Hobby Jam

What People Do For Fun

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Juanita Causey

Juanita Causey was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada.  At the age of 8, her father died in an accident and she along with 7 siblings were raised with meager means with their mother having to work 2 or 3 jobs to support a family of 8 children.  When Juanita was 16, she moved with her mother to Corpus Christi, Texas where her mother got a job in nursing at a major hospital.  Juanita got married and had 2 children in Corpus Christi before moving to Houston where she went to work for a bank.  After nearly 6 years in the banking business, she decided to start a new career as a Financial Planner/Advisor.  In 1994, she went to work for John Hancock Financial Group where she received training and support for the first few years of her new career.  In 2000, Juanita Causey decided to start her own company “Houston Financial Center” and became a completely independent financial planner/advisor.  She has grown her practice over the years and currently employs three full time and one part time employee to help her manage over 1,000 clients that she has accumulated over the past 24 plus years.  Juanita has a passion for helping people secure their financial future.  She learned first-hand how difficult life can be on a widow and children when a spouse dies without enough life insurance to keep the family in their own world.  It’s her passion that has helped her build a successful practice where she is ranked among the top 2% of all Insurance & Financial Professionals worldwide as stated by the Million Dollar Roundtable where she consistently qualifies as Top of the Table.  Her passion has also drawn her to constant study to be the best that she can be in her profession.  For this reason, she has 7 significant professional designations, namely, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU®, AIF®, CAP®, CASL® and LUTCF which places her among very few advisors that have reached this level of professional education.  Although Juanita Causey has achieved many awards and much recognition for her accomplishments, she says her greatest achievement is the close relationships that she has developed with her many clients, most of whom she considers her best friends.

WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY?

My favorite hobby is participating in group exercise programs at my gym.  They include Zumba, Kick Boxing, Pilates, Yoga, STEP, Body Works and Power Circuit.  In addition to being involved in group exercise, I like swimming, cycling and going on long walks.

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED WITH THIS Hobby? WHAT INSPIRED YOU?

For about 9 years, my mother was in a nursing home with limited physical ability to get around due to a fall and a couple of strokes.  In addition to working long hours in my business, I visited her almost every day and would take her on walks in her wheelchair which she enjoyed.  Over time, the long hours and lack of sleep ran me down to the point of exhaustion.  After she passed away, I decided to start taking better care of myself and used the extra time to start exercising, swimming, etc.  I had a gym membership for many years, but before my mother passed away, I had little time to use it.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT it?

I really enjoy the camaraderie that is developed in group exercise as well as the extra incentive it gives me to give it my all.  It’s much more fun working hard in a group, than on your own.  It also gives me a sense of pride that I am doing something that is good for me.

Are there any groups you’re a part of or events that you attend related to your hobby?

Since I have been working out regularly, I have also done volunteer work for a non-profit group that assists with gymnastics scholarships for children with disabilities, both mental and physical, as well as children from poor families that could not otherwise afford gymnastics memberships.  I have since become a board member for this non-profit foundation.

HAVE YOU INVESTED IN ANY GEAR OR EQUIPMENT FOR YOUR HOBBY? IF SO, WHAT?

Other than my gymnasium membership and workout clothes, my investment in equipment has been limited to a bicycle and a few hand weights that I sometimes use when walking.

WHERE DO YOU BUY MOST OF YOUR SUPPLIES?

I don’t buy equipment or supplies at any particular place.  The clothes and shoes are purchases at various stores in the mall.  The bicycle and weights were purchased at a local sporting goods store.

Are There any good books for beginners?

I have not personally read many books on exercise, but there are literally thousands of books on this subject.  I have gained knowledge about the various programs from the gym and from various articles and sties on the internet, but not any one in particular.

HOW HAS THIS CHANGED YOUR LIFE?

This regular exercise has made me feel better, both physically and mentally.  I have more stamina, my blood pressure has gone down, my weight is controlled and I feel proud that I am able to keep up with others in my groups that are much younger than I am.  I know I am healthier as a result.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS STARTING OUT WITH THIS HOBBY?

Start by getting a physical exam and permission from our doctor to start an exercise program.  Then check out the gyms in your area and inquire about their group exercise programs.  Some gyms have very few and others have many.  Some charge extra fees and others do not, so take your time and shop for a good gym that is convenient to your home or work so you will have time to go.  Then try it out before you make a long term commitment or spend too much money on clothes, shoes, gym memberships, etc.

