo. On your left, about a third of the way from the bottom of the pic, is our friend, Little Blue Thing. That’s his headlight shining.

Buddy, one of our neighbors, walked over to Jefferson Street when the gas was escaping and he said the smell of gas was very evident at that point, well over a block from where it was whooshing out of its pipe. So we were lucky that all turned out well. Karl and the folks across the street, Colleen and Mar, still don’t have their gas restored, but everyone is hard at work trying to restore the service.

Morning After Update:

As the above photo indicates, this morning the contractors have marked the gas lines a lot more obviously than they had previously done. Before, there were just thin yellow lines of paint to show where the high-pressure gas lines were; now there’s big white lettering, too. The importance of good, clear graphics!

The Washington Gas guys told me that those gas lines have a pressure of 50psi, which doesn’t sound like much but can produce a huge volume of gas in the air when the pipe is ruptured, as our event yesterday afternoon proved.

iPhone Cameras Are Amazing . . .

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I’m constantly astonished at the photos that can be taken with an iPhone. Here’s a spiderweb I saw this morning, taken from 15 feet away:

As one who used to lug the old Speed Graphic, Graflex, Mamiya and other bulky large- and medium-format cameras around, I appreciate what the little iPhone camera can do! And no film processing!!!

Here’s another iPhone photo of that spiderweb, which is above the hedge separating our yard from the one next door. It was taken from five feet:

Ansel Adams was once asked, “What’s the most useful camera accessory?” He replied, “Your feet.”

Jim’s Nature Corner: Know Your Moths!

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If you’re anything like me, and, after all, who isn’t, you don’t know enough about our friends, the moths. Admit it!

Here’s one I see every year by my front-porch light:

It’s the Ailanthus webworm moth and is about an inch long. Its coloring reminds me, from my scuba-diving days, of a little clown fish, not found by my front-porch light but nonetheless darned attractive and quite friendly:

According to Wikipedia, these pretty moths are originally from South Florida and now found all over the country. They do no harm and are known for their biting wit, ability to sing in a four-octave range, and have a life span of up to 122 years.

Okay, I made up the last three items but they are still an interesting little creature and I look forward to seeing each year’s new batch. From my own observation, they do have the ability to stay in one place for days at a time.

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