Things I learn from travelling while pregnant

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I became pregnant last year, after much consideration about becoming a mother. It was surprisingly easy considering everything they say about getting pregnant after 35 years old. At the same time, my job was in one of those years where it takes me everywhere, which is one of the reasons I enjoy it to begin with :) Carrying a growing belly and teaching about IoT and Galileo and Edison was great fun, but also great learning. So, in case you find yourself in the same situation, here’s some tips:

It is not for everyone

First of all, it is not for everyone. Many people like to say “it’s not a disability” – that’s only partially true. From my perspective, it wasn’t an easy ride. From the perspective of some people I know, my ride was a piece of cake. I know of two women that lost several kilos, that ended up a week in a hospital, or having to spend months in bed, otherwise they would miscarry. So comparing to this, my smells aversion and tiredness seem very easy. So please do not take my experience as a measure for what any pregnant woman can do – it doesn’t work like this.

Eat your 5 a day! And always have a water bottle nearby

When you are in the first trimester, especially if it’s your first time, most likely you will get those well known symptoms: nausea, food and smells aversion. My symptoms kicked in when I was only a few weeks, during 2nd month. I was traveling to England for a residential school, and after the long walks through the campus proved to be too much for me, I was allocated in a dorm that was very close to the classes and activities. However, that building probably has not seen its carpet deep cleaned for a decade. And my nose picked it up. And being England, they had that effing carpet even in the elevator. And there was nothing I could do about it. But the food also triggered my stomach problems, endless heartburn and disgust by the unappealing boiled vegetables. No wonder people have problems eating their 5 a day!

So the first rule is: good, healthy food is essential. People who travel a lot know how much better it gets when you eat well, balanced meals, and drink plenty of water. If you are pregnant, it makes the total difference between being a functional human being or some sluggish resemblance of yourself. Make smart choices, don’t be afraid of being picky and demanding. Only you will know the price you will pay for not giving your body all the rest and nutrients it needs. And it is really for you to function, because guess what? Your baby will be just great. He or she will deplete you of all your vitamins and reserves, because that’s what pregnancy does. Of course you want a healthy baby and should do everything you can to ensure it, but pregnancy makes sure everything goes to the embryo first, and you have the leftovers. So really, pack your fruits and veggies, chose some good carbs – you need them to think! – and keep a water bottle always in hand.

Tell everyone you are pregnant

I was lucky in my first big travel commitment, to conduct a hackathon in Paris. The agency organizing it for Intel was extremely sensitive to my needs, and I got fruits, iced tea, water, people carrying my bag. But they knew I was pregnant. In another event, in Berlin, most people assumed I was just obese. I even got someone pitching me a project about a chair that would give electrical shocks to people who didn’t move around too much and that would be a good incentive for me, after I mentioned that it was getting harder to get of the sofa. Soon afterwards, someone else asked me if I could help moving a table. So, next day I was wearing my “Baby loading t-shirt” just to make things clear. Also, remember that dorm close to the classes during my study week in England? It was granted after I had a very scary moment when I began to bleed a bit during second day at school. I could have been nothing, it could have been the long distance between the original dorm and the classes having an effect, but have I told them upfront, maybe I had avoided the deeply scary moments I spent unsure if it was something serious. So, if you are like me, you may think it’s not worth the trouble to mention, you don’t want people to think you want special treatment. But, the other option may be really detrimental to you, so, balancing things out, you are best out telling people upfront you are pregnant, just so they are aware. Most people I met were wonderful and understanding and helping me to be more comfortable than I could think I could be.