Another hobby is spending time with my grandchildren, taking them to parks, the zoo, museums and places that children like.  I love to do kid stuff with them.  I often keep them overnight to give their parents a break.  I have accumulated a lot of kid stuff at my home so we can play together when they stay over.

ARE THERE ANY OTHER HOBBIES YOU HAVE?

A third hobby that I enjoy is traveling with my husband.  He is a renowned scientist and visits many parts of the world giving lectures and presentations.  By joining him, I have had the opportunity to visit many cities around the world which are too numerous to list at this time.  While he is working, I use my time to walk many miles around the cities, vising points of interest and learning about the various cultures.  I feel that this has given me a vast amount of knowledge, wisdom and understanding that most people are never able to attain.

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Dr. Rohit Arora

Dr. Rohit Arora is the Chief of Cardiology and the Head of the Department of Medicine at the Captain James A. Lovell Health Care Center in Chicago. During his time as a cardiologist in Chicago, Dr. Arora has trained dozens of doctors and authored over 400 academic papers. Although kept busy for many hours of every day with work, Dr. Arora still regularly makes time to participate in clinical research studies with his students and his peers.

Dr. Rohit Arora earned his medical degree from Topiwala National Medical College after attending medical school at the University of Bombay. Dr. Arora had his residency program at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and soon after completed his fellowship in nuclear cardiology at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Dr. Arora’s typical day involves 12 to 16 hours at the healthcare center tending to his patients. While there, Dr. Arora is also responsible for educating residents and fellowships in addition to regular investigative research into various health areas.

What is your hobby?

I have several hobbies that I am particularly fond of, but some of my favorites include: traveling, reading, football, and contemporary art.

How did you get started with these hobbies? What inspired you?

Well traveling is something that I have always loved. I traveled as a child with my family and was always fascinated by other cultures. I was always interested to see how people in other areas of the world lived and how they just went about their days.

I’ve also always been a big reader. My parents showed me what a joy reading can be and how it can transport you to far away places and put yourself in the shoes of others. When I’m not able to travel, reading a book can be a great way to travel in my own mind.

What do you love about traveling?

Traveling is a great way to escape from your worries and to empathize with people around the world. The best way to see how other people live is to go and experience it for yourself. Not only that, but when you travel with friends and family, it can be a great bonding experience.

What was the last purchase you made relating to one of your hobbies?

I buy books all the time. I find myself making trips to the book store or ordering books on Amazon all the time. Sometimes I order books faster than I can read them! Before bed I try to always spend 20 minutes or so reading just to unwind and relax. Fiction books are great to immerse yourself in a story and nonfiction works can be very educational, so I try to find a mix between both.

How would you say your hobbies have changed your life?

Well, I would say that I’m much happier and more balanced because of my hobbies. Constant work with nothing else in life can be a recipe for disaster so my hobbies help me to stay grounded. While I love my job and I love helping people, I think everyone needs activities outside of work so that they can diversify their lives and be more rounded as people.

Do you have any advice for others just getting into this hobby?

When travelling, avoid the really touristy spots. If you want to find the best restaurants, the best views, and the most interesting spots, ask a local. The tourist spots are always crowded, and the food is often nothing special. Find the restaurants off the main strip that the locals stick to and I guarantee the experience will be much better. Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path when travelling because sometimes that’s where the best experiences can be found!

 

For more info on Dr. Rohit Arora, check out these links:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-rohit-arora/

https://twitter.com/dr_rohit_arora

https://medium.com/dr-rohit-arora

Jay Eitner

Jay Eitner will forever be a Jersey Boy at heart. Graduating in 1997 from Union High School, Jay received his BA from The American University in Washington DC. Jay’s educational career began in 2002, in which he taught social studies, reading, and technology in Roselle. Jay spent the next 9 years teaching and then went into school administration, first starting off as a middle school vice principal and eventually became a Superintendent of Schools. Being a Superintendent of Schools is one of the most stressful jobs in the US, and Jay found a great way to help relax.

What is your hobby?

I am a huge fan of cooking.

How did you get started with this hobby?

I started cooking in middle school. It was when the Food Channel just came on air, and so many cooking shows began to run. My Father and I began watching show after show; we then started trying to cook what was filmed. Some results were incredible, and some were disasters! I haven’t stopped cooking since.

Tell us what you love about your hobby.

I love that my cooking makes other people happy. Over the years, I have been cooking for holidays, friends, and my staff at school. There is nothing more satisfying than feeding others something they like. This is why I’ve volunteered at a soup kitchen since 2009.

