Ian Munroe

Ian is an amateur photographer, analyst, and alumni of Robert Morris University.

Currently employed by Confluence as a Regulatory Reporting Data Analyst, it is Ian's job to help ensure client data is clean and orderly to report to regulators.

Formerly employed by the RMU's School of Business, Ian's goal was to improve their social media program and bring more awareness to their AACSB accredited program. This was accomplished through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Blogs. 

The Gallery features a selection of photos from my portfolio. An archive of select photos are stored on my Flickr page.

Where I've Been, Where I'm At, Where I'm Going (hopefully over there).

I've been about as busy as one man could be, and I feel it every day I wake up.

Where I've Been and Where I'm At.
This term is one of the more academically challenging I have had, but I welcome the work. I felt up to this point I haven't been challenged enough, and now I have my wish. I have five big papers this term across four classes, and I'm in the process of finishing two. One is on Monsanto for my Corporate, Government, and Social Responsibility class, and the other is on the American Federation of Teachers union for my Labor Management class. 
One of the reasons I'm not worried about this term is the professors I have four out of the five I have are some of the best professors around. The one I left out is an adjunct professor teaching class that horribly redundant and he knows it. It's sad, it's sad because the class can be very useful if it's structured right and there is class participation. However my class is filled with underachievers and bums and the drive for anyone to do anything is hard. Rather than focus how to write a more effective persuasive or position paper, the curriculum requires that we read essay after essay showing two sides of one problem and discuss what makes them different.
I like this concept, if the class is engaged enough it works rather awesomely. But in my class it just falls flat on its face. Two to four people talk, and it's always the same two to four people. It's sad, and infuriating.
My other classes are going swimmingly, Labor Management, Principals of Marketing, Corporate, Social and Government Responsibility and Organizational Behavior. I am really enjoying this term, I cannot express that more.

I also got a job on the People for Peduto campaign, I'm an intern at the campaign office. I help out there two to three days a week. So far I've only made campaign calls and helped out on campaign launch at the AFT headquarters on the south side of Pittsburgh.  I love the job and the people I work with, the only problem is that it's on the east end of town. I love the east side of town, but it sucks that I'm stuck living on the west end of town and I have to drive 20 miles to get there.
Since I've started work on the campaign, a few of my professors have asked me how it has been going and what I've been doing. Two of my professors tried to see if I could get academic credit for my internship, but my free electives have been filled. We're currently trying to get me Student Engagement credit for it, but there's plenty of paperwork to fill out and track. One of the more hilarious things to come from this is that one of my professors was in Prague just this past week and guess who else was there? Bill Peduto. So Mr. Peduto and one of my professors had a little discussion about me.
The world is the size of a pin point.

As if I could not get any busier at this point, I am also work two jobs. One worth mentioning and the other not worth a grain of sand. The one worth talking about is within RMU's School of Business, I am one of three social media assistants for the School of Business. This pretty much entails me writing blog posts over a few departments within the school and analyze the viewership over the blogs and track who is reading what and for how long.

Where I'm Going.
Amanda and I are still on track for our wedding in December, we just mailed out the invitations a week ago and we're getting RSVPs in everyday. We have very little left to take care of, we just got our DJ squared away and we're looking at videos on YouTube to teach ourselves to dance.
We're getting excited for the day, we look at our countdown clock and we get all kinds of giddy. We've worked out the titles for our respective parties, and we've also decided what to do for our bachelor/bachelorette party.
The honeymoon I think we have finally settled, we're going to unplug and hide out in a cabin for a few days. Gateway Lodge. So if you have an inkling to contact me or Amanda, don't. Cause we wont answer, hell, I probably will only have my phone and that will be off!

So in conclusion, I'm busy. Now leave me alone, I'm sure I'm running late for something.

Nova Scotia Days 2 thru 8, and Final Thoughts.

Well, I was writing a blog that I accidentally closed. Crap. So let's try this again.  Heh, I feel like an idiot now. Ah well, let's start with Halifax and then I'll get to the other places I visited and my final thoughts. Basically this is my travel write-up of my experiences I had while photographed Adam and Jessica's (my awesome Canadian friends) wedding. An American (Idiot) Abroad.

