Ocean travel without a boat

Journal of Peter Greenwell

Month: Dec 2015

J Robert King – Carnival of Fear

Carnival of Fear (Ravenloft, #6)Carnival of Fear by J. Robert King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

More of a 4.25 out of 5 but marked down a tad for routine characterisations.

What a pleasant little surprise this was. Of the six Ravenloft books I’ve read, this one was the icing on the cake so far, just edging out the first in the series . Of all of them, this is the one that actually delivered dark Gothic horror the best.

This is an effectively and chillingly nasty book, peopled with ugly characters (if a touch wooden) and a very ugly and unpleasant setting.

Some genuinely horrific things go on in this book, and that my friends, is what Ravenloft is meant to be about, no? The previous five books in this series flirted with the concept, sometimes dipped their toes into it, but this book is completely doused and drowned in it.

It’s not classic literature by any means, but it’s darkly entertaining and fast paced. Well done.

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Sad Lovers and Giants – Epic Garden Music

This English band flew under nearly everyone’s radar, which of course is an abysmal shame. This debut record of theirs, which I’ve only discovered in the last year, is a delightful surprise to an old post-punk/new wave fan such as myself. First, a word on the track listing. The original LP which appeared in 1981 contained eight songs and began with Echoplay.

The re-release, which I’ve been listening to almost religiously on Spotify, has seven more tracks, which are affixed to the beginning, and this is the version that Allmusic.com has reviewed here. And what seven glorious tracks they are. It begins with the transcendent Imagination which is frankly, one of the best things I’ve heard. Chiming keyboards, a steady beat, accusatory yet wistful lyrics sung in a clear tenor. Imagination was re-recorded for their next record and that version is slightly different, just a little less driving.

Of our starting new seven, When I See You and Things We Never Did are just brilliant, especially the latter with its saxophone. Colourless Dream and Lost in a Moment aren’t that far behind either.

Echoplay, Clocktower Lodge and Clint are shatteringly brilliant tracks, notably the last with its piping keyboards and the album closer Far From the Sea ends things on a vibrantly eerie note.

Really, this is post-punk at its most playful and melodic. There’s doom and gloom here, mostly in the lyrics, but it’s wrapped in such sparkling music, it hands it to you gently, velvet gloved.

A wonderful record.

epic garden music

The sociology of rural mental health

An essay I did for uni

The first paper was published in the journal Advances in Mental Health in January 2015, and the lead writer is Rebecca Barton, a researcher in psychological issues at the University of Sydney (Barton et al. 2015). There are four other authors listed.

This paper addresses the problem of mental health in a rural and remote perspective, and in particular, the differences between people in urban and rural environments. The paper argues that men in remote and rural locations suffer higher rates of mental health issues than in urban areas whereas there are no discernible differences in women. In addition, the paper comments on the lack of data assessed for people living in remote or rural areas vis-à-vis those in urban areas and suggests that the rates of mental health and psychosocial issues are much higher than what is currently published.

The main point the authors make is that data is insufficient in the rural and remote areas of Australia for mental health issues. They suggest that there has been a preponderance of research conducted in urban settings and that the seriousness of mental health issues in rural and remote areas is underestimated. They further suggest that alcohol and drug abuse in these regions are higher than in urban areas due a combination of remoteness and lack of access to care.

The authors reported on a literature survey conducted by the Audit of Disability Research in Australia between 2000 and 2013. This survey was able to draw the conclusion that mental health issues in remote and regional areas are misrepresented and under-reported. This conclusion was derived by graphing the data received from all areas statistically and analysing the output. They further found that the target groups of the audit, namely women and Indigenous Australians lacked “any significant focus” (Barton et al. 2015 p.38) when it came to much of the data.

While this audit was being undertaken, the federal government introduced the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The authors suggest that the NDIS will assist in providing new and improved services to regional and remote Australia, as it will replace a number of state-based and non-profit based organisations and schemes. One issue the authors found while investigating the audit was the differing nomenclature and terms used to describe various mental health issues and the people who suffer them. They further suggest that the unity provided by the NDIS will remove any barriers and impediments created by the use of differing and sometimes contradictory terms.

The second paper was published in the journal Police Practice and Research in August 2010 and the author is Katrina Clifford, a PhD candidate at the University of Canberra.

The first essential issue that this paper addresses is since the general closure of mental health institutions throughout Australia, there has been an increase in the arrest and incarceration of people with mental health issues (Clifford 2010). The paper then deals with the subject of police and the methods employed by them to handle subjects with mental health ailments. There is discussion that general duties police officers have little or no training with which to deal with people who have mental health problems.

