New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for August, 2011

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment

From the Editor

Peter Salomon

Do you have photographs of New Orleans or the surrounding areas? Would you like to see them on the front page of La Plume de NOM? Email them to and share them with the rest of New Orleans Mensa! If no one submits, I can’t promise that next month’s picture will not be of Bart...

So The Story Goes Like This

Bart Geraci

So for a few months one year I worked for a jeweler as a salesman. While the rings, necklaces, and earrings sold quite well, the watches did not. And this is because most of the clients were men buying things for their women in their lives.

I suggested to the owner that for the upcoming Father's Day holiday, we should promote the idea for ladies to give a nice watch to their men in their lives. He agreed, and together we created some images and text to be used in our advertising..

We liked the way it turned out, but he said that it needed some catchy slogan. After some thought I came up with the one we used in our campaign....

“...There's no present like the time.”


Roger Durham

This may be a short column this month, as the deadline is upon me and I’m still recovering from a week in Oregon. The Annual Gathering in Portland was well-attended, with more than 2,000 members and guests registered, and a good time was generally had by all, although I must say that Hospitality this year left a great deal to be desired. The hotel didn’t have enough meeting space to handle our requirements, so Hospitality was relegated to the parking garage. That’s not as bad as it sounds, however, as the space was well lighted and air-conditioned, and curtains and carpeting had been brought in to transform it into a meeting hall. Unfortunately, though, virtually everyone was disappointed in the lack of food, except during mealtimes, which may have been due to the cost of the aforementioned curtains and carpeting.

Speaking of AGs, about the only matter of substance that came up in the meeting of the American Mensa Committee was the approval of a bid to hold the 2015 AG in Louisville, KY. That will follow Reno next year, Fort Worth in 2013, and Boston in 2014. Other than that, the AMC meeting dealt mostly with appointments. Bob Bevard of South Texas Mensa was reappointed as Development Officer, as was Greg Timmers, our Director of Science and Education. Brian Reeves was appointed as our new Communications Officer, and Rob Salkin was appointed Membership Officer. Jeff Dommenge of Lone Star Mensa was reappointed as Assistant RVC for our region. No motions were submitted for consideration at the Annual Business Meeting.

Leslie and I stayed over for a couple of days after the AG to do some sightseeing. Portland is a beautiful city with a lively downtown, full of shops and restaurants, with an excellent light-rail system that’s free within the downtown area. Monday, the final day of the AG, ended with an impressive fireworks display, fired from a barge on the Willamette River, which separates downtown from the rest of the city. On our last day there, we rented a car and drove up the Columbia River Gorge as far as Bonneville Dam, stopping at most of the 11 waterfalls in the Gorge, and touring the dam with its locks and fish ladder.

That’s all for now. Don’t forget Lone Star Mensa’s upcoming RG in Round Rock, just north of Austin, over the Labor Day weekend! See LSM’s website for details and a registration form. If you don’t have a computer or internet access, but are interested in signing up for one of our region’s RGs, drop me a note and I’ll send you a registration form.

From the LocSec

Bart Geraci

Well, I'm back from the AG in Portland and I had a wonderful time. Spent a bit of money at Powell's bookstore, ate some Voodoo Donuts, ate from the food trucks, and I even hit the farmers market Saturday morning for local produce. At the convention itself it was great seeing friends as well as going to different talks on a huge number of subjects. As usual, there were more talks that interested me than I could attend. Next year it's in Reno, Nevada (the youngsters are now thinking of a TV comedy series, the oldsters are now thinking of Johnny Cash).

And I'm sure you don't want to hear how the highs were in the 70s all week. Nope. Just put that thought right out of your mind. Pretend I didn't say how delightful it was to have the highs in the 70s all week.

Back in the Big Easy, we've had the Running of the Bulls celebration, and the Tales of the Cocktail gathering. August is the start of the COOLinary restaurant promotion, which is when local restaurants offer great prices on lunches and diners. For more information, check out the web page located at And August is now the month associated with going back to school. Why I remember when school started after Labor Day... (…and pay phones were 5 cents, and we had 300 baud modems, and Jupiter had about 12 moons...).

In terms of our group, I see that we've gotten some new members: Welcome!

Our CultureQuest team, Brains on Bourbon, finished 17th nationwide for an additional $75 for our coffers.

This month, I'm starting to send the LaPlume electronically to everyone that I have an email address for. This is going to be the new default starting September 1st. If you don't have an email address, or did not make it available to the local chapter, you will still get it through the mails. However, you'll get the black-and-white version through the mails rather than the color version that we put out through the emails and on our website.

