Agent of Change

A Blog by Cory!! Strode, who really should write something interesting here.

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Three Good Things


Thoughts on Martin Luther King Jr Day


Work and Death

I always hear “No one wishes they had worked more when they are on their deathbed.”

Then they have the wrong job.

I have worked helping other since 1988. I got a job at a group home for teens in the juvenile justice system.  It was frustrating, hard, important work, and even when it was a terrible job, I knew I was helping people.  For YEARS after a client would leave, they would call, speak to me and let me know how I helped them.

I left that field in 2007 and then started working with developmentally disabled adults in 2010, which honestly doesn’t seem that long ago at this point. When I come in to work, they are happy to see me (most days) and even making dinner and giving out pills, I am working to make their lives better.

At both of these jobs, I worked more than I should. I have usually had to have a bland full-time office job, because these jobs don’t pay a decent wage.

I also write and podcast. I am just starting to see some money from that, and I see these as my “job.” I don’t regret a single moment I have spent doing either of those things either, as it means I am creating or chatting with friends and creative people about things we love.

Hell, there have been people in my life who, when I look back on it, I should have blown then off and taken that extra shift at the group home, and I regret ever having wasted time with them.

If you don’t wish you spent more time at your job…maybe you have the wrong job. Maybe you need to follow your bliss, find a job you WANT to do.  If you are doing a job you love, it’s like you never work a day in your life.

Is it easy? Nope.  Can everyone do it?  Sadly, no.  But I truly believe that if you have a job you love, you won’t mind working at it.  I feel it is important for me to help people who I can help…so even though I get owly about being away from home, get exhausted by working with people or just complain about working too much…I know what I do matters.


What kind of week has it been

I don’t talk about my full-time job much. First, there isn’t a lot interesting there as it’s a pretty standard office/benefits job.  Second, I am happy to have the job after searching for a stable full-time job for quite a few years after the Great Recession, no matter how uneventful it is. And third, I simply see it as a way to pay for my life, not my Purpose.  The podcast, writing and in some ways, the group home job are my purpose.

However, I only want to work a job where I am helping people, and working in benefits does help people.

This week, I had a day that was disturbing. I started the day by reposting a thing I wrote a year ago about not going out of your way to hurt people, no matter what they have done.  It’s a big part of my outlook on life, and is probably the biggest change I made in how I see the world I made in 1999.

I got a call from a women whose estranged spouse had changed their medical coverage for the coming year without telling her. She was being moved to a medical plan with a deductible from an HMO plan with no notice other than a letter stating that she will be dropped from her HMO on 12/31. She called in tears, as she was dealing with her son’s severe health issues and her own health issues, and she didn’t even know if she would have coverage.  Once I assured her that she would, she didn’t know how the deductible plan works, was scared about the heavily increased out of pockets costs, not knowing if the doctors who were treating them were with were in the plan and how the change would be happening.

I explained what I could, and got her to a phone person at the new medical plan, who stayed on the phone with her for an hour making sure to get everything set up and squared away. We assisted her in finding community resources to help her with the steep deductibles and other issues resulting from the change, and it all made me feel crushingly depressed.

But one thing that she said sticks. “How could he do this to us?”

There have been a lot of people in my life who have done dirty by me. From the bullies in grade school to the jerks who see everything as a competition, to people who are mad at the world when they cross your path, company weasels who discard you with the promise of a few more dollars of profit, and people who discard you when it works best for them after they have taken all they need from you.

There have been times when I have been in a position to exact revenge, make their lives worse, twist the knife a bit harder, or worse. Since 1999, I haven’t done it.  To repay people in kind just means that everyone loses, everyone gets hurt, and the darkness grows a little more around us.  It feels like most of the people in the US, at least, as simmering pots of resentment, looking for someone to lash out at.

“Somebody has to pay for this!”

“If we can’t be friends, we must be enemies and I destroy my enemies!”

“The world is laughing at us, but they won’t laugh at us anymore!”

Repaying darkness in kind simply makes the world darker. Revenge doesn’t make you feel any better and while it may be best served cold, it’s not a filling meal.

“How could he do this to us?”

Because he’d been told by society that there must be winners and there must be losers and if you aren’t winning, you’re losing. Because he’s been told that we need to exact revenge against any perceived wrong or you aren’t “strong.”

Because we focus on our differences and disputes rather than what we have in common and our agreements.

