New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for April 2013

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment

Nome Plum Deal


Poisson d'Avril, 2013

This is the article title

By Arthur Znaymheer

This is the first sentence of the first paragraph in this article. This is the third sentence. Since there seems to be too much repetition, I have removed the second sentence. The first word of the article is this. The next word of the article is the. Ack! Even more repetition, so I removed the sentence after the sentence stating that this is the first word of the article. Let's continue with a new paragraph.

The article title is “This is the article title” which contains 21 letters and a total of 9 different letters. The previous sentence uses 3 different digits in the sentence. This paragraph has a total of 9 different digits within it. Now I have to replace the “4” in the previous sentence with “5”. Let's count: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. Okay I need to replace the “5” in the third sentence with 6. And insert a 6 in the list 2 sentences ago. Now I need to replace the “6” in the third sentence with 7. And insert a 7 in the list 4 sentences ago. So that makes 8 different digits now, which makes it 9 different digits now, so replacing a “7” with “9” in the third sentence and adding “8” to the list in the fifth sentence should make it balance out. Good.

Let's continue with a new paragraph now.


Let me put on some appropriate music now.

“Once in every show
There comes a song like this...”
-The song “The Song that Goes Like This” from Spamalot-

Gee, this article is taking longer to write than I expected. It's a good thing I am taking Hofstadter's Law into account.

Hofstadter's Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.
-Douglas Hofstadter, “Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid”-

Since this is the first word in this article, the last word would be ... well, anything. Orange. Ambrosia. Gynotikolobomassophilia. Pound cake. Well, not that since that's two words. Not that that is two words, but that pound cake is two words. And I don't want two words to be this article's last words. I don't even want words to be last word in this article. Or even article. Ack! Stop that.

Okay, since this is the first word in this article, that will be the last word in this article. Not article. Not Okay, but that. Yes, that. Let's construct the last paragraph for this article that is not this paragraph being constructed.

After writing the last paragraph, I checked this article and it had 425 words. I feel like I should have at least 500 words for a proper article size. So right now I have ... 459 words, which means really 461 words and I'm not counting the title. So I have 475 words, err, 477. Well, at least 500 words. Now replace 483 with 489 now. Then 489 with 494. One more replacement: 494 with 500.


So The Story Goes Like This

By Bart Geraci

Like this.

Hope you enjoyed our traditional April Fool's Day front page!
From this point on, everything in this issue will be as real as usual.

From The LocSec

By Bart Geraci

First of all, I hope you enjoyed the April Foolishness in this issue.

Secondly, did you remember to renew?

April is indeed the month of festivals in this city. Soon we will have the French Quarter Festival, followed closely by JazzFest, all amidst many other small festivals. Nationally, April will mark the month of Mensa Mind Games, held in St. Louis this year, as well as CultureQuest, which our local team “Brains on Bourbon” will meet again this year to compete for fame, fortune, and glory. That reminds me:

Dear CultureQuest planners:
    Stop having CultureQuest on a JazzFest day!!!
Bart J. Geraci
“Brains on Bourbon” CQ captain

You know, I once gave up CQ one year because it conflicted with Bruce Springsteen's appearance at JazzFest. I love my trivia competition, but I wasn't going to miss a chance to see Bruce.

I wish to offer my thanks to Ben Rauch for helping me judge this year's Science Fair (more about that in another article).

April will mark the end of the New Orleans Hornets schedule – in fact the end of the “Hornets” era since they will be called the “Pelicans” next season. And as one season ends, another season begins with the New Orleans Zephyrs having their home opener on the 12th.

April 16th is National Eggs Benedict Day (more about that in another article). April showers bring May flowers. The Mayflower brings pilgrims to America.

Let's go Zephyrs!

From The Editor

By Kevin Chesnut

$626.89 is the total amount shown in the 2012 New Orleans Mensa Treasurer’s Report for newsletter printing and postage expenses. Each member who currently receives a paper copy of La Plume de NOM through the U.S. Mail has the opportunity to help reduce that amount by switching to email delivery. The savings could then be routed to a variety of other purposes.