Hope to see you at our NOM Day on the Northshore this month.

Brainfork: A Mensan writes about food

Bart Geraci


“Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.”
-The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Eliot-

It's that time of the year in Louisiana when the peaches are in bloom and the place to get them is Ruston, located in the northern part of the state. It was mostly small family farms growing them until the 1940s when several commercial farms came into being. In 1947, the peach growers formed the Louisiana Fruit Growers Association, and in 1951, they held the first Louisiana Peach Festival.

“The crops are all in and the peaches are rotting,
The oranges are packed in their creosote dumps”
-Deportee (Plane Wreck At Los Gatos) , Woody Guthrie-

Peaches are classified in the Rosaceae family (which contains many different fruits), the Prunus Genus ( which includes plums, cherries, apricots ), and the Amygdalus Subgenus ( along with almonds). Furthermore, a peach is a drupe, which means that a seed is surrounded by a layer (called an endocarp), which is surrounded by an outer fleshy part (called an exocarp). Among other drupes are olives, coffee, mango, and pistachios.

Drupes can come in freestone (where the seed is easily removed) and clingstone (where the seed is attached strongly to the fruit). Usually, clingstone drupes have more tender and juicy flesh.

“ ”
-Peaches en Regalia, Frank Zappa-
(yes, it's an instrumental)

“Momofuku” is Japanese for “lucky peach”. Momofuku Ando is the inventor of instant ramen (“Cup Noodles”). David Chang is an avid ramen fan, so he named his first restaurant “Momofuku” in his honor. David has recently spent time in New Orleans and studying what we have down here: “Yaka Mein” a.k.a. “Old Sober”, which is noodles in a Roast Beef gravy broth with some bits of roast beef, hot sauce, sliced green onions. So that's how you can connect peaches to Japan through New York City back towards New Orleans.

“An apple is an excellent thing -- until you have tried a peach.”
-George du Maurier -

Recipe: Grilled Peaches

I have vivid (as opposed to hazy) memories of eating a delicious grilled peach dish at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco.

Slice peaches (still peeled) in half, remove pit. Get grill nice and hot, put cut side down first, then after a few short minutes, turn it over and get some marks on the underside. Top with anything you can think of, although some people have thought of ice cream, sour cream, or even granola.

“In Hollywood, the women are all peaches. It makes one long for an apple occasionally.”
-William Somerset Maugham-

Recipe: Peach Melba

One famous peach dish is Peach Melba, which is named in honor of Dame Nellie Melba, a famous Australian operatic soprano. But she also inspired a second dish: Melba Toast. And what is the only U.S. producer of the original Melba toast? Turnbull Bakeries, founded in New Orleans in 1907. And that's how you can connect peaches through Australia to New Orleans.

Take peach halves, poach them in a sugar syrup (or syrup with white wine , or even peach schnapps) until tender, about 2 or 3 minutes. When cooled peel the skins off and place in bowl with vanilla ice cream and top with a raspberry sauce ( or heated seedless raspberry jam).

The version from Antoine’s cookbook starts with some pound cake, then vanilla ice cream, peaches, grenadine syrup, and toasted almond on top. Grenadine syrup can be made from pomegranate seeds in a pot, covered with water and simmered until the seeds release their juices. Then strained into a saucepan with equal amounts of sugar, bring to a boil and simmer.


By Richard Garrett

The college textbooks tell you to sell your products at a fair markup. You add a figure to the cost of each item to provide a good return to your business. In the event your product doesn't sell, you then must mark down your items so that you get cash back. The cash is then used to make or buy new merchandise. So the cycle begins again

This is what happens in businesses that function normally. The following story is about businessmen who never read the textbooks.

Charley, Rudy and Bryan started a woman’s underwear factory. They worked hard. Their garments were well made. Their styles were appealing, even though they were for the most part copied from styles originating in Parisian showrooms. After World War II nylon was once again available in quantities.

The shortage had been created by the Military which used nylon for parachutes for soldiers and airmen. Women in branches of the Military also had need of nylon underwear What was left over at the New England mills went into civilian garments. Women could not get silk items during World War II because the silk came from the Orient. Women didn't much care for rayon underwear but preferred the smooth, cool feel of silk and nylon.

Orders for nylon undergarments poured in after the War. The factory got its share from the mills with whom it had always had good relations.

