Tuesday 23 March 2021

Online counselling service for people with mental health issues

LBL Charitable Foundation is a charity that provides counselling services to people in the broader community who are having mental health problems. With 50 staff across Australia – in South Australia as well as Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne – LBL Philanthropy offers clients counselling via Skype, Zoom, or Teams depending on beneficiary needs. The organisation can also, if required, do counselling via telephone. 

They deliver services in multiple languages. 

“We have over 30 beneficiaries per week,” Lily B. Luong told me in December last year via email. They hope to be soon operating in 14 Asian countries, taking over 14 beneficiaries per country.

LBL Charitable Foundation finds people direct and also takes referrals from other charities. “We find most beneficiaries through other charities,” Lily told me.

“I describe myself as ambitious, driven and helpful,” she told me in an email. “I have volunteered and worked for a number of [not-for-profit] organizations, with a passion to heal people both mentally and emotionally.”

Her mother lives with a mental illness, so it is personal for Lily.

“I have a mother that suffers from mental illness and poverty so I understand the hardship and pain. Thus, I started LBL Philanthropy to reach out to millions and millions of people.”

“My mother suffers from depression and delusional disorder. She is still capable of looking after herself and is on medication so she doesn’t show too many signs of hallucination. She is mainly withdrawn, has sleep difficulties, and is moody. She does have paranoid thoughts then acts in an unusual way.”

Lily also had a friend who committed suicide aged 18. “This experience makes me feel more motivated to help those suffering from a mental illness or who lose a loved one due to suicide.”

LBL Charitable Foundation reports to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. They raise funds from government as well as through donations and Lily is the only paid member of staff. All the rest are volunteers, who mainly offer to commit time to the organisation in order to gain experience to find paid jobs. “I have students volunteering to gain practical experience in teaching and counselling. We mainly do phone screening first then [face-to-face] interviews or Zoom [meetings] to find the right people. Qualifications are important mainly for counselling and teaching roles.” 

LBL Charitable Foundation is also looking for mentors. “We mainly find people who will act as good role models,” Lily told me.

Children living in rural areas mainly around Asia Pacific regions with lack of food and clean water are a priority, says Lily. “Children with a mental illness both overseas and in Australia are a growing concern so we try to aid them ASAP.”

LBL Charitable Foundation is setting up an emergency relief service. “We provide funding for low- and no-income families so they can use it to buy food and pay bills etcetera. There are certain criteria, for example you are unemployed or on Centrelink [benefits].”

A technology support program they are setting up aims to provide children and young people with laptops and computers to enable them to avail themselves of online counselling as well as use mentoring and teaching services. “I am trying to cooperate with tech companies to see if they are willing to donate computers and laptops to help people.” 

Lily says the government is not as important in her area of expertise as charities. “I think large charities such as Beyond Blue or Wesley Mission are doing much more than the government. We look to large charities hoping that one day we will be as successful as them.” 

LBL Charitable Foundation’s counselling and mentoring services can help the homeless improve their living conditions. “I don’t think homelessness is just about not having anything tangible such as money or a house. It is also an emotional trauma to be homeless so healing people through counselling and mentoring is just as good as giving them money.”

If you would like to volunteer to be a part of the LBL Charitable Foundation team, or if you’d like to donate equipment or money, or be a mentor, counsellor, or teacher you can contact LBL Charitable Foundation on www.lblcharitablefoundation.org.

Monday 22 March 2021

Take two: ‘Eighteenth-Century Europe: Tradition and Progress (1715 to 1789),’ Isser Woloch and Gregory S. Brown

For full review, see my Patreon

If you want to snaffle this book from my palsied clutches, leave a comment with your email address and we’ll discuss the addition of a charge for postage. I think $10 is a fair price for the book itself. A scholarly but engrossing survey of more narrow histories, it covers a period of time that – going by the number of times woke IT drones use the word “Enlightenment” – continues to press upon the collective consciousness. Downsides: slavery, game laws, relatively high infant mortality. Upside: flourishing print culture and longer life expectancy. Begins and ends with war but there’s a lot more to it than conflict and the conflict that there is, is conveyed using sophisticated ideas about popular narratives that played into what people thought were their “rights”.

Sunday 21 March 2021

TV review: Death in Paradise series 9 episode 7 (‘Death in the Salon’), BBC (2020)

This was the first episode of the show I’ve seen having the new detective inspector (Neville Parker, played by Ralf Little). Difficult to get traction with a new main cast member, but the makers of this show have done a good job because Parker is both quintessentially normal and irritatingly different from the previous exponents in the role.