What types of things/equipment have you spent money on for your hobby?

I’ve spent quite a bit of cash buying all kinds of kitchen tools, fine ingredients, and even have subscribed to monthly meal kits. There are so many components to cooking; they all require various steps and pieces to make a finished product successful!

What are some of your favorite places to shop for your hobby?

I can get lost in Williams Sonoma for hours. Cooking can go in so many directions; that’s one of the many wonderful things about it! I also love to find deals in TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Pottery Barn.

Are there any good books for beginners?

I actually love to collect cookbooks. If one is going to start, they should go to the library and browse all of the selections. Any book from Julia Child is a staple but is very complex if you’re just beginning. I would recommend any cookbook from Martha Stewart or Ina Garten; the instructions are easy to follow and the ingredients used are easy to acquire.

How has your hobby changed your life?

Cooking has allowed me to not only make other happy but relieve stress. I was told once that in order to make people happy, I should go sell donuts, ice cream, or bake something nice. Now I do.

What advice do you have for others starting out with this hobby?

Don’t go in with the expectations that you’re going to make a masterpiece overnight. Like any other hobby, it takes time and practice in order to master it.

Dr. Avi Weisfogel

Dr. Avi Weisfogel is one of the leading voices into the field of Dental Sleep Medicine.  Avi graduated dental school in 1998 and practiced for 15 years.  During that time, Avi developed specific business techniques that led to him becoming the leading producer of oral appliances for the treatment of sleep apnea in the entire country.  After years of learning exactly what each player in the field of sleep medicine was interested in, Dr. Avi Weisfogel developed a duplicatable system that could be taught to other dentists, so they could achieve the same results.  Since then, Avi has gone on to mentor and coach the top 1% in the field of dental sleep medicine.  Avi is married with 6 kids and two dogs.  Dr. Avi Weisfogel’s aspirations include becoming the President of the United states, taking over the world, and becoming the full time play by play announcer for his beloved Los Angeles Dodgers

What is your hobby?

I am a sports fanatic.  I love all four major American sports: baseball, basketball, football, and hockey.  I watch every single Dodgers’ game. While the game is going on I text back and forth with both my father, now 74 years old, and my youngest son.  One day I hope to take those texts and turn them into a book about the life of a Dodger fan.  My biggest hobby outside of watching sports is skiing.  I spend at least 20 days a year on the slopes with my favorite spot being Aspen, Colorado.

How did you get started with this hobby? What inspired you?

I have been skiing since I was 4 years old. Every year my father would take us to Snowmass, Colorado (neighbor of Aspen) so he could attend the yearly cardiology conference and we could ski as a family.  I live on the east coast and the closest challenging mountain is Killington, Vermont.  I learned how to really become a skier there.  They say this about skiing in Vermont:  If you can ski the icy slopes of Vermont (not to mention survive in their frigid temperatures) you can ski anywhere in the world!

What do you love about it?

There is a feeling of complete freedom that I have while skiing that I do not get anywhere else.  The vastness of the mountains along with the absolute silence while going down the slopes, where the only thing you really hear are your own thoughts, really makes me realize how small I am in the big picture of life.  There is this great giant universe out there and I am like a tiny speck of dust in the whole picture.  This really helps me put things in perspective when something stressful occurs in my life.  It helps me to not take myself too seriously.

Are there are any groups or clubs you’re a part of relating to your hobby?

I am sure there are tons of clubs out there but I don’t belong to any of them.  The one thing that I do a lot of which could relate to hobbies is fantasy sports.  I participate in many fantasy football, baseball, and basketball leagues each year.  I don’t always win but I always compete and have a good time

Have you invested in any gear or equipment for your hobby? If so, what?

Skiing is not a cheap sport.  Every year they come out with new gear; new skis, better bindings, and of course, better boots.  If you don’t keep up with it yearly, you tend to fall behind.

How would you say your hobbies have changed your life?

A couple things remain incredible to me regarding skiing.  Every year no matter how good I get at this sport, the first day out is just about remembering the muscles needed to do well.  In addition, skiing is a really humbling sport.  No matter how good I am, I always look around and see people that are much better than me.  It reminds me that I can always improve.  The mantra of: “I can always do things better” is one of the guiding principles of my life.  I am never satisfied with the status quo.  I know that I can improve in every aspect of my life whether it be personal, professional, or anything else.

Do you have any advice for others just getting into this hobby?

