Friday, November 30, 2007

You might not be a hothead

…Do you think 98.6 Fahrenheit is a normal temperature?

…Silly puppy.

…In 1851, Carl Rienhold August Wunderlich started using a thermometer in his office.

...Earlier, two French doctors had stuck a needle into a guy’s muscle to show that when he sawed wood, his muscle was hotter than the rest of him. Those same French guys said normal body temp (they figured) was 98.5.

…Wunderlich got curious and took 25,000 people’s temperatures with a foot-long thermometer (under their arms, in case your mind was wandering over there).

…That was 10,000 days of temp taking. This was one curious guy.

…Then he averaged them (no computer) and got 98.6. See!? Not .5, but .6! Take that, French guys!

…Now, some observant docs have noticed that temperature varies throughout the day.

…Someone in Baltimore took the temps of 148 men and women over 3 days (slackers!) and it came to an average of 98.2.

…Still, they added that women were hotter than men (98.4 to 98.1) and blacks were hotter than whites (98.2 to 98.1).

…Children are warmer than adults. Seniors are cool (heh)—97.8 on average just before bed, at night, the hottest time in the old human body.

…Finally someone dug out Wunderlich’s thermometer. Wouldn’t ya know—too high.

…HA has known for years that her normal is lower than 98.6. How about you?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Let's not give the gift of death this Christmas

…Deadly toys. With everything cool being manufactured in foreign lands
these days (cough, China, cough), parents have to be careful.

…Can we depend on the govt to police this? Apparently not, with little toy dots turning into date rape drugs when mixed with toddler saliva. And toy trains coated with lead paint.

…According to the Wall Street Journal (Nov. 26, 2007), Toys R Us now requires suppliers to identify the name of the factory in China and to certify items have been tested. What real good does either do? HA heas read that suppliers are told not to use dangerous materials, but do anyway to save money.

…J C Penney is retesting toys itself—going back 2 yrs.

…Wal-Mart has been sending 200 toys a day to labs for testing.

…Still last week alone, 19 toys examined by an environmental group came up with lead levels.

…Bills are in state legislatures to increase fines and apply stricter testing.

…Everyone seems to think the Consumer Product Safety Commission needs beefing up.

…Toy comnpanies fear lost sales. Insurance companies fear lawsuits. (Yet companies are also buying recall insurance, so is this a new market?)

…Here’s an idea. Let’s reopen toy factories in the US, with strict standards and nearby inspections and scrutiny.

…Maybe instead of a Rust Belt, we could have a Fun Belt.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Be real about plastic surgery

…Christopher J Saunders, MD, is a board certified plastic surgeon who has performed more than 10,000 operations.

…But he says when it comes to cosmetic surgery, be smart.

…He has written a booked titled a Woman’s Guide to the “Real-Reality” of Cosmetic Surgery. Real-reality? Anyhow—you get the idea.

…At the outset, HA has to say that if you look at his fuzzy black and white “before and afters” you may feel pretty good about your body, as is. There is no sugar-coating here.

…First, forget the TV shows. Those docs are all media hounds. One, Jan Adams, was the surgeon operating when Kanye West’s mother died. Turns out he allegedly is not board-certifiied and has DUIs. That mouthy one who does the karate on Dr 90210--can’t remember his name, the one with the model wife--is also not board-certified.

…Less is NOT more, Saunders says about 25 different ways (this guy has never met a point he could not make a dozen times). Lesser treatments gain you less.

…There will be pain. And with few exceptions (minimal resurfacing) healing time is weeks, not hours. You can’t rush the body.

…There will be scars in some cases. Doctors can usually hide them in hair or creases.

…He warns against “the pull.” Pulling skin back wth your hands. The surgeries do not achieve this end result.

…Lipo makes a smaller you but you are still you. If you had stretchmarks, they will still be there, and so on.

…Those full body lifts mean getting cut all the way around—you will have a scar that shows you were cut in half, basically.

…You can get details on all the options by buying the book.

…Saunders even has a section on how to afford him. Helpfully, he suggests dropping the towing on your auto insurance, not overwitholding your taxes, avoiding late fees, not paying ATM charges, having yard sales and selling on eBay.