Cost reduction would benefit our entire group, but a member who switches to the email version will enjoy certain benefits as well, such as receiving each issue more promptly, in color (when we use color, as in the illustration on this month’s Page 1), with clickable links, and adjustable type size for convenient viewing.

I would like to ask everyone to thoughtfully consider receiving La Plume de NOM electronically.

Q. I agree! How do I switch to the email version of the newsletter?

A. I’m glad you asked! It takes just a few simple steps:

Science Fair News

By Bart Geraci

The Greater New Orleans Science and Engineering Fair ( was held on February 27. Every year, our chapter presents awards for those projects “showing creativity backed by rigorous scientific reasoning”. This year, our judges were Ben Rauch and myself.

The first place winner in each division received $100, and the second place winner, $50. Each winner also received a personalized certificate. Unfortunately, I was unable to personally present the awards on the 28th, since I was coming down with some type of cold or something.

Congratulations to all those that participated and especially our winners:

Ben Rauch and Bart Geraci are veteran volunteer Science Fair judges, Ben for the third year, and Bart for several more. Bart notes that he first became involved as a way for our local Mensa group to give back to the community. They have seen many interesting entries over the years, including those featuring magnetic levitation, rail gun, and aurora borealis.

Unlike the STEM (Science / Technology / Engineering / Mathematics) initiatives of today, Ben recalls that there was little encouragement for students to participate in science fairs during his school days.

Both Ben and Bart enjoyed the experience, but would eagerly welcome additional volunteers to share the task of reviewing up to 300 projects. When the opportunity arises again next year, please consider representing New Orleans Mensa as a GNOSEF judge!

From the RVC

By Roger Durham, Region 6 Vice Chair

I hope all of you renewed your memberships last month, but if history is any guide, I know about 18% of you didn’t. If you’re one of that 18%, this is the last local newsletter you will receive until you reinstate your membership, so if renewal is something you’ve just been putting off, please do it now. On the other hand, if you made a deliberate decision not to renew because of dissatisfaction with some aspect of Mensa, I wish you would take the time to email me and let me know what you found wanting about our organization. It may be something that could be remedied, but if we don’t know what it is, there’s not much we can do about it. Some of you, of course, have decided that you just can’t afford to renew at this time, for personal financial reasons. I can sympathize with that, and for you all I can say is that I sincerely hope your situation will improve, and that you will come back when it does.

As I mentioned last month, it’s time to make plans to attend both the Houston Regional Gathering in May, and the 2013 Annual Gathering, July 3-7 in Fort Worth. I hope you will all make a special effort to attend the AG, because it’s the last time it will be in our region for a number of years. (The next three AGs will be in Boston, Louisville, and San Diego.) Co-Chairs Carol Hilson and Karen Brack have a really exciting Gathering planned, and it would be a shame to miss it when it’s so conveniently located.

Our keynote speaker this year will be Kinky Friedman, and regardless of whether you agree with his politics, he is sure to provide an entertaining viewpoint. The program is pretty well filled with other speakers at this point, and the usual games, tournaments, contests, dances, and other activities will be available, as well as 24/7 hospitality. I especially encourage you to purchase the meal package this year, as the Worthington, our headquarters hotel, has put together a menu that will aston-ish anyone who is expecting the usual rubber chicken hotel fare. As Hospitality Chair, I had the chance to sample all the menu items for the AG meals recently, and I can honestly say I have never had a better meal at the finest of restaurants. Visit to register.

Finally, as always, please remember that if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, you can reach me at


The following candidates for American Mensa office asked us to include their campaign messages in our newsletter. I plan to publish the first such message that we receive from each candidate. No endorsement of any candidate is implied. –Ed.

Members who have renewed before 11:59 p.m., Central time, on March 31 will be eligible to vote in both the American Mensa and Mensa International board elections. Ballots will be mailed to all eligible members via standard mail on or around April 10. The election begins on April 15 and ends at 11:59 p.m., Central time, on May 31. Information on referenda and candidates will be available on the American Mensa Web site beginning in April at –Excerpt from email from RVC6 Roger Durham

Candidates For Chair

Dan Burg

Dan Burg for Chairman of American Mensa

The job of Chairman is, well, big. Lead the board. Choose priorities. Set the tone. Stay informed. Plan. Represent American Mensa, both internally and externally. Chair board meetings. Serve as an ex officio member of the board of the Mensa Foundation. Serve on Mensa International’s Executive Committee, as well as on the International Board of Directors. With my background and experience, I can do all of them. I look forward to it.