Take lessons.  Learn how to do things the right way from the start.  If you don’t get the proper foundation down pat, you will never be good at skiing.  During my college years when I could not afford lessons, I developed a series of bad habits that took about 25 lessons with an instructor to undo.   Succeeding in life is about discipline.  Doing your job well is about repetition.  Both of these aspects are so important when it comes to skiing.  So in a way, Skiing can lead you to do everything in your real life better than ever before.

 

Click these links to follow Dr. Avi Weisfogel on social media:

draviweisfogel1.wordpress.com
https://www.facebook.com/avi.weisfogel
https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-avi-weisfogel/
https://twitter.com/Dr_AviWeisfogel

Alexis Assadi

Alexis Assadi is the CEO of Pacific Income Capital Corporation and host of the podcast, “Income Investing with Alexis Assadi.” He provides financing to entrepreneurs and real estate investors through Pacific Income and other companies that he owns or operates. Alexis is also an avid writer. He has been blogging at alexisassadi.net since 2014 and has gained tens of thousands of email subscribers. He aims to break down complicated financial concepts and explain them to new readers. Alexis Assadi was born in Switzerland and has lived in Asia, Australia and the United States. Today, he lives in Vancouver, Canada with his family.

What is your hobby?

I enjoy whiskey tasting.

How did you get started with this hobby? What inspired you?

My father drinks Jack Daniels, so that was the first whiskey I ever tasted. I didn’t like it at first, but I drank it occasionally because he did.

However, I had a friend in university who loved scotch and cigars. We remained friends after graduation. Through him, I discovered different scotches, bourbons, ryes and other international whiskeys. We used to sample them on my parents’ rooftop deck, overlooking the incredible view of Vancouver. We still do each summer.

Over time, I developed a more refined pallet and learned to appreciate the finer tastes. My favorite scotches are heavy with peat, like Ardbeg and Laphraoig. They bring out flavors that I don’t get with other drinks.

What do you love about it?

I associate whiskey with my dad and a couple of my close friends. For that reason, it always brings out feelings of sentiment. You could give me a delicious and expensive wine, but I would still prefer a cheap bourbon because of the mental connection. Obviously, I love the tastes of different whiskeys. But a lot of the experience is in my mind and heart, rather than in my taste buds.

To me, a good evening is to read the New York Times – whiskey in hand, dog in lap – and winding down from a long day.

Are there are any groups or clubs you’re a part of relating to your hobby?

I go to a lot of whiskey tastings around Vancouver. They’re usually held at bars and restaurants, and they’re affordable.

The promoters make it cheap to attend, with the goal of attendees later on buying their products. It works. A few weeks ago, I spent $30 at a tasting event for all the whiskey and chocolate I could possibly consume. The next day, I bought a $60 bottle of Lohin McKinnon Chocolate Malt from a local distillery.

Again, these are social experiences as much as they are for taste. I always go to these events with my family or friends.

Have you invested in any gear or equipment for your hobby? If so, what?

I bought half-a-dozen Glencairn glasses, which are shaped bulbously to bring out the taste and smell of the whiskey. However, I prefer to drink from a normal crystal glass. The fancy ones make me feel pretentious. I only bring them out when we’re trying something new. One of my friends brought over a $400 bottle from Taiwan, so we used the Glencairn classes for that.

Other than that, I have 30 or 40 bottles of whiskey in my office. I guess you could call that an investment!

How would you say your hobbies have changed your life?

Whiskey tasting has brought a social element to my life that I didn’t have before. It’s an easy way to meet people, relax and have fun.

Do you have any advice for others just getting into this hobby?

Try to get away from the well-known whiskeys, like Glenfiddich and The Glenlivet. They are good, but there is so much more out there. I find that people often gravitate towards what’s popular and never try anything else. As such, they don’t realize how diverse the whiskey space is. I don’t mean that in the “connoisseur” way, where only a refined taster could find daylight between two scotches. There is a profound difference between a bourbon, like Booker’s, and a Japanese whiskey, like Nikka.

Also, don’t be fooled by pricing. I have found no correlation between price and taste. My “regular” whiskey is Evan Williams, a bottle of which costs around $20. My favorite, which I drink maybe twice a year, is Laphroaig 10. It costs $70 for a bottle. Drink what tastes good to you; not what marketers want you to.