The author cites research that 20% of the Australian public in 2007 have a mental disorder of some nature (Australian Bureau of Statistics, cited in Clifford 2010) and since the deinstitutionalisation of the mentally ill, the public health sector and the police have had additional burdens placed upon them. There is also discussion that the various police forces in Australia are not institutionally equipped to deal with people with mental health issues.

In the paper, the author has compiled research from different areas including other refereed journals, government publications and reports, and police reports. This research has been collated to give a comprehensive overview of the mental health issues modern Australians are facing and the police and governmental responses to the issues. The paper takes a somewhat bleak view in that there are a myriad of shortcomings and bureaucratic obstacles to achieving a universal approach to mental health, particularly as dealt with by the various police forces of Australia.

The author has presented Australian police forces as generally being reluctant to be at the front-line of mental health primary intervention. The paper also discusses a number of fatal incidents where police responded to violent people with mental health issues. In spite of the reluctance of police, the paper suggests that there is a widespread cross-jurisdiction training regime in place which endeavours to teach police the rudiments of mental health education, and how to approach affected people in crisis situations, and although there is a pessimistic view throughout the paper that enough has not been done yet, the author lauds positive and proactive steps taken by police authorities to date.


Barton, R, Robinson, T, Llewellyn, G, Thorncraft, K & Smidt, A 2015, ‘Rural and remote perspectives on disability and mental health research in Australia: 2000–2013’, Advances in Mental Health, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 30–42

Clifford, K 2010, ‘The thin blue line of mental health in Australia’, Police Practice and Research, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 355-370

Cabarita Beach Geology Report

A report I did for university back in 2012


A field trip was undertaken to Cabarita Beach, New South Wales on 27 March 2012. Cabarita Beach is a small Pacific Ocean seaside settlement on the north coast of New South Wales located at 28°33’S 153°57’E (GeoHack, n.d). It is administratively part of the Tweed Shire and the nearest large town is Murwillumbah, approximately 20 kilometres to the west. The town is known as Bogangar on some maps (Google Maps, n.d).

The area of study consists of a variety of rock faces and types. There is lot of layering from different turbidite deposits and many of the rocks show dipping and tilting. Others show extensive faulting and folding with a variety of cracks and joints. An outcropping farther down the study area depicts contact metamorphism with quartz that has altered to quartzite and mudstone to slate and phyllite. The action of hydrothermal fluids has created intrusive quartz veins and oxidation at this area. At site six there was an extensive field of cobbles and pebbles, fractured off the parent rock.

Site Descriptions

Site One

This site has exposed rock with very evident layering of alternating mudstone and sandstone. This was laid down during the Carboniferous Period approximately 300 million years ago (Cabarita Beach Field Notes, 2012). The individual bands or layers can be seen clearly in Figure 1.

figure one

Figure 1. Sedimentary rock showing alternating layers of mudstone and sandstone.

These rocks were originally sea beds, composed of successive layers of sediment that were deposited by turbidite currents over a period of many millions of years. There is also a flame structure or injection structure at this site, where one layer of sediment was sucked or forced upward into the next layer to form an intrusion (Whitten, 1986). There were also significant rip-up clasts at this site, where pieces of intrusive stone have freely moved into a higher layer and become embedded. The dip of Figure 1 was approximately 60°E and the strike was approximately 80°N. Note that these are best guess figures as there was no access to a compass.

Site Two

Site two was an outcropping farther south of the first site. The main feature of interest here was the faulting in the rock. There was an extension or stretching along the fault plane here, which was the primary cause of the fault (Answers to Blackboard Questions, 2012). There is a great offset between the lower layers than the upper layers of the fault. Figure 2 shows the faulting and the sliding of the planes of rock against each other.

figure two

Figure 2. The large fault at site two.

There is also some contact metamorphism at this site, where the sedimentary materials, such as mudstone and sandstone have altered into slate. However, as was stated in the Answers to Blackboard Questions (2012), the metamorphism was not enough to alter the rocks into strongly metamorphosed material.

Site Three

Site three was a near-vertical slate and quartzite rock face that contained a number of faults and prominent dykes. The primary material of the dykes was phenocryst-containing basalt (Answers to Blackboard Questions, 2012). It was noted the dyke in Figure 3 below was lined with a layer of hornfels. Hornfels is a metamorphic rock that was created from sandstone by contact metamorphism when the dyke was formed. This process is called induration (Whitten, 1986). Basalt is an igneous rock that is mafic and extrusive by origin (Smith & Pun, 2010). Activity of the Chillingham volcanics in the Early Miocene period are the most likely origin of this basalt. So it can be assumed that the heat of the magma intrusion through the joints metamorphosed the sandstone into hornfels.

figure 3

Figure 3. Dyke and jointing in a slate rock face.