As the years went by garments sold well but inventory from past seasons began to build up. If the manufacturer's articles were not on the store shelves in time for Christmas season, there was no further major holiday. At this time the styles would change so last year's styles were passe'. When the inventory built up so did the money these garments represented. Good business practice dictated that in order to sell these last season's styles you mark them down and if that doesn't work you mark them down further, and so on.

The three owners did not have the heart to take a beating by lowering the prices. After all, these slips, gowns and pajamas were like their children. In time the accumulated the undergarments' value was several hundred thousand dollars. Bear in mind that this was in late 1940's when a dollar then would be like $3.00 or more today .

Then a miracle occurred. The Korean War broke out! The availability of nylon was severely curtailed. The government once again needed nylon for parachutes and military ladies underwear. The factory began to receive orders from stores all over the country. Many of the stores they had never dealt with before. The company could not possibly fill all these orders because of the limited supply of nylon. So desperate retail store buyers made frantic trips to the factory. Suddenly, last year's merchandise looked enticing. After all, the garments were well made and fresh looking, albeit a bit out of style. But who cared about style with a nylon shortage?

So everyone was happy. The women had sleek, cool panties for their bottoms and the partners made a bundle of money off items as much as several years old. None of the partners ever used the money to buy a textbook on MERCHANDISING.

Help Needed From Our Members

By Bart Geraci

If you've always (or never) wondered how to help out our group, we have a few areas that we could use your help in.


By Geri Neemidge, Co-Chair LonestaRG the 13th

Lone Star Mensa is holding it's 13th annual RG over Labor Day weekend, Sep. 2-5, 2011, in Round Rock Texas. We are working on a rich program with a Halloween theme which includes a blood drive, a forensic entomologist, and a zombie prom. Regional Gatherings are a great member benefit offering lectures, workshops, games, and parties with about 100 Mensans mostly from Region 6. Your registration fee includes all the events plus meals and beverages (beer and margaritas too) all weekend in our hospitality suite.

You can find more details and register at our website:

Afternoon Tea: NOM North Event on Sunday, November 20

By Rebecca Pharr
“Tea, though ridiculed by those that are naturally coarse in their sensibilities, will always be the favored beverage of the intellectual”.
– Thomas de Quincey (1785-1859)

You are cordially invited to Afternoon Tea at Vianne’s Tea House We will be sipping tea at a special NOM North event on Sunday, November 20, 2011 at 2:30 p.m. Vianne’s has a presentation prepared for us on “Teas around the World.” We will have a three-course meal, a different flavor of tea at each of the three courses, along with scones and other accouterments. We will have our choice from the extensive variety of teas that are available at the tea house. The price for this fabulous and elegant experience will be $35.00, payable at the time of the tea. Please R.S.V.P. to Rebecca Pharr at as soon as possible but no later than November 1, 2011, as I have reserved a room and I need to tell them how many people to expect. I know we ladies (and any interested men!) will enjoy this delightful and informative afternoon get-together!

Vianne’s Tea House
544 Girod Street
Mandeville, LA 70448-5204
(985) 624-5683

The Vianne’s Tea – commonly referred to as “high tea” – a three-course experience: delicious fresh baked scones with accoutrements of lemon curd, cream and jam; assortment of tea sandwiches and savories; dainty desserts; served with a large pot or two small pots of tea from our gourmet tea menu 26.99 + Tax & Gratuity = $35.00.

Louisiana Renaissance Festival : NOM North Event, Saturday December 3rd


You are invited to the December NOM North Event Saturday, December 3, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. At the Louisiana Renaissance Festival
46468 River Road
Hammond, LA 70401-4248
(985) 429-9992

This weekend will be the Highland Fling!

Dec 3/4 - Show your Celtic pride and join us as we celebrate all things Irish and Scottish. We’ll be celebrating the music, dance, and culture of the Celtic nations throughout the weekend with a variety of events. Listen to the sounds of traditional Pipe and Drum bands and sing along with our musicians as they perform Celtic tunes for your enjoyment. Wear your kilt with pride and join us for our Best Knees contest!


Please send your check for your tickets to Rebecca Pharr, P.O. Box 4, Lacombe, LA 70445 before September 20 to get the group rate at a 20% discount. We need a minimum of 10 people to get the group rate. I will order the tickets for the group online all at once.

Remember that children 5 and younger get in for free! Pets are not allowed in the festival area.

Group Rate Ticket Prices
Group rate Single Day Admission Tickets are available for groups of 10 or more.
Group Rate tickets are $12.75 for adults and $7.45 for children (ages 6-12).

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These pages and all content Copyright (c) 2011 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: 31-Jul-2011 . Webmaster Bart J. Geraci can be reached at