 

For more information on Alexis Assadi, check out these links:

https://www.praguepost.com/opinion/alexis-assadi-basics-of-investment-strategies

https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexis-assadi-0378b129/

https://twitter.com/alexis_assadi?lang=en

Stephen Andrew Stepaniuk

Travel blogger and professional photographer, Stephen Andrew Stepaniuk is a living testimony of what can be achieved through hard work and persistence. The Connecticut born blogger works for a Boston based consulting firm. His work entails traveling and offering insightful reviews about culture, food and the arts. Stepaniuk has traveled extensively in the US and Europe. He speaks English, Germany, Polish and French, and is currently studying elementary Mandarin. Stephen Andrew Stepaniuk holds a Degree in English from the prestigious Northeastern University in Boston. He receives inspiration from family and the audiences who regularly visit his popular blog. Outside of work, Stephen Stepaniuk enjoys reading, participating in team sports and volunteering.

What is your hobby?

It is incidental that I enjoy traveling, blogging and photography as both career and hobby. The visual art form that is photography gives me the opportunity to immortalize the things I care about. The gadgets I use are also fun and addictive, thanks to fast-changing technology and competition.

How did you get started with this hobby? What inspired you?

Immediately after graduating from Northeastern University in Boston, I took up a travel blogging position offered by a consulting firm based in Boston. Traveling around the world and supporting my stories with photos seemed like a great idea and career for an aspiring young man. To hone my skills in photography, I simply went through the user manual and applied what I had learned.

Tell us what you love about it.

When I was creating the blog, I invested a lot of effort in building a mailing list, which helps me update readers on every development. To track and see the kind of traffic I was attracting, I use Google Analytics. It’s always interesting to see readers from all around the world visit my blog and leave fascinating commentaries. I enjoy blogging about captivating places and places I plan to visit.

Are there any professional groups you’re a part of that are related to your hobby?

Working with other travel bloggers has always been an eye opener since it gives me the opportunity to learn and experience new things. I am a paid up member of the Professional Travel Blogger Association, an entity that formulates guidelines and policies aimed at advancing the trade while encouraging respect for intellectual rights, accountability, and professionalism.

Have you invested in any equipment, if so please share some of the things you’ve bought?

I always have my laptop, notebook, camera, and pen with me. I can recall my first blogging camera was a point-to-shoot, Canon PowerShot G7 capable of shooting 1080p Full HD video. It came with several interesting features like the screen tilt option that allows the user to clearly see the frames. I recently bought a GoPro Hero8 camera, which is highly durable and suited for outdoor adventure. I have also invested in a compact tripod, camera bag and a couple of lenses.

Where do you buy most of your supplies?

Most of the stuff I use are purchased at the stationery stores and online retailers. We have a couple of stationeries and departmental stores where I live.

Are there any good books for beginners?

The 3 books I would gladly recommend for beginners are the widely popular “Picture Perfect Social Media” by Jennifer Young and Bill Bryson’s “Never here or there”. The other beginner’s essential is the book titled “Vagabonding” by Rolf Potts. Bryson’s book is an eye-opener to all travel adventure seekers since it offers a plain view of the travel experience. In her book, fiction and romantic novel writer Jennifer offers readers guidelines on ways to improve their social media and photography skills. These skills are crucial for any aspiring travel blogger. Lastly, Rolf’s “Vagabonding” gives insightful information about practical tour planning.

How has this changed your life?

Traveling and photography has changed my life and perception on various issues. I can quickly mention a few. It’s given me the platform to share my world; opened the doors to numerous networking possibilities and a chance to earn a decent living.

What would you tell others starting out in this hobby?

It is very important to create useful contents, beginning with something people close to you like family and friends will appreciate. As the blog grows, you can add interesting stuff like photos and videos to make your blog more fascinating. Once in a while, you can invite a guest to offer a different perspective on issues. When all is said and done, you’re persistence and hard work will pay off.

Are there any other hobbies you have?

I enjoy taking part in team sports like lacrosse and baseball as well as volunteering at high impact, communal events.

Dante Michael Anthony Vitoria

Dante Michael Anthony Vitoria is a New York entrepreneur and businessman currently working as owner of The Vitoria Group. Dante credits much of his success and strong work ethic to his parents. His parents were immigrants to the U.S. who taught him the value of hard work, determination, and respect.

After earned a graduate degree from NYU and Columbia, Dante jumped straight into the workforce, quickly making a name for himself on Wall Street and working his way to the top. Dante quickly found himself drawn towards the mergers and acquisitions aspects of finance and put his skills to work.

