Chaini & Company

Chaini

August 10. Rainy days are here again, and there. Chaini, a young girl who hadn’t emailed me for more than a hundred years, whom I consider a dear daughter, suddenly sent me rain the other day. By email. I downloaded the attachment, and there it was: A street scene so still I could see the tiny raindrops falling at an angle. I watched the rain for a while, drinking of it all. It was all so real.

‘Into each life some rain must fall.’ I understand Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote that, more than a hundred years ago. Longfellow-like, her note said something about ‘enduring the rain’ – that was the message of the rain in the attachment. A chain attachment, like a chain letter. Someone else’s animated rain, but when Chaini sent it, it became my rain. I didn’t take note of who first sent it, or who created it, and I didn’t send it to someone else like the attachment suggested, for some promised blessings, but I loved it. I wrote Chaini that I loved the rain that she sent me or, more correctly, that God sent me, because I just loved the rain. I thank God for the rain.

Chaini – not her real name, but she knows who she is – is a young girl who has failed in love once and in war twice, that I know of. She is hurting inside although she doesn’t show it, and she doesn’t tell you, and I know that that is hell on earth. I had been there before; I had suffered quietly but greatly from some sad experiences that I had nobody to blame but myself. There was this girl whom I was in love with and then said goodbye to when I learned that when you are poor, the rich don’t bother much about you. That was after I had been declared ‘Extreme Delinquent’ in my studies at UP Los Baños, as in one semester I had three 5’s (Failed) and two 4’s (Conditional). After that, my ego became my #1 enemy – I couldn’t accept that my girl friend didn’t really love me, and that I had neglected my studies because I had fallen in love too much. Stoically, I suffered for more than 35 years; twice I almost had a nervous breakdown. That was a cruel year. The years did pass, the angst did not. I survived, but figuratively oblivious to the world around me. Then, 2 or 3 years after my wife and I were inducted into the companionship of the Bukás Loób sa Díyos (BLD) Catholic Charismatic Community, I learned to surrender everything to God. I threw everything at the foot of the cross. ‘Lord, please take care of what I cannot take care.’ The problems did not go away, but my burden became lighter and lighter over the months until I became aware of my own surroundings, and my family. That was my own private little/big miracle. And that was when, among other things, I learned not to endure the rain but to love it.

So, I pray for Chaini that she may have her own private little/big miracle. Then she will truly enjoy, not endure, the rain.

The Challenge of the Impossible

August 26: When I took over as Editor in Chief of the Philippine Journal of Crop Science, it was 10 issues late. First published in 1976, this is a journal that comes out 3 times a year (April, August, December) and it was 10 issues late! A phenomenon, a scientific curiosity. Since I would have to work on my own 3 issues for the year, in effect the PJCS was 13 issues late. A curious number, to say the least.

Make the PJCS up-to-date? An impossible task. I knew that, but I thought I was up to the challenge of the impossible. I had been editor and writer for many publications since 1975, 28 years ago. I had worked in as writer and editor of publications and reports (and even instructor) in rice, animal husbandry, forest production, forest products, farming systems (agronomy & soils), entomology, aquaculture, botany, horticulture (floriculture, olericulture, pomology, ornamentals). And I had edited many a thesis (BS, MS) and many a dissertation (PhD). I had read much in many areas and was ready to edit a journal that covered many fields, from the laboratory to the field to the classroom to the mass media.

Not only that. I knew the software for writing, editing and desktop publishing like you’ll never believe it. I’m 65, you see, and I started learning to use the computer when I was already 45 years old. And I had to teach myself. (Oh, I was an easy student because I was persistent even with those commands and features that I did not understand.)

So, on January 2003, I started being a one-man-band (OMB) for the journal, being Editor and Writer and Publisher all at the same time: I was the one desktop-publishing everything. So I finished my first complete journal issue in 5 months. Too long. But I had to start from zero. All the previous issues were prepared as journals were before the age of the personal computer; now that desktop publishing is here, it is time to change the process. So I did. I had to redesign the whole journal, create the page layouts, assign fonts and sizes for heads and subheads and texts and captions, be definite on the column sizes and spaces, decide on running heads and pages, format line and character spacings and so on. I also had to generate a new set of guidelines for contributors to the PJCS. This was necessary because of the shift from manual publishing to computerized publishing. PJCS was in the Age of The Computer and it had to be relevant to the times. So, this is how it went:

I finished my 1st journal issue in 5 months. Too long.
I finished my 2nd journal issue in 4 months. Still too long.
I finished my 3rd journal issue in 3 months. Not bad.
I finished my 4th journal issue in 2 months. Now we were getting somewhere!