…Is it HA or this being a little too helpful? Get going with that scrimping and saving and we will warm up the operating room for ya.

…Now, that’s real-reality!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Plastic or decomp?

…Kerry Fehr-Snyder, writing in the Arizona Republic (Nov 23, 2007), says some caterers out here in the good old Valley of the Sun are starting to use biodegradable plates and utensils.

…The cups are made of polylactic acid from corn. The paper plates from bamboo or recycled fiber. The utensils are from potato or cornstarch.

…Several area restaurants are also hauling out the new china.

…They say demand was never there until Al Gore came (back) on the scene.

…Grumps say even these new products aren’t that biodegradable. Even lawn clippings, they argue, don’t compost without light and water—lacking in tightly packed landfills.

…Commercial composting is not available here.

…Still, the anti-grumps say this stuff does not use oil and does not emit greenhouse gases.

…The new products are also expensive, as much as 25% more than regular products.

…HA is not a demon recycler. In fact, she got in a hiss with the city nosey-nells looking in her can and correcting her garbage judgment. Why can’t you recycle paper towels?

…But sooner or later, we are going to have to let this start creeping in. It’s a pretty small blue ball.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Expensive little red berry

…Joseph Pereira and Betsy McKay write in the WSJ, Nov 21, 2007, that poor weather and rising demand for fresh cranberries may lead to shortages by Christmas.

…Canned will be available, though spendy. (HA is quite partial to the kind with can marks on the side that quivers when plopped on a plate.)

…Apparently the Ocean Spray folks and others have been a lit-tul too good at convincing people that cranberries are healthy (they are), and now demand is chasing supply.

…Cranberries are now included in 2,200 products from muffin mix to soap, the two write.

…The swampy bushes like cold weather—last winter was too warm. They also like rain, and last winter was dry.

…So prices are up—on the concentrate, on the berries. Ocean Spray and the gang cannot get enough berries to start supplying new markets like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Phillippines.

…People down the juice year-round now to prevent urinary trct infections. There is also some evidence that cranberries deter dental plaque and tooth decay.

…Now Ocean Spray touts the thing as its “wonderberry.”

…Of course, the term fruitaceutical came next.

…Then they found out the leftover cranberry seeds had Omega-3 oil—so now they make concotions out of them.

…And don’t forget the unfortunately named craisins.

…OK, forget them. It’s OK with HA. She prefers her cranberries in Sea Breeze or Cosmo form.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hitting the baby bottle

…Remember Roseanne? HA means, remember her when she was really funny? She had a line yrs ago about her husband coming home after work and asking how the kids were. She drawled, “I figure it they are alive, I have done my job.”

…Well, danger lurks everywhere, as parents know. Newsweek (Nov 19, 2007) takes on the popular baby bottle.

…Seems that some of these—which are next to or IN the baby’s mouth, contain bisphenol A or BPA, which has been shown to cause a bunch of health problems.
Oh, the usual, behavioral problems, obesity, decreased fertility and cancer.

…Neato torpedo.

…If you bottle-feed, don’t heat the bottles with liquid in them or put warm liquid in. Huh? What’s the kid supposed to drink, a Manhattan?

…Get rid of scratched or cloudy bottles.

…Buy bottles made of glass or polypropylene or polyethylene.

…Or look for the label: BPA-free. This applies to sippy cups, too!

…Check out For more info, go to

…For Pete’s sake, kids are sucking on these things. Could they at least be crud-free?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Could feng shui save the family dinner?

…The holidays are coming. The cooking, the cleaning, the spending, all of these can create more stress than harmony.

…The other night, Paula Deen of the Food Channel said her family wad-ups were focused on gambling. They all convene at a relative’s to cook, eat, drink and gamble—with “real money,” she added delightedly.

….Then the relative whose house it is, come Saturday or so, would say. “Tail lights, I want to see tail lights.”

…Time to go!

…According to Feng Shui practitioner (Chinese geomancy or the art of arrangement to promote positive forces) Carol M Olmstead, your stress could be lightened by arranging your house differently at the holidays.

…First, she says, use the dining room. This is not the time to sit in front of the TV to eat.

…Bring out the good stuff—the china, the crystal. Nice things make people behave better.