Tips for reducing bloating

Bloating has always been a big problem for me while traveling. I normally bloat up to 2kg just by flying, and it was even worse during pregnancy. I use to measure how bad it was by checking if I could see my ankle bone or not. After a flight, even a short one, it was sure that I wouldn’t have ankles, foot and legs would be all a continuity. But I learned a secret a long time ago by a masseuse: soak your foot, preferable all legs, into a hot bath, immediately followed by a cold stream of water. It is so challenging, but after a few hours, I could see my ankle again. But soon that wasn’t enough, so compression tights it was. Oh my god, trying to pull compression tights up your legs maneuvering around a rotund belly was the most ridicule situation I remember myself on.  So many huffs and puffs that I wanted to give up every time, but the thought of normal legs by the end of the day kept me going.

Recovering takes forever

Another thing it was surprising for me was how long would take me to recover from each travel. Like, if you only travel 1h, it would barely count, right? Wrong! Every time it would take days of oversleeping and slowing down to recover. Granted, most of the travels also involved long working hours, which was interesting. During the hackathons, I wouldn’t feel much tired, as I believe the adrenaline would kick in and keep me going. But after I was done, oh my gosh I was so done. And even travel just for vacations would get me exhausted. So I started planning everything to allow a couple of day of rest after any travel.

Stretch

34 weeks pregnant

I kept doing Pilates, mostly because my awesome instructor and great friend Sabine kept telling me it would get better sooner if I didn’t stop. And I felt towards stopping because very very early on the pregnancy, I went from being advanced to a total beginner in class. I could barely do the moves, feeling clumsy and without the control of my core muscles – just like that, from one week to another. The reason is that the hormones flooding your pregnant body make your muscles soft, so working out would barely maintain them, but they would not get stronger. Sabine promised me that once I am done with nursing, all the muscles would resume to the state I left them. Let’s see. But even without being able to perform as well as before, just the general feeling of stretching, reaching out, even if you can reach less and less, makes you feel great after the exercise. You will be more tired, so prepare to go to bed even earlier, but your back will appreciate. Here in Germany Yoga for Pregnants is really popular for the same reasons. I also did a few pathetic swimming sessions, but after 6 months, it is just wonderful to be floating in water where your belly is so much lighter. Midwives will also say that the more you move, the easier will be your delivery. I wasn’t that active, don’t take me as an example, I did mostly only once a week, while they recommend you to at least walk 15 min a day. But I hope the up and down the stairs at home and work will count for something. That is, until a limit. I reached my at 36 weeks, while most women will reach that at 32, according to Sabine (although she did until 38, cheeky fit lady :)). When you reach that limit, you will know it. If the exercise makes you feel uncomfortable in your belly, you are done, from now on is more sofa than yoga mat.

Live in a developed country and work for a great company

And here is where I feel really bad for women living in countries not as understanding as Germany, or working for companies less sympathetic than Intel. My working from home hours increased proportionally as the pain in my back after spending time in the office. And due German laws, 6 weeks before my due date, I was on leave. I remember the two last days in the office, which were very difficult due lack of elevator and many things to check, to leave everything taken care of. The pain later at night when I tried to find a position to sleep almost got me into the hospital, as I was suspicious I was in labor. But it was just my huge belly tired of being sustained all day long. And this was 6 weeks prior. What about women who have to work until delivery date? They are just super heroes…

Do one thing at the time, and slow down

I always have been the kind of person who tries to do everything at the same time right now. I am still relearning how to do one thing at the time and slowly. It is for the best. I have heard before about the constant sleepiness and just general feeling tired, but I didn’t know my IQ would seem to drop. It takes more time for me to absorb information, to make decisions, to plan and execute. I would beat myself up to be back on track if I wasn’t so tired. So, slow down it was. I wonder if I will continue to be like that after sometime. No idea. Any guesses?

Vivendo na Alemanha – apoio à família

Depois de quase 4 anos vivendo na Alemanha, aprendi bastante coisa sobre como o país funciona. Uma das maiores potências mundiais, com uma qualidade de vida impressionante, tem muito o que ensinar. Fala-se muito em Holanda, Noruega, mas a vida aqui é bastante confortável, e com mais sol. E com a ocasião da minha gravidez, pensei em contar um pouco do quanto o governo daqui é pró-família.

