Captain Jack – Randomly Specific

We’ve spent this US holiday-non-Spanish holiday weekend developing our approach to finding a home in Galicia in the Northwest of Spain. My love for a well documented list is renowned. It’s a proven system and one anyone, of any level of intelligence, can execute. But let me walk you through it.

First, you tell your husband, who is already looking at real estate listings, that we need to make a list of what is most important to us. The must-haves v. the nice-to-haves.

Then you say to him, again, lets make a list after he sends you the 400th listing from Idealista or Fotocasa or one of a zillion other sites via email or WhatsApp or text. Why the mixed media? Who knows – but its disorganized and sloppy to me. Choose one and stick to it. And, oh yeah, let’s make a list!!

Jeff did this the entire time I was in the US and the entire time he was there and I wasn’t. I’m sure most of them are already sold. But yesterday I was able to pin him down. It didn’t take long, something he readily admitted but used against me like it was a personal weakness.

‘See. I told you it wouldn’t take long.’ he told me, shaking his head. Clearly failing to see the value in clarifying our priorities.

So I slept better last night. It would be short lived. Today, Jeff added a twist that only he could and it’s one that no one, and I do mean NO ONE, could have ever anticipated in the history of home buying, or generally living as a land-based mammal.

We went for a walk down on the beach. Time for a leisurely stroll and a detox juice at my favorite beach spot. So relaxing. Then we walked back and Jeff saw the cargo ships out on the water. He pointed to them excitedly.

‘See those? That’s what I want to see from our new house. I want to lay in bed or sit on the couch or on the terrace and watch the ships. Day or night.’

He looked excited! It’s the most excited I’ve seen him since he’s been home. Including when I met him at the airport.

‘I wonder where they’re going and what they’re carrying. You know, I think you could probably get that data and build a UI so you could track maritime traffic.’ He was talking to himself.

This is Jeff’s form of free association. It’s where the genesis of so many of his ideas start. Although, often I’m not often there for it real-time. And I knew he wasn’t going to let this go.

So this afternoon, I notice he’s been gone for sometime in his lair. I leave him alone because he’s clearly doing something and I’m doing something and, I’m not stupid, neither of these things is going to be like the other. But I know when he emerges I’ll have some update on something he’s been mulling over.

I’m having a flashback to when we moved from Seattle to Arizona for my job. Jeff mapped the traffic patterns of the entire Valley of the Sun for a 3 month period based on specific data points. He married those with crime statistics and high school test scores (for Emilie). I didn’t know he was doing this but when he brought it to me and declared where we would be living I was in no way surprised. And I did exactly as he suggested. My commute was the shortest of my career and it was like living in Mayberry, as far as safety was concerned.

So he came out while I was repairing my broken blog (thank you for the heads up, Andy). He sits down and pulls up a website and shows me all the maritime traffic around the entire Iberian Peninsula. And he’s animated about it.

‘Tell me what I’m looking at.’ I say – barely paying attention as I’m trying to understand how I can resize and standardize the size of the photos I’ve already imported into WordPress.

‘Well, it turns out that there are land stations that contribute to the data for tracking ships and that you can contribute to crowd sourcing maritime data. So I’ve started mapping the location of available homes along the Galician coastline against the gaps in their data collection. If you look on the maritime map you can see where the gaps are. We could fill one of those gaps. And if we do that they’ll share even more data with me.’

This is perhaps the longest set of words he’s strung together since he’s been home. I don’t know what to say. None of this was on the list from yesterday. It’s not been prioritized. But I’m hopeful I can use it to my purpose.

‘Will this, in any way, help you winnow the list of 400 properties down to something more manageable? Like to the 10-20 homes that we’ll ever tour with an agent?’

He looks at me like he can’t believe I don’t understand his purely data driven pitch, upon which we should base our entire real estate purchase. Our ability to contribute to maritime data collection on the Spanish coastline should be top of mind. We do have another list, and I remind him of this. But there is more. I know there’s more.

I readily agree if he’s willing wear an Irish fisherman’s sweater and a captain’s hat exclusively from now on, answering only to the name ‘Captain Jack’. Jeff’s grandfather was a Norwegian halibut fisherman. I’m sure he has visions of himself heading down to the dock to chat up the crusty old salts spinning yarns about the one that got away. Except these people will be speaking Gallego (close to Portuguese) and he can barely converse with the girl at the cafe on the corner in Espanol. But he agrees a little too quickly. So, there is more. There has to be more.

‘And I looked up Weather Underground. The micro weather targeting on the coast of Northern Spain is sadly lacking. We could add to that too.’

Again, not surprised. But I feel sure the piece de resistance is upon us.

‘And then, I was doing research on water temperatures and wave tracking. There aren’t many of those buoys either. Especially ones that report real-time via satellite, to contribute to all the climate change information being gathered. But there’s a company in San Francisco that makes personal buoys. You can actually buy your own buoy and agree to share the information with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), and NOAA and the like. It’s solar powered and doesn’t need maintenance for 10 years. And it fits into the size of a suit case. I could order one and bring it back with us in December!’

I’ve very sure there has to be a start up pitch video on YouTube and I’m not disappointed. We sit and watch how it works, etc. Along with the underwater drone they sell. (We’ll need one of those, too.)

‘Why do I feel like when we are ready to move you’ll be waiting in the car with your computer equipment, a tripod, high powered binoculars, a wet suit and your buoy while I deal with the the rest of the details? I can hear you now ‘Come on. Hurry up! There’s data waiting to be collected.’ Ugh!’

He has nothing to say to this because he knows I’m right. Sadly, I’m well aware that this is exactly how it’s going to go. But we all have our roles. And, if I’m honest, this is the kind of crap that made me fall in love with him in the first place. So I can’t complain. And I know I’ll be happy sitting on the terrace watching the ships go by, tracking our buoy’s light flashing on the water. OK, maybe not as much as Jeff as he’s crunching the numbers in his data base and bringing me graphs to review. But still.

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