…To promote conversation, place orange flowers in the centerpiece. To bring about good health and longevity, make a centerpiece of fruit and veggies.

…Try to use an oval table if you can—no sharp corners. If you use a table with corners, soften it with a cloth.

…Place bowls of snacks and trays of drinks where people gather to represent prosperity.

…Yin is the dark heavy side. Yang energy is lighter, airier. Winter is yin. So you need yang foods—cooked foods, spicy foods, using ginger or garlic.

…If your family is prone to arguments, invite an even number of guests and keep the lights low and lighting soft. Decorate with earth tones like gold, brown, and green.

…Keep shiny surfaces and sharp corners to a minimum. When the meat is carved, remove the knife (for feng shui, not public safey reasons, at least HA hopes so, although she doesn’t know your family personally).

…Often, whoever is next to the door is the first to leave. If you have annoying relatives, Olmstead suggests you remember that when doing the seating plan. Ooo—she is good!

…You can get a free ezine about feng shui by going to

…The picture today? The turkey pictures were all shiny, brown, and predictable. HA thought serving your family a whole lemon was kind of kickass. She gets on tangents like that.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Frolicking in the Alps

…Feeling a little provincial, bunky? Life a little on the drab side?

…Ever feel like everyone is having fun but you?

…They are!

…A new catering business has opened at ski resorts in the French, Austrian, and Swiss Alps (oh, stop, wouldn’t one be enough to make us feel like 2 Euros?).

…As HA stares at a cactus, with her recently tick-ridden dog barking his fool head off, she must share some copy with you: “After shushing through crisp mountain air to a clearing offering a majestic mountain view, you break for a buffet of hot soup, foie gras, and aged cheeses, with Champagne chilling in a snowbank nearby.”

…After that—no, HA will not spare you--you can hop onto a ultralight plane (assuming you did not eat too much force-fed goose organ).

…This is Picnic on the Piste. For beginners on easy slopes for caterers to reach (HA assumes they are spry European types), it’s 15 Euros. If they have to haul the vittles over to a tricky area, it’s 69.

…Want to eat your heart out—go to

…What’s a piste? Oh, don’t tell her. HA couldn’t take it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Rare, medium, or gassed?

…Ah, God, does this never end? In 2004, the Ag Dept said it was OK to use carbon monoxide (the suicide gas) to keep older meat looking fresh.

…Gassing yourself in your garage makes your skin turn cherry red (HA discourages this behavior most vehemently, by the way).

…Guess it might have the same effect on cutup meat in the store.

…Yes, they ran tests first. But even the companies that ran the tests—Cargill and Hormel—said they wondered about the favorable results. The gassed meat spoiled, though it still looked red, but the microbial counts went down. They called it “funny data.”

…The Ag Dept thought the data looked OK and gave the go-ahead. Earlier they had opposed the gassing idea, but based on this data, they reversed themselves.

…Along in here, in this little drama, it became time for a Congressional hearing. Cargill and Hormel showed up and offered to put on a warning label. “Color is not an accurate indicator of freshness.”

…Guess not. They had some ground beef at the hearing that looked red and fresh. It was 2 years old.

…Giant, Stop & Shop, and Safeway are pulling gassed meat. Tyson is going to stop gassing.

…Target wants to use a label, but keep the meat on the shelves.

…The Ag Dept is mulling. Is it finally time to go veggie?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Lateness. Ack!

…Jared Sandberg writes about punctuality in the WSJ, Nov 13, 2007.

…Some people are always late, some aren’t. The latter would be the ones waiting and slowly declining into a gibbering mass of protoplasm.

…HA gibbers. She hates waiting.

…She has tried every zen-like philosophy, she tries to be in the moment, to intensify her observations, to talk with others (OK, last resort), and still…the jaw begins to tighten, then grind, the breath becomes more shallow, the mind darts ahead to what must be done, the toe taps…

…Sandberg calls late people dawdlers, diddlers and piddlers, thus demonstrating that he stands on the ultimately sensible side that HA has staked out.

…One venture capitalist does not want to do business with late people…his desire “goes down” he says.

…Arrogance! snaps a professor who does not love waiting for students to appear.

…In a recent poll cited by Sandberg, 54% of those questioned said other people’s poor time management “drove them nuts.” Even late people can’t stand other late people!

