Jacques Mattheij

technology, coding and business

Will Work for Food and Lodging

In the past, the various professions were organized as guilds. If you wanted to become a cabinet maker you’d enter into an apprenticeship arrangement with a ‘master’ cabinetmaker and you’d be taught the tricks of the trade over a several year period. As your final examination you would be required to make a masterpiece (that’s where that word comes from) and then, if the master accepted your work you could call yourself a cabinetmaker. To avoid you setting up shop right next door and end up cannibalizing the person that taught you and to promote the flow of ideas within the guild you would then be discharged from your apprenticeship and your journeyman years started.

The journeyman years are an interesting concept. The newly minted cabinetmaker (or bricklayer, wheelwright, smith, whatever) would don travelling clothes (including a walking stick), pack up his tools and a knapsack and hit the road, travelling from town to town offering his services, telling stories and would be given food and a roof over his head during the nights. This period would last from 1 to 3 years, and upon completion the former apprentice, now journeyman would be permitted to settle in a spot that the guild had some say in and would be allowed to call himself a master.

As technology became more and more widespread the power of the guilds diminished and tradecrafts died out. In some isolated pockets of the world the journeyman concept still exists but it is really an anachronism. For instance, in Germany the carpenter trade still practices (a limited form) of the journeyman years and occasionally you can see them walking the roads or the streets there.

So, besides wishing all the readers of this blog a very happy 2014 I have an offer to make. I’ll divide 2014 into 13 equal portions of 4 weeks each. 12 of those, starting the 1st of February will have one half dedicated to the things that I normally do to make a living (maintain my websites, consultancy, technical due diligence). The other half I will give away to parties within 1,000 km from my base (Amsterdam) who think they have an interesting job for me to do. There will be no payment for this, I’ll pay for my own fuel for my trusty bus, other than in the journeymans tradition that I would expect food and lodging. Though each part will be limited to two weeks there is no reason why there could not be more parties geographically close that would all want me for a bit shorter than that so feel free to request shorter things as well.

So, if you want to take me up on this offer mail me at jacques@mattheij.com with who you are, what you (or your company) wants me to do, where you are located and if there is some specific time-frame or other conditions then you should probably tell me about that too. Every 4 week period I will select one or more of the open offers and we’ll arrange for a specific date & time to visit and work on your project.

Don’t feel too limited about the kind of work that you have, I’m pretty versatile. If any tools are required for whatever you want to do and I have them (and you don’t) then I could probably bring them with me (the bus will hold about 5 cubic meters worth of stuff), however if I don’t have the tools required then I won’t be buying them. If any materials are required then that’s your problem, and of course I would expect you to be available during the time that we agree I’ll be ‘on site’. Naturally, I reserve the right to write about my experiences on the road as well as with you / your company, suitably anonimized.

This offer does not automatically constitute an obligation to accept, I will evaluate the offers on a case-by-case basis and will select those that are in my opinion and solely at my discretion the best fit.

If you want to get an idea of what I can do the rest of this blog might give you some hand-holds. I’m not limiting this offer any more than I have to so feel free to ask me to help remodel your house but chances are that there will be something a bit more aligned with my skills. Otoh if yours is the only request and it is to help remodel your house I will probably take it :)

Some stuff I’ve done over the years: ran a mid sized company (25 employees), designed a windmill, wrote the software to help design it, built the plasmacutter/mill and associated electronics that it was made on, cad/cam software, car restoration, house rebuilding and house building, electronics design, general programming, web programming (but that’s not up to 2014 standards), general problem solving (the more difficult the bigger the chance that I’ll like the challenge :) ) and so on.

I really try to live up to my favorite line from Robert A. Heinlein’s books: “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

So feel free to challenge me in unexpected ways.