Then everything stopped. I had exhausted all the papers that had been critiqued twice by peer reviewers and revised by the authors. Speed is an enemy when you’re not prepared.

So I sent out papers to reviewers, but not one returned. Half a year passed. Nothing was happening. I was paid by the issue, so the CSSP as publisher lost nothing except he opportunity to catch up sooner.

Then I went on a 2-month consultancy out of Los Baños. So the journal slept for about a year. That was 2004.

Then EDR stepped in. As President of the CSSP, he was concerned that the journal was still late. He decided to act. I was called to several meetings and the tenor of EDR’s questions to me was that I was to blame for the delay. All the sins of the past editors were now being brought on me.

At one point, I clearly heard him say to a few members of the CSSP Board during a meeting: ‘Palitan na kaya natin ang Editor.’ (Why don’t we change the Editor instead?) Some people had been questioning my competence as Editor, being a non-researcher, and without a PhD attached to my name at that. He must have been thinking that if the Editor was changed, things would pick up and no more late issues. By the tone of his voice I knew he meant it. I don’t know why what he wanted to do he didn’t do, but I’m glad. Now I don’t have to prove anything anymore. Because this is what happened:

This was early 2005. At that time we were now ‘only’ 9 issues late, because I had come out with 4 previous issues in my 1st year (2003). Still a long way to go.

EDR confronted me and challenged me face-to-face: ‘Can we erase the backlog?’ He was asking me if we (meaning me) could make the journal up-to-date in time for the May 2004 annual conference? He wrote on the green board a schedule of deadlines in going to press, assuming 2 weeks to print, working backwards from April 30, the very last day for the very last issue to come off the press to make the dream come true. The 36th CSSP conference was to be held in Cagayan de Oro City first week of May.

Without hesitation I said ‘Yes.’ Yes if I had enough papers to edit and layout. So he worked out a system whereby each of the members of the CSSP Board became a coordinator of papers, looking for reviewers (2 for each paper) and following up the progress of the reviews, then submitting everything to the authors and following up on the revisions too, when necessary.

Ever so slowly the reviews were finished and ever so slowly the papers were revised by the authors. EDR asked me again several weeks later: ‘Can we erase the backlog?’ And my reply was the same: ‘Yes.’ If I have enough papers to edit and layout.

So he assumed that I would, and I did. The rest is history.

What did I do? I delivered the goods on such and such a date. The dates I give below are not precise, as I did not bother to write the exact dates down; so, allow an error of 1 or 2 days before or after, but you get the idea. So, continuing from where I left off in 2003, this is what happened in the first 4 months of 2005:

 

1. I finished the next issue and went to press on January 03. This came off the press January 19. #5 in my list…

2. I finished the next issue and went to press on January 17. This came off the press February 3. #6 in my list…

3. I finished the next issue and went to press on January 30. This came off the press February 14. #7 in my list..

4. I finished the next issue and went to press on February 18. This came off the press March 2. #8 in my list…

5. I finished the next issue and went to press on February 28. This came off the press March 19. #9 in my list…

6. I finished the next issue and went to press on March 17. This came off the press March 29. #10 in my list..

7. I finished the next issue and went to press on March 31. This came off the press April 10. #11 in my list…

8. I finished the next issue and went to press on April 11. This came off the press April 22. #12 in my list…

9. I finished the next issue and went to press on April 19. This came off the press 30. #13 in my list.

When I say ‘issue,’ I mean a complete journal of 60 pages of single-spaced technical articles layouted, proofread, edited and checked many times (5 times at different dates), the cover designed and the table of contents prepared. So, I delivered 9 issues in all; I was the midwife to 1 issue every 2 weeks for 2005. That means 8 issues (my #6 to #13) worked on for 2005, one issue (my #5) being worked on 2004 December but printed 2005 January.

So, I did the impossible. The impossible took me a little more than 2 years to do. Indeed, we did it as a team, the CSSP board and I, but mine was the most crucial role in all: I had to be editor, proofreader, copyreader, layout artist, designer all at the same time – and I had to do it under extreme time pressure. Now I have nothing more to prove to anyone.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Extreme Delinquent, missions impossible, rainy days

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