Letter #5 - 90 days of doing whatever I like

Planning this is not as easy as you think..

Hello and welcome to another issue of Letter. As I write this issue, I’ve just finished a cup of coffee and now enjoying the beautiful winter morning from the balcony overlooking the city traffic. My mind is free of work-related stress, and I don’t have to move if I don’t want to. 😁 That’s because I’m enjoying one of the best perks of working at Automattic, Sabbatical. 

Automatticians get to take a 90-day vacation as soon as they reach their fifth anniversary. During this time, they are not only discouraged from working, but certain access is revoked so that it’s not even possible to work even if they want to. 

I was eligible to take this extended leave last year, but I had to take it a year later due to some planning issues on my part. It ended up being for the better, though, as 2020 wasn’t the year I would’ve enjoyed the time off. I’m fortunate that I had a job during a year that was brutal to many, but I wouldn’t have enjoyed taking an extended leave staying at home. 

I’ve written more about my first sabbatical at Automattic and how I plan on spending this time. You can find it on ais.blog at this link.

Sabbatical

Let’s get to other things I have for you this week. 


🍿 What I’ve watched

As it’s been some time since the last issue, there’s a good number of stuff I’ve watched. Here’s what I enjoyed the most:

Harry Potter - All Eight Films

I watched the first three  Harry Potter films when I was a kid. Of course, my English knowledge was limited, so I only enjoyed seeing magical things without a clue as to what was happening. I haven’t watched any of the other Harry Potter films since the one with the Knight Bus.

During one of the Automattic Grand Meetups (which used to be an all-company meetup typically hosted somewhere in North America), we got to visit Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. There’s a place inside there called The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley. The entire place was reserved for Automatticians. We got to walk around the place and get into any of the rides without any queues. 

I enjoyed the place a lot. But it wasn’t until last month that I truly regretted not watching the Harry Potter movies sooner. As I slowly transformed into a Potterhead, my willingness to revisit the Diagon Alley deepened. I remember some things from Diagon Alley, including the large dining hall, and the dragon atop the Gringotts bank, but I don’t remember the details simply because I wasn’t aware of them (having not read the books or watched the movies). 

HBO Max has all the eight Harry Potter movies, and I absolutely loved binge-watching them. If you haven’t watched them or if you feel like rewatching the series, head over to HBO Max

9/11: Inside the President's War Room

This Apple TV+ documentary was one of the best things I’ve watched recently, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has even a remote interest in the 9/11 incident. You may have opposing opinions of the Bush administration’s handling of the 9/11 events, but seeing the Bush side of the day is fascinating regardless.

Probably the first of its kind, this documentary gives us a unique perspective of the president’s day as it unfolded, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Old

M. Night Shyamalan is back, and if you know and like his style, you might like Old as well. 

There will always be different opinions about movies and TV shows, and these are art forms, and different people will always see things differently. 

Old kept me glued to the screen until the end. It has the typical M. Night Shyamalan flavor, and I couldn’t stop feeling the subtle life lessons injected throughout the film. 

One of the most prominent is realizing how little time we really have and how mundane most of our lives really are. 

Some movies tempt me to launch an entire blog dedicated to my in-depth movie observations because they bring a buffet of thoughts to me, and Old is one of them. But I never end up doing that as movies are an art form, and when someone doesn’t like a movie, they generally have strong opinions of that. So it might not actually be the best use of anyone’s time. 

In any case, I recommend giving it a watch. 

📖 Long Read

💉 Nine Pandemic Words That Almost No One Gets Right 

The title is self-explanatory. It might be an excellent resource to share with your family and friends if you see them misusing some of these terms (and that’s not their fault, as the governments themselves aren’t often straightforward, as the article illustrates). 

🏝 When It Comes to a Travel Restart All Vaccines Are Not Equal 

I spent a lot of time looking through various news, travel, and government websites trying to understand what kind of vaccine will be allowed for international travel. (This was mentioned as a verified source by many sites.) As you know by now, I have three months off from work and I wanted to travel internationally. But there isn’t a way to choose which vaccine you get in Bangladesh. 

If you work or study abroad, you can get Moderna or Pfizer, but otherwise, it depends on which vaccination center you chose. There’s no way to know which center will use which vaccine, and there isn’t a way to change the vaccination center once you’ve registered for the vaccine. 

Because I saw that they were administering Moderna vaccines in the center closest to my home, I registered for the vaccine there, and as luck would (not) have it, they stopped the first dose with Moderna a few days before I got the appointment to take my first jab. 

They had started giving Sinopharm at that point, and all my “research” led to this unpleasant truth that Sinopharm wasn’t accepted in most countries that I was willing to travel to (including the United States). 

The Bloomberg article paints an accurate picture of the vaccine politics going on around the world. I can’t blame our government for not giving me Moderna or Pfizer because Sinopharm and others are WHO-approved shots, and it’s up to the other countries to accept them.

There are many horror stories on Facebook groups by people traveling abroad (either for work or study) and failing to get an approved vaccine. It is getting better, but tourists still can’t take a vaccine that’s approved in the country they’re traveling to. (Since you can’t choose which vaccine you get.)

I ended up taking Sinopharm, but the frustration is still there. News says the US will soon accept travelers who have taken two doses of the Sinopharm vaccine, so one can hope that the rest of the countries will follow suit. But it’s still mind-boggling how bad the world bureaucracy is when it comes to things like this. 

Until Next Time

That’s it for today! Expect to read another issue in two weeks. Until then, if you’d like to follow whatever I’m doing during my sabbatical, make sure to subscribe to this newsletter if you haven’t already.

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