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Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Meek

3rd April 2012
Dear Cassi,

Children, at least those left unattended, can be rather cruel and my childhood friend Potato was no exception. As it stood he took his anger out on a fellow who couldn’t fight back. As Potato could only fight the meek he found a meek man to fight and so I will call this man Meek, as I have no way of contacting him to ask permission to use his name.
Meek was one of my fellow honors students and, right by the name I give him, was mellow as a lizard in the sun and soft spoken as a frightened kitten. Meek wouldn’t fight back so Potato would do his worst then I would step in and knock Potato on the ground. I was never much of a fighter, mind, and I thought this was all game.
That is the reason I never meant to hurt Potato. My only goal was to protect Meek who could not fight back. Violence of this nature was just part of life to me at the time. I would often go home to get a pummeling from Paul who, four years my senior, could put up a good fight.
Come to think of it now, I guess Potato was like Paul and I was like that father I never had. I did the natural thing and protected those who could not protect themselves.
Taking responsibilities that I have nothing to do with was always a part of my character. At eleven I was looking after the family cat, making out the shopping lists, and doing most of the house work.
So I watched out for Meek as best I could. I could have used someone to do the same for me, but as I say “Be the person you wish to meet”

Look after yourself, little sister

Richard Leland Neal  

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Short Notice

2nd April 2012
Dear Cassi,

Over the weekend I had my cook top replaced. The old one was so covered in grease that my neighbor would not even take it for scrap. He even left the gloves behind that he used to remove it from my counter. That is how dirty my home has become and I work alone to clean it because Paul is too lazy.
I feel like I’m at the bottom of a well trying to crawl out and slipping a bit every day. I find it hard to get out of bed and face these problems day in and day out. Everything I do just seems to make the problems worse.
As an added insult, I asked Paul to have a talk with my other neighbor about replacing the hood over the cook top. The old one was so bad off that I could not leave it in place as it would just get grease over the new device. Paul fulfilled my request only as the new cook top was being installed.
I jumped in my car and ran down to Home Depot to get a hood and learned that they will not stock hoods so it had to be ordered. Once more the man that helped me had little experience with the computer and I just opted to return home and use the website.
My new range hood should be here in a week or two. For this reason I have to hold off using the cook top as much as possible. Richard groans and hangs his head.

Stay safe, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Dirt Shower

1st April 2012
Dear Cassi,
My last letter brought to mind an event from my youth when I stunk. I was at Alan’s house and I didn’t like his shower. It was an old thing with smelly water and even after you got the hot water running when you switched the shower head on you got a blast of cold.
Now I was young at the time and never thought to just turn the shower on from outside the tub. Then, I was apprehensive about staying at that cockroach infested hole that the old man called home.
I wanted to go home. I wanted to go home and sleep in my bed and shower in my shower. I wanted to look out the window and not see chain link fences or broken concrete. That place in the inner city made me feel sick, and my stepmother’s cooking made me feel worse.
It was my last day there when my stepmother grabbed me by the arm and shoved me into one of the washrooms and wouldn’t let me out until I cleaned myself. As I have no recollection of being provided a towel or fresh clothes I imagine the shower freshened me for little more than half an hour. Well, I was home by the end of that day, and that made me happy.

Stay clean, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Monday, July 23, 2012

George Washinton's Fifth Rule of Civility

31st March 2012
Dear Cassi,

Today I commit to memory George Washington’s fifth rule of civility and decent behavior: “If You Cough, Sneeze, Sigh, or Yawn, do it not Loud but Privately; and Speak not in your Yawning, but put Your handkerchief or Hand before your face and turn aside.” Again this is a rule that can be taken at face value but still a rule I have broken more than a few times. Mostly in yawning.
In Washington’s time dental hygiene was less advanced and so a man’s breath was rather foul. Now days it is rude to breathe on folks because we know it spreads disease. Washington himself had one tooth left in his head and was known for short speeches as result.
I can’t imagine what his breath must have been like, but I know I would never want a person with so rotted a mouth breathing on me. I imagine that now we can add to this rule “keep your mouth clean. Brush your teeth before leaving the house, and at very least chew gum after eating.”