Halifax, I can't really describe it like any other city I've been to. It has a suburbian feel to it. The town is well developed and is constantly growing, but it's not getting to big for its britches. The food is awesome, the people are great, and the views are amazing. Point Pleasant Park had amazing trails and the (I can't believe I'm saying this) awesomest views. Dogs were off their leads in most of the areas and they weren't attacking one another and just enjoying the crisp. And boy, was the weather crisp. I never got hot, and I never got cold, I was in a Goldilocks scenario. The Citadel provided the best view of the city and the bridges and it's like the feeling you get from the view of Pittsburgh from Mount Washington, but it's all around you.

Next on the path of adventure was Parrsboro.  It's small town Canada, mom-and-pop shops, all the food you eat at a restaurant is grown in the backyard of the shop, and smell of the bay permeates every single bit of the town. The day we went to Parrsboro, the sky was gray and if you were in America you'd think at any moment the sky would open up and the heavens would fall, but it doesn't quite work here. The gray sky only spit on us as we sat on the beach and watched the Bay of Fundy reclaim what was rightfully his.
When you're in Parrsboro, you get the feeling you want to buy a vacation home here and never leave, but when you do have to leave you get this feeling of dread that you have to return to reality and be a functional member of society again. Then you realize this is what you work for when you wanna get away from it all and all is right again with the world. You just get so relaxed, you hear the waves of the bay crash into the pier and the beach and you decompress. It's one of the best feelings you can have.

Then we have Peggy's Cove. If your life isn't altered by the time you've experienced Halifax and the outlaying areas, then Peggy's Cove will change it all for you. The Atlantic has mystical powers that I can't understand and refuse to understand, some things are just left better unknown. The sound of the Atlantic just stick with you for a few hours after you have left, and you can close your eyes and still see the waves crash into the weathered boulders that line the beach. The images just live inside of you.

After Peggy's Cove, we headed back to Halifax to get ready for Adam and Jessica's wedding and once we were done getting ready we headed to the Annapolis Valley. My ancestors settled in the Annapolis Valley in the 1750s after their involvement in the Seven Years War (The French-Indian War for us Americans) and received 2000 acres of land by the Crown for their services. My family remained there until some moved slightly west and then immigrated to America in the early 20th century. Seeing the valley as we were driving to their wedding location, I was taken back by the colors of everything, the greenest greens, the bluest blues and even the grayest grays, such rich and vibrant color.
I annoyed Adam and Jessica with how awesome everything was, but it got really bad during this two day leg of our journey because I kept asking why my family would leave such a beautiful place. Short of being forced out of the country, I can't understand why. The valley is littered with farms of various crops and apple orchards, and it made me wonder if my family was involved in some way with the orchard business or still are in some capacity. Doing research on your linage is a bit of a, no that's not right, a deep and vast rabbit hole.

The wedding itself was a beautiful ceremony, and it gave me some ideas for my own this December. It was one of the few weddings I've been to where it was a smooth and fluid ceremony. The only chaotic moment where the caterer got the times wrong and showed up about 15 minutes late. The speeches were amazing, the Bride and the Groom looked amazing (read that as tired but amazing).

The last stops on my eight day whirlwind adventure in Canadaland was at some overlooks of the Annapolis Valley and at Halls Harbour. I tasted some fine Nova Scotian lobster and clams, which were equally amazing. I wish I could stay I was enthusiastic about my trip to Halls Harbour but there was some anxiety about it. I wasn't scared for my trip back to Pittsburgh, I was excited don't get me wrong. It's that feeling you get on a vacation where you fall completely in love with a place, but you know can't stay and you want to.

And now this is where I wrap it up in a tight little bow as I sit at gate F85 at Toronto-Pearson Int'l Airport.

I will be back, and I will get more family research done. I miss the friends I have made, and I want to show my love bride everything I have seen. If I can get a vacation home here at some point in my future, I will. There is a lot more in Nova Scotia I want to see, and people I want to meet. I have thousands of pictures to go through and hundreds more to post.  Until then, admire in these photos. If you're able to go to Nova Scotia, please do, you will not be disappointed.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ian_munroe/sets/72157635084887991/ 

Nova Scotia. Day 1.

