Reading “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” by William L. Shirer

While traveling this year I ended up visiting a Gestapo museum in Cologne as well as the Holocaust museum in DC. Wanting to learn more, I recalled my college years when my history-major friend Kris was lugging around this immense book with a swastika on the cover. I procured the (much lighter) Kindle version of it and went to work. Well, months later, I have finished it. It was an incredible experience to read: artfully written and absolutely dense with fascinating information. Terrifying but exciting. Gruesome but essential.

Hitler and the Nazis are quasi-taboo today in that while they’re brought up in every internet argument, such comparisons are dismissed as unattainable. They were so evil, people say, that it’s offensive to even begin comparing anything modern to them. But 1933 wasn’t all that long ago from civilization’s perspective, not to mention evolution’s. Human brains today are nearly identical to the brains of that time.

I totally reject the idea that Germans are some how pre-dispositioned as a people to have been the spawning ground of Nazism (aka Sonderweg). This book goes there a little and has been criticized for doing so. It’s clear that what happened there could have happened anywhere given the circumstances, and so we must be wary of it happening again in the future given any similar circumstances. Desperate, beaten, embarrassed people were conned by their own cognitive dissonance and one truly charismatic (yet crazed) leader into thinking it was some outsider’s fault, and that eliminating the outsiders would solve all the painful problems. The results were catastrophic.

But anyway let’s get to the book. Here are some notable things that I really had no idea about. I’m obviously no student of history so excuse me if this is all common knowledge.

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The Total Solar Eclipse Experience in the Malheur National Forest

Viewing the Eclipse

On June 19th, my little sister sent me Annie Dillard’s essay about her experience viewing the 1979 total solar eclipse and stated that we were going to go see it in Oregon. She said: “This essay has made going to the Eclipse non-negotiable in my mind.” I had been moderately interested but somehow the essay made it sound way cooler that I had previously envisioned and so I got excited about it. There was already hype about how bad traffic would be down in Oregon, but she said she had been thinking about dispersed camping in Malheur National Forest. I looked at a map and it looked pretty good.

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Jeep Cherokee Laredo 1991

Note: This is a thowback post, revitalized from the old partofthething.com where it was posted by me in like, 2004. I took out most last names.

My car:

My car is the ultimate car ever. It’s the greatest thing on Earth. No, really. It is. Sure, sure it’s old but that’s not what matters anymore. It’s the past that counts…and the stereo system. I grew up in this car. Yes sir I did. I always sat in the back right seat driving all over the place since I was seven years old. Usually Tom Petty was playing. you see, it used to be my mom’s car. When she got a new one, it became my sister’s car. And then, it became my car.

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a few hikes in the seattle area

I’ve been on two hikes in the last 8 days or so. Here’s a brief trip report for both, plus one failed attempt.

Silver Creek to Mineral City

This looked like a cool hike with mines to explore and everything. But, the internet was telling me that the road might be washed out. (Read:

http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?p=225991

http://www.troyh.us/OurMovetoSeattle/Hikes/Silver%20Creek%20and%20Mineral%20City/index.html, etc.)

But it was worth a try. Maybe the road has been fixed by now. About that:

Yeah, it's not going to be easy to drive over that
Yeah, it's not going to be easy to drive over that

So we drove to a different nearby hike (5 miles or so).

Lake Serene/Bridal Veil Falls Hike

The first 2 miles are a gradual climb on nice trail. That gets you to the Bridal Veil falls, which are very nice. The next two miles are a tough climb. Tough for me at least. All the other people there were carrying babies or small dogs. On the way back down, Rachel and I had enough energy to go the 0.5 miles up to the upper falls, which were worth it.

Rachel at lower bridal veil falls
Rachel at lower bridal falls

Bad pic of lake serene and mt. index
Bad pic of lake serene and mt. index

The lake was really beautiful. I scrambled around on the snow, of course. That was last weekend. This weekend, we did:

Monte Cristo and Poodle Dog Pass

Mostly because I wanted to find another way down to Mineral City, we decided to try the monte cristo hike. This time, Robert came along. Since this hike is supposed to have a boring and bikable first 4 miles, we loaded bikes into and onto  my jeep and headed out to the Mountain Loop highway. We heard from a ranger that the 1st mile was going to involve us carrying our bikes a lot. He was right. We had to cross a log over the river and get over lots of cables holding the logs in place.

cross the logs
cross the logs

Then the road was a little bumpy for a while, with quite a few trees in the road. Good mountain bikers can get through the rocks, but we were walking for a while. Still, having bikes made the trip to monte cristo fairly painless. Going back down was exceptionally fast. Once in Monte Cristo, we had some lunch and checked out the working train turn table, while scanning the mountains for mines.

lunch at monte cristo
lunch at monte cristo

robert on the railway turntable
robert on the railway turntable

We didn’t see any mines, so we hiked up about 2000 ft. to Poodle Dog Pass. It was a nice hike that took probably 2 hours. Up there we saw lots of snow.

Robert, Rachel, and I up on poodle dog pass
Robert, Rachel, and I up on poodle dog pass

Crystal lake had these incredible water falls coming down from snow-melt. It was breathtaking.

Rachel and the waterfalls above crystal lake
Rachel and the waterfalls above crystal lake

On the way down, we got to see what branches look like from the inside of a tree:

this is what branches look like from the inside
this is what branches look like from the inside

We biked out of there and ate dinner at a Thai place on capitol hill. This whole big-city-right-next-to-mountains thing is nice.

car mp3 upgrades

I wanted to replace the LCD in my car, but I noticed there are new ones with buttons on them! So I’m thinking of reprogramming the car. I got mutagen to do ID3 stuff and will start just trying to make a simple playlist editor that searches like I want it to. Here’s the mutagen tutorial. I’ll need XML file saving again, just like in the CLScanner. I’m worried about how fast the searches will happen.

Aww, sweet. The code can load the entire library in like 2 seconds and search it in under a quarter second. Excellent. I can control mplayer using this code. The library and search functions took like, 10 mins to code up. They’re excellent. So all I need is a queue system, perhaps a separate thread that knows what song to play next. So there’d be the active thread, looking for commands from the keyboard and from the keypad, and the player thread, running mplayer and knowing what to play next. This might be too easy.