Stay away from stinkers, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Never Enough Beds

30th March 2012
Dear Cassi,

There are never enough beds for those with no home. When the beds fill the sad souls spill into the night. They ask for blankets but there are never enough blankets. It seems as if they fight over blankets like jackals over meat. The worn lengths of cloth have rotten and turned to stink. The maggot and fleas crawl in them but no matter how they may make us ill the street folk will still use them.

It is as the fighting buzzards and dogs who will take that last morsel of rancid carrion no matter how rank from those without the strength to defend. Blankets are given out to those who ask, but those blankets turn to dust in the rain. It is as if we wanted them to need us so we give them blankets that never last the winter when the rains come.

Each one of these soul had a mother and father. Each soul came from some place. The cries of their memories haunt the night like daemons. They come to me for help but there are so many I cannot help, so many that fall to the side. Folks wonder why I work so hard and perform my duties with such diligence.

How could anything that rightly calls itself human look at those sad faces and not work hard to bring them home? How could I look at myself in the mirror if I did not give it my all? Would I still be the Richard you know if I failed to put shoulder to and redden my face with effort at this problem?

Stay safe, little sister

Richard Leland Neal 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Jellyfish Blob Things

29th March 2012
Dear Cassi,
Of all those things so plainly lost in time one is a folder slim in contents and poorly conceived that had been made of yellow paper and laminated. The teachers had said that in life we would look back to our old ideas and bring them into new use in college.
So, they made it a point to teach us how to store ideas. I called my folder ‘Literature Goo’ and drew little jellyfish like goo things with sunglasses on the cover. In this we put our pointless yammering or poetry and hand written essays. I believe the whole thing was less than ten pages however I could be mistaken.
I have never looked back at this document and found something useful. I know I wrote a report on hummingbirds that never went in there as well as a report on venomous snakes. I can guarantee that whatever I wrote in those reports would be out of place in a modern paper.
If I had then and there become an expert on snakes and hummingbirds I still would have never again had cause to write reports about the subject. Literature Goo was no more to me than another bit of paper. The practice of writing reports was no more to me at the time than an act to fill hours as my malfunctioning brain could hardly atone to the task let alone remember it the day after.
When I got to college I would have had to ask teachers if I could use old work even if I rewrote it completely. The school considered that academic dishonestly. Then there were a few times I could use hold research so I guess the idea is not without foundation.

Grow from experience, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lucky Finger

28th March 2012
Dear Cassi,

A point I should tell you about my childhood friend Potato was that he had an obsession with his middle finger. He was a man, or rather boy, who reveled in the base nature of things. When we were in grade school he would flip off cars that passed the school yard.
When one finger was no longer enough he would use both hand in the double salute. This gave him satisfaction for a week or two then he turned to pointing is back end at cars and holding his hand in front of his rump to emphasize his gestures.
He once or twice or three or five times broke or otherwise injured that finger. Potato was always a fellow who got himself bloodied. He would joke about that finger being storage for the drugs he would do and every time he flip someone off he would get a high.
Then in the range of dumb things he did was bring a cooking knife to school one day and walk around with it for no good reason. I recall now he had taken it out and was screwing around with it and talking to a female peer.
She tripped out and told a teacher and his knife was taken away. He took another to school with him the next day only this time he kept it in his bag. He just loved to break the rules. Never having a good reason he made a lot of trouble for himself and his own.

Move with purpose, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Never a Drink

27 March 2012
Dear Cassi,
In the annuals of middle school teachers with mental issue exists a woman I will call Bigriver. I will call her this because her last name was the same as a large river. Bigriver was the teacher that instilled in her students the skewed moral values one would find in a G rated children’s film.
The speech Bigriver gave with the most pride was the one where she explained to all of her students that she had never had a drink of alcohol, other than in medicine, in her life.
I do recall Alan’s response to this as being a dirtier version of: ‘if you’ve never stuck your finger in your tailpipe maybe it never itched.’ In other words, who cares what you have left undone?
Grant you that I have never been one for the spirits. Alan’s drinking put a bad taste in my mouth for that sort of thing. However, Alan was the kind of person who drank enough to put his life in jeopardy. That means he has a problem. Bigriver thought that if you had one drink a day then you were an alcoholic.
This kind of all or nothing thinking leads to a system fail soon or later. Turtle Nose was a fellow who would take no drink for much of his life but when he lost his faith he became a roaring drunk.
Bigriver was the kind of person who never gave up on those worm fuzzy ideas that lived in Saturday morning cartoons. She was the kind of person who never grew up trying to get all of us to stay children forever. She failed

