Monday, January 17, 2005

Apple #26: Grommets & Myrrh

Since I've been away from this thing for a few days, I thought I'd do two entries today. And, in honor of my pledge to take requests, both are from the request lines.

GROMMETS
  • A grommet is a metal ring used for lining a small hole through which cords or lines will be run. The ring may also be made of plastic or even rubber.
  • Grommets are the metal rings around the openings in your shoes, through which the laces pass. They are also used in other laced clothing, such as corsets or laced vests, and in curtains.
  • Grommets are also used in electronics, to protect the holes where wires or tubing pass into and out of wiring boxes without grounding.
  • In nautical terms, a grommet is a loop of rope that secures a sail to its stay.
  • It is also used around the holes in mailbags.
  • In medicine, it is a tube surgically implanted in the eardrum, used to drain fluid from the middle ear and thus alleviate a condition known as "glue ear."
  • In military weaponry, it is a ring of rope used as a wad to hold a cannon ball in place, presumably in a pile of other cannon balls.
  • In construction, it is a ring of fiber used as a seal or gasket, or it may also be a washer which seals joints between lengths of pipe.
  • The term probably comes from a French word, gromette, which was the chain that joined the ends of a bit for a horse's mouth. This word, in turn, comes from another Old French word that means "to curb."
Looks like grommet is one of those words like doo-hickey that people use to describe a thingamabob that can be used for just about anything. In this case, the thingamabob is a little ring that protects the material where a hole is made.

MYRRH

Myrrh is best known as one of the three gifts the Magi brought to the baby Jesus. But what is it, exactly?
  • Myrrh is a gum-resin, used as a perfume and an unguent, burned as incense in temples and used in embalming.
  • True myrrh comes from the bark of a shrub that grows in Africa and Arabia.
  • In resin form, it occurs in irregularly shaped pieces, from 3/4 of an inch to 3 inches or so. It has a reddish-brown color and contains some white streaks. It is a mixture of resin, gum, and the essential oil, myrrhol, which gives it its distinctive aroma.
  • Myrrh has been in use for at least 3700 years, well before the Bible. It has also been used for:
    • milching cows to improve quality and increase quantity of milk
    • when mixed with lime, giving a gloss to walls
    • when shaken with water to form a lather, for washing hair and for whitening shields
    • when ingested, for expelling the guinea-worm
    • it used to be used for treating reproductive disorders, though this is an ill-founded belief and in fact is harmful in pregnant women.
    • more recently, it has been found to be beneficial, when mixed with water, in protecting the stomach against damage caused by NSAIDs such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
  • It is also currently available as an herb, more commonly referred to as chervil or cicely or in a blend known as fine herbs. It is used fresh on salads and has a sweet, mild anise flavor. When dried, it loses its flavor. It can be used as a substitute for sugar in some dishes.
Sources
OneLook's entry on grommet and subsequent reference links
1911 Encyclopedia Britannica entry on myrrh
Webster's revised, unabridged 1913 dictionary, myrrh
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's About Herbs, Botanicals & Other Products, myrrh
Hormel Glossary of Kitchen and Food Terms, myrrh
My Cookbook.net's glossary terms, myrrh

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