Author Archives: jhorna

About jhorna

Jhorna's personal hobbies include translating ethnic slurs into foreign languages, writing award-winning operas, and cooking thirty minute brownies in twenty minutes. On most weekends - to let off steam - she has been participating in full-contact origami, which is not as intuitive as it might seem. After growing up a naked child in the mountains of Colorado, she moved to the heart of Bohemia in the Czech Republic and learned to say 'you resemble a hedgehog'* in Czech. Later in life she spent a year trying to avoid being run over by rickshaws in Dhaka, Bangladesh. An avid performer, she prefers to only participate in dances that defy the laws of physics. She is very interested in incorporating improvised movement into a structured dance form and am especially intriguied by the various ways in which one can 'walk the edge' of dance. That's because, some days, she takes an envelope out of the box and she PUSHES IT. (*Vypadas jako jezek.)

Response: Breeding the tech elite

Issues surrounding gentrification, and ethical dilemmas involved with joining the ‘technical elite’ are excellent topics to be discussed. UC Berkeley is one of the best places to host such a debate, given our proximity to Silicon Valley, our acclaimed Computer Science programs, and our history of activism. However, the Daily Cal’s recent article about “breeding the tech elite” does nothing to begin such a conversation.


1. The author’s descriptors are highly offensive. 

“disheveled, slightly nerdy types”

“computer majors look geeky, not like they’ll be making six figures”

In what way is a subjective judgement of someone’s appearance relevant to the discussion?

2. The author vacillates between glorifying and villifying technology, and users of it. The author’s own apparent anxiety surrounding technology indicates a level of discomfort with the subject matter that does raise questions. Unfortunately, these questions are about the author’s own relationship to technology rather than questions regarding the relationship of technology to the rest of society.

“I wandered out of the meeting imagining what I’d do with UC Berkeley’s Google glitterati. We’d discuss code (do you discuss code?) over breakfast and debate Facebook and Google Plus while marching to Pimentel Hall. Maybe, with some time, I’d even end up on a Google shuttle myself.”

“As an English major who uses even Google search with a hint of anxiety”

“As quickly as James brought me into his world of high-tech gadgets, seemingly secret societies and computer science whizzes at UC Berkeley, he just as quickly and violently rejected me.”

Along with my fellow CS major Jesca Wong (who wrote her own, excellent response), I work hard to encourage everyone to explore the world of programming. I am extremely disappointed in the hostile and stereotypical portrayal of my fellow Computer Scientists. This was lazy writing at best, and deliberate sensationalism at worst.

As for the actual issues at hand, I am interested in participating in a real debate on the subjects at hand.  Namely:

  1. Gentrification, who it affects and how, and whose responsibility it is.
  2. Use of public space by private companies, and question about whether (and how) the industry has a responsibility towards creating a public space that is actually public.
  3. How individual choice regarding what company to work for can play a role in what types of companies are successful, and how an educational institution can encourage thoughtful consideration of these issues.
  4. How those with less understanding or experience with technology can feel alienated, and questions of how to create a positive learning environment for people new to the field.


Let’s start an actual conversation.

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Posted by on Sunday, February 9, 2014 in fractally weird


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It’s copper and they don’t know how it works! S- sounds great: sign me up.

Here’s what it was like getting an IUD!

So, the nurse practitioner who put my IUD in is really awesome. She took a lot of time to speak with me to make sure I felt like I had all of my questions answered, and understood the possible risks. She also went over the procedure, complete with a little model of the uterus and a demo version of the IUD itself.  Basically she stuck a little stick through the demo cervix up into the demo uterus, and then the demo IUD popped gently into place!  Then the little demo uterus sparkled and giggled and one tiny but perfect rainbow appeared above each demo fallopian tube.

Reality isn’t….. quite……. like that.

It’s really not too bad, though, and I’d say that if you’re at the point where you’ve thought about the possible negative side effects, you’ve looked into the risks associated with getting it put in, and you’ve figured out how it might fit with your lifestyle, there’s really nothing else to consider.  Definitely don’t let fear of the massive waves of unbearable pain stop you.

Haha, ok, I’m mostly kidding.  For me, the implantation procedure really only had 3 painful parts:

1. The beginning.

2. The middle.

3.  The end.

Haha!  Ok I’m mostly kidding again.  For real, the painful parts were 1. when she clamped my cervix, 2. When she “sounded” my cervix, and 3. When she actually put the IUD in.

I was pretty nervous when she started to prep the room for the procedure.  She lifted the towel off of a small, innocuous table in the corner and revealed a tray of tools.  These tools had clearly been rejected from the set of a horror film* for being too scary.  I didn’t see which long, curvy, spiky metal object she used to clamp my cervix, because she told me to look away and when someone has those kinds of tools in their hands, you do what they say.  But for me, the cervix-clamping part wasn’t that bad.  It felt kind of like someone was pinching me, and I didn’t really want them to be.  But, like, whatever.  No big deal.

THEN…. she stuck in the “sound” (which is basically a stick to measure the depth of your uterus).

