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Thingamajig Thursday: cartouche

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Ho hum, another Thursday, another thingamajig. I bet you guys wonder sometimes: "How many thingamajigs can there be already?" You know what? I wonder the same sometimes. Yet, every Thursday here I am with another. It doesn't take long to think of something to write about. I guess when it does, we'll have to phase out the thingamajig. Unless, of course, you all have thingamajigs you'd like me to research and name. If so, just drop a suggestion down in the comments.

Meanwhile, today I'm naming the oval shield or scroll you often see used as an ornament bearing design or inscription on the front of an old buildings. It's called a cartouche, which is a French word taken from the Latin, carta, or paper. Remember the Magana Carta ("great paper")?

Here's a bunch of photos so you know exactly what I'm talking about.

cartouche1.jpgcartouche2.jpg

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Thingamajig Thursday: ferrules
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It's been a while since our last Thingamajig Thursday. Today I'm naming that slim metal band, or clamp, that wraps around a pencil, holding the eraser in place. You'll also find them stretched around a paintbrush, keeping the bristles tight, or the part of a violin bow that holds the hair to the "frog," or base.

fer.jpgAlso a verb, the word ferrule comes from the Latin viriola, or "small bracelet." So next time you're at Pearl Paint, or even Tiffany's, whip out the dope on ferrules and tell that salesperson what you really want. You might not get any better service, but you'll get a helluva lot of satisfaction showing off your knowledge.In the meantime, let's come up with a better word for the ferrule. I mean, it's a pretty okay work as far as thingamajigs go, but I know you smart readers can do better. Lay them on us.

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Thingamajig Thursday: rowels
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Time for another Thingamajig Thursday. Today I'm naming those small revolving disks with the sharp points that you find on the end of a cowboy's spurs.

They're called rowels, a word which can be traced back to the Latin root, rotae, which was the name of the wheel on a horse-drawn chariot. As a verb, we derive roto, or, to turn, from the same root.

Though no one knows exactly when people first started putting rowels on spurs, the spur itself is believed to date back to the Roman empire, though you won't find them on any of the sculptures from the period.

brokeback_15.jpgBefore rowels, spurs sometimes had little pointy nubs on the ends of them, which eventually morphed into fixed disks before someone had the smart idea to get those wheels a turning. The fixed disk variety can be seen on the seal of Henry III and by the 14th century, the roweled spur was as standard as the horse itself.

If this post has spurred you on to come up with a better name for the rowel, it's that time again: Let's see what your smart readers can come up with. Drop your improved thingamajig name in the comments below. And if the Brokeback Mountain theme is now stuck in your head, I sincerely, really, honestly do apologize.

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