New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for August 2015

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment

10 Years After

By Bart Geraci
“I'm goin' home, to see my baby...”
- Ten Years After, “I’m Going Home” -

As a youth, the phrase “10 Years After” evoked the name of the band that played at Woodstock and also wrote the song “I’d Love to Change the World”. This month it takes on another meaning.

This month marks 10 years after the levees in New Orleans failed and inundated the city. Because people only pay attention to an anniversary year that ends with a “5” or a “0”, it is a time of reflection.

Many of us have suffered and lost, both things and people, through a shared Katrina experience (which is indeed rare in the days of apps, internets, and thousand-channel TV feeds). But our willingness to come back and to rebuild speaks volumes on how much passion we feel about our city.

And rebuild we did. Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest and other yearly events came back because we needed events like these to make us feel normal again. People reconnected with their neighborhoods; neighborhoods began to hold more community events than before. The city added many bike lanes, the downtown districts have seen development and progress, and entrepreneurs have moved in with new businesses and ideas.

Heck, even our beloved New Orleans Saints won a Super Bowl!

We wish to give our heartfelt thanks to all the volunteers who came to town. We thank all those who have opened their hearts and their houses for us when we had no place to go. We are grateful for all the laborers who came in and built and tore down our houses (obviously not in that order). We welcomed everyone who came, fell in love with our city, and ended up staying.

We have lost many things; we have gained many things.

We have all gained a bit of self-reliance. We’ve been through a traumatic experience and we’ve survived. Many of us have an increased knowledge in home repair and construction.

We have all learned to be thankful for the many things in life, especially our friends, who we have found to be more important than our possessions. We have learned to take more chances and be more daring, since upheavals in our lives can come at any time. We see every day as a blessing to be enjoyed.

Yes, I still have memories of things I lost in the floodwaters. But 10 years after, I’m very proud of the city and all the people in it.

It’s good to be home.


By Bart Geraci

August is the hottest month of the year. Locally, a lot of restaurants have a reduced price as part of the “Coolinary” package. And hotel rates are generally at their lowest. In my youth, September was the back to school month, but now it has been replaced by August.

One thing many locals are looking forward to is the return of the New Orleans Saints. The preseason starts in August, the real games start in September.

I went to the Annual Gathering in Louisville where I learned that our CultureQuest team, Brains on Bourbon, came in 18th place and earned $100 for our group. Our neighbor to the north, Baton Rouge Mensa, fielded a team that finished in a 3-way tie for 15th place. It turns out that our two teams were the only ones in Region 6 that placed in the top 20.

We also learned at the Annual Gathering that our group has earned the Emerald Award again this year. I also met our new Region 6 RVC, Taz Criss. I first met her as an infant nearly 30 years ago, when I was living in Austin, TX and going to Mensa events there since she was the daughter of Mensa members.

We’re still working on ideas for another RG, more than likely it will be in 2016. Some dates we were originally looking at turned out to be busy weekends for hotels due to conventions in town. Someone wrote a tongue-in-cheek article saying that New Orleans has officially run out of weekends to be able to host any new festivals.

In September, we will have nominations for all 4 positions in New Orleans Mensa. If anyone wants to run for LocSec, Asst LocSec, Treasurer, or Recording Secretary, let us know.

So let’s go VooDoo and Zephyrs and Saints!

So The Story Goes Like This

By Bart Geraci

Out in West Texas I held several odd jobs over the summer. One summer I spent a few weeks working with a counselor who treated addictions. But his specialty was not drugs or alcohol or even cigarettes. He would take on rather strange cases that nobody else wanted. One morning, a lady came into the office. He introduced her to me and said that this was one of his first successes. He said “She was addicted to dancing.”

“Dancing?” I replied, “Any special kind? Swing? Country? Line?”

“Actually, I was doing the hokey-pokey,” she replied.

“Really?” I replied. “Well I’m glad to see…”

“...that you turned yourself around.”

News and Notes for Young Mensans

Lisa Van Gemert

Happenings & Celebrations

August 2: International Friendship Day

Practice Random Acts of Kindness on strangers and make some new friends (

August 4: U.S. Coast Guard Day (The U.S. Coast Guard is turning 224 this year!)

August 9: Book Lovers Day

Ideas for celebrating this most excellent day (besides the obvious – reading a book!) include: visiting your favorite book store, dropping by your local library to grab a read by a new author, watching a TED talk about books (, or visiting an author museum in person or virtually. Be sure to check out our Excellence in Reading program at

August 10: S’mores Day

No matter if you’re outside camping or inside on a rainy day enjoy this crunchy treat and you’ll certainly be asking for SOME MORE!!

August is Family Fun Month - Spend time with family crossing off some of those activities you’ve always wanted to do together before the summer is over!