After a number of successful years working for others, Dante Michael Anthony Vitoria decided to create a business of his own. In 1991, Dante founded The Vitoria Group, a company that offers consulting services, venture capital opportunities, and services in the mergers and acquisitions realm of finance. The Vitoria Group has grown more successful with each passing year and continues to thrive in New York City and around the world.

Although often finding himself working around the clock, Dante still makes time for family and fun. Dante is a season ticket holder to several New York sports teams and enjoys attending games when he can. Outside of sports, Dante always enjoys a trip to the opera or attending a Broadway show.

On top of everything, Dante Michael Anthony Vitoria also owns Links to Legends, a company that specializes in celebrity golf outings and event coordination.

Outside of the business world, Dante is a three-time cancer survivor and the owner of a three-pound Yorkshire Terrier named Chanel.

What is your hobby?

It’s hard to pick just one. While I love cigars and good wine, playing golf and keeping up with soccer are two of my favorite hobbies.

How did you get started with these hobbies?

Well, I’ve been playing golf for years. My father taught me a lot about golf but sometimes the best way to learn is to just go out there and hit a bunch of balls. Sometimes the best thing to do after a hard day is to head to the driving range and grab a bucket of balls to hit.

I watch soccer all the time, too. I was so thankful we had the World Cup this summer because that was a lot of fun to keep up with.

What do you love most about golf?

It’s a great way to blow off some steam and relax. It’s also a great way to make business happen. I can’t tell you how many business connections I’ve made through golf or how many deals I’ve closed. So, it’s great for business but I also find it very relaxing. On a warm summer day there’s nothing better than heading to the golf course with some friends and playing the course.

Do you have any tips for beginners?

Practice, practice, practice! It’s pretty much the most basic advice you’ll ever hear, but there’s a reason for that: it works. The best way to get better at anything is to do it a whole lot. The more time you can spend practicing and playing golf the better you’ll get. It’s not about having the best or the most expensive clubs, it’s about having the most hours of practice under your belt.

How would you say your hobbies have changed your life?

I’m more relaxed, for sure. I think that everybody needs something in life besides work that they can put their minds to. All of my hobbies help to my make my life enjoyable. Playing golf, watching soccer, smoking a good cigar, and drinking a fine glass of wine all bring me happiness. It’s been proven time and time again that over-working can put strain on relationships and your own mental health. I love my hobbies because they allow an outlet for my stress and help me to relax and have fun. Isn’t that what hobbies are all about?

Any additional hobbies you’d like to share?

Spending time with my pup, Chanel. She’s a little fur ball and I love taking her for walks and playing games with her every day.

 

To learn more, follow Dante Michael Anthony Vitoria on social media and read his personal blog:

 

Brandon Oda

With an unusual combination of skills in photography and software engineering, Brandon Oda has become one of the top photographers in the San Francisco Bay area. He is involved in both portrait and landscape photography. Unique among photographers in his field, Oda has created his own photo editing software. With complete control over the creative process, he is able to create stunning works of art.

Brandon Oda is a Los Angeles native. In high school, he was interested in both the arts and the sciences. His parents supported him in pursuing an artistic career. In college, he studied photography at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. His time at RISD helped him to come into his own as an artist. He sold his first photographs to galleries while he was still a student.

Oda settled in San Francisco and opened his own photography studio. He is continually inspired by the fantastic beauty of California. With his wife and friends, he takes road trips around the state and photographs its diverse landscapes. He has a special interest in sunset and evening photography.

Portraits are a more recent addition to Oda’s portfolio. He photographs models and ordinary people, creating insightful images that reveal the subject’s personality. In his San Francisco studio, Oda hones his craft while fine-tuning his photo editing software. He has achieved great success in the photography world at a relatively young age.

What is your hobby?

My hobby is mountain biking. I love to get out on the trail.

How did you get started with this hobby? What inspired you?

I enjoy hiking, but I was looking for an outdoor hobby with more adrenaline. A friend got me into mountain biking. There are so many amazing landscapes to explore in California. I feel like I’ll always have new places to go.

Tell us what you love about it.

I love being out in nature most of all. I love the quiet of mountain biking. It’s something I tend to do alone, and I love having the time and space to myself. I love the physical challenge, and I often stop to take photos along the way. I’m not the fastest mountain biker, but I enjoy every mile.

Are there any groups you’re a part of or events that you attend related to your hobby?

I belong to a local trail riders’ club. We get together for social rides, and we raise money to help preserve the wild places we bike in. I’ve made many friends in this group, and I recommend that every mountain biker join a club in their area.