I don’t have answers, kittens and kaboodles. I know when I would lash out at people, it was because I was hurt and I wanted someone else to hurt like I did.  Thankfully, I have learned that I don’t need to be like that.  There may be people out there right now who are planning things to tear me down, throw roadblocks in my path, or whatever rather than simply telling me that I made a mistake and they are angry about it.  Or, they have told me that and feel the need to keep attacking.  I can’t do a damn thing about that, so I TRY not to worry about it and hope that someday, they will find a measure of peace and joy to replace the hurt and anger.

I’m not a Christmas guy. Too many years of bad holidays, too many times of working on festive occasions and too many years on my own have drained me of that, but I have replaced it by trying to be kind and wishing people joy every day. I know that me seeing Christmas as just another day causes some people discomfort, but I see it as just deciding to do my best for other people every day instead.

Much love to friends old and new and remember, you don’t need a specific date to do good things…or at least refrain from doing hurtful things.


Dear person who made my burrito last night

I’m sorry I didn’t recognize you as someone I used to work with at the group home. There are a few reasons why:

1) The turnover is so high, I don’t bother to get to know people’s names until they have worked there six months.

2) The work outfit you wear now is probably different than what you wore at the group home. And I know you didn’t make meals there when I worked because people always assume I will do it.

3) You’re kind of a generic white girl. Get a gimmick of some kind like a memorable nickname, a facial tattoo or an interesting affectation like saying “Howdy” or “Comin’ at ya!”

4) I’m not very damn observant.

5) I have worked with a few hundred people over the last 30 years, and the only ones who stick out at the ones who made work harder or were my supervisor, so since you were neither, that’s a good thing.

6) You were complaining about the pay at the group home, which is about $5 an hour more than you make making my burrito. Um…I’m taking it that math was a hard subject for you in school.

7) You messed up my foster daughter’s burrito and put queso on it right after she said no queso. Sorry, but I don’t feel bad about not remembering you because of that.

8) I HAVE IMPORTANT THINGS TO REMEMBER! Like how Roy Thomas wrote Amazing Spider-Man from issue 101 – 104 and NO other issues, when Roy Normally took over from Stan Lee when he left a comic in the 70’s. Did Roy dislike writing Spider-Man as a character? ANSWER ME??!!??

9) Again, you’re kinda generic. Sorry.

10) I was so overwhelmed with hunger, I didn’t see you as a person, but as a burrito delivery system and for that I am sorry. Now give me my burrito and let me go eat, all right? Geez!


Late Night Wars 2017

I am going to write about something I am interested in that isn’t comics, fiction or emotional truth. Late Night Television.

Sorry, kids, they aren’t all going to be deep thoughts.

Back when the big Late Night Wars happened, Leno took over the Tonight Show and Letterman moved to CBS. For the first couple of years, they traded the #1 spot back and forth, and me, being a huge Letterman fan, was happy to see that Dave showed he could work at 10:30, which was an actual concern at the time.  However, the OJ Simpson trial started and Leno went all in on it.  He did tons of OJ jokes, had bits like “The Dancing Itos” and the like, while Letterman found the whole thing vile and refused to mock it.

Letterman was asked later about it and he said that he couldn’t make fun of a situation where two people were brutally murdered. He took the high road, and Leno pulled out ahead in the ratings, where he stayed until his disastrous 9 pm show.

With Leno and Letterman both being pushed out the door due to their age, the Late Night scene shook up. On ABC, you had huge Letterman fan Jimmy Kimmel, on NBC you had Jimmy Fallon who sees his version of The Tonight Show as a comedy hour and the interviews are a vestigial nuisance, and Steven Colbert struggled a bit moving to the late night talk show circuit.  He had great interviews, struggled with his comedy bits and really just seemed like he was doing someone else’s show.

Until January.

Much like Leno, he has found his breakout, and that is mocking Donald Trump. Last night, I don’t think he had a non-Trump joke in his monologue, opened with his “cartoon Trump” bit, did a Trump segment for his second comedy bit and then interviewed Anderson Cooper about covering Trump.  AND he is now beating Fallon in total viewers and is slowly catching up in the 18 – 49 demo.

Fallon’s interview with Trump, where he made it seem like it was all in good fun is REALLY biting him in the ass, as it is cementing him in many people’s minds as a shallow goofball, and his “Party game” aspect of his show is starting to wear thin with both viewers and (according to what I read) publicists, who want their clients to push product, not play beer pong.