…Late people engage in magical thinking, one expert said. Maybe 10 yrs ago, they made it to work in seven minutes, so seven minutes is now their standard.

…It’s not just anxiety—they are late to fun events, too.

…A huge problem is that late people tend to make other people become late people, not the other way around.

...HA was in one doc's office that had s ign that said, "If you are more than 15 minutes late, you may be charged for your visit." That was pretty funny, since this doctor was never on time.

…One woman said being late gave her a rush—everyone had to wait for her, making her more important.

…Now, what is the doctors’ excuse? Pretty much the same, HA thinks.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Baby inbed

…HA freely admits it. Her kid slept in the parents’ bed until she was about five.

…Sort of like they do in third-world countries. The family bed. HA knows of another family who all slept in the same bed—two kids that time.

…Some people don’t like to sleep alone. HA now sleeps with a dog. It’s cozy.

…Tara Parker-Pope, the former health maven at the WSJ, now has a wide-ranging portfolio to do a health blog at the NYT and took this subject on.

…Her kid sleeps in her bed.

…Ann Landers used to get in a swivet about this. But HA could never get that excited.

…In fact, in the affluent US, with lots of bedrooms in every house, 13% of parents bunk with the kids, up from 5.5% 15 years ago.

…There may be more. People often deny it—Pope calls them “closet co-sleepers.”

…They don’t want people sniffing like Ann and calling their babies “needy.” Pediatricians, it seems, are down on this. They say it may cause “sudden infant death syndrome,” though the data are not there.

…When HA’s kid was tiny, HA sort of ringed her with pillows.

…Some data does show more wakings at night. (Yes, they can wet the bed—bummer.)

…When the kid’s in your bed—you know about the wakings. If the kid is in another room, you don’t. Some wakings may be normal for that child.

…If your kid is there because you can’t get him or her to sleep any other way—if it’s stressful—you are more likely to think it’s an issue.

…Pope was encouraged to take her kid at night because her daughter was waking the other babies. She got used to it.

…Now, her daughter sleeps at friends’, but still crawls in with Mom sometimes.

…What about conjugal relations, you may ask?

…Preschool comes pretty fast—and nooners still rock.

...Ever heard the cliche: Where's there's a will, etc.

Monday, November 12, 2007

All I want for Christmas is an MRI

…The health care system is now officially broken—you can buy health gift cards. Add this to the bake sales and car washes needed to treat young cancer patients, and this is over!

…Give granny a transfusion or a colonoscopy.

…Health insurer Highmark is selling Visa healthcare gift cards in denominations between $25 and $5,000 to cover elective surgeries, gym memberships, and eyeglasses—fun things like that.

…Visa decides which offices are health-related and the card only works there. (Gosh, that should be no problem, what could go wrong?)

…Also, in the case of college students, they could not waste it on non-health items (like food and iPods).

…You can only get these online or by calling.

…This is a present, not charity, ventured the spokesperson.

…Highmark expects to sell several hundred thousand of these, in the under $100 range.

…So far, these are only available in Pennyslvania.

…What do you think? Is this an adult version of getting socks for Christmas? Like getting a boob job instead of a fur coat from your Sugar Daddy?

…Which, by the way, HA sorely needs. The latter, not the former.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Your knees will love these shoes

…The American College of Rheumatology met this week—arthritis docs—and one subject was footwear.

…Grinding or sore knees caused by osteoarthritis means a breakdown of cartilage in the knee. Being overweight, old, injured or stressing the joint can make it worse.

…Researchers studied the effects of various types of footwear on 13 women and 3 men with OA.

…The four types of shoe were: clog, a stability shoe (limiting foot movement), flat flexible shoe (lots of foot movement) and flip-flops.

…First, subjects walked barefoot and researchers calculated the load on the knee.

…Clogs and stability shoes were associated with higher loading (stress) on the knee. Flat flexible shoes and flip-flops resulted in lower knee loads.

…This should be considered in designing shoes, one doctor said.

….Apparently shoes are designed more with foot comfort in mind than knee comfort.

…Flat, flexible shoes help knees.

…Barefoot walking provides the least stress.

…HA also read a study the other day that said inserts in shoes did not do much for back trouble.

