Author Archives: jhorna

About jhorna

After growing up a naked child in the mountains of Colorado, Jhorna 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 is especially intrigued 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.)

Python csv parsing

A collection of links that helped me figure out how to parse a .csv file using python:

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Posted by on Saturday, September 26, 2015 in fractally weird


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Pin Change Interrupts on Arduino

A collection of links that helped me figure out Pin Change Interrupts on Arduino

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Posted by on Wednesday, September 23, 2015 in fractally weird


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Cedar Springs Trailhead

Hiking in Southern California isn’t always easy. It’s mostly desert, which means very few trees. That can make for some very hot hikes. Fortunately, it can also make for some gorgeous vistas if you can get up high enough.

This is a beautiful hike that takes you up on a ridge in the Santa Rosa mountains. At the top, you can look down towards the West, and see over Highway 74 to Thomas Mountain, or down towards the East, over Palm Springs and Joshua Tree. It’s a very comfortable 2.2 miles one-way, but more than half of that is on the side of the mountain with little shade. Still, if you have enough water and sun protection, you can make it to the beautifully windy ridge at the top for some lovely views.

View from the ridge

We checked out the maps in the Idyllwild ranger’s station, and spotted this beautiful little squiggle on our way home. The trailhead is marked “Cedar Springs”
Map of the area.

Right at the trailhead, there’s nowhere to park. We drove a little further down the road to where the gravel shoulder widened out a bit and left our car there. Here’s the first gate:

The first half mile is directly in the baking sun, but the next ~1.2 miles wander through tall brush and trees that shade the trail nicely. The trail goes through 4 gates and past one more. Here’s the first gate you go through:
First gate

A bit later you’ll pass by this sign. We were very curious about who would use those picnic tables!

This lower part of the trail went past a stream bed, winding through trees and meadows. It was very pleasant. We passed a group of deer that bolted at our presence, and a little tub of water they were probably drinking from. This gate was held closed by barbed wire:
Another gate

1.5 miles to go! Not pictured: The sign warning about hazardous conditions beyond this point.
Actual trailhead

Maybe .25 miles beyond that sign, we went up a steep section of the trail and emerged into the direct sunlight. It was very hot from this point on with almost no chances of shade.
Desert hiking

The remaining stretch to the top was just endless switch-backs heading up the mountain. Even though we were in direct sunlight the whole time, the constantly-improving views and deliciously cool breezes made for a lovely hike.
Switchback #32

There’s a shady tree right at the top, with a little makeshift bench under it. We sat there for a few minutes, reapplying sunscreen before continuing a few 100 yards south on the PCT to find a spot for lunch. Looking south and slightly East. We could see Salton Sea in that direction:

The PCT continues South along this ridge:

And North along this one, but this section has been closed for a while recovering from a forest fire:

When we got back to the car, we discovered that our Adventure Pass hangtag had melted in the sun!
Melted adventure pass

We estimated that our total hike had been around 5 miles round trip. I drank 3 liters of water, and none of us got sunburned! All in all a lovely hike. I highly recommend it!

Two panoramic views:

Quick facts
Length: ~4.4 miles round-trip to the shady tree at the top. Hikers could continue on down the PCT to the South, but the other trails (to Cedar Springs or North on the PCT) are closed to recover from a forest fire.
Difficulty: Easy trailwise, but challenging conditions, so better for more experienced hikers.
Views: 4/5

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Posted by on Tuesday, September 22, 2015 in fractally weird


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Projects for the future

Dip-dyed ballet flats:

Geometric chain necklace:

Ridiculous pom pom tiara:

Adafruit crown:

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Posted by on Saturday, August 29, 2015 in fractally weird


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Stone Creek Campground in San Jacinto State Park

Camping camping camping!

We went to the ReserveAmerica site and just searched for open tent-friendly sites in the San Jacinto wilderness. There were a few in Stone Creek, and a few in Idyllwild. It took us a while to understand what was available. The ReserveAmerica site says this:

“Stone Creek and Idyllwild are separate campgrounds. Idyllwild is within walking distance of the town of Idyllwild, and Stone Creek is 6 miles north on Hwy 243.”

But their map looks like this:

If they’re separate, why are they on the same map? And there are a few sites that look like they’re right on the border…which campground are those in?

I don’t know why they’re on the same map, but I *can* tell you that the sites on the border are all sites in Stone Creek Campground. Here’s a better map:
That's better.

We never did find the Idyllwild campground, so I can’t talk about that. But Stone Creek was pretty nice! We picked spot #23:


We were lucky with our spot. It’s right on the edge, so slightly more private than a lot of the interior sites. Also, no one was at spot 22, which would have made things MUCH less private. Some of the sites (#17, #19) are nestled in manzanita shrubs, which lends both privacy and shade.

There’s also a bathroom that’s not on the map between sites 16, 46, 14 and 44. Walking to it felt like you were walking through other people’s campsites, so if you can use a different bathroom that would be better.

This whole area felt very ADA accessible! The parking near the nature trail was poured concrete, and the trail itself felt doable in a wheelchair.

We wanted to hike, so the next morning after we woke up we headed off to Devil’s Slide! We knew you needed a permit, and luckily* the campground host had some that she gave to us. Driving to the trailhead was surprisingly tricky. This was the map we wished we’d had (it was only posted at the trailhead, not at the campground):
Yeah, this would have helped.

Unfortunately, we don’t have any pictures from the TOP of Devil’s Slide, because we got kicked off the mountain by a ranger! It turns out that our campground host had given us the incorrect permit.

If you want to do the Devil’s Slide hike, be sure to get the *correct* permit. The safest route is to get the permit from the Idyllwild Ranger Station.

