Investigating the World

Can Black Be a Favorite Color?

Can black be a favorite color?

"People can have the Model T in any color - so long as it's black." - Henry Ford

I am known for wearing black, but that was not always the case.  I used to wear very colorful clothing.  I love color, lots of color!  My gardens are filled
with multicolored zinnias, yellow marigolds, purple scabiosas, and pink gomphrenas.  Every room in our Comfort, Texas, home is a different color — red, yellow, purple, green, and gray, to name a few.  Yellow is my favorite color, but today if I were to choose a second, it would be black.  I know, black is the absence of color or the absorption of light with little or no reflection, but that is what makes it warm and slenderizing!  

When I first began presenting professional development sessions for educators, I joined a regional speakers club which stressed that a speaker’s attire should be colorful, stylish, and as professional as one could afford. 
(In other words, look successful.)  This was my first hint that they probably didn’t understand training educators.  The second hint was when they suggested women wear pumps, or shoes with a slight heel.  Even though
I was skeptical, I began my speaking career following the rules.

A few months later I attended a staff development session where the presenter abided by the same rules, and I realized she looked too dressy to
sit on the floor, too stylish to guide an experiment, and too uncomfortable
in her shoes to do hall duty.  I also noticed it was hard to see what she was demonstrating in front of her brightly patterned clothing.  So I have spent
 the last 30 years of my professional career training educators while dressed the opposite of what was supposed to make me successful, hoping it would make my sessions effective and credible instead.  

Black has become a major part of my professional identity because I am the backdrop for what I am presenting.  An added bonus is that wearing mostly black minimizes daily clothing decisions.  I once read that to simplify his life, Thomas Edison had a closet containing several of the exact same black pants, coats, and vests so anything he selected went with everything in the closet.  When I walk into my closet the clothes aren’t all the same, but 75% are black or blue jean; I even have a few black “blue jeans.”  It is frequently said that black goes with everything, but I would add…except a different shade of black. 

I hope to see some of you at educational conferences this year.  I will probably be wearing black, and I’ll have a cord with scissors around my neck.

This is the avatar that McGraw-Hill uses to promote
my materials in their science textbooks.

Brain Refreshments

• Studies show that black can make a person perceive weight.  For example, to many people, a black suitcase appears to be heavier than a white suitcase of the same size.

• Black might impart the feeling of weight, but black clothing can make a person appear thinner.

• In many cultures, black clothing or fabric is part of obsequies, or funeral rites.

• Wearing black during a time of mourning dates back to Roman times when some classes of Romans wore a dark toga pulla.

• Black is associated with power and achievement:
    • a black suit or cassock     • a black belt    
    • black judicial robes           • Batman                                    • Black Panther (2018)

• Black is associated with sophistication and elegance:
    • black limousines         
    • a little black dress
    • black-tie affairs

• Black is associated with mystery and fear:
    • black holes                       • moonless nights
    • black storm clouds       • black cats
    • blackout conditions     • Darth Vader
    • KISS band members

In the black indicates a positive income, the opposite of in the red.  Black Friday first referred to disruptive traffic on the day after Thanksgiving, but now relates to retailers making a profit due to high sales.

• The Black Shirts were Mussolini’s fascist militia.

• The singers Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison were known for wearing black.

MIB is the acronym for Men in Black who appear in ufology and UFO folklore.  They are purported to be government agents who wear black suits and suppress witnesses of UFO sightings.

Black pepper has been used for currency, and the demand for it encouraged exploration and trade.

• About 75% of the tea consumed in the western world is black tea.

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Cooking In the Kitchen with Dinah

I first visited Pendery’s World of Chiles & Spices in Fort Worth, Texas, when I was in my twenties.  Pendery’s has been packaging and selling chilis, chili blends, and spices for nearly 150 years.  I would buy their chilis and spices to store in my freezer until needed.  Today, I still stop by if I’m in Fort Worth, but I mainly shop online.

Blackened Seasoning Mix

Basic Recipe
4 T granulated garlic powder
2 T onion powder
1 T ground smoky paprika
1 T fine ground black pepper
1 T coarse ground black pepper
1-2 T Himalayan pink salt
    (or regular salt)
1 T muscovado or turbinado sugar
    (Granulated will work, too.)
1 t ground cayenne pepper
1 t dried thyme
1 t dried oregano
1 t mustard powder
1 t turmeric powder

Variation for Roasted Chicken
4 T of Basic Recipe
1 T of rubbed sage
1 extra teaspoon of dried thyme

Variation for Fajitas
4 T of Basic Recipe
1 T chili powder
1 t cumin


Variation for Grilling Fish or Vegetables
1 T Basic Recipe
2 T olive oil
2 T lemon or lime juice


This recipe reflects the spices I keep on hand, either dried or fresh.  I allow the leaves of my fresh herbs to dry before grinding them in a mortar and pestle to add to the mix.  I leave a couple of tablespoons of this mix in an airtight container in my spice cabinet and store the rest in the freezer. 

Neither Dinah Zike nor any of her companies, family members, or employees are compensated in any manner for mentioning businesses, locations, or products in this blog.


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