Parker is always to be seen putting on or taking off a backpack, though what is in it is not always clear. He uses a digital voice recorder to take notes while investigating on-site, so presumably keeps this device in the carry-all. Along with insect repellent. DS Madeleine Dumas (Aude Legastelois) repeatedly teases Parker on account of his allergies, adding opportunities for humour to the script.

This episode contains elements of pathos, for example in the youthful misdeeds of one of the accused, Georgine Perault (Ellen Thomas). Her sister Eleanore Beaumont (Doña Croll) is murdered while sitting under a dryer in a hair dressing salon. Eleanore owns the salon but Georgine’s two daughters – Kiki and Cynthia Perault (Rochelle Rose and Kiké Brimah) – are working that day. They were doing Eleanore’s hair for the occasion of Cynthia’s wedding. 

Who stabbed Eleanore? Early suspicions surround Georgine on account of her having had both children raised by Eleanore, but Parker is not satisfied with the reasoning behind such an accusation. As usual, the plot turns on a memory – in this case Parker recalling something that had happened on a different case, when he worked in England – but more demanding from the viewer’s point of view is Officer Ruby Patterson’s (Shyko Amos) indiscretion, which forces her uncle, Commissioner Selwyn Patterson (Don Warrington), to take her off the case.

Naturally everything turns out ideally. But the poetry is in the gentle humour deployed by the filmmakers as they negotiate the echoes of colonialism. In this episode, for example, Commissioner Patterson is put in a difficult position due to the poor conduct of his relative. What he does in the case is instructive. By standing Ruby down, the commissioner raises himself up in our esteem. The situation is not overly dramatic – typical of this low-toned creation – but within the mundane confines of the narrative locus the tremors are felt everywhere, even in the mind of Ruby’s colleague, Officer J.P. Hooper (Tobi Bakare) who, as usual, delivers a strong performance.

I like how the filmmakers poke fun at authority – Commissioner Patterson with his stuffy persona, Parker with his ridiculous physical aversion to his surroundings – while at the same time raising real issues. The real sisterly affection at the heart of this episode is tested by the inclusion of unfaithfulness and prejudice as plot devices. Not only does Kiki betray Cynthia, but Eleanor betrays Georgine as well. Similar bonds of affection unite J.P. and Ruby and in the untying of one set of threads the filmmakers put a strain – in the viewer’s mind – on the other. 

A masterful production that seems never to get old, ‘Death in Paradise’ survives by simply replacing an inspector, a sergeant, or a constable. The creative minds behind the enterprise give themselves license to take liberties with themes that truly bedevil people living in the community. Because of its broad appeal, the show actually engages with members of many different communities.

Saturday 20 March 2021

TV review: Vera, series 6 episode 4 (‘The Sea Glass’), ITV (2016)

This image shows a confrontation early on in the piece between Lee Stonnall (Philip Hill-Pearson), a young fisherman, and DC Hicham Cheradi (Noof Ousellam). Hill-Pearson adds a good deal of tension into this excellent episode. He’s a cracker, always it seems on the edge of breaking out in violence.

Quick with his fists and used to working with knives, Lee stands in decisive contrast to the deceased, Tommy Stonnall, his father, who was, by all accounts, a careful and sensitive man. Ousellam is not the only place where migrants come into the frame in this episode, there’s also Zahra Suleiman (Yusra Warsama), a young mother who’s determined to make a better life for her son.

Vera (Brenda Blethyn) and Aiden (Kenny Doughty) must discover who killed Tommy, and Lee is not the only family member who becomes more and more deeply involved in the case as the investigative team devote time into its resolution. Vera strikes up a brief and productive friendship with Frank McAffee (David Calder), the harbourmaster, and sparks fly when she talks with Michael Quinn (Alex Ferns), a fisherman who she suspects of smuggling, and Jay and Ellie Connock (Mark Stobbart and Claire Rafferty), who run a fish wholesale business on the docks.

As usual though the real drama takes place in the quiet places. When McAffee takes Vera out on his tender to locate the exact spot the body was found, she gets him to drop her off at a headland where a red van contains evidence of foul play. This remote spot visible from the boat only as a green smudge on the horizon – at least at first – turns out to contain pointers to other clues to the events Vera and her team are investigating. 

I was deeply moved by the scripting of this episode, which goes some way toward addressing the issue of racism, though Vera is as tough on Hicham as she is on Kenny (Jon Morrison) in other episodes of this show. ‘Vera’ thus sets the tone for public debate where people take the time to watch, and in Vera orphans and widows find a tolerant confessor – something like a latter-day village priest with whom the beleaguered soul can enter into a kind of secular communion without the ceremonial trappings of religious devotion to get in the way.

