New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for April 2014

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment

Cover Page

We interrupt this issue for a special bulletin.

The articles on Page 1 have conducted a referendum, voting to secede from the rest of the newsletter. For the latest on this developing story, we now join our correspondenmt, Art Clipman, on the scene.

CHART: Location of Page 1

SOURCE: Someone who can count

An astonishing 97% of the breakaway autonomous page elected the secession option, although it must be said that the only other choice on the controversial ballot was "burst into flames". Respectable amateur part-time volunteer journalists across the globe have denounced the action, certain that it was incited by neighboring newsletter (unprintable glyphs) in an attempt to assert control over the strategically valuable articles, claiming that they are culturally distinct from the articles on Page 2 and beyond, and this require oversight by a sympathetic protector.

More on this sitauation as it ... unfolds

So the Story Goes...

Lorem ipsum dolor....

Late Breaking Update

Eleventh-hour negotiations have produced a settlement to the Page 1 crisis.

Leaders there have agreed to return to La Plume de NOM control.

We now return you to our regular newsletter, already in progress.

Hope you enjoyed our traditional April Fool's Day front page!

A jpeg image of the cover page can be found at this link

From this point on, everything in this issue will be as real as usual.


By Bart Geraci

Well, it’s the first day of Spring here in New Orleans.

What this means is that it’s the beginning of the numerous fairs and festivals that occur each weekend. The big events this April in New Orleans are the French Quarter Fest, the Crescent City Classic, and the Jazz & Heritage Festival. Granted, our fairs and festivals are a year-round deal, but they seem to be most numerous in Spring and Fall. Starting on the first day of Spring, the weather took a serious turn for the warmer. I was out in T-shirts and shorts and I’m looking forward to getting a nice ice cold snowball to cool myself down.

Speaking of snowballs, The James Beard Foundation this year awarded the “American Classics Award” to Hansen’s Sno-Bliz on Tchoupitoulas. Hansen’s has been serving snowballs since 1939 and their opening day is one of the most eagerly awaited in the city.

Another opening day that will be here this month is our New Orleans Zephyrs baseball team. They start on April 3rd against the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. I’ve been to the Colorado Springs baseball field which is the highest professional ballpark in the United States at 6,531 feet above sea level.

In chapter news, we will have a Mensa Testing Date on April 19th. So if you know some people that would enjoy our community, encourage them to try the test out, or point them towards the information on how they can qualify based on their existing test scores.

Also I want to announce the return of the Smart Set Lunch club. This SIG goes to a lunch spot downtown on the 3rd Wednesday of the month. It is led by Mary Leonard who can be contacted at April’s lunch meeting will be at Restaurant August on April 16th at 11:30am.

April also means it’s Mensa renewal time. It’s nice that Mensa has offered multi-year renewals so one doesn’t have to remember every year to renew. Or you could do like I did and sign up for a Life membership. The price for a Life membership is based using actuarial statistics, so the older you are the cheaper it is. We have a message [later in this issue] from the National Office about easier renewals.

Another message from the National Office states that you now have the ability to sign up for email alerts of Local Group newsletters from other groups. So I’d like to say hello to all those people outside our region reading this: Hello!

Let’s go Zephyrs!

From The National Office

Renewal Time

Have you renewed your membership yet? It's a great chance to help yourself, your Local Group and the national organization. We've made this a less bothersome practice by implementing a recurring payment option for members. Here's how it works:

Print and online renewal forms include a checkbox to have single-year and additional family payments charge annually. Members who opt for recurring payments will be charged on March 1 each following year. We'll send a notification prior to charging you.

Your payment information, which can also be updated on your member profile, is securely stored by our credit card processing company (American Mensa does not have direct access to it).

It's that simple! Your single-year dues balance will automatically be paid, using the credit card on file, starting in 2015. Check the box, then check it off of each year's to-do list, and you will also be saving Mensa the cost of annual billing.

You can renew online or by calling 888-294-8035 ext. 199 during regular business hours. You can update your payment information at

Read Other Local Group Newsletters

Have you ever wanted to read the newsletters of Local Groups outside of your own? Perhaps it's one from an area where you once lived or a region you're planning to visit. Maybe it's one produced by the Local Group where your best friend belongs.

