Wikipedia tells me that pencil comes from the French word pincel or small paintbrush.
They are invaluable in school but they don't get the respect they deserve. There's nothing quite as disheartening as a blunt pencil!
Apparently the dominant colour of pencils varies by country, the United States go for yellow, Southern Europe go for dark red or black whilst Australia tend to be a red with black bands kind of place.
You live and learn.
My camera and I are forging an uneasy relationship. I am missing the carefree times I had with my D40 and am still storming and forming with my new one!