It was still a beautiful day, though:
Just lovely.



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Posted by on Sunday, August 9, 2015 in fractally weird


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Arduino fatal error: SoftwareSerial.h No such file or directory

I’ve been working with Arduino a lot lately, and ran into an extremely bizarre error:

Usually, when you’re adding a new library, you need to follow specific instructions[1] about how to install that library in the Arduino IDE. So, if you’re getting this error with a non-standard Arduino library (like the Neopixel library, or something you’ve downloaded from the Internet), this error makes perfect sense. But SoftwareSerial is included with the Arduino IDE: It’s a built-in library[2]. So how on earth could it not be found? I was especially confused since I had uploaded this code not two days ago!

Here’s what I tried:

  1. Checking that SoftwareSerial was indeed installed in my Arduino IDE application (These instructions are for a Mac, since that’s what I own):
    1. Select the Arduino application
    2. Chose ‘Show package Contents’ – a new window will appear.
    3. Now navigate to:
      1. Contents
      2. Resources
      3. Java
      4. hardware
      5. libraries
    4. All the standard libraries will be there.
  2. Moving the entire SoftwareSerial directory from that standard location above, to the location where all installed libraries are installed on my Mac (other included libraries were installing fine):
    1. Documents/Arduino/libraries
  3. Restarting Arduino IDE multiple times.
  4. Downloading a completely new version of the IDE.
  5. Restarting my computer.

Nothing worked: and the fact that downloading a completely new version of the IDE didn’t solve the issue meant that it was some issue with the way my Arduino/libraries folder was set up. Finally, I remembered that for another project I had edited SoftwareSerial so that it didn’t use any pins on PortD, and included that in my libraries as SoftwareSerialNoPortD. I thought that might be messing things up. A forum post taught me that if you open up the Arduino IDE and go to Sketch->IncludeLibrary… the IDE will automatically generate the import statement:

When I tried to automatically import SoftwareSerial, this is what showed up in my sketch:

Somehow, the IDE had linked SoftwareSerial with SoftwareSerialNoPortD, and couldn’t find SoftwareSerial anymore. I checked through all the files to make sure everything was named properly, and eventually found this file called

I edited it so that it had the correct name for SoftwareSerialPortD:

Quit and restarted the Arduino IDE, and now I’m able to compile fine!


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Posted by on Saturday, July 25, 2015 in fractally weird


Anza-Borrego Desert State Park: Culp Valley Campground

Quick info:
Campground: Culp Valley Campground in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Date: 20 June 2015
Temperature: 95 (daytime) ~58 (nighttime)
Distance walked: ~5.5 miles
Cost: $0
Water consumed: 4.5 liters
# of times peed: 8

Recommendations: It makes more sense to put up your tent where it’ll be shaded from the sunrise in the East and then get up to the ridge where you can feel a breeze. Even in this unseasonably warm weather it got plenty cool at night.

After reading this excellent post from, I decided to head to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park for a night of star-gazing and maybe even some light hiking. According to everyone, it’s free to camp there, but no fires are allowed unless you have a “metal container”.

I called ahead to the ranger station, where they told me it was unseasonably warm, and there was an “extreme heart warning” in the region. She said “if you can camp anywhere else, do it.”

Never one to shy away from a challenge, or think carefully through the consequences of my choices, I decided to go anyway. Culp Valley Campground is actually 3,000 feet higher than the town of Borrego Springs, so I thought it might be a little cooler up there. (I was right).

Here’s the approximate route I took:

It was a very easy drive. Only one part of the 67 has some treacherous curves (and signs reminding drivers to keep their headlights on at all times, and stay under 55 mph) but for the most part it is very relaxing. It goes through some lovely country as well.

The campground is very primitive. I’m used to marked spots for tents, but at Culp Valley you just throw down wherever you find a flat enough patch of ground. That’s not hard: there’s plenty of clear, flat ground. The area is scrub brush scattered through bare sand. I chose to put my tent behind a bush, because when I arrived in the evening that’s where the shade was. Turns out the shade made almost no difference at that point: it was WAY too hot to be down in the valley. I put up my tent and almost immediately climbed up to the ridge where a breeze was blowing.

The views of the desert are amazing.

You can see the town of Borrego Springs down there. This view came from following Trip #8 from the San Ysidro Mountain section of Afoot & Afield in San Diego and following the signs for the Vista Point. If you, like me, can’t see any signs on the trail, just keep walking up and out towards the edge of the mountains. Follow your heart. You’ll get there.

Finally the sun began to set, and I ate dinner on the ridge in the cooling breeze.

I actually woke up twice in the night from temperature changes: once because I suddenly got way too hot and once because I suddenly got way too cold. There was a gentle breeze almost all night. Right before I fell asleep I dragged my tent out from behind the bush so I’d get more of a breeze. The only downside was that headlights from any cars coming down the mountain would shine into my tent, but a) they were rare, and b) they were very far away so it didn’t seem like a big deal. I’d estimate the temperature got down in the upper 50s, though I can’t say for sure.

I woke up the next morning at around 5am because of the light and the sudden heat. I packed up my tent right away so I wouldn’t have to do it in direct sunlight after hiking. I was pretty shocked by how hot it felt so early in the morning. My car’s temperature gauge read 66, but there was a blazing hot breeze blowing through the valley. In fact, I started to do the hike to Pena Springs (also part of Trip #8) but I turned back before even reaching the springs because I could feel the heat starting to get to me.

Overall it was a LOVELY trip. I’m so glad I went.

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Posted by on Sunday, June 21, 2015 in fractally weird


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