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  • Writer's pictureRobert Hopkins

My Ten Hobbies and Greatest Accomplishment

Here are my favorite hobbies, listed in order of how successful I feel with each one. I still enjoy them all to this day, and they help keep me out of trouble!

I started playing guitar when I was ten years old. My brother had an acoustic guitar that I "plunked" away on. But, I became serious when I was twelve. Deep Purple's "Made In Japan" Live album hooked me and I have never looked back. To this day I play along with that album. Over the years I played in different bands. With a diverse range of music being played I learned to enjoy all genre's of music.

I started playing piano around 2007 when I purchased "Alice", my Steinway & Sons Model "A" piano. I found her in San Jose California and purchased her for $75,000. In my mind she is the perfect piano and I love playing her! While I am not good at playing her, and you won't hear me play her, I deeply enjoy playing the piano. I did play keyboards in bands and that helped me to learn to enjoy the instrument. That, and the Hammond C organ with a Leslie speaker system.

The first band I was in: "Odd", I played bass. It was a three piece band that we played in a church theater. LOL! I wasn't good enough to play guitar at that time but I found the bass was easy to play since I have large hands. I only have one bass guitar that I use for recording purposes only. Good bass players are hard to find. Bass can make or break a band.

The first real instrument I played was the drums. When I was nine years old, I received a snare drum for Christmas. I joined my elementary school's band and got my first experience with reading music. Although I can read music, I prefer playing by ear, like many great musicians do. While reading music has its benefits, truly feeling the music requires having the song memorized. It's been a long time since I owned a set of drums, but playing them gave me a strong sense of rhythm.

I began experimenting with flight simulators back in 1998 with Falcon 4. These days, I satisfy my passion for flying with Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 and eagerly anticipate the upcoming 2024 version. I've logged over 720 hours flying the TBM 930, Cessna Longitude, and Airbus A320 NEO. I've completed three around-the-world trips, landing at 225 different airports. Each journey typically takes about three months to complete, following routes meticulously stored in a spreadsheet.

I began painting with oil paints in 2015, driven by a passion for Impressionism. I had three 28 x 34 canvases lying around and decided to paint a Monet. Unlike Claude's single canvas painting, my attempt took much longer due to the additional complexity. Managing the interior sides and ensuring cohesion across all three canvases was a real challenge.

Watercolor painting is incredibly enjoyable—it's both easygoing and challenging. Timing is crucial; if you don't paint everything at just the right moment, you can end up with an overworked mess. I've turned many of my paintings into test paper for this reason. Anyone can try watercolor painting. Just watch a few instructional videos on YouTube and give it a go!

Adventure Motorcycling: I've recently returned to this hobby after a thirty-year hiatus. My first motorcycle was a Honda CBR 650F2, a real crotch-rocket! This time, I'm focusing on exploring back roads, gravel, and dirt trails in the wilderness, with some camping for added enjoyment. I've moved past the need for speed—been there, done that. Now, I want to immerse myself in the tranquility of the wilderness.

I create digital paintings using Rebelle 7.1 as my preferred software, and I use Affinity Photo for clean-up and color balancing. My setup includes two monitors and an Apple Studio Pro CPU. I paint on the main monitor with a stylus designed for digital painting. In my opinion, the results I achieve digitally surpass what can be done with traditional media.

Programming and developing operations for my business gave me great satisfaction. Interfacing with our clients and developing the software to support our and their needs was great fun. I have also developed software for users of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. I am considered a "trusted 3rd Party Developer" on their forums.

Hopkins Distribution Company, based in Reno, Nevada, is my pride and joy. It all began in 1992 and concluded for me on January 1, 2020. While I miss my employees and our clients, I’ve embraced the other side of work—retirement. Retirement is not a four-letter word! However, work was always enjoyable for me. The complete satisfaction I derived from running the business kept me busy for twenty-nine wonderful years. I wish my employees the best while the business continues to thrive.

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