My style is independence, integrity, and quiet competence backed by years of experience in a wide variety of areas and arenas. My priorities include not only planning for the future, but also getting back to basics. If elected, I’ll review our rules and procedures and get rid of any that don’t make sense. I’ll make sure all board members know their roles and responsibilities. I’ll continue to be a resource to local groups and to members. Things will get done.

International Mensa is another important part of the Chairman’s job: In addition to being a national representative, the Chairman is a member of the International Executive Committee. That is important because the ExComm conducts the business of Mensa International on a day-to-day basis, which, in turn, affects American Mensa. My long international experience – eleven years as a NatRep, chairman of two committees – has prepared me well for this larger role.

I would be honored to receive your vote as Chairman.

Rob Salkin

Fellow Mensan,

I’m running for Chairman of American Mensa. The focus of the next board needs to be on the Mensa experience, making membership even more meaningful and enjoyable without raising the dues. Part of the job will be accomplished by reforming the roughly $4 million budget to reallocate funds to areas like leadership development, volunteer appreciation, gifted youth, technology infrastructure, and local group support.

I’m qualified and ready to lead the board in the right direction while representing our interests at the international level. I hold graduate degrees in business, law, and computer science. I’ve served on the national board, been a LocSec, presented on a variety of topics at numerous gatherings, and founded a Regional Gathering ( as well as a Special Interest Group (

If elected, I'll need to fill some appointed positions on our board of directors, the American Mensa Committee. American Mensa's talent pool is incredibly deep. So, it is quite possible that the best people for the positions starting this July are outside of my current circle of Mensa friends. If you have the time, drive, and skills necessary to improve American Mensa, I encourage you to apply for an appointed position.

For more information on my campaign as well as details regarding appointed positions, please visit If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to get in contact via

I’d greatly appreciate your vote in the election that begins on April 15th.

Thank you and enjoy Mensa,
Rob Salkin

Candidates for FIRST VICE CHAIR

John Recht

Hi, my name is John Recht and I'm running for First Vice Chairman. The position has few specified duties besides membership on our governing board, the American Mensa Committee, and on the AMC's Executive Committee. In particular, the First Vice Chairman must take on projects as assigned by the Chairman and must be prepared to assume the position of Chairman if the position becomes vacant during the term.

During my eight years on the board I have taken the initiative on special projects that are important to Mensa's future. As Chair of the Planning Committee, I led the way in the development and implementation of the AMC’s first-ever Strategic Plan, including development of the Strategic Dashboard on the AML website. As Chair of the Leadership Development Committee, I have led a team dedicated to increasing the number of new volunteers in American Mensa who are willing and able to serve in elected and appointed positions, giving them confidence and understanding in their roles as leaders and supporting them with resources and training. I am happy to report that American Mensa has made great strides in planning and leadership development during my terms in office, and I intend to continue my support of these efforts when I am elected First Vice Chairman.

Over the course of my years in Mensa I have served in a number of positions at the local, regional, national and international levels. Among them were LocSec, Treasurer, Mediator/Arbitrator, Chair or Co-Chair of four Regional Gatherings, Regional Vice Chairman, Co-Chair of the 2006 Mind Games and Co-Chair of the 2011 AG. I am currently Second Vice Chairman and a member of the Mensa International Board of Directors. My experience has given me a deep understanding of the big picture for Mensa, and I look forward to helping to assure that Mensa will remain a healthy organization, dedicated to creating a stimulating intellectual and social environment for our members.

My goals for American Mensa are as follows:

In sum, please vote for me for First Vice Chairman and I will do all I can to build on our success. I hope to see you at the AG in Fort Worth this summer!

Candidates for SECRETARY

Brian Reeves

I am Brian Reeves, your current AML Communications Officer and now a candidate for AML Secretary.