Thursday 11 March 2021

Take two: ‘Canadian Short Stories in English,’ ed. Margaret Atwood and Robert Weaver

For full review, see my Patreon.

An engrossing read somewhat spoiled by a conflicted sense of superiority, one no doubt resulting from the fact that Canadians are always mistaken for Americans. Alice Munro’s unpleasantly patronising tone with regard to Australia sits uneasily alongside the post-war sneer of Timothy Findley’s ‘The Duel in Cluny Park’ – which is arguably the better product. Despite a few hiccups, the quality is pretty solid throughout, so worth a read if you have time to spare for a bit of culture-surfing. What makes a Canadian? Some clues lie within.

Wednesday 3 March 2021

Tweeting better stories, episode three: February 2021

Wanting to find a lighter-hearted way I offer readers this third post in a series.

The following tweet appeared at 8.04pm on 6 February. 

Who indeed? Might anyone care? It’s funny to imagine how people get excited about obscure facts that can have little to do with how their lives are lived each day, in a job somewhere doing boring things in a stable routine. Perhaps it is the contrast between the existential dilemma of the routine and the fantastic escape offered – for a moment, or an hour – by the hobby they nurture. We crave freedom and it comes in many forms.

The following appeared at 2.06am on 10 February. CAD monkey handle is @bhrarchinerd and the account being tweeted is @presentcorrect.

It came with this image. I worked for companies in the 80s and 90s that made control systems and products, and my father was also a controls engineer. So I have some history with this type of equipment. Control rooms are locations in industrial plants and in commercial and government buildings where staff work during daylight and dark.

This appeared in my timeline at 7.47pm on 16 February:

What struck me with this was the sheer number of hashtags as well as the idea that any of these speech anchors could allow the person sending out the post to connect with other, like-minded individuals. It just proves that there’s an entire community of people out there in the ether who might tune into #99cents – but what on earth does it mean?!

On 18 February at 7.39am the following appeared in my socials.


Apologies for the topicality of this, as I had on an earlier occasion promised to avoid things related to politics – but this tweet, which appeared in my feed at 7.36am on 2 February, was too good to avoid on account of a mere editorial policy.

The translation of this goes: “A woman did her aerobics class without realizing that the coup was taking place in Myanmar. And well she can be seen as the military convoy reaches the parliament.”

Plants and animals

At 8.46am on 5 February the following appeared. Bill’s Twitter handle is @Billablog.

At 6.08am on 8 February the following appeared. It was a video of a leopard snuggling up to a human.

On 22 February at 2.53pm the following appeared in my socials. This car is being snuggled up to in a very determined manner. By a tree!

The following, enigmatic tweet was seen at 4.55pm on 4 February. (Smuggling, here, not snuggling.)

On 12 February at 7.01am this appeared in my timeline:

Here’s the image in full:

Stalkers or voyeurs

@rpkclyhrk73 tweeted on 9 February at 8pm, “When I saw him, he was also watching me:”

The following tweet appeared in my timeline at 7.14am on 16 February:

Here’s this person’s profile:

On 25 February at 5.54am the following appeared in my socials.


I saw a surprising number of erotic posts on Twitter this month, starting with this one, which appeared in my feed on 3 February at 1.11pm. This person’s Twitter handle is @alexmmm.

It came with this image.

The following tweet appeared at 7.48pm on 9 February.

It came with this image:

On 13 February at 7.36pm the following appeared in my timeline:

And on 15 February at 2.06pm this appeared:


On a related note, the following tweet appeared in my feed at 5.25am on 7 February.

The translation is, as follows.
I just saw #Pieles on @NetflixES, @ educasanova12’s debut, produced by @alexdelaIglesia. The film captures the lives of different people with deformities. I must admit that it is both original and profound. It's special!
Then there were the erotic fanfic tweets, starting with this one, which appeared at 6.12am on 8 February. The handle for this use is @Mehsi_Hime. Like the other ones in this section, the imagery is completely artificial and designed to titillate, whereas the previous image had been honest and open. The striking difference emphasised by the fact that, on the one hand, photography was the medium and, on the other, illustration – a more flexible and malleable medium.

It came with this image.

At 9.21am on 9 February appeared this one. This person has the following handle: @ArtOyasumi.

The tweet came with this image.

At 5.08am on 10 February appeared this one. This was also put in the feed by @Mehsi_Hime.

It came with this image.

Monday 1 March 2021

Grocery shopping list for February 2021

This post is the twenty-sixth in a series and the fifth to chronicle diets. This month a friend moved in, so shopping involved more than one person.