American Mensa's newest web service allows you to subscribe to any of the Local Group newsletters that are uploaded to our site. By subscribing to one or all (if you dare), you'll receive an email notification any time a newsletter you've subscribed to is uploaded to our website. To access this great new benefit:

This service will help bridge the miles for members as well as help members keep up with the activities of friends and colleagues across the country. Please note that the subscriptions are electronic — only notifications that the PDFs are available and that the email notice will be sent to the address we have for you on your membership record.

Happy reading!

Young Mensan News & Notes

From Lisa Van Gemert, Gifted Youth Specialist

Happenings & Celebrations:

April is National Humor Month. Try out a new joke on a friend. You can find some kid-friendly jokes here:

Triviality: April has come down in the world. On the earliest Roman calendar, it was the second month, not the fourth as it is now. King Numa Pompilius added Ianuarius and Februarius around 700 BC (March used to be first). It also used to have only 29 days. The extra day was added during the Julian calendar reform in the mid-40s BC.

Benefit Highlight:

BrainWorx shares a series of daily trivia questions geared specifically toward gifted youth. The questions are shared via Twitter @MensaGT at 10 a.m. Central time each day, and the answer to the previous day's question is shared at 9 a.m. Central time.

Every day has a different topic:

You can follow @MensaGT at

Six Word Biography Contest Results

Young Mensans were invited to submit their life stories in six words or less in our recent Six Word Biography Contest. The youth were invited to add visual interest in the form of photographs or drawings to their entries. Entries were received from nearly forty different local groups, and a video of the entries is available at . Feel free to share this video with anyone.

NEW! Comic Contest

Here are details on the newest contest. We invite all Young Mensans to participate.

Online Resources for Young Mensans

Gerry Ward, Local GYC

Mensa Honor Society

The Mensa Honor Society is open to Young Mensans between the ages of 10 and 18 who have not graduated. The ideals of the Mensa Honor Society are integrity, intellectual curiosity, academic commitment and service.

In keeping with the purposes of Mensa, the objectives of the Mensa Honor Society are to:

For more information, check out the page at American Mensa at and check out the website for the Mensa Honor Society at

Mensa Facebook Page for Young Mensans 13-17

One of the benefits Mensa membership offers teens is the M<18 Facebook group. This is a secret group, which just describes its privacy settings, in Facebook open to members between 13 and 17 all around the world. It has adult admins (a few) that monitor appropriateness (and have intervened in one situation, actually). It has a separate group of administrators that set policy and share ideas. For American Mensa, three people are admins in that group: Lessa Scherrer, Chair of the Gifted Youth Committee; Michael Hudec, GYC of Chicago Area Mensa; and Lisa Van Gemert . Lisa makes sure that as our kids turn 18, they are removed from this group and directed elsewhere on Facebook for places to connect. She verifies membership and maintains a list of American youth in the group.

Teens are having fun connecting with each other. There are currently about 150 teens from nearly 40 countries in the group. All interaction is conducted in English.


From the RVC

By Roger Durham, Region 6 Vice Chair

Sadly, if history is any guide, this will be my last chance to communicate with about 900 of you. That is the average number of Region 6 Mensans who will not renew their memberships, and hence will be dropped from our mailing lists after this month. We haven’t met most of you, but nonetheless you will be missed. We sincerely regret that Mensa has not fulfilled your expectations, whatever they might have been, and we hope that, upon reflection, you will give us another try. Unlike many other organizations, we rely on our members to provide a diversity of activities, so if you didn’t find what you were looking for, please consider that others may have been looking for the same thing. It’s possible that all it would take to find satisfaction in Mensa membership is to put a notice in your local newsletter that you are interested in X, and are looking for others with a similar interest. You might meet a whole bunch of interesting new friends!

As I mentioned last month, it’s time to make plans to attend both the Houston Regional Gathering in May (, the 2014 Annual Gathering, July 2-6 in Boston (, as well as the Austin RG over Labor Day weekend ( I plan to be at all three, and hope to see you there. Also, if you hurry, there’s still time to register for this year’s Mind Games in Austin April 18-20. This exciting event is held, like the AG, in a different city each year, so this may be your last chance to attend in a nearby location for quite some time. At Mind Games, you and about 300 of your fellow Mensa members will have the chance to play the 60 or so new games submitted by game designers and selected by a panel of experienced judges each year. To register, go to, or call 888-294-8035. This event sells out every year, so act now!