…Also, flip-flops hurt the toesies sometimes. Pain is pain.

…Conventional wisdom—always there for the refuting. Thank goodness. Or HA would be out of a job.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Late fees on your dog?

…Everyone knows that the outside of a dog is good for the inside of a person.

…But not everyone can have a full-time dog because of travel or lifestyle.

….So how about a rental?

…Behavioral therapist Marlena Cervantes has started a pet rental service called FlexPetz.

…Business is great in San Diego and San Francisco.

…These dogs, which are cute as the dickens, are kinda spendy—There is a signup fee of $299.90 ($99 of which will be charged again the next year). You also pay $49.95 a month and $25.95 per 24-hour visit ($39.95 on weekends).

…By the way, please don’t do that .95 crap when you have a lot of fees! It isn’t really woofing anyone. Ooo, it isn't really a hundred bucks...

…Almost half the clients are empty-nesters.

…And maybe people a little loose in the attachment department, although still animal lovers?

…Cervantes seems like a kind soul—she is so worried about the pets of those caught in the wildfires she started Operation Stopgap.

…Her members are taking pets who can’t move in with people’s relatives or stay in motels—no charge to the pet owner. Wonder if they head out on the job.

…Want a dog who works part-time, go to

…HA hopes these pooches don’t get snooty and demand overtime.

…She also wonders if they love it or get confused.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Cough, barf!

…Jeanne Whalen, writing in the WSJ on Nov 5, 2007, talks about Novartis’s new cough syrup, Buckley’s Cough Mixture. When this revered Canadian product comes to the US this week, the emphasis will be on how gross it is.

…Remember how your mother used to tell you that if it stings, it means it’s working (this stuff comes out of the standard Mom handbook, which is hardly ever updated).

…Well, this is a variation on that theme. It’s horrible-tasting, but it works!

…Buckley’s is made from camphor, pine needle oil, menthol and Balsam gum.

…We are pretty much talking Pine Sol here, it looks like to HA. But you can’t even BEGIN to insult this stuff—keep reading.

…The ads compare it to "used mouthwash” and “public restroom puddle.”

…The cough syrup biz is in a tizz because they are being asked not to market to kids. Maybe this restroom puddle stuff will give it a boost.

…In another stab, the ad agency said Buckley’s was for "adults seeking tough love.”

…Some cough syrups are like a variation of candy, sniffed one ad exec.

…Well, HA thinks Buckley’s has the opposite locked down. On its answering machine, the company also describes the mixture as “state fair porta-potty,” “monkey sweat,” and “used denture soak.”

…Personally? HA will be coughing, thank you.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Drugstore finally sucking up

…Women need more sucking up. HA approves--but has some suggestions.

…CVS Caremark has set out to be a one-stop destination for tired, stressed-out women.

…Four million females shop there every day. Women are 80% of the chain’s shoppers. “Everything falls to women,” mourns the pharmacy’s mid-Atlantic manager. (HA loves this guy!)

…Focus groups of women told the store they want an easier store to navigate, shorter wait times for prescriptions, and more beauty products. What—they forgot latte, free babysitting and foot massages, and wi-fi internet access?

…So far, 20% of the stores have been remodeled to fulfill the focus groups’ ideas, not HA’s.

…Of course, CVS is in a little throwdown with Walgreen’s and the stakes are high.

...Because CVS merged with Caremark, a benefits management co, they will be offering smoking cessation, obesity prevention, and other programs.

…CVS has more stores than Wal-Mart, which can be a convenience issue when Mom is dragging out of the doctor’s with sick toddlers in tow.

…CVS is also offering special beauty testing areas for Mom. There are bath salts for “me time.”

…If HA is going to park, walk in, and spend (when food has to be a separate trip), she expects a red carpet, people waving ostrich feather fans (in summer), elves to carry her basket (those are heavy, drug store people), a thick tablet of coupons, a cabana boy named Thor, and a demerol IV!

…She might try one of those in-store clinics sometime, though. Will CVS have those?

...HA might give up Thor for fast health care.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Tough times for pill people?

…According to a piece on Bloomberg by Shannon Pettypiece, in 2008 US pharmco sales will increase at the slowest rate in 44 years.