2 February

Morning weigh-in had me at 98.5kg. Later, went to the IGA and bought (see receipt below) canola oil, mayonnaise, thousand island dressing, a piece of steak, mushrooms, a lettuce, a block of Bega cheese, taramosalata, and some mozzarella.

3 February

Had to pick up mail so went to Broadway Shopping Centre and at Coles bought (see receipt below) lamb chops, eye fillet steak, barramundi fillets, salmon fillets, a blue grenadier fillet, two smoked cod fillets, marinaded goat’s cheese, tomatoes, strawberries, an avocado, some comte cheese, and low-carb snacks.

5 February

Morning weigh-in had me at 98.4kg. In the evening went to the Campos Coffee website and bought the following:

6 February

Morning weigh-in had me at 97.6kg. Went back to the Campos website and changed my delivery address to be my post office box, instead of my home. I did this before 10am so hoped – the order “processing” at the time I logged in – my change’d take effect by the time they parcelled up the bags.

8 February

Got an email from Australia Post regarding delivery of the coffee and it had a destination post code for my home area so I phoned Campos and got onto an operator who said she was just finishing up for the day. She asked for my order number but I said I’d received no confirmation email from the company.

She used my surname to search, told me to give her my post office box address and that she’d see if the package had been sent yet, promising to call me the following day.

My week's calorie count was, as follows:

The activity chart was:

The macronutrient chart was:

This week I ate an average of 31.1g of carbs per day.

9 February

The operator didn’t call from Campos this morning but in the afternoon I received an email from Australia Post about the parcel (see below). This email showed – by the post code used in its body – that the company had actuated the change requested in the previous day’s telephone call.

I also went to Coles and bought (see receipt below) sliced ham, sliced mortadella, strawberries, mushrooms, a capsicum, an avocado, low-carb bread, and low-carb snacks.

10 February

Morning weigh-in had me at 97.4kg. Later, went to IGA and bought (see receipt below) mini chicken drumsticks, chicken wings, a lettuce, apples, and milk.

13 February

Morning weigh-in had me at 96.8kg. Later, went to IGA and bought (see receipt below) a melon, tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, eggs, fillet steak, nori, an iceberg lettuce, peaches, oranges, and chargrilled capsicums.

14 February

Morning weigh-in had me at 97.4kg. Later, went to IGA and bought hummus, taramosalata, and milk.
Here’s the weekly calorie count:

The week’s activity chart:

And the week’s macronutrient chart:

In the week just past I consumed an average of 40.5g of carbs per day.

18 February

Morning weigh-in had me at 96.5kg. Later, went to IGA and bought lamb chops, lamb cutlets, lettuce, sliced pastrami, turkey breast slices, capsicums, mushrooms, gouda cheese, blue cheese, Jarlsberg cheese, bread, and carrot cake. Popped in at Chemist Warehouse to get mouthwash. Receipts below.

19 February

Morning weigh-in had me at 96.6kg. Later, went to Broadway Shopping Centre and at Coles bought (see receipt below) lamb chops, tuna steaks, barramundi fillets, an avocado, strawberries, blueberries, marinaded goat’s cheese, milk, low-carb bread, and low-carb snacks.

21 February

Morning weigh-in had me at 96.2kg. Later, went to IGA and bought laundry detergent, soap, kitchen wipes, garbage bags, a lettuce, nectarines, apples, tomatoes, tea, mushrooms, and low-carb snacks. My friend went to Woolworths at the same time and bought prawns, garlic, broccoli, a lettuce, chillies, oranges, watermelon, ginger, grapes, blackberries, and a cake. See receipts below.

The week’s calorie count was, as follows:

The activity chart was, as follows:

And the macronutrient chart was like this:

The past week I ate an average of 37.7g of carbs per day.

22 February

Morning weigh-in had me at 95.9kg. Later, went to Mascot and at the butcher’s bought lamb chops, pork chops, eye fillet steak, and pork ribs. Also, at the IGA, bought kitchen paper towels, tofu, crackers, a piece of chocolate cake, taramosalata, and egg noodles. See receipts below.

23 February

Morning weigh-in had me at 96.2kg. Later, went to the IGA and bought an avocado, toilet cleaner, and eggs.

25 February

Went to Woollies at Wolli Creek and bought (see receipt below) chicken wings, snapper fillets, prawns, onions, grapes, chillies, tomatoes, Chinese cabbage, mushrooms, soy sauce, truffle cheddar cheese, Margaret River cheddar cheese, and carrots.

28 February

Morning weigh-in had me at 95.8kg. Later, my friend went to the Chemist Warehouse and bought some laundry liquid.

Week’s calorie count looked like this:

Activity chart was, as follows:

Macronutrient chart was, as follows:

This week I ate an average of 45.7g of carbs per day.