Começa no planejamento familiar, claro. Como a população tem um nível grande de educação, a maioria conhece métodos anticoncepcionais. Mas para quando existe algum problema – seja de saúde, do feto ou da mãe, ou por circunstancias em que a mulher não quer ser mãe naquele momento mas acabou engravidando – o aborto é uma solução perfeitamente legal. E veja bem, o país continua gerando – e muitas – crianças. Um passeio a pé em qualquer bairro pode demonstrar isto.

O conceito de família também começa com dois adultos que decidem formar uma. Não importa se são dois diferentes ou dois iguais. Casais homossexuais tem os mesmos direitos que os heteros, inclusive para adotar. E o país não está sendo dizimado.

Agora, quando uma família – ou mesmo uma pessoa sozinha – resolve ter um filho, o governo está lá para apoiar. A sociedade em geral me parece entender a idéia de que se queremos a continuação desta sociedade, pais que decidem ter filhos precisam de algum apoio. As medidas deste apoio aposto que deixam meus amigos liberais de cabelo em pé. Mas olha, tem funcionado bem.

Seis semanas antes da data prevista do parto e 8 semanas depois do parto, é a licença maternidade, com salário integral pago pela empresa empregadora. Depois disto, a mãe ou o pai pode receber do governo o equivalente a 65% do salário (com teto de 1800 euros) durante 14 meses para ficar em casa. É o chamado “dinheiro para os pais” (Elterngeld) – e vale para filhos naturais ou adotados. Geralmente os homens pedem apenas dois meses, mas o número de homens que pedem mais tempo tem aumentando. A idéia de papeis femininos ou masculinos ainda é muito forte aqui – pelo menos na Bavária – mas espero que com o tempo sejam mais parecidos aos países nórdicos neste sentido, de onde se espelham estas ajudas.

A ajuda financeira dura este tempo, mas se o pai ou a mãe resolver ficar em casa mais tempo, também tem esse direito, por até 3 anos em total desde o nascimento. E se o pai ou mãe trabalhava antes, a empresa tem que manter o posto de trabalho aberto para quando este retorne ao trabalho. Sufocam as empresas? Como disse no princípio, a Alemanha tem resistido bravamente a crise e os negócios por aqui vão muito bem obrigado. Reservar alguns meses em que um trabalhador tenha que ausentar-se, por uma, duas (mais comum) ou três vezes durante a vida parece ser um bom preço em troca de uma sociedade estável. Um direito igual a não ter que trabalhar fins de semana ou jornadas de trabalho maiores de que 8h ao dia.

Ser pró-família para mim é isto. É respeitar o tempo das pessoas, não obrigando-as a assumirem uma responsabilidade quando não querem. Nem ignorando uma parcela da população que pode e quer criar uma família, que tem todos as possibilidades para dar um lar e apoio a crianças sem isto. E depois que as famílias estão formadas, dar apoio a elas para terem tranquilidade no momento que os bebês são mais frágeis, sabendo que podem contar com apoio financeiro e segurança no trabalho.

Wearables and Human Behaviour

I found this paper “Inside Wearables – How the Science of Human Behaviour Change Offers the Secret to Long-Term Engagement” at MakerFaireUK, and the title caught my attention. It’s a really interesting approach to wearables, especially tackling the fact that “a third of U.S. consumers who have owned one stopped using the device within six months of receiving it”.

So what it’s the answer for long term engagement? First, they listed 9 baseline criteria for commercial success, things like OOB, UX, comfort, API/Integratability. Then, they look into human behavioural studies to find the key 3 criteria for this long term engagement: Habit Formation, Social Motivation, Goal Reinforcement.

Habit formation: “Psychologists define habits as automatic behaviors or routines that are triggered by situational cues, which are then followed by some form of reward. For example, when we feel lonely (internal trigger) or receive a push notification (external trigger) while riding the subway (situational cue) we check Facebook (behavior), and may experience pleasure (reward). Decades of psychological and cognitive neuroscience research have been spent studying the habit formation process.”

