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On a Personal Note

April 26, 2020. The Quar goes on. My wife, Lisa, is still working full-time, doing deficiency clean up at a condo development out at the University of British Columbia. She responds well in a time of crisis and is my much better half. I am now officially a Stay at Home Dad. It suits me, and I'm thinking of keeping it this way for at least a year. At home with me are Alex, our oldest boy, 13, experimenting with facial hair, trying on age 16 for size. Our youngest, Rowan, 11, has Downs and autism, still nonverbal but communicates in a Rowan kind of way. He is 65% radiant sunshine, 25% handful, and 10% Hell Child. We love him very much, and with me especially for being the only genuinely honest and unfiltered person I know.

The situation is working out well. We are pretty good for money at the moment, with Lisa working, me getting EI, and help from our parents. Our local, smallish supermarket has food. I get Rowan out for at least a few hours a day, weather permitting. We run errands (as few as possible, as many as needed) or just walk around. The weather has been chilly and showery for the past few days, but before that Vancouver saw two weeks of sunshine. The cherry blossoms are out in full swing, just starting to fade. Gardens are bursting.

Alex is coping in a teenagery way with a potent mix of helpful, sullen, defiant, and funny. In other words, doing his job. Many low-scale battles being waged at the moment around things like chores, and homework, and money, and independence, and why does it matter really if I stay up to three in the morning every morning? All very challenging, interesting, and entertaining.

Big chunks of my time are filled with Running the Show. Cleaning, laundry, shopping, cooking, etc. There's always room for improvement, particularly when you have a Rowan to contend with, but I feel like I'm achieving a solid B plus. The rest of time time is spent either working on this website or gardening - more on gardening later.

As I've mentioned, this is the first site I've posted in many years. If I recall correctly, it was Dreamweaver at the time. Nowadays it looks like it's Wix or Squarespace, and Squarespace is only free for a month so Wix it is. Like almost everyone, I'm learning as I go.

Current Activities on this Site, a.k.a. Stuff I'm Working On/Stuff I'm Going to Work On/Stuff I Need to Learn More to Work On

- The site contains a number of different Categories - Lifestyle, Properties, etc. - and a blog feed. Posts in the blog can be assigned a Category, and I've been doing that, but posts are being assigned to the wrong Categories. So that's baffling at the moment.

- My plan is for this site to become extremely information dense. This will involve hierarchies of categories, making something like a table of contents necessary. Got to look into that, ideally something self-generating.

- Speaking of which, what is the plan?

1. Use down time in the Quar to become interested in property in the Algarve. Hell, why not? Something to do, I've been to Lagos a couple of times, once with Lisa, had a fabulous time. What would it be like to live there? I wonder what a dream home in the Algarve looks like?

2. Jump into the rabbit hole of luxury property listings, getting a sense of taste - that looks good to me, yikes!, that's too much, I like that. Look at more realistic options, think about how that intersects with things like location, geography, options. Start examining the country itself and the pragmatics of daily life.

3. Start to think seriously about what would be involved in moving the family to Portugal. The technicalities, the paperwork, dealing with the varying levels of government. Health care, schools, transit, services (especially around disability). Figuring out what part of the Algarve meets the most of our needs, picking a few ideal areas to settle in. Researching what properties are available in those areas.

4. Realize at least two things. First, I get a lot of pleasure out of doing all this, it's fun, entertaining. Second, this is a rich vein of information that would be very useful and valuable to someone thinking about moving to Portugal. It's all legwork, and best of all legwork with an endless supply of potential new content, namely property listings and media from the Creative Commons. The Algarve's geography remains relatively static, but the real estate market is an endlessly flowing pipe. There will always be new properties for sale, no matter what the consequences of Corona (well, given a certain base level of civilization).

5. Start a website where all this info can be stored and organized. This brings us to the present moment in the Plan. Next -

6. Continue working on the site - researching, posting content, designing and organizing as I go. Get it to a point where it is full enough to officially open the doors and present it to the public. While doing that, post all the work-in-progress.

7. Once the site is live, contact every business and individual who is linked to in the site and let them know. This will take some time and will be part of regular, scheduled maintenance. Continue to generate content regularly.

8. Start developing an audience base. This will take a long time to get going, but I have faith that a blend of personal passion, a steady supply of content about a specialized topic, and the added benefit that the Algarve just fucking rocks in so many ways, makes a respectable subscriber base attainable.

9. Start developing digital relationships with people who live and work in the Algarve, using WhyTheAlgarve as the intersection. Real estate agents and companies, rental agents, Air BnB people. Lawyers, accountants, bankers. Journalists, content producers (podcasts, blogs). Recreation companies. The key, of course, is having that subscriber base to bring to your side of the relationship table, making the site a valuable commodity.

10. Once a respectable subscriber base is reached, decide on a method of monetization. This will probably be a Patreon-type arrangement - the majority of the content for free, with extra content for those who chip in monthly. The goal here (perhaps I should have mentioned that before now) is to create a way to generate income from home while at the same time taking care of our family. I'm sure I'm not the only person thinking along these lines at the moment.

11. Draw all the threads together, making a move to Portugal possible. Once there, I can continue with the website and support ourselves that way, or at least have it be a big part of an income stream. We don't live large.

The biggest potential fly in the ointment at the moment regards posting pics and information from listing sites like idealista and real estate agencies. It's true that everything will link back to the sources, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I have to get permission to do this. Of very high priority right now is posting a blog entry about idealista, really highlighting what their site is capable of. I would like to have something I can point to that demonstrates my intentions when I do contact them about this. When you come down to it, a lot of what I'm doing is designed to drive traffic to their site. If it winds up that I have to get individual permissions from individual real estate agents/companies, so be it.

Here are the two services I want to provide:

- Information about the Algarve - moving there, living there, visiting there. A public service, basically, which will always be included in the free content.

- Curated lists of properties culled from various online sources. A "Best Of," or "Picks of the Week," or what have you. Something to consult before you hire a real estate agent. A tool to help you solidify exactly what you're looking for and where. After all, if you decided you wanted to move to the Algarve, you would start looking at property listings. You would quickly realize that there are thousands of them, and sifting through them to find the nuggets takes time. Let me take the time for you.

Enough for now.

That's Alex in the above image, btw, original photo and manipulation by me.

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