As Communications Officer, I am responsible for helping set policies for—and troubleshooting—everything from the Mensa Bulletin to the website to the Forums and Mensa Facebook page to local group newsletters and much more. In addition, I chair the Communications Committee and serve on the national Bylaws Committee, the Finance Committee and am the Gifted Youth program’s liaison to the AMC.

During my term as Communications Officer, we’ve created the Weekly Brainwave, calmed down tensions in the online Community and have upgraded the quality of the Bulletin (you’ll see many of those changes later this year).

Your Secretary should be able to prepare meeting agendas and then later put out minutes quickly and accurately. Many Mensans are well-qualified for that part of the job. There is another aspect to the job, though, that many people don’t consider. The Secretary also serves on AML’s Executive Committee where he or she is involved in helping make important decisions for Mensa. A deep knowledge of Mensa, everything from its finances to the personalities of the AMC members, is important to doing that part of the job well. As a current AMC member, I have that knowledge. I know the people involved and can work with them.

I can tell you from experience that most AMC members have strong personalities. Getting them to agree on things can be tough. I work as a mediator. I earn my living by getting people on opposite sides of issues to work together towards successful conclusions. I will bring the skills I’ve developed doing that work to the job of Secretary.

An additional project I plan to undertake is reorganizing the ASIEs. Have you ever tried to find something in the ASIE’s? Did you finally just give up? I want to undertake the process of organizing them by topic rather than, as now, by the order in which they were adopted, so you can find things more easily.

If this sort of positive, competent “can-do” approach appeals to you, I’d appreciate your vote.

Jared Levine

My name is Jared Levine, I am running for AML Secretary, and I would appreciate your vote.

Since rejoining Mensa in 1999, I have been an active member in each local group where I lived: Greater New York, Greater Los Angeles, and currently Metropolitan Washington. I hosted myriad events, and served in a whole slew of local positions (both on the Board of Directors in each group and in other capacities) and on multiple national committees (and still serve on the Bylaws Committee). I have a large base of experience within and knowledge of Mensa on both the local and national levels.

As I have previously mentioned, aside from timely composition and dissemination of meeting minutes, I intend to make available within a month of the Annual Gathering a draft of the Annual Business Meeting minutes, while the meeting is relatively fresh in people's minds, rather than 11 months removed. Also, I will begin cross-referencing various documents so that it is easier to make updates to everything that is affected by changes in ASIEs or the local group charter. This, in turn, will make process easier both for officers and rank-and-file members, freeing up their time and energy for the more important things like providing a stimulating environment, effective in-person and online ways of connecting with fellow members, and various other services to the membership.

While being mindful of details is a necessary attribute (even moreso for a Secretary) and an attribute on which I pride myself, looking for new ways to provide an even more positive Mensa experience which the members actually find value in paying their dues is where it's at. I believe I will be able to work well with most possible combinations of people who might be elected to the AMC and ask that you vote for me for Secretary in the coming election.

To see more specific information about the leadership roles I have undertaken in Mensa, my understanding of the basic duties of an AMC Secretary, my philosophy for transparency on the AMC, suggestions for change in AML, and more, please visit my blog at

--Jared Levine

BRAINFORK: A Mensan writes about food

Bart J. Geraci

Eggs Benedict

“Sometimes life is a feast with eggs Benedict & Hollandaise sauce, waffles & strawberries, sausage links & hashed brown potatoes. And sometimes life is scrambled eggs. In the end, your stomach gets full all the same. And years from now, you may not remember exactly what you ate.”
-Lisa Schroeder, “Chasing Brooklyn”-

What's a little odd about this month's Brainfork is that it was inspired by recent news. Pope Benedict XVI announced his retirement effective the end of February 2013 and in several places on the internet people would be posting “Hey, what do we call him when he retires?” with the picture of an egg covered with Hollandaise sauce and the punchline “Ex Benedict” as a play on “Eggs Benedict”.

April 16th is National Eggs Benedict Day. It's also National Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day. The two events are not related otherwise, I think.

All Kinds of Eggs

“Anytime a bird takes a crap on my car, I eat an entire plate of scrambled eggs on my porch. Just to show the birds what I'm capable of.”

