Vita Rara: A Life Uncommon

About Me


My name is Mark Menard. I reside in Troy, NY. Some of my interests include Freemasonry, motorcycles, software development, and digital photography.

Personal Life

I am an almost life long resident of Troy, NY. I took a brief break from living in Troy to pursue a competitive ice skating career in my late teens. I returned after running out of money trying to do that. Ice skating is very expensive.

About two years ago I asked a friend of mine, Sylva, if she would like to go on a motorcycle ride. As they say the rest is history. We have been together since that first date. We made it through two years of Sylva finishing school at UCONN, while I continued to live and work in Troy. Upon her graduation from UCONN I asked Sylva if she would marry me. I knew she was going to say yes, but it needed to be formalized. Sylva has since moved to Troy with me, and we are in the process of creating a nice home.

Professional Life

I have been working professionally in the technology field for about ten years now. I've started two ISP's, was the CTO for a boutique consulting firm, and have since started my own consulting company, Vita Rara.

I've been using computers and have worked professionally with them since I was in my late teens. I've taken breaks to pursue other endeavors, but have come back time after time to doing computer work. In more recent years I have found myself working with medium to small firms in eliminating manual processes, and moving them to web based applications. Currently my company has a product for doing Fraternal Relationship Management, called MORI. MORI began as a system to track information for the The Grand Lodge F. & A. M. of the State of New York, and is growing into a system to track information for other Masonic bodies, and in the future for other fraternal organizations.

Freemasonry

I have been a Freemason since April 15, 1995. I was raised in Schodack Union Lodge Number 87, now Van Rensselaer Lodge Number 87. I never forget the anniversary of my raise date, because it is tax day here in the United States. I am also a member of Master Lodge Number 5, in Albany, NY.

I have been active in many different capacities in Freemasonry, serving as Master of my Lodge for two terms, secretary for one, and currently serving as Assistant Secretary. I currently serve on the Grand Lodge of New York Technology Committee, and have for about four years.

In the fall of 2003 the Grand Lodge of New York recognized their need to upgrade the Information Systems infrastructure. As a member of the Technology Committee I proposed a complete revamping of their member tracking and database functions, to bring them into the 21st Century. The result was a contract between my company, Vita Rara, and the Grand Lodge, for the creation of the MORI System, a complete online Fraternal Relationship Management system.

Motorcycles

I am an avid morotcycle tourist. I ride a bit around town, and in the general area, but what really gets me excited are long trips on the bike. I'm not sure how many 1,000+ mile trips I've taken at this point, having done over 45,000 miles in three years on three bikes.

I currently have a 1999 BMW R1100RT, and a 2005 BMW R1200GS. My first ride was a Yamaha V-Star 650, which I purchased in 2001. I think it was a 2001, but it could have been a 2000. I quickly figured out that a cruiser wasn't the type of bike I wanted, but it took me a while to save money and get my first BMW. Since then I've put about 42,000 miles on my RT, and a few thousand on my GS.

Some of my favorite places to ride include western NC, norther GA, and eastern TN. Roads like the Cherohally Skyway, Blue Ridge Parkway, Deals Gap, NC-28, GA-60, Wolf Pen Gap, these are some of the finest roads you can find in the east, and I urge you to seak them out if you ride. Another great place I've ridden is southern Utah, in the Torrey area. There you will find high desert, alpine environments, canyons, low desert, and more. It is an amazing place, the site of a twice a year gathering of riders from BMWST.com.

Photography

After getting my first BMW motorcycle and doing some touring in 2003 someone suggested that I get a camera so I could share my adventure with others on the BMWST board. I used to do photography when I was in my teens, but had stopped due to the cost of file, processing and printing. I hadn't used a camera in some years, but I was feeling the call of digital and the freedom it brought.

Prior to my first ride to Torrey, UT in the fall of 2003 I purchased a Canon Digital Rebel, and have not looked back. Many many thousands of photos later I've added a Canon 1D Mark II, a nice collection of lenses, and other accessories.

You will find a lot of stuff about photography here on my site as I build it up. This hobby goes hand in hand with my riding. I almost never take a ride without a camera.

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