First things first, I can not get over how nice and considerate everyone is. I know Americans always joke about how nice Canadians are, but is true. All of the Canadians I have run into so far are so bloody nice. It was a little weird at first, because when I was walking through Toronto-Pearson Int'l Airport I figured it was due to it being an airport. But once I got to Halifax and I was dealing with Canadian civilians (other than Adam and Jessica) I realized how nice everyone was. 

Then I started to see Nova Scotia from the ground. Two words: Blue. Water. 

I've seen blue water before, I've been to a good beach and I saw how blue that water was, however. The water here reflects the sky in such a way that the color it gives is outstanding. Jaw droppingly outstanding. The greens of the grass and the fields. Oh my god, I want to live here. My grandparents used to vacation here and I can see why. Even the smell of the bodies of water are amazing.

You know when someone you know enters into a new relationship and they go on and on and on and on about how awesome the other person is and it annoys the living hell out of you? That's me with Canada. I know everything isn't as peachy as it looks and there are some crummy areas but because the people are a million times better than they are in America, I can deal with everything else better. 

I'm keeping this short, I'm editing some photos I took yesterday and I'm catching up on some of my other projects, but I'll be writing here and there on my adventures. And I'm sure I'll go on and on and on how I love they dual language system they have and the food and the Tim Hortons and everything else, but that'll come later. 

Right now, back to work and gazing out my window into the glorious blue skies. 

My problem with NASCAR.

I used to be a fan of NASCAR, when I was new to racing and didn't know any better. I entered the NASCAR scene during the 1992 season and I saw the exciting finish that lead to Alan Kulwicki winning his one and only championship. The first Polish driver to win the championship, the last driver/owner to win the championship for nearly 20 years and the first college graduate to win the championship. I was also there to see the news where his plane crashed.

I also saw the news that Davey Allison died in a helicopter crash, and the rest of the ups and downs of the 1993 season. But I stayed true to the sport until the 1999 season after that it was an off-and-on again affair. I was getting bored with it, left turn only, seldom big crashes (and that was getting boring). It was at this time I discovered the British Touring Car Championship and the American LeMans Championship, so my newest affair was with sports car racing. It made more sense to me, more stock like cars, short races but longer laps, but most of all, left and right turns.

I finally stopped watching NASCAR after the 2002 season, and I could barely hold on for the 2001 season. After the death of Dale Earnhardt at the season opener. Seeing his death made me realize how unsafe the sport actually was. I couldn't sit there and stomach it. Why can't they make it safer? They could take their cars and run them on road courses, they have two of them on the schedule, and most of their tracks have road courses built in. How hard is it really? 

It wasn't until 2006 when I started reading a series of articles about the monopoly NASCAR (*ahem* the France family) had over everything. What bothered me the most were the deals with the International Speedway Corporation, who is headlined by France family members, and the races not ran at ISC racetracks are owned by Speedway Motorsports. While these companies probably ensure a continuity of services between all the tracks, the fact that the France family owns the tracks and the headlining sport at said tracks just screams unfair business practices.

But that is only part of my issue with NASCAR, another larger part has to do with the cars themselves. I followed development of the Car of the Future because I thought it would combine elements of race car development found throughout Europe, and bring fresh air the stale environment  But the more I found out more as the car was developed, I saw that it was a case of, "more of the same". The car was made more safe for the driver, but a car going 210, with 30 other cars doing the same in Daytona, how safe is it really? I know risk is everywhere, but are they really doing all they can to mitigate the danger to the drivers? A restrictor plate only does so much.

Another section of gripe was that was no real difference between the manufacturers. It was 30-40 hunks of the same cut of cheese on the track. So you got 30-40 hunks of cheese doing 210 with the only difference being the front bumper (kind of). So no one who knew cars that well couldn't really tell the difference between a Toyota, a Ford, a Chevy and a Dodge. At least the 6th generation car fixed the similar body work issue.

But what would I do if I were in charge?