Have you had to invest in equipment and if so, please share some of the things you’ve bought.

I’ve invested quite a lot of money in my bike and supplies. It’s not a cheap hobby, but if you take good care of your gear, it will last a long time. I recently purchased a new bike. It has made my rides so much more enjoyable. I also bought a new bike rack for the back of my car. That way, I have room for my bike and my wife’s when we go out together. I am trying to get her into mountain biking, but she is more interested in hiking.

Where do you buy most of your supplies?

I buy nearly all of my supplies at my local bike shop. I believe in shopping locally, even if some items may be cheaper when you buy them online. A local bike shop is a fixture in a community, and it helps bring riders together while outfitting them for great rides. My favorite thing about shopping at the local bike shop is the knowledgeable staff. No matter what kind of problems you have, the local bike shop can help you. They are also great at maintaining and repairing my bike when necessary.

Are there any good books for beginners?

I recommend The Mountain Biker’s Training Bible by Joe Friel. This book breaks down the process of training and makes it easy for novice riders. Getting fit to ride a mountain bike is uniquely challenging, but it’s worth it when you can ride longer and faster.

How has this changed your life?

Getting outdoors feeds my soul. I spend a lot of my time indoors editing photos, and when the week is over, I just want to get outside. Mountain biking has brought me a lot of joy. It also brings me a feeling of inner peace after I finish a ride. The “biker’s high” is strong and keeps me coming back for more. I love to get out on the trail at sunrise and enjoy the whole day in the woods.

What advice do you have for others starting out with this hobby?

Make friends at your local bike shop. You can be properly fitted for a bike as well as ask any questions you might have. Bikes need regular tune-ups, so you will need to take your bike into the shop a few times a year. When you become a regular at the local bike shop, you’ll make lasting connections.

Are there any other hobbies you have?

I also love to swim. I swim several times a week as a means of keeping fit.

Paul Kaulesar

Paul Kaulesar was born in Queens, New York. He remained in Queens for most of his adolescence. Paul grew up in a hardworking family, his parents renovated and sold houses throughout Queens, New York. These family investments were Paul’s first exposure to the real estate market. He joined his parents on the search for the ideal property, he helped his father renovate the property and lastly he assisted in showing of the properties. At the age of 15 Paul’s family decided to move to Florida. They initially moved to Orlando but ultimately ended up residing in Palm Beach. In Palm Beach, Paul Kaulesar attended Royal Palm Beach High School and then Palm Beach State College for Entrepreneurship. During his college years Paul obtained his Florida real estate license.

When Paul was young, the Kaulesar family took many trips to Europe, South America, and the various parts of the Caribbean. This is where his love for architecture was realized. It was obvious to Paul that buildings told the story of the past. This exposure to great architecture fueled his interest in real estate. Paul Kaulesar further found interest in the building process, the artistry and unique designs of buildings and the provenance of the buildings. Ultimately, his interest in Victorian and Modern architecture turned real estate into a lifelong passion.

What is your hobby?

I am a person that has many interests and hobbies; I believe in keeping my mind and body busy. Most recently, I have found a great interest in the martial art Judo.

How did you get started with this hobby? What inspired you?

My interest in Judo was first realized while watching the Olympics. I was inspired and impressed by the technique of the Olympic Judokas. Many Judo players are not muscular but they are very strong, this is a martial art that anyone can practice.  Also, I had a few friends that attended Judo classes in college and they loved it, this intrigued me.

What inspired you?

My interest in Judo was first realized while watching the Olympics. I was inspired and impressed by the technique of the Olympic Judokas. Many Judo players are not muscular but they are very strong, this is a martial art that anyone can practice. Also, I had a few friends that attended Judo classes in college and they loved it, this intrigued me.

Tell us what you love about it.

I love the control of Judo. A good Judoka can balance a person on their hips without using their arms. Additionally, a smaller and weaker person can be very effective in Judo once they understand the principles.

Are there any groups you’re part of or events that you attend related to your hobby?

I am part of the International Judo Federation (IJF). Since I have only been training for a few months I have not competed as of yet, but I expect to compete very soon.

Have you had to invest in equipment and if so, please share some of the things you’ve bought.

For judo I bought a gi, shin pads, knee pads and books about Judo.

Where do you buy most of your supplies?

I bought most of my supplies online. Judo originated in Japan so many of the supplies I have bought ship from there.

Are there any good books for beginners?