In the main, the dyke is younger than the surrounding rock, as it cuts the rock and from the fact that the volcanic process that created it occurred much later. This cutting can be clearly seen in the above figure, however it is interesting to note that the horizontal faulting at the top seems to cut across the dyke, which hints at a more complex geology. Some of the jointing runs parallel to the dyke whereas others cut across at a roughly 45° angle. These appear to have formed before the dyke intrusion.

Site Four

This site contains a quartzite and slate outcropping on a headland. These rocks were altered by regional metamorphosis but have retained some of their sedimentary character (Answers to Blackboard Questions, 2012). This can be seen in the texture of the rocks, which are grainy and resemble their pre-metamorphic state. During the Chillingham volcanic period in the Early Miocene, hydro thermal fluids were forced through the joints of the parent rock, creating intrusions or veins of quartz. These can be clearly seen below in Figure 4.

figure four

Figure 4. Quartz veins in quartzite and slate. Photo courtesy of John Fullerton

Metamorphism and consequent folding had ceased by the time the quartz veins were formed (Answers to Blackboard Questions, 2012). This allowed the joints to relax and widen, permitting the fluids to seep in. There is also a good deal of oxidation in the area – some of which borders the veins and others, as can be seen from Figure 4 at the top left, form fields on the rock surface. This almost “rusty” appearance gives credence to the presence of iron in the parent rock.

Site Five

At this site there was a large folded outcropping of rock facing east-west. The cause of this was folding by tectonic forces, squashing sediments to the edge of the continent (Stokes, personal communication, 2012). This outcropping also shows extensive jointing and layering, with some of the jointing being pronounced. The colouration differences between the layers is distinct also, with shades of pale orange through to slate greys. This can be seen in Figure 5.

figure five

Figure 5. Folding and jointing of metamorphic rocks. There are also prominent faults here.

Of interest is the large unjointed block of rock at the top left. This may well be a later addition to the strata caused by tectonic movement of sediment from elsewhere. Although it is curved, matching the layering alongside it, it shows no jointing or lamination and the surface patina is of a different colour and composition to the surrounding quartzite and slate.

Site Six

This site was adjacent to site five. Along the ground was a field of bluish-grey pebbles and cobbles, fractured off from the parent rock. The cobbles showed the same layering and composition, though weather and the action of sea water has rounded them to a size ranging from 10 to 20cm is diameter. All were fairly oblate in shape, and none were spherical or spheroid. This oblate shape gives clues that the cobbles have rolled along an abrasive surface, possibly due to wave and/or water action. Over time, the cobbles will degrade into sand, a process that is likely to take millions of years.


All six sites give both a composite and comprehensive picture of the geological processes that occurred. There is regional and contact metamorphism, uplifting, weathering, jointing, folding, faulting and erosion. The geology of Cabarita Beach consists of Quaternary beach and dune sand, Quaternary alluvial gravels, sand and clay, and Silurian sand- and mudstones, mainly in the form of greywacke. The entire area is underlain with Carboniferous Neranleigh-Fernvale sedimentary greywacke, and this extends inland as far as the region between Casino and Lismore, New South Wales (NSW Department of Primary Industries, n.d). There are also Tertiary volcanic intrusions, originating from the Mt. Warning/Chillingham volcano system (NSW Department of Primary Industries, n.d). These occurred in the Early Miocene Epoch approximately 20 million years ago when the Tweed Volcano was at its most active.

Eastern Australia in the Carboniferous Period was under deep water (Cabarita Beach Field Notes, 2012). Successive periods of turbidity currents laid down beds of quartz and feldspar sediment, which can be seen in the graded layering of the rocks. The NSW Department of Primary Industries map classifies this rock as greywacke, but for simplicity’s sake, it has been discussed here as either sandstone or mudstone. Accordingly, these beds became sandstone or mudstone depending upon the grain size of the sediment involved. Uneven sedimentary action resulted in the rip-up clasts visible at site one. There is also folding and jointing, caused by tectonic convergent plate activity that occurred in the late Permian, early Triassic Periods (Roberts & Engel, 2007). Farther along there is evidence of igneous intrusion with a number of basalt dykes, and contact metamorphism as evidenced by quartz veins and oxidation. This occurred, as previously mentioned, in the Miocene Epoch. For the entire geological history, there has been erosion and weathering of all exposed rock, including fracturing and breaking apart of the larger masses into pebbles and cobbles. With this, a timeline can be created, that extends from the Silurian Period of approximately 420 million years ago to the present day.