Social motivation: “The human factors and mechanisms at work here include social support from friends and family, as well as the fear and guilt from losing social capital by not reaching a goal* … we learn not just from our own experiences, but also vicariously from observing those around us. For example, if person A observes that person B has lost 10 pounds by using an activity tracker, person A learns that he or she may be be able to lose weight if he or she acquires an activity tracker and replicates the same behavior.”

Goal reinforcement: “To achieve sustained engagement, a user needs to experience a feeling of progress toward defined goals. … By setting small goals, people are less likely to over-reach and fall short, and thereby gain the momentum necessary to progress. This allows people to experience a sense of continuous progress.”

They then tested 8 wearables against those criterias. Here’s how they scored:

wearables-test1

The full paper is here http://endeavourpartners.net/assets/Wearables-and-the-Science-of-Human-Behavior-Change-EP4.pdf . It was a great reading, and made me remember why most often than not I spend my weekends on psychology books and writing essays. It’s not just about a good set of features – that’s the basics – but the key to adoption is looking into human behaviour and translating those into technology.

*I would debate that, but hey, let’s assume it’s true.

Blinking LEDs with Intel Galileo, Yocto and shell script

Using shell script to control LEDs from the Yocto system powering the Intel Galileo board. Using the documentation from Sergey’s Blog. Full shell script bellow:

#!/bin/sh

# gpio17 = Galileo pin 5
# gpio24 = Galileo pin 6
# gpio27 = Galileo pin 7

for i in 17 24 27; do
  echo out > /sys/class/gpio/gpio$i/direction
  echo strong > /sys/class/gpio/gpio$i/drive
done

for i in `seq 5`; do
  echo 0 > /sys/class/gpio/gpio17/value
  echo 0 > /sys/class/gpio/gpio24/value
  echo 0 > /sys/class/gpio/gpio27/value
  sleep 1
  echo 1 > /sys/class/gpio/gpio17/value
  echo 1 > /sys/class/gpio/gpio24/value
  echo 1 > /sys/class/gpio/gpio27/value
  sleep 1
done 

Germany’s first all-women Hackathon – by Berlin Geekettes

This weekend, right after MWC13, I went to Germany’s first all-women hackathon, organized by Berlin Geekettes (in Berlin). The event was invite only, and I was one of the +100 women – yes, +100 women – who attended and spent the weekend hacking. You can see pictures summing up the event at http://bghackathon.tumblr.com/. I served as UX and designer consultant for two teams, and one of the teams came in 4th! Full details of this amazing experience bellow:

Berlin Geekettes started one year ago, founded by Jess Erickson, and in just one year managed to form a network of +400 women connected to technology, from developers, designers, to entrepreneurs and angel investors. The team was approached and invited to Google, Facebook and other companies, to present the group and talk about their experience. The main team is formed of 4 other women, including an events manager, a technical ambassador, an evangelist and an official photographer/designer. The website is http://berlingeekettes.com/, but it will be changed soon from a Tumblr based to a full CMS page.

The Hackathon was attended by more than 100 women. This is a remarkable number even for those who are active in female oriented online groups and know how many women are active but avoid regular events for a number of reasons. The absolutely majority was developers of web applications, very few C developers. I didn’t count how many ideas were pitched, but in the end 28 projects were finalized and demoed. The event was sponsored and hosted by Deutsche Telekom, which provided space, flawless internet access and technical support; SoundCloud, sponsoring meals, prizes and having engineers to support the apps development; Uber, a car service who offered every participant one free ride anywhere and anytime; plus 15 smaller sponsorships, several with onsite engineers to support the developers. Facebook wanted to be there but double booked, so they send a video message specially recorded for the event. The Hackathon ran officially for 24hs, with extra activities expanding the event to a total of 48hs.