Stay safe, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dog Wrangler

26th March 2012
Dear Cassi,

Yesterday I had my first film shoot with Lee. It was more or less what I expected. I divided my time between working the Boom Microphone and occupying Lee’s dog Torque who is a large, lethargic animal with a bad itching problem.
The dog had scratched a wound into his right ear, and I kept trying to keep him from making it worse. The dog had what look like lesions from Uric acid build up on his legs. These are big red growths that look kind of like living scabs. That and the fact that the thing pawed at his male bit tells me that he probably has a kidney problem.
I gave Lee an anti-itching spray that I had for Gus when he had the skin fungus. The spray did very little for my dog but then Torque doesn’t have a fungus. The big dog looked at me with his pink rimmed eyes and I felt sorry that they were little I could do for him.
Other than that, I see that Lee is one for the longer takes. This is something I will have to see before I can argue with. Truly, I would have cut a few of those shots up and came closer to the actors to add focus and suspense. Then, I was not directing these pieces so the director likely found what she was looking for in her footage.
I kept my mouth shut with most of this and with some effort as I had strong opinions of how some of these things should play out. I kept having to remind myself that this was not my work to direct. Not that any of my suggestions where met with hostility. Still, a snake with too many heads will bite its own ass.

Stay safe, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sober Moments

25th March 2012
Dear Cassi,

It is true that I should have moved on from this part of my life. However, the memories of my mother’s death slowly creep back in my head like ghosts haunting a ruin. Maybe I haven’t gotten of it yet or perhaps I’m avoiding the more painful memories that lie beyond.

In the sober moments of my life memories cut at me like bits of class on naked feet. These are the ones I save for a later date. I know that one day soon I will have to speak of them but when I try my jaw titans and my hands shake.

Shortly after my mother died I was asked to draw a picture of my family with crayons. When I was done I had to tell the therapist who was in my drawing. I have a dim memory of folks who had failed to arrive at my mother’s funeral. There were the closer relations and such. Then the therapist mentioned that I had failed to draw my brother. 

He was as missing as the brotherly love that should have passed between us. He was missing like the compassion they should have felt for me. Even as a ten year old there was some part of my mind that knew the truth.

When my omission was pointed out I offered to add Missing into the drawing, but I was told it was all right. The joke was on me, however, because all of those figures would fade. The idea of these folks as family would become so detestable to me that I would have drawn none of the folks in that image other than my mother.

Now I would include you, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Saturday, July 14, 2012

George Washington’s Fourth Rule “Humm Not”

24th March 2012
Dear Cassi,

Today I commit to memory George Washington’s fourth rule of civil conduct: “In the Presence of Others Sing not to yourself with a humming Noise, nor Drum with your Fingers or Feet.” This rule is again a simple one to understand. It means don’t make noises that bother others.
This includes the aforementioned but also would cover cracking your knuckles and the like. I know this bothers some people and apparently it is also considered rude. Well, one should probably keep from doing those things to avoid rudeness.
This would be akin to walking into a movie theater with your cell phone on. We all know how annoying that can be. Moreover, any of those actions would imply that you are not giving the party your full attention. This too would be rude.
So another way of saying this would be ‘when in company offer no distraction to yourself and be attentive to those around you.’ The actions of a man alone are not the actions of a man in company. After all, we wash ourselves with the door shut for good reason.