…This means sales will only move up 4-5%, amounting to a paltry $305 billion next year. This according to health research firm IMS Health.

…Part of this decline will come from popular drugs like Fosamax and Risperdal coming off patent, meaning lower-cost generics will be offered.

…Some docs are also turning down the yummy-smelling free lunches the drug detailers bring into almost every office HA visits, and unfortunately there are several.

…Sales also will be slowed by increased FDA scrutiny and warnings about new drugs.

…Standard & Poors pharmco stock sales went up less than 4% this year, compared with 18% a year earlier.

…Companies are now plying their wares overseas, having saturated us.

…HA would like to think American sick people and worried well people are becoming a little more sensible about taking a handful of pills everday.

…Apparently, those almost daily stories about some drugs causing more heart attacks or cancer in addition to their beneficial results are sinking in.

…Maybe too many conditions have been made to seem like a disease needing curing—like twitchy legs and menopause.

…And maybe these drugs are just too damn expensive. HA knows it costs a lot to find some leaf in the rain forest and make it into a medicine that millions can take.

…But could the $305 billion hold these companies for awhile?

…I suppose if you have cancer and need a $40,000 drug, your POV would be drastically different. If you are in this position, speak up now.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Is dating dead?

…HA’s kid, now 25, says she has never been on a date. Yet, she has friends hanging out all the time.

…Emphasis on hanging out.

…Duddy, old-fashioned dad Jeffrey Zaslow, who HA suspects is not alone, was writing in the WSJ Nov 1, 2007, about how a boy asked his 16-year-old daughter to the Homecoming Dance. She bought a dress and the fixings, then learned the boys weren’t even taking their dates to the dance but instead were going to dress up, go to dinner and go to a friend’s to “hang.”

…The girls—and Dad—were not amused.

…The parents took pix of the couples, but it wasn’t the same.

…This was suburban Detroit—it does not seem to be much different in Phoenix.

…What about courting? The biggest issue here seems to be will Dad be around when the baby is born.

…According to Zaslow—school dances are falling out of favor. HA’s kid never went to one—HA always did, although sometimes (pathetic alert!) as president of the debate club, she was checking coats to pay for debate club outings.

…According to a study at Mich State, 60% of students studied have had a “friends with benefits” relationship. By benefits, they don’t mean candlelit dins.

…Girls regret this more than boys (duh, we are the mooshy ones).

…Remember The Rules? Boys had to call by Wed to even get a date by Sat. Now—these boys text a girl at 3 am: R U BUSY?

…In her incredibly obtuse way, HA told her daughter early on, when her kid was pre-teen, not to “waste her feminine essence.” Once given or tossed away, this sense of mystery or control is gone for good.

…The other day, her daughter said, “You were kind of right on that essence thing.”

…And these boys aren’t helping ditching the dances. Come on, parents of boys, can you talk to the lads?

…After all, they did ask the girls to the dance. At least keep your word! That’s a character issue. As in: Will Dad hang around after the baby is born.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Black is the new green

…Janet Helm, Chicago Tribune, says even AFTER Halloween, we will be eating black food.

…Licorice? (This is bad for those on blood thinners, did you know?)

…No, not just licorice. Black foods are er, hot in Asia and comin’ over! This according to a global market research firm.

…Japan is agog over a cocoa drink spiked with black soybeans. There is also a black soybean tea.

…Black vinegar drinks also are said to lower cholesterol and BP.

…In traditional Chinese medicine, black foods are thought to help the kidneys.

…Actually, some of this is probably true—the dark pigments contain power antioxidants. Look at the press blueberries get these days!

…Anthocyanins (black stuff) have been shown to slow colon cancer when contained in blue corn.

…Black carrots also slowed cancer cell growth 80%.

…Black carrots?

…Some other good ones: Black beans, black rice (more nutrients and fiber), black soybeans (protein, antioxidants), Black vinegar (check the Asian markets), Nigella seeds (black onion seeds), and black mushrooms (shiitake, wood ear, black trumpet).

…HA thought of blackberries, black cherries (not black), caviar (not always), black grapes, black currants, black coffee…this is fun…

…That pix? Caviar roll. This brings up, pardon the expression, another point.

...Is black an appetizing color?