In summary, the geology of the Cabarita Beach can be divided into two major phases. The first occurred in the Carboniferous Period and involved the laying down of turbidity current deposits in a deep sea environment. These later formed into sedimentary rocks by the process of lithification. As Australia broke further apart from New Zealand, there was deformation and metamorphism in the rocks. At a much later date, in the Early Miocene Epoch, the activities of the Chillingham Volcanics caused further contact metamorphism, with the intrusion of mafic dykes and quartz veins along joints. Since this time, the region has been subject to weather and erosion to the present day.


Answers to Blackboard Questions. (2012). Lismore, NSW: Southern Cross University.

Cabarita Beach Field Notes. (2012). Lismore, NSW: Southern Cross University.

GeoHack – Bogangar, New South Wales. (n.d). Retrieved 7 May, 2012 from http://toolserver.org/~geohack/geohack.php?pagename=Bogangar,_New_South_Wales&params=28_20_S_153_33.5_E_region:AU

Google Maps. (n.d). Retrieved 7 May, 2012 from http://maps.google.com/maps?

New South Wales Department of Primary Industries. (n.d). Tweed Heads 1:250 000 Geological Map. Retrieved 7 May, 2012 from http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/minerals/geological/geological-maps/1-250-001/tweed-heads-250k-geological-map

Roberts, J & Engel, B. (2007). Depositional and tectonic history of the southern New England Orogen. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, (34)1, 1-20. DOI: 10.1080/08120098708729391.

Smith, G & Pun, A. (2010). How Does Earth Work? (2nd ed.). New York City, USA: Prentice Hall Books.

Stokes, D. (2012, 8 May). Site 5. Personal communication. Retrieved 8 May, 2012 from http://learn.scu.edu.au/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_121067_1%26url%3D

Whitten, D. (1986). The Penguin Dictionary of Geology. London, UK: Penguin Books.

Eldath the role model

Mid 2014, I started a program I dubbed Operation 47. The idea was to get down to 100kg by my 47th birthday, which at the time of writing this, was less than a week ago.

It never happened.

I don’t need to soul-search or deeply ponder why it never happened. The whole idea was just too hard. The weight loss component was easy when I applied myself – all I had to do was adhere to a daily limit I tracked through an online application – and it worked; I lost 20 kilograms. I know it can be done.

But too hard an idea or not, I need to improve myself, physically and spiritually. I just do. I could describe it all as a mid-life crisis but I don’t feel like I’ve even gotten to any kind of “mid-life” yet. And yet here I am: forty seven years of age.


So what does the Dungeons and Dragons goddess Eldath have to do with any of this? Well, for some background on who she is/was, I recommend this site which gives a thorough rundown, but the condensed version of it is that she is a goddess of peace. And that’s peace in a tranquil setting, such as waterfalls, pools, rivers, groves and the like. Pastoral or sylvan peace. Pacific introspection and harmony with yourself and all about you, in a natural setting removed from the hubbub of city life.

I’m not a theist or a deist in any way – to be sure, I’m as atheist as they come, but I’m not blind to the benefits religious spirituality can give someone, even if luminaries like Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins regard such things as delusions. Many religious people live whole and fulfilling lives. Lately, I’ve been keeping track of a website I stumbled upon quite by chance, written by an Irish clergyman named Patrick Comerford.

Eldath's holy symbol

Eldath’s holy symbol

Canon Comerford’s blog is full of inspirational material and though I’ve never met the man, I can tell from his writing – and the passion in his writing – that he lives a meaningful and spiritual life.

Something to emulate, right?

I think so, yes but here’s something: I’m not a Christian – I was christened into the Anglican creed, but as I said above, I’m an atheist. The concept of an invisible divine being watching over us is both illogical and egocentric in my thinking. Plus, what makes a god that derives from desert tribespeople of the Levant the right god compared to say, Svarog of Slavic mythology? Because more people believe in the Abrahamic god therefore he must be true?

I’m getting off track here. No, I have no more belief in Eldath, a goddess invented by a Canadian librarian and role-playing gamer, than I do the god of the Bible, but I can empathise with the comfort and spiritual joy having faith in a supernatural being can bring. So, I’m retooling Operation 47 into something more life-encompassing than just simple weight loss.

I’ve outlined what I intend to do in a page.

Ed Greenwood – Crown of Fire

Crown of Fire (Forgotten Realms: The Harpers, #9; Shandril's Saga, #2)Crown of Fire by Ed Greenwood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

More of a 2.75 out of 5. It’s better than its predecessor, but not by much. Arguably stronger writing, more focus in the storytelling and the narrative doesn’t drift as much. None of the characters within escape their cardboard boxes though, and there are too many deus ex machina elements for my liking as Gandalf Elminster saves the day once too often. Still, Ed Greenwood is having fun in the world that Ed Greenwood made and I can relate to his enthusiasm.

All taken, this book is slightly above average popcorn fiction.

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