The book I would recommend for a beginners in Judo is “Kodokan Judo: The Essential Guide to Judo by Its Founder Jigoro Kano”.

How has this changed your life?

Judo has changed my life because it makes me feel great, physically and mentally. Judo challenges me every day; I have learned to speak a bit of Japanese, how to fall and some great self-defense techniques.

What advice do you have for others starting out with this hobby?

The advice I give to others starting Judo is to be a blank slate. Know that you know nothing about this sport. There will be many smaller and weaker people that will throw you, put your ego on the shelf. Lastly, get ready to do activities you have not done since you were a child, such as, cart wheel, flips, and rolls.

Are there any other hobbies you have? 

Another hobby of mine is reading. I aim to read one great book a week. There are many extraordinary stories and lessons that have not been publicized.

You can learn more and follow Paul Kaulesar at:

Ronnie Brown Mansfield

Ronnie Brown Mansfield is an agent for change in the school administration of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In the course of his work as a middle school vice principal, he has been responsible for creating a safe school environment for all students. He has also been involved with teacher training, making sure that each educator has the resources to help students succeed in school and in life.

Brown attended the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He majored in Elementary Education and took his first professional job as a fourth- and fifth-grade math and science teacher. While he found being an educator rewarding, he gained an interest in joining the administration. Studying at night and on the weekends, he was able to receive a vice principal certification. His strong work ethic enabled him to attend night school while working a full day at school.

In addition to his work as an assistant principal, Brown coaches football, softball, and basketball. He believes strongly that athletic pursuits enhance a student’s experience and teach lessons that can only be learned on the field. He has also been an assistant football coach on the college level, working with wide receivers.

In his career as an educator and as a principal, Ronnie Brown Mansfield has upheld strong principles of hard work, respect, and communication. The teachers and staff members at his school respect him and look up to his example.

What is your hobby?

My hobby is photography. I love to capture new ways of looking at the world around me.

How did you get started with this hobby? What inspired you?

I got started with photography when I was a teenager. I used to take pictures for my high school newspaper. I learned to develop photos in the darkroom, and I took several art classes to develop my eye for composition. My newspaper advisor recommended that I take photography classes in college, but I wasn’t able to do so due to the demands of my Education degree. I am largely self-taught as a result.

Tell us what you love about it.

I love capturing special memories of the places I’ve been. I love RV travel with my family, and I take many photos of the landscapes in the places we visit. I also enjoy portrait photography with my family and pets. I especially love to capture majestic landscapes like those in our National Parks.

Are there any groups you’re a part of or events that you attend related to your hobby?

I attend a local photographer’s club. A few times a year, we get together to share a meal and enjoy looking at slideshows of each other’s work. It’s nice to have a place to share photos, other than online. I feel like I post so many scenic photos to Facebook, my friends and family are overwhelmed with them. My photography friends truly appreciate each shot.

Have you had to invest in equipment and if so, please share some of the things you’ve bought.

I have a lot of specialized photography equipment. Photography can be an expensive hobby. Since I’m an educator, I don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on these things. I do as much research as I can to make sure I am getting the most value for my dollar. Recently I bought a new tripod which has enhanced my ability to take landscape shots.

Where do you buy most of your supplies?

I buy most of my supplies online through Amazon. I like the deals and I like the Prime shipping. I also visit a local photography store from time to time.

Are there any good books for beginners?

I recommend Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson to all of my friends who are thinking about trying photography. It can be a little bit technical, but it walks novice photographers through the inner workings of their cameras. It’s a great book for when you are ready to graduate from taking photos with your smartphone to using a proper digital camera.

How has this changed your life?

Photography gives me something calming to focus on. Life as an assistant principal is stressful. There are always various conflicts that need to be managed. When I look at one of my photographs on the wall of my office, I’m reminded of the serenity I felt when I captured the images. This helps to ground me on the most difficult days.

What advice do you have for others starting out with this hobby?

I would advise that anyone who wants to start photography should take a beginner’s class through their local art school or adult education center. There’s no substitute for an expert’s guidance. I am largely self-taught myself, but I wish I had had the benefit of a teacher’s knowledge when I was starting out.

Are there any other hobbies you have?

Travel is my other major hobby. I love to take my wife and four kids on the road in our RV. Six people in an RV is a little bit of a squeeze, especially now that two of my children are grown. Even though we live in close quarters on the road, we enjoy spending time together. I usually plan our trips around the best photo opportunities, while my daughters suggest that we stop in cities with music festivals.