The difference from the regular hackathon, besides being an all-women event, was the inclusion of a yoga stretching room, where a volunteer ran 10min sessions during the 24hs to help developers to take a break; real food, delicious, organic, provided by an independent chef; a crafts room, where Etsy helped developers to craft their mascot; the sponsorship of a car service company to give everyone the sense of safety and freedom to hack as long as they wanted, and 2 little kids supporting their respective moms during demo time. Besides that, was everything like any other hackathon, obsessive hackers coding away, groups collaborating, arguing, supporting each other.

Image

The projects were posted using Hacker League website, and can be seen here https://www.hackerleague.org/hackathons/berlin-geekettes-hackathon/hacks . I participated in Journey Mix, a tool for finding tracks for long activities (the idea started to be pitched with “I used to go clubbing a lot. Now I go running a lot, but I miss the DJs”); and Bikeable Sounds, basically plotting your playlist into your bike path map. Both were using SoundCloud service. Journey Mix got the 4th place, and it’s live at http://alihaberfield.com/journeymix/docs/index.html. The first prizes went to Monkey See Monkey Do (1sthttp://youtu.be/Remm9SjorfY – helping children to understand their schedule); Life in Music (2ndhttp://www.lifeinmusic.net/); and Sound Pairs (3rdhttp://www.speedspiration.com/soundpairs/index.html, another educational tool for teaching sounds to children). My other favourite idea was the Urban Sound Archive, Mood Swings, Wonder Belt and Flip It.

It was an overwhelming experience to find myself with so many female hackers, and I think we were all in this same state of wonderment. But as for reflections on the developer scene, I noted a few important insights:

–       many web developers are just doing HTML5 without any fuss about it. We just did, without calling it HTML5, most of the time it was called JavaScript/CSS programming.

–       two of the most cheered demos, that got the crowd excited, were about sensors. The Wonder Belt used tapping to play Tetris, and the LeapPlay, using the LeapMotion sensor device to play music.

–       having a common objective and appropriate tools made us all go miles this weekend. I learned tons of CSS, my colleagues learned tons about API programming, SoundCloud learned a lot about bugs in their API, and everybody went further than they imagine. I saw one of my colleagues doing this face many times during the time there http://thejoysofcode.com/post/43971443267/when-i-accidentally-fix-a-huge-bug-with-a-single-line

–       having a UX knowledge can really save tons of time from developers. I helped them to think about the objectives, similarities and differences into 3 projects thinking of merging, ending up in two different projects. Ideas about what should be shown, should be hidden, should be featured, presented and in what order helped the developers to focus and achieve a lot more than if they had to test every option.

There are some talks for expanding Berlin Geekettes, and one of the first chapters will be Munich Geekettes, supported by this happy hacker-turned-designer-over-the-weekend reporter. Now if you excuse me, I will crash again because this week was amazing, but I need to recharge.

Chegando lá

Eu tenho ouvido de vez em quando esta frase – você chegou lá. Ouvi algumas vezes na vida, mas ultimamente tem sido mais frequente, seja de um parente que me descobriu na internet ou um conhecido de muitos anos.

Eu sempre achei esta frase um pouco confusa. Lá onde? Ou melhor, aqui, e aqui é onde? Eu imagino que queiram dizer que eu cheguei a um lugar confortável, reconhecido, de sucesso. Porque onde é aqui mesmo, se nem eu sei, imagino que seja difícil imaginar para qualquer um. Quem me conheceu antes geralmente não consegue imaginar ou dimensionar minha vida agora. E quem me conhece agora não consegue imaginar ou dimensionar o que foi antes. Eu agradeço quando me falam isto, mas até pra mim é difícil olhar pra trás e ver o começo.