New Orleans has several very old restaurants that do specialize in egg dishes.

Okay, so what is a Holland Rusk?

It's about the shape and size of an English Muffin, but it is twice baked, so it is dry and sturdy. The advantage of the rusks is that it holds its shape well when you put other ingredients on top. But as you cut into the egg dish, covered with sauce, the moisture will penetrate the little holes in the rusk, and it will then soften enough to be easily eaten.

Marchand de Vin Sauce? A classic New Orleans Creole sauce made with ham, green onions, mushrooms, red wine and beef stock.

Hollandaise Sauce? A classic sauce resulting from an emulsion of butter, egg yolks, and lemon juice.

Emulsion? The topic of the next section....


“Friendship and money: oil and water.”
-Mario Puzo-

An emulsion is a mixture of one liquid in another liquid, where neither liquid dissolves in the other one. The classic example of two such liquids would be oil and water. If you were to put oil and water in a container, you would see that they resist mixing with each other and would separate itself into two clearly defined layers.

So how do we mix the liquids then? If we could break down one of the liquids into pieces small enough to be evenly distributed, then that might work. Let's see, a tablespoon of oil can be broken down into say 30 billion droplets, and simple hand whisking can bring these droplet sizes down to about 3 microns (1,000,000 microns = 1 meter ; 25,400 microns = 1 inch ). And after all that hard work, if you wait a bit, you'll see the liquids separate out again. So we need some help here.

This is when we turn to an emulsifier. “Help me, emulsifier, You're my only hope,” the princess pleads as she...(ahem).

An emulsifier for our needs would be something that would keep the droplets from getting back together again. One substance that would do this is lecithin, which is found in egg yolks. In fact, about 1/3 of the fats found in an egg yolk is lecithin, so there's a lot of it that we can use. The lecithin compound has a structure where its tail can dissolve in fats and its head can dissolve in water. So in a mixture of many small droplets of oil suspended in a container of water, the lecithin will coat the droplet of oil, and provide a natural barrier to prevent the droplets getting back together.

A similar item is a stabilizer. What tends to distinguish it from an emulsifier is that a stabilizer is usually some starchy compound that creates a mesh-like structure within the liquid, thus trapping the movement of the oil droplets in the water container. It doesn't try to attach itself to the oil droplets like an emulsifier does.


“Puck: Dude, you told them what we were gonna do — you’re like a modern-day Eggs Benedict.”
-Glee TV Show-

Eggs Benedict

Take Holland Rusk (or toasted English Muffin), place ham on it, then a poached egg, top with Hollandaise sauce.

Poached Egg

In a pot of boiling water, add a little bit of salt and a little bit of vinegar. Crack your egg in a smaller dish first, and then gently transfer the egg from the dish into the pot. Use a slotted spoon to gather stray whites and later to remove the egg from the water.

Hollandaise Sauce

Really, the first ingredient should be Atorvastatin or another cholesterol-lowering medication....

Take 3 egg yolks in double boiler...

Double Boiler?

OK, in a bowl over a pot of hot, but not boiling water, add 3 egg yolks and 1 and 1/2 Tbsp. Lemon juice and beat until it thickens. Add a little bit of 1 stick of butter at a time and beat until each piece is incorporated. Add salt, pepper, hot sauce, cayenne to taste.

Mock Hollandaise Sauce

Mustard and Mayonnaise. I know, you're thinking that can't possibly work. But Mayonnaise is egg yolks and oil, where our Hollandaise is egg yolks and butter. Mustard (prepared) is yellow and made with vinegar, where our Hollandaise uses lemon juice and the yellow comes from the color of egg yolks and butter.

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These pages and all content Copyright (c) 2013 by New Orleans Mensa, all rights reserved. Mensa ® and the Mensa logo (as depicted for example in U.S. TM Reg. No. 1,405,381) are registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by American Mensa, Ltd., and are registered in other countries by Mensa International  Limited and/or affiliated national Mensa organizations. Mensa does not hold any opinion or have, or express, any political or religious views.
Last edited: 07-Apr-2013 . Webmaster Bart J. Geraci can be reached at