05 April, 2016

Two things for Tuesday

Yep, still running to catch up. I had two significant things this morning.

Just take my blood
Moving between countries has its challenges, as does trying to marry the standards of both countries as well as the international organisation that we work with. Here's today's example:

We have two-yearly medicals with our mission. That's just standard. On the field these medicals are done by medical advisors who are generally mission members themselves. But they don't have the legal power to do things like prescribe medication or order blood tests in the countries they serve in. That means that getting our medicals done can get complicated because we have to "use" the medical system in the country we work in to get what our organisation needs. 

Japan has a system for over 40s of annual tests. But of course this happens at set times, but so do the mission medicals for us because the medical advisor doesn't live in our neck of the woods. Of course these aren't matching up at present! Plus we've shifted between countries twice since I turned 40. I got the forms last time I had a birthday in Japan, but as I'd just had an OMF medical, I didn't see the need to do the Japanese medical as well, a month later. I don't know what happened about the forms that came just after I turned 40...maybe they got lost in the mess of daily life.

So, we got an email a couple of weeks ago from the mission that asked us to make sure we'd gotten our over-40 blood test done and the results to our medical advisor this week prior to our medicals. Trouble is, I just had my birthday and don't have the forms yet! I asked a Japanese colleague about it and she checked with our city office who said they couldn't send the forms early. She said I should just go to my doctor and ask for the blood tests (and gave me the name of it as a string of Japanese characters). As they include a starving blood test, I needed to make an appointment as opposed to just rocking up as I'd usually do if I needed to see the doctor.

So I walked over to the doctor today foolishly thinking this wouldn't be too hard. I had the email on my phone that had those string of characters (I don't know how to say them). Somehow between the entrance to the building and the doctor's office (one set of stairs) I lost the email! So I ended up pulling out my computer (which I don't usually carry around with me, but was going to a meeting that I'll write about below). 

All of this probably wouldn't have been necessary if my Japanese was better! It was all a bit of a mystery to the reception and nursing staff, but they eventually took me in to see a doctor who read the email, questioned me, and agreed that this was possible! I don't know how much insurance will cover, but basically he said that I could have the tests much cheaper if I had some kind of symptom like tiredness or pain so that we could claim. I wasn't about to fake a symptom so I said I had nothing. I guess I'll find out on Thursday if the doctor will "fake" it for me in his paperwork.

This all took about 25 minutes. It was embarrassing and a little frustrating, but I know that Australia has rules like this too that you can't circumvent. I just wish sometimes for a bit of flexibility on behalf of those of us who are on the edge of several systems and trying to get them to work together for us.

Behind the scenes
You occasionally see photos of icebergs with captions on them describing "teaching" or "sermon" or some other thing that requires a lot of preparation or practise or work behind the scenes. Magazines are another that fit in this category. We put so much work into it that is not recognised by the readers (or at least they don't consciously recognise it).

I'm grateful in many ways that I work in a virtual team. We have very few meetings. That can make communication tricky, email can quickly get out of hand! However sometimes we do have meetings. Four times a year, after the previous issue comes out, I meet with our art director (head of the design team), but today we added in our Executive Editor who's been out of the country for the last several months. Because we have so few meetings I enjoy them!

Today we "rented" a table at the local coffee shop and talked for three hours. Covering topics as diverse as:
  • future relationship between digital and print materials 
  • word count guidelines
  • communication within the team
  • what to call our "regular contributors" in the "front material" of the magazine
  • submission dates
  • annual planning meeting
Putting a magazine together is such a mix of big picture and minute detail. It really exercises your mind, especially when you're the manager of it all!

The other reason I enjoy these meetings is that editing and writing can be lonely jobs when you do them from your home office. It is great to get some creative energy together in one place and encourage one another.

So there's a peek into my day. The rest of my afternoon has been writing follow-up emails pertaining to the above meeting and writing this blog. I've just a tiny bit more time until the kids start to trail in the door, so I might be able to slip a little more actual article editing into my achievements for the day.

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