Saturday, June 20, 2015

Read It, June 2015, Progress Report 3

It has been a crazy-busy and stress-generating week. I have left one job and started another. I am now working for Thorlabs, Inc. as part of their "UFO" (Ultrafast Optoelectronics) team in Ann Arbor. Thorlabs is not a small company but the UFO office is a new "greenfield initiative" business unit. Here is the press release about the UFO office. I probably shouldn't try to say much more about it, so I will just say that it is a very cool team working on very cool things! Also, employee discount! Parents! Teach your kids about Mach-Zehnder Interferometry!

What does this mean for the Potts family in Saginaw? Well, that is a difficult question. For some jobs it would make little difference if I was working in my home office or in the company's office; I could write code either way. In this position I will need to be on-site a lot. So for now I am commuting. It is 90 minutes one way. Some people might be willing to drive three hours a day for work, but I'm not. So I have arranged to spend part of my week in Ann Arbor and part of my week in Saginaw and commute weekly instead of daily. I've completed my first week of this arrangement and I'm actually driving fewer miles per week than I was commuting daily to Dow in Midland.

We will eventually move back to Washtenaw County, or at least a lot closer to it. The housing market in Washtenaw county is problematic (warning: PDF link). We own a home (well, at least a mortgage) in Saginaw. It is not clear if we might be able to get any money back out of the house at all. The home market in Saginaw does not seem to have improved since 2010. The differential in housing prices is pretty dramatic, so even if we could get our down payment back, it would probably not suffice for a down payment on a home (even a much smaller home) in Washtenaw County. We need to be open to possible creative solutions. Meanwhile, I'll be commuting again this week while we try to figure this out.

So I have not gotten a lot of reading done. I did chip away a little bit at The Long Ships by Frans Gunnar Bengtsson. It's a funny, imaginative pseudo-historical tale about Vikings. I don't have a lot to say about it yet. I also had a line-jumper; I found, at Nicola's Books, a copy of Alastair Reynolds' new novella Slow Bullets. At about 40,000 words, it's a quick read. I enjoyed this dark but hopeful story, but I admit the setup is slightly hackneyed (the passengers in hibernation wake up only to discover their journey has lasted far longer than they ever expected). It has some of Reynolds' signature Revelation Space body-horror moments, so if you're not used to that, you might not like this work. The print edition is marred by a couple of glaring typos. If you are already a Reynolds fan, you will have to read this one. If you aren't, you might want to start with one of his story collections. I particularly recommend Zima Blue and Other Stories.

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