Stay safe, little sister

Richard Leland Neal
Also updating today!
Random Street Theater a Comic

Friday, July 13, 2012

Working on the Weekend

23rd March 2012
Dear Cassi,

The weekend looms before me like a beast ready to give fight as I know the work set out for me by life. My old computer needs an upgrade so getting things in order before I turn the system off for good will be no easy task. To add to this I will be filming my first short with Lee this weekend and I have little understanding of what to expect.
For getting things ready for the new system I need to update by comics and blogs in advance. At best the system will be down for a day or two at worst it will take weeks to find all my program disks and get the whole thing running again. I should have a good idea where all that is but in the wreckage that his my home who knows?
If only it were so simple as to start at one corner and work my way to the other but in the flood of bits and pieces finding what I need is impossible. If I were to stretch it all out over a football field or gymnasium I could spend years sorting through the scraps to bring it all together.
Then that is the plan, take it on bit by bit and slowly where away. Sadly, I haven’t the time for that so my hope is to take it on mound by mound and have it all done in a week.
I’m kidding myself but who doesn’t do that from time to time. I’ve had this problem for years and the most likely scenario is that I will have it for years more.

Keep up with life, little sister

Richard Leland Neal
Also updating today!

Random Street Theater a Comic

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Honors Student

22nd March 2012
Dear Cassi,
There is a bit of business that happened in middle school that would be a major shaping agent for the next six years of my life. Up until the age of eleven I was classified as learning disabled. Understand here that schools get more funding for the learning disabled so they have no interest in curing this problem.
Now it just so happens that the school also gets money for the honors students and that one can be both. This contradiction is most perplexing given that a student must have problems to be learning disabled and yet must be more capable than average to be in honors.
So they tested me for honors aptitude. I went into one of the buildings with a math teacher who had these blue eyes that darted about the room as if he were on drugs. They gave me an English test. What the math teacher was doing there I cannot say but they gave me a set of pictures and told me to write a story.
When I was done they explained to me that I would be graded on how many long words I used. I think this was words over seven letters however I cannot recall. As the written word and I had never gotten on well I had written my story in the smaller words I was better with and so had scored poorly.

Then they saw the word ‘jalopy’ in my story and decided to count it even as it was one letter short. That day I became an honors man and the school put a few more dollars in their budget. I only made it through honors classes because they gave me special consideration.

Still the truth in this regard is that my learning disorder was like a broken bone that had healed wrong. The problem progressed only because it was never looked after and I suffered so that they could make a few extra dollars.

Hear the roar of the all mighty dollar, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Also updating today!

Random Street Theater a Comic

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


21st March 2012
Dear Cassi,
Today I saw the mental health counselor. It was a good lot of work over getting a simple prescription refilled but it had to be done. I slept a few hours of my morning and made haste to see this fellow who would give me leave to see the doctor.
It is a formality with my medical provider that I must first see a Counselor or Psychologist before I can see a Psychiatrist. This being that the first two are Master Arts or Philosophical Doctor rather than Medical Doctor and are without the ability to grant my prescription.
In all truth, I have no resentment to this formality because of how important it is for most folks. A psychiatric medication is like a crutch that we use to help the mind heal and in said healing that crutch should one day be discarded. Thus, we may think of the Counselor as we would think of a Physical Therapist. The Counselor is there to make the bits of us that do not work do as they should.    
By the nature of our interview I told the Counselor of my intention to use the medication to quash my ill feeling as I conduct systematic desensitization. He told me that he was surprised that I was so functional a man given my history and the stresses of my life. I imagine, had he read about me and not seen me, that he would have expected a drooling idiot rather than a man.
He told me that I appeared to be a rather nice person. I have never claimed that to be true but I got the feeling he meant something else. In any case, he cleared me to see the doctor and that is what he was there for so I must concede his usefulness.

Stay safe, little sister,

Richard Leland Neal 

Also updating today!
Random Street Theater a Comic

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cook Top

20th March 2012
Dear Cassi,

Today I ordered a new cook top. What a cook top is as opposed to a stove I have less than total certainty but I needed a 36 inch one. I do believe that a cooker or stove is the one with the oven and the stand along heat transfer cooking device is what I needed.
The old one, which is now barely visible under the stains, has one dead burner and gives off uneven fire from the heads. It can no longer brown food so I rather had to replace it in good time. In the last six months I’ve done away with my old washer, drier, dishwasher, refrigerator, and oven. This was the last piece to go, I hope, and the expense has been rather staggering.
Well, Paul pays for a good bit of this because I do the cooking. Grown folks should be able to cook on their own but he can never get it right. Still the hope is that with the new device I can get more heat in the pans and scorch and singe at my leisure. With the old cook top I cook and cook but can’t get the heat high enough to crisp the edges of my vegetables.
One would think that blue fire is blue fire so that it would just take a hair longer to heat but no. The gas just didn’t want to come out the lines on this old thing. So I should have the new one by the end of the month. Sometimes it’s just time to let go.