It’s gonna be interesting to see how it all shakes out


Walking Dead Season 7 Opener notes

A note to the people who are complaining that last night’s Walking Dead was too brutal, isn’t “fun” any more, etc…

Sorry. You’re wrong. The show isn’t supposed to be fun. It’s not a roller coaster with happy endings and keeping your hands inside the car. It’s horror, and horror is supposed to be disturbing.

-The show became safe for you. This is how it works, there are periods of relative calm where our protagonists are in control and times where they are not. Have you forgotten the death of Hershel? Beth? How about the deaths of Jessie and Sam?

-It’s a show with zombies. You know, the living dead that eat human beings?

-Horror means anyone can die at any time

-Most importantly: This was about breaking Rick. I know WE think they are the good guys, but they broke into Negan’s place and killed a number of his people while they were sleeping without provocation. Would Rick have done the same thing if someone did that to his people? Didn’t he slaughter everyone in Terminus? He came up against a larger, more powerful force and they had to show that they were in control now.

This also opens up bigger questions about morality – is torture permissible? How do you treat people during times of war? Did Negan do anything that countries have done? (And a bonus question, is what Negan did comparable to what the US did in WWII in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, or Dresden?)

Art makes you think. This was not “torture porn.” This was art, and some art is disturbing.

It’s supposed to be.


Spoiler warning

In 1977, movies didn’t open in thousands of screens. They’d play in big cities, and then, eventually they’d get to the smaller ones. I lived near Canton, IL, which had two movie theaters, and older one with a balcony and everything, and a newer, smaller one across the town square that was more like a box with seats in it. We had to wait on movies to come there, so we usually got things a month or two after it was released and if we DID get a new movie the first week, it was usually a stinker that bigger theaters didn’t want.

So, when Star Wars came out, we didn’t get it until late July.

By then, I had read the comic adaptation and the novelization.

I had had the movie spoiled. And I didn’t care. I knew the story, I knew the twists, but it was so well made and I was so excited that I was there for the experience and the spectacle.

We are now so crazed about avoiding spoilers that people asking that the movie not be spoiled takes us a third of the Facestab page.

I’ll see the movie in a couple of weeks when the theaters aren’t full. I am sure someone will spoil things. I won’t care. The point of the journey is not the arrival.


Nothing’s sad ’til it’s over. Then everything is.

Doctor Who’s season finale had, as it always does, moments that made me reflect upon my own life. Good writing does that, and I often take lines from TV shows, movies, novels, comics, etc… and extrapolate them into my own life, what I am going through and fit them into how I see and exploain the world.


The Doctor has broken the rules (duh) and has taken his companion Clara out of reality in the moment before her death and is attempting to make it so that death, which has happened, does not happen. In the previous episode, he was trapped and had to basically solve a puzzle, and fight his way through a McGuffin in order to get to where he could do such a thing. And, in order to do so, it took time. Lots of time. Over 2 billions years. Yeah, I know, but it’s Science Fantasy.

And when he is struggling through another plot puzzle to save Clara, his companion, she finds out what he had gone through to save her:

Clara gives her such a stare – turns back to the Doctor.


(Turning to the Doctor)

Four and a half billion years…


If she says so.


Why would you even do that? I was

dead already! I was dead and gone,

Doctor, and you were in hell.

Why would you do that to yourself??

On the Doctor. He just looks faintly perplexed – a frown of

almost childish puzzlement. Like he doesn’t understand why

anyone would ask that question.


I had a duty of care.

That. That right there. The whole idea encapsulated there. He didn’t understand why should would ask the question.

He had a duty of care.

THAT is what friendship means to me. I don’t toss the word around lightly or give it away on whims to people I’ve known at work for a week or two. It is a deeper connection, a belief that this other person has meaning to you and you take on a duty of care.

“People walk around today calling everyone their best friend. The term doesn’t have any real meaning anymore. Mere acquaintances are lavished with hugs and kisses upon a second or at most third meeting, birthday cards get passed around offices so everybody can scribble a snippet of sentimentality for a colleague they barely met, and everyone just loves everyone. As a result when you tell somebody you love them today, it isn’t much heard. “ – David E. Kelley

And this, the long way about, is why I don’t make friends easily. It’s not that I am broken, as I have thought all of these years. It’s that I take it seriously and why I tell the people I call my friends that they matter to me.


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