You might be interested to know that by an e-mail ballot at the end of February, the region’s Local Secretaries chose three people to serve as our representatives on the national Nominating Committee for the upcoming 2014-15 American Mensa election cycle. The three NomComm members chosen were Patricia Williams of Gulf Coast Mensa (Houston), David McCallister of Mensa 76 (Fort Worth), and Sherrie Reimers of South Texas Mensa (San Antonio). My thanks to all three for accepting this substantial responsibility.

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

BRAINFORK: A Mensan writes about food

Bart J. Geraci

Non-Food Items

Wade: This place has a sign hangin' over the urinal that says, “Don't eat the big white mint.”
-Road House (movie)-

Every April I try to write about something a bit different. This year it’s about things that aren’t really food that people eat.


Being an entrepreneur is like eating glass and staring into the abyss of death.
-Elon Musk-

Pica in this context is not the typographic one-sixth of an inch, nor the 10 characters per inch of a typewriter font, nor the small rat-like mammal (which is now spelled “pika” and the obvious inspiration of the Pikachu Pokemon), nor the obscenity in some European languages, nor the genus of magpies (but we’ll see how it is related below), but an eating disorder.

For something to be considered pica, it involves:

The magpie bird genus is relevant here: it has been said that these birds eat anything.

The clay’s the thing

Geophagy is the consumption of soil, clay, or chalk. It actually has a long history of practice by different cultures. One specific instance of clay is kaolin, which has the formula Al2Si2O5(OH)4. It is used in creating china, porcelain, and other goods. It was also used for the treatment of diarrhea. This type of clay has been found in areas in Georgia and has had a long history of being consumed.

What’s more interesting is that clay may have beneficial properties. The clay can absorb toxins, such as glycoalkaloids, which are commonly found in potatoes and other nightshade plants. These alkaloids are typically bitter tasting and can cause diarrhea, vomiting, irritation in the back of the mouth and tongue, and even neurological problems in humans. So when these foods were cooked in clay, the clay would draw out the toxins and make the food edible.

Cold as Ice

“Some say the world will end in fire, / Some say in ice.”
-Robert Frost “Fire and Ice”-

Pagophagia is the pathological consumption of ice. Since ice lacks nutrition, it is considered a non-food in this context. Now, we are talking about excessive consumption here: having it in your sodas and iced teas is still okay.

Chewing ice is one manifestation of pica. In addition to lacking nutrition, the act of ice chewing can affect the dentin and the enamel of teeth, resulting in hairline fractures, which can get worse as time goes on.

Now some researchers have discovered that ice chewing is done by some people to relieve a sore tongue symptom, which in turn comes from having an iron deficiency. So now doctors are aware of this possible link.

Just Plane Delicious

Mrs Non-Smoker: What d'you buy?
Mrs Smoker: A piston engine!
Mrs Non-Smoker: How d'you cook it?
Mrs Smoker: You don't cook it.
Mrs Non-Smoker: You can't eat that raw!
Mrs Smoker: Ooooh ... never thought of that. Oh, day and night, but this is wondrous strange ...
-Monty Python’s Flying Circus-

Michel Lotito was a French entertainer known for deliberately consuming non-food items. It was noted that his teeth were remarkably strong. He took apart bicycles, shopping carts, and even televisions, broke them into small pieces and consumed them. His method included drinking mineral oil and water while swallowing the pieces. He reported that he had no problem passing these pieces.

The crowning achievement in his eating career is the 1100-pound Cessna 150 airplane. It took him about two years from 1978 to 1980.

The weird part? He said that bananas and hard-boiled eggs made him sick.


So what kind of inedible thing will I have in the recipe column this week? What about gold?

There exist edible gold leaf decorations, used in candies and other desserts. The leaf is 22-24 karats and incredibly thin. The body will not digest the gold leaf, and it will pass through. Edible gold leaf can be found at specialty cooking stores as well as online. For instance, at Amazon, there is a collection of 25 sheets, 23 karats, about 3.5 x 3.5 inches square, for around $50.00. The best way to apply it to candies, cakes, and other foods is to cut off a piece with a sharp craft knife, and use a dry brush to apply the foil onto the sweets.

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These pages and all content Copyright (c) 2014 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: 12-Apr-2014. Webmaster Bart J. Geraci can be reached at