Jewish World Review August 7, 2003 / 9 Menachem-Av, 5763

Jeff Elder

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Consumer Reports

Wood'n you know it? Money doesn't grow on trees; all we are is dust in the wind | Q: What's the most expensive furniture-making wood in the world? - Eric Fordley

A: Umm, lessee. Probably not Popsicle sticks ...

As a lifetime shopper at finer Curbside Emporiums and Dumpster Showrooms, I might not be qualified to answer this one solo, Eric. So I asked West Penn Hardwoods, an exotic wood dealer in New York state.

West Penn's owner, Rocky (not Woody?) Mehta, says the answer depends on many things, like the specific piece of wood, and its quality. But all things being equal, he'd say Gaboon ebony is the most expensive. It's a very dense, very hard wood that is believed to be the blackest wood that grows. It costs $50 to $80 per board foot (or 12 inches by 12 inches by 1 inch). A small piece of furniture made from this wood could easily cost $10,000, Mehta said, depending on craftsmanship and other factors.

You can see Gaboon ebony at

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Q: I've read that dust is mainly composed of minute skin flakes we constantly slough off. If this is true, how could there be dust in a room no one had occupied for years? - Pat Covington

A: Yuck!

I've certainly been called a flake before, but somehow it never seemed quite so gross.

House dust is a mix that varies from home to home, depending on the type of furniture, building materials, presence of pets, moisture and other factors. A speck of dust might contain fabric fibers, human skin particles, animal dander, microscopic creatures called mites, bacteria, parts of cockroaches, mold spores, food particles and other debris.

Who's ready for some nice deep breathing exercises?

Dust mites, tiny microscopic members of the arachnid family, are a major cause of allergic reactions to house dust. Up to 10 percent of Americans are allergic to dust mites, experts say.

To avoid allergic reactions, select non-allergenic bedding, keep clothes in a closed closet, clean your home thoroughly, and change air-conditioner filters often.

A closed room can gather dust unless it's air-tight, which is virtually impossible in an ordinary home, experts say. Even tiny cracks allow small air currents to move around tiny particles of building materials and upholstery and carpet fibers.

SOURCE: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences



Time for a quiz on the hotties who raise pulses on the silver screen

1. What hunk gave white T-shirts overnight cult status with a passionate 1951 screen performance?

2. What blonde bared her bod in a famous 1956 French film?

3. What handsome leading man began his big screen career with 1981's forgettable "Carbon Copy"?

4. What current screen goddess is diabetic, and lost some of her hearing as a result of a violent confrontation with a boyfriend?



1. Marlon Brando

2. Brigitte Bardot

3. Denzel Washington

4. Halle Berry

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Jeff Elder is a columnist for The Charlotte Observer. Comment or try to stump him by clicking here.


08/05/03: Where have you gone, Calvin, Opus and Cow?; fine feathered friend pecking on itself
07/31/03: How a dashing hero became a notorious traitor
07/29/03: Little red caboose rolling outta sight; From my 'I'll be a monkey's uncle' file
07/24/03: Road scholar: A lesson on asphalt; when identical twins marry
07/23/03: The sweet science of Life Savers' sparks; how do Pop Rocks work? ripping newspaper

© , The Charlotte Observer Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.