Mas o que eu sempre fico com vontade de dizer para estas pessoas é que na verdade, você nunca chega lá. Quando você chega lá, ao horizonte que havia visto anteriormente, já tem um outro horizonte a vista. Tem gente que nem começa a viagem, porque o horizonte está longe. Tem gente que nunca para pra contemplar a vista…

Acho que muita gente se refere ao “chegar lá” de maneira financeira. E certamente, minha vida é muito mais confortável agora. E muito mais segura, principalmente morando fora do Brasil. Mas a máxima que dinheiro não trás felicidade foi comprovado por um estudo, que tentou descobrir se as pessoas eram mais felizes sendo mais ricas que outras. E descobriram que existe um ponto onde mais dinheiro não significa mais felicidade. Até um certo ponto sim, porque a falta de dinheiro é uma causa de infelicidade. Mas o excesso dele não faz diferença. Nos EUA este valor é estimado em US$75mil ao ano. Menos que isto pode te fazer infeliz, mas depois disto sua felicidade é a mesma que quem ganha US$300mil ao ano. Simplificando o estudo, “depois que você tem dinheiro suficiente para ir no cinema e comprar pipoca sem se preocupar com a conta de água, sua felicidade entra em um platô”. Eu gosto de ganhar o suficiente para ter uma vida confortável e pensar no futuro, mas gosto muito mais de aproveitar o agora que guardar pra depois. Eu sempre pensei que quero aproveitar a vida agora, viajar, quando estou jovem e com saúde. Esta história de trabalhar demais e acumular pra depois ter que gastar com remédios nunca foi pra mim… alias, ja escrevi uma vez minha opinião sobre dinheiro aqui… http://sulamita.net/2009/03/27/da-pra-parcelar-em-um-milhao-de-vezes/

E o fato de que o mundo é redondo tem uma consequência que muita gente que “chega lá” falha em entender – você não vai estar sempre por cima. Eu vejo isto vez após vez após vez… seja alguém que ganhou uma promoção ou alguém que começou a ser reconhecido na comunidade – já que muita gente que vem a este blog vem da mesma comunidade. Parabéns se você começou a ser reconhecido e se até te convidam para palestras! Mas isto não faz de você um guru de suma sabedoria. Nem uma celebridade. Pensa – são 7 bilhoes de pessoas no mundo; cerca de 1,5 bilhão tem acesso a internet; a maioria usa open source sem saber, mas a comunidade contribuidora em si deve corresponder a que… umas 300 mil pessoas? Não faço ideia, mas você entendeu o conceito ne? Então, deste suposto numero, qual seria este número para o Brazil? Mesmo que você tenha viajado para outros países, a probabilidade é que você conheceu apenas uma pequena parte, e que foi conhecido por mais alguma parte. E você aí já se achando um Tanembaum? Um Júlio Neves? :)

Ou novos gerentes que acham que de agora em diante, são imperadores e podem fazer o que quiserem. Ou que não devem mais ‘se misturar’. E descarregam todas suas frustrações e complexos nos subordinados. Novamente, o mundo gira… e pessoas que antes tinham uma divisão de várias dezenas de pessoas podem virar “contribuidores individuais”, como chamam. E os antigos subordinados podem agora estar em posições de poder, posições que poderiam ajudar… ou repetir o mesmo padrão.

Você sempre vai estar por baixo em algum momento no futuro, e eu acredito que aí vão te cobrar o que você fez quando estava por cima. Ter noção do sucesso trazido pelos seus esforços e trabalho são ótimos. Saber se defender da inveja alheia é necessário. Mas também manter em vista o seu real tamanho no mundo ajuda a não deixar isto “subir a cabeça”. E é isso que eu gostaria de encontrar uma maneira simples de demonstrar para todo mundo, mas sempre vai ter alguém achando que é o Escolhido… aí só resta ter paciência e esperar o mundo girar novamente…

E quanto a mim, é uma sensação boa olhar para trás e não ver o começo. Mas olho pra frente e ainda não vejo o final, o que é ainda mais emocionante :)