Sempai!  The Comic Strip!
The mostly true tales of the Sempai Gang!
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Kevin Reflects

As the song says, "I get by with a little help from my friends."

Tonbo is more than a bit busy these last few weeks. Not only has he had the loss of a family member, with all of the family commitments and personal reflections that entails, but he and Kitsune have been doing me a huge favor. They have been moving to take over running the Video Rooms for Project: A-Kon.

And are discovering how much really goes into it.

Not that they did not already know. Kitsune has actually been involved with the Video Staff a year longer than I have, and had circumstances been slightly different four years ago, there is a good chance he might have ended up being Head of Video instead of me.

Tonbo has been involved off and on over the last few years, and has helped out & watched myself, Kitsune, Pat-o-chan, Catnip, and others fret and worry about the details. Always willing to help out, either directly or by keeping others calm while the crises were being dealt with, Tonbo has seen a lot of it as well.

But there is something fundamentally different when you are the one doing it. Part of it is the internalization of the stress, and the desire to do something really well. Part of it is the commitment one has made not only to one's friends, and several thousand strangers, that one will do this, but to one's self, that one will do it well.

There is working with the Professional companies, contacting them, getting the permission to show the various titles. There is arranging the equipment, from VCRs to Projectors, from cable to duct tape. There is finding your staff, and making sure you have people willing to work all of the odd times. Since the rooms run 24 hours from start to finish of the convention, the video staff must also work around the clock. There is contacting the various fan groups, and working with them. While there is a lot of work that goes into it, I have always found that most everyone is very generous and willing to help out.

As the result of an odd set of circumstance, during my second year to volunteer as part of the Video Staff, I ended up running the Video Department in all but name. I got the title to go with the job the next year, and have been doing it ever since.

And this year, I realized how burnt out I had become. It was no longer fun for me, and I had ceased to look forward to doing the convention. It was a chore, not a labor of love for me. And that told me it was time to bow out for a while, and let someone else do it. So, this year, Kitsune and Tonbo have been my Lieutenants, working extraordinarily hard to make sure that I really do not have to do anything this year, that I can actually try and enjoy the convention for a change, and create a seamless, painless transition for next year.

Maybe with a year or two off, my desire and passion will return, and I will be itching to get back into the thick of it. And maybe my attentions will turn elsewhere entirely, and I will find new and different ways to contribute to this. In addition to administrating the servers that host the website and mail, that is.

Regardless, I feel a strong sense of gratitude to both Tonbo and Kitsune, for taking what I have helped to build, and making sure that it did not end in a mess. Instead, they are making sure that good traditions are continued, and are in the process of creating some new ones, that I think will make things run better in the future. They are working some long hours to fit the schedule together, get the staff organized, gather the equipment, and all of the other logistical operational details that make the end product a smooth, seamless production. Even if we are running around behind the scenes quickly putting out fires left and right.

And they are feeling the stress, with only a day to go before the convention kicks off. Kitsune changed jobs just a week ago, Tonbo has been dealing with his family's loss, and the clock just keeps ticking away. But they are discovering what I have known for a few years now: That your staff is your biggest strength. A good staff makes you look like a genius, and keeps you sane, no matter what else is going on.

So, to Kitsune and Tonbo, a big thank you for working so hard to pull this year off, amidst all of the regular craziness that is life. To Kitsune, Patochan, Tonbo, Catnip, Blake, Belchan, Keichan, and many others you have not met yet, another big thank you for making me look good, and keeping me sane, in years past and in years to come.

As the song says, "I get by with a little help from my friends." And I have some truly wonderful friends.


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