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11/23/17: There's a story that I've told to people many times that I've never told here. The main reason was because I would have to dig out some of my old comic books to get visual aids for the story. But this week, my brother had sent some images from some old Marvel comics, from an Internet treasure trove that he found, so I asked him if he could find the two issues involved in the story, and he not only found the issues, but he found the panels in question. Thanks, Chris!
     I've always had a pretty good vocabulary, going back to high school and before. Even today, I'll be writing an e-mail at work and a word will pop into my head, something that seems appropriate but is not one that's used regularly. (One such example is obviate.) I don't think I use these words to sound smart, or to try to confuse my intended audience. They just seem to be the right word to use at the time, and usually are.
     I've been asked about this, if I knew where this vocabulary comes from, and I always tell people, "comics." My brothers and I started reading comics in earnest in the Fall of 1973, and I seem to remember struggling in school up to that point, but once I started reading comics, my grades picked up. Maybe that's a coincidence, but I don't think so.
     There is one incident that stands out in my mind, that I've told people about many times, and thanks to Chris, I now have proof. It happened in 1974, based on the cover dates I would say probably June. I had just come back from the store with my weekly haul of new issues, and in that pile were two Marvel comics, Amazing Spider-Man issue 136, and Daredevil issue 113. Both have cover-dates Sept, 1974, which is how I guess it was in June. I do remember buying them both on the same day. The picture here is of the covers of those two issues.
     I read Spider-Man first, since it was my favorite comic at the time, and the story picked up where it left off the previous month, in the aftermath of an explosion in Peter Parker's apartment, which he shared with his high-school buddy Harry Osborne who was slowly becoming the new Green Goblin. The panel, as I remember it, was on the second page, a picture of Peter holding a piece of metal, and it contained a word balloon in which he was saying something about Harry taking up pyrotechnics as a hobby. That was not a word I was familiar with, but I don't know that it registered with me at the time. I did notice, when I read the Daredevil issue next, that the splash panel had an image of Daredevil, in the middle of a lightning storm, overlooking the city, and one of the captions said something about the pyrotechnics of the storm. I remember stopping at that point and going to the dictionary to look up the word pyrotechnics. If you click the picture of the comics, you can see the panels that I saw. It didn't hit me until many years later that a medium like comics, one that has historically been thought of for children, would use words that might send a pre-teen to the dictionary for a definition, but I guess I was not your typical pre-teen, because I did go to the dictionary to learn what the word means.
     As I mentioned, I've told this story to people who have asked about my vocabulary. I've also told this to friends who had children who were reaching reading age. I tell them that it's okay if their kids want to read comics. There's lots to learn from reading comics. The trick is to get them to read anything.

11/10/17: Two days ago, we had the first real cold snap of the year. As I was walking into work from the parking lot, I heard sounds in the trees as if hundreds of squirrels were running around. It took me a second to realize that the many leaves that were remaining on the trees had frozen overnight and were snapping off and falling through the branches, making the sounds I was hearing. As I approached the building I worked in, I noticed that the color of the leaves had turned, seemingly overnight, so I took a picture of the area in front of the front door. I then turned around and saw the rising sun had illuminated the tops of the trees, an effect that I always liked, so I snapped a picture of that as well to share with Stephie.
     Two days later, I was walking in and saw an entirely different scene. The leaves were almost entirely gone from the trees, and even more surprisingly, gone from the ground as well. I turned around and while the difference was not as obvious as in front of the building, the leaves were gone from larger trees as well, and again, most of the leaves were gone from the lawns. Kudos to the grounds team for their quick work.

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