Before I decided to get an IUD, I did a lot of research into what it would feel like.  I was especially worried about how much it was going to hurt.  From what I read, it really varies.  Some women experience a lot of pain, and some don’t really experience very much at all.  But, for those who experienced a lot of pain, they would frequently say the IUD insertion was like “really bad menstrual cramps, but worse.”  I get pretty bad menstrual cramps, and I’m no baby.  So when I compared my understanding of “but worse” to 10 years of worry-free birth control……I mean come on. It’s not even really a choice. So I wasn’t going to let that stop me, but I also didn’t think “but worse” would be that bad.

Here’s the thing.  You might actually have *no idea* what really bad cramps feel like.  I am now SO GRATEFUL for my not-so-terrible “pretty bad cramps”.  My NP explained that the uterus is really one big muscle, and when you stick something into it, the muscle cramps up.  Normal cramps are caused by rhythmic contractions of the uterus.  My cramps are like a dull, constant throbbing pain that radiates through my back and down into my legs.  When you get an IUD though, you basically have what is ONE GIANT MUSCLE suddenly completely cramping up in response to a stick being shoved into it.  It hurts! Regular cramps are downright gentle by comparison. Even the bad ones.

So yes, it hurt.  BUT.  The pain lasted for about 2 seconds.  Then she pulled the sound out and stuck the actual IUD in, which caused the whole business to cramp up again, and then it was over.  At that point the pain became exactly what I had been expecting, and felt pretty much like regular menstrual cramps.

Totally not a big deal.  Definitely not something to be that concerned about.  You can almost definitely handle it.

I spent the rest of the day in bed, although I didn’t actually need to.  So, yeah!  Basically it wasn’t that bad and I’m so happy I did it!  The next few days were a bit of a different story, but that’s another blog post…. :)

*Terrifying Dentist and Insane Lumberjack: Together At Last

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Posted by on Sunday, November 24, 2013 in fractally weird


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Camping resources

Big map of Yosemite

Smaller map of Yosemite

Wilderness permit

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Posted by on Monday, August 20, 2012 in fractally weird


Swimming holes in Yosemite National Park

We left Berkeley at 4:30am on Saturday morning.  The drive out to Yosemite was quiet and beautiful – almost no cars on the road that early in the morning, so we made good time.  We arrived at the Big Oak Flat Information Center because we thought we had to in order to get a campsite.  We got there at 7:30am and since they don’t open until 8, we just sat around in line with a bunch of other folks waiting to get wilderness permits.  But, it turns out that if you’re aiming for a “first-come first-served” permit, you just head straight to the campground and look for someone packing up. Cut out the middle-man, so to speak.  It would have been nice if they’d had this information on the website, saving us those 30 minutes of uselessly hanging around.


Then we drove up to Tamarack Flat which was our first choice for a campground.  The rangers warned us that the last mile of road out to the campground was “pretty rough” but it was actually fine.  It had clearly been paved a few years ago, and while there are a few potholes, for the most part it’s actually totally fine – even for my low-slung Prius.  We drove into the campground, and I guess our lucky stars were already shining because the very first fellow we talked to was packing up and leaving from the best campsite in the whole park.  We quickly paid the $10 fee and went about setting up our tents as he was still packing up.  Unfortunately by this time (9am or so) it was raining pretty good so as soon as we got our tents set up we retired to the car for some card games.  Then we took a nap for 2.5 hours, hoping for the rain to clear.


Our friends arrived around 12noon, right as the sun started to come out and we loaded up our packs with picnic food and headed down the trail to the swimming hole.  I’m not going to tell the Internet-at-large where the hole is, because swimming holes are precious resources that should be protected/hoarded, but if you come visit me we can go there.



After swimming for about 3.5 hours we hiked back up the 2.5 miles to the campground.  It’s not terribly strenuous.  Just a bit of a climb up a hill, then way down to where the creek runs. The altitude adds a bit of a challenge – I think it was around 6000 feet. I took a quarter of a table of diamox because I tend to have problems with altitude, but everyone else seemed to be fine.  The scenery is gorgeous and there’s plenty of shade so we enjoyed it.  We didn’t see a single other person on the entire hike, which continues to amaze me.  Our entire experience of Yosemite was of empty hiking trails, beautiful and quiet campsites, and secluded swimming holes.


There’s no water at Tamarack Flat, so the next morning we packed up and headed up towards Yosemite Creek.  We stopped along the way at White Wolf, where they told us a bear had been hit by a car that very morning.  The 14th bear this year!  That’s very sad – if you go to Yosemite please drive slowly and watch out for wildlife.  After filling up with water and using their sinks (with soap!  Luxury!) we headed down the road a bit to the Yosemite Creek and Ten Lake Trails staging point for our second hike.  These lots were both full with plenty of backpackers and day-hikers in various states of arrival and departure.  But once we headed off down the trail, we quickly left everyone behind (except the highway, which unfortunately runs just parallel to the trail for about a quarter of a mile).  Again, we didn’t see a single other person for the entire hike in!  