Tracks.
The track situation would be simple. Most would be reused, but use a road course configuration. Others would be replaced by either a dedicated road course, or a street course. Some tracks would have to spend a few dollars to modify their track to suit a road course, but it would still provide excitement. Also, you wouldn't have to worry about the big one like at the current configuration for Daytona and Talladega. A minus for people who like the big one, but who has watched a touring car race can tell you that the racing there is tighter and the crashes a little more intense.

So I went into GoogleEarth and took some tracks and locations and mapped out the road course via their path tool. Track lengths very from 1 mile all the way to 2.6 and even 3 miles. I would keep the short tracks as is, so Bristol, Martinsville, Dover would all stay the same.

Cars.
I would ditch the current way cars are constructed, I would take construction of the chasis out of the hands of the teams and have a central firm do it, much like Scandinavian Touring Car Championship is doing for the 2013 season.
Keeping the chassis construction out of the teams would keep cost down; you would buy your chassis kit from an approved manufacturer who would build the spec chassis. If each team has the same chassis you would only have to worry about the body. And the body is where I'm torn. I would think coupes would be awesome, however I think sedans would be the better fit. NASCAR did switch to sedans a few years ago, and practically everyone in racing world (minus endurance and some sport car teams) use sedans. Should they completely be carbon fibre, or a mix with aluminium or regular composite work? I think a healthy mix of all should be enough, and they should resemble the production car bodies with actual working doors.
The engine would be based of a production block and heavily regulated. Limited to 500hp, fuel injected with a common mapping, 5.0 liter, and be V8. It is America, we need a big thirsty V8 in it, anything less would not be acceptable. I would think a KERS system should be in use, because why not have a hybrid. Hybrids are cool, right?

Finally, if you are unfamiliar with the STCCDTM, the V8 Supercars and touring car racing as a whole, I suggest you read up about them and see how popular they really are. These cars look better than what NASCAR has to offer, the racing is a lot better than NASCAR has to offer, and the drivers are on par with what NASCAR has to offer. You will not be disappointed.

The Toughest Thing.

You signed on the dotted line, you chose your job, you know your ship date. You are bragging to your friends that you are going off to join the armed forces, you are going to serve your country proudly. Your parents are beaming with pride that their offspring is going off to serve their nation. You talk with your significant other about the possibilities after you come back from basic and the technical school. You are beyond excited, you practice your marching ability and you start the physical training.

It's a very picturesque scene, you think of it and you're taken to a 1950s image of America, you're doing the right thing. Defending those who can't defend themselves. A noble profession, and once you serve your 20 years, you will be taken care of.

How I wish that was true.

In my opinion, the toughest thing to be is a veteran. You are the 1% of the nation who served to protect the 350 million that choose not to. Odds are that you saw some things that left you broken, or you were apart of some things that left you physically broken. You expect your nation to take care of you, to make sure you can live a life worth living post service. It is OWED to you, I don't care what any one says. A veteran deserves the very best that can be offered to them for either a discount or free of charge.

The issues we have the DoD medical and the VA should not exist. The wait to be seen for a disability claim for the VA should not exist. Our broken veterans deserve the very best, they have given their all for their Commander-In-Chief. For a nation as wealthy as the United States to have these issues is completely disgusting and entirely disheartening. To wait any length to get the help you need, or to evaluate the help you need shouldn't exist.

Rather than saying, "thank you" to me, I would rather you give money to the Wounded Warrior Project or The Fisher House, or even write a letter to your representative in Congress to address the issue facing veterans today. Stop giving me lip-service, and making yourself feel better and do something. You want to help veterans, then help those who can barely defend or can't even defend themselves. They did it for you, so why can't you return the favor?

These are our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, friends. Family. If you want numbers, here are your numbers. The amount of emotions that I feel is hard to describe. I feel anger, I feel sad, I feel disappointed. I would like to feel only disappointed in the Government, but it also includes the rest of society.

We don't do enough to help each other. Rather than focus on ourselves all the time, we should focus on one another. We need more genuine charity in this materialistic world. I could write more, but I'm just not focused enough. So I ask, any reader of this, do something. Give when you can help, and help vets more and don't pay the lip-service.

Don't be afraid to contact me, after all, what's the worse that could happen? I don't reply. The world won't end, I promise.