Stay safe, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Also updating today!

Random Street Theater a Comic

Monday, July 9, 2012


19th March 2012
Dear Cassi,

Today was one of those days when you get a kick in the teeth. My director informed me that his actress for the shoot this weekend is occupied during the day and as the new version of the script requires daylight we are out of luck.
I fear the script is too personal for this fellow to change so even after the expenditure and the work this project is put on hold. The worst of this is that it now cannot make deadline for the contest in intended it to enter. A half million dollars and we will never take our shot at so much a prize. Watching so great an opportunity evaporate like quicksilver is painful. I am no stranger to this hollow feeling but it still stings.
The world has no sympathy for folks like I who hustle and bustle about in the oddest way. What I will find in this wondering I cannot say nor wish I to as yet know for I will find the product to be unworthy of the walking and then would just stay home.
What I need is an ambling of sorts, but where to amble to I do know not. All I know is that I have a need for this movement.

Never get stagnant, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Also updating today!
Random Street Theater a Comic

Jonny American a webcomic

Sunday, July 8, 2012


a photograph of one of my hot friends 

Working with Culture

Richard Leland Neal
Psych 601
Assignment 1
In this interview Dr. Sanders-Thompson discusses multicultural competence, the skills necessary for competence and how they may be acquired and what makes this important. In a two-page paper discuss what this means to you, areas in or populations with which you feel you currently are competent, and what you still need to develop.

A major point to address when examining diversity is that the opposite of worldliness is ignorance and ignorant people make poor mental health professionals. The occasion where a professional is working with a homogenous client population is in itself an oddity. Were as we may often deal with a vastly naturalized population, those who have a strong command of our language, are aware of social taboos, and function in ways that we can easily understand, an understanding of other cultures can still be a useful tool in working with clients.   

An important point to remember is that every culture has met the needs of the people in a unique way.  Asian cultures often have a number of mental health tradition and cultural practices that date back some time. In addition, the Asian cultures are known for forms of exercise that involve less equipment. I once worked with a man who claimed that the Japanese art of origami originated from the destruction of property in flooding. When working with poor clients a clinician may find useful living tips when examining Japanese culture. A poor family could make toys for their children out of junk mail if a few lessons from the Japanese were learned. A knowledge of cultural diversity may serve the clinician and client even if this knowledge appears unrelated.

Clients with a culture heritage of weak currency, like immigrants from Mexico, often prefer to keep their funds in material objects or use money as it comes in because in antiquity saving was useless. Cultures with a strong survive and subsist background will have lower grades, more children per household. They may be trapped in poverty as much by tradition as economy.

As a general note, whenever I work with a client from another culture I often find something in my mental storeroom that connects me to that culture. I once had a client who had a strong tie to her native African roots. I knew nothing of her own tribe but a few facts about other tribes and the expressing of my knowledge earned me a good deal of respect.

As a general point I have always preferred to get my information on culture directly from the people of the culture. Whenever I come across someone from a different background I try to pick their brain. They often have a few interesting anecdotes about their experiences in my culture. Second to that has always been documentaries. This gives a view of real life. Film and other forms of media may show characters or action that are culturally significant but that I fail to grasp. Much like showing a character biting the end off a cigar is a sign of lack of refinement and dignity in our own culture.  Few Americans would know that in the modern day and one could come across something like that in the film of another culture and not know.

The largest weak spot in my own knowledge is my vocabulary in Spanish. I have been told that I speak it like a native but I know too few words to communicate.

In more specific circumstances, clients who have less acculturation may be put at ease by even a small gesture from there experiences.