We made it to another swimming hole, which was completely wonderful and perfect.  Swimming holes are my new favourite thing and I’ve got a list of about 20 more that I’d like to visit.  California seems to have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to idyllic outdoors activities, and I’m looking forward to exploring more.



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Posted by on Monday, August 20, 2012 in camping, fractally weird


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Dipshit Camping

Dipshit Camping. What is it? Well, Dipshit is made up of the two Greek words “Di” meaning “Person”, and “pshit” meaning “who ends up camping on an unmaintained highway between two switchbacks of the Interstate, less than 200 yards away from their car.” If you’re a mere novice to this form, allow me to take your hand and lead you. No need for your compass – we don’t know how to read it. No need for maps – we don’t know how to read those either. And forget directions from Forest Service Ranger Shirley – they will only baffle. Don’t worry about where we’re going – we won’t get there anyway. We’re Dipshits!

The first rule of thumb for Dipshit Camping is this: Leave early the morning of the day you want to start your trip, but not so early that you would have enough time to find somewhere safe to park before dark in the event that you get lost (which you will). Since you packed the night before (in true Dipshit fashion) you’ll be slightly exhausted, and unable to make even trivial decisions.  What does your sleep-addled Dipshit brain do when the corner store is out of the sandwich you planned on having for breakfast? Should you buy the “Hot ‘n Fresh” Sausage wrap, or the mysterious hodge-podge of plastic-encased cheeses, salamis and crackers? Better agonize over it for another 15 minutes!

Another important thing to remember about Dipshit Camping is that you cannot trust anyone named Shirley. If Forest Service Ranger Shirley tells you that you need chains on your tires, you will be driving on pristine and dry roads. If Forest Service Ranger Shirley tells you to turn left after the Eco SnowPark, you will find the road to be blocked with a five foot wall of snow. If you decide to park overnight in the Eco SnowPark despite the ominous and prominent tow-away signs, Forest Service Ranger Shirley will dance naked on the roof of your car while singing “Nanananananannaaaaa.”

But let’s get down to business and talk about the brass tacks of Dipshit Camping. The best part about Dipshit Camping is that it is almost completely stress-free! Despite months of preparation and research, despite the hundreds of dollars you spent on equipment and camping books, absolutely nothing will go according to plan!  So you might as well not worry about it.

Leave all your preparation behind (along with something to purify water – oops!) and now you have arrived at what you think is the trailhead.  Don’t worry about the absence of all signage, or other hikers – it just means that if you die, you’ll die completely alone where no one can laugh over your Dipshit carcass.

Now you’re out in the cold wilderness with your fellow Dipshit. The stars are glistening overhead, the snow is crunching under your tent, and the soft roar of the highway is lulling you to sleep. Not only do you get to admire the starlight in the dark night, but you get to view the town from a mere 1 mile distance. Ahh – civilization. How far away it seems – a whole 15-minute car-ride. Who needs toilet paper?

Now that you’ve settled down in your tent, on your pad with your sleeping bag, you begin to gently drift into the tense, hyper-aware state of extreme nervousness that all campers live for.  This is the time – generally referred to as “night” – when a camper in the middle of the wilderness begins to notice sounds.

At first, these sounds might sound terrifying.  Your city-born ears hear an animal rushing up to your tent in the dead of night to riffle through your packs, chew up your extra sweaters with enormous gnashing jaws, and rip your camping cookware to shreds with its razor-sharp claws.  It’s a strange quirk of the outdoors, but that enormous creature menacing you at 4 a.m. somehow always leaves squirrel tracks in the snow. Perhaps it was a squirrel. Perhaps it was some other animal walking on squirrel-foot stilts. Who can say.  It’s important to not overstretch yourself reaching for a logical interpretation.  That’s not the Dipshit way!

The shining moment in any true Dipshit camping experience, of course, is when you wake up the next morning, and realize that you parked your car (illegally) 5 yards from the actual trailhead.

Congratulations!  You are a real Dipshit.

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Posted by on Saturday, November 12, 2011 in fractally weird


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The joy of living on your own, part 2

You can also create the only place in the world where everything conforms to your ideals – where all things are your deciding.

You can create the place where you do for yourself the things you usually do for other people. Cook yourself a nice meal, listen to stories about your day, watch a movie.

You can create the place where everything you do is right – everything you do is important, and proves you are a person of great esteem.

You can create the place where your emotions are renewed just by walking in the door. The ambience can be entirely under your control.

You can create the place where you get to think about and explore every idea you have ever had.

You can create the place where, no matter what happens in the outside world, you know you are safe when you come home.

You can create the place where you influence every aspect of the place. And you also acknowledge its influence on you.

Some of these will not strike you as important.
They are not for you.
Which one resonates?
Some of these will overwhelm you.
Forget them.
Which one inspires and energizes you?

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Posted by on Friday, March 19, 2010 in fractally weird



Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

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Posted by on Saturday, March 6, 2010 in fractally weird


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