In 1998, the UN Secretary's wife, Nane Annan, named Winnie the Pooh as the Ambassador of Friendship at the UN.

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. to over a quarter million listeners. The famous “I have a dream” line was actually improvised when an audience member cried “Tell them about the dream, Martin!” during his speech. You can watch the speech on or challenge yourself by memorizing it!

The United States produces over 90% of all of the blueberries in the world. The blueberry is grown in 35 states in the United States.

It’s Your Birthday!

If you were born in July, you share your birthday month with:

Lisa Van Gemert

Youth & Education Ambassador |

get resources: |explore:

From the RVC

By Taz Criss, Region 6 Vice Chair

While I’ve attended AMC meetings in the past, my first AMC meeting as a voting member was definitely a novel experience. There were nine presentations on various topics. The one that I think is most exciting for members is the pilot program of American Mensa’s partnership with Reach Out and Read, a nonprofit group that uses pediatrician visits to promote reading during annual well-child visits. Cam Smart, the chair of the Community Services committee has put a lot of work into developing this program, and it sounds like a great way for our members to give back. You can learn more about Reach Out and Read at their website,, or by emailing Cam at

There were 8 motions before the AMC for consideration. Two of them were postponed, one was rendered moot by the passing of another motion and the remaining five passed. You can find further details of all of these motions online on the national website, but there are two I specifically want to mention.

The first is regarding the return addresses on local group newsletters. No later than October 1, 2015, local groups have the option to use either their own mailing address or the National Office as their return address for newsletters. If the local groups choose to keep the National Office as their return address, they must stop requesting notification of change of address. The reasoning behind this is that American Mensa is paying a substantial amount to a national change of address service, and we are essentially paying double when the address changes from both the Bulletin and the local group newsletters are sent to the National Office. If a local group chooses to use their own return address, it is still recommended that the local groups stop requesting notification of change of address. There is no reason for local groups to have to pay for this service when the changes are already being made at the national level.

The second item that I want to mention is the revision of the weapons policy for national events. The revised policy gives deference to the rules of the venue itself as well as any applicable laws for the location, whether they are local, state or federal laws rather than American Mensa setting any particular rules as an organization. This topic has been a bit of a hot button within the organization for the past two years since it was first introduced. I am hoping that this latest policy will be seen as a reasonable compromise to those on both sides of the conversation.

On a regional note, rather than a national one, I am looking forward to beginning to travel to various local groups in the region. I will be attending the Lone Star Mensa’s Board of Officers Meeting in Austin on July 18, and I am also working on plans to visit one or more of the Louisiana groups in August.

If you haven’t made your plans for Labor Day weekend, I hope to see you at LoneStaRG 17. This annual party is returning to the newly renovated Wingate in Round Rock, TX. You can register online at I’m excited for a great weekend renewing old friendships and beginning new ones.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, you can contact me via email at

Ombudsman's Message

Randy Brack, Ombudsman Region 6

Hello, my name is Randy Brack, and I’m the Regional Ombudsman (RO) for Region Six. A while back, Dave Cahn, the National Ombudsman, requested that each RVC appoint an RO to assist in matters that needed to go above the local level. In 2013 the American Mensa Committee officially recognized the position of RO for each region.

I have been serving as the Region Six RO since 2012 and RVC Taz Criss has asked me to stay on in this position. If you haven’t heard about me, that’s because there hasn’t been a lot to do. That’s what I like about this job. Most groups in the region already have one or more ombudsmen as required by the national Minimum Standard Bylaws. And it’s a rare case where a Mensa local group can’t settle its own problems in-house.

To tell you a little bit about myself – I’m a life member of Mensa, having joined in 1979. I’ve been the ombudsman of North Texas Mensa since 2000. Although I have had some online training in mediation, I haven’t had much call to use it, because NTM is a fairly harmonious group. When looking at an issue, I start within a framework of the Constitution and Bylaws of American Mensa, and the Bylaws of the local group. Then I talk to the people involved. Along the way I add a couple tablespoons of fairness and I hope a dollop of common sense.

American Mensa now has an Ombudsman’s Handbook, available on the web site. I recommend this handbook to you if you are thinking of becoming a local ombudsman or your group is looking for someone to be the local ombudsman. The handbook lists the qualities and duties of an ombudsman. It also contains guidelines, techniques, and handy hints for dispute resolution that can be used by others, such as members of a group’s Executive Committee/Board of Directors.

I realize that in some local groups it is difficult to find one ombudsman, much less two. However I would like to suggest that each group appoint a primary and an alternate ombudsman. The primary may not always be available. And there have been occasions where the ombudsman has had to disqualify him/herself from an issue because of personal involvement. Having a spare local ombudsman who is familiar with the people and issues can save a group a lot of hassle.

That’s all. I just wanted to introduce myself. Should you need to contact me, my email address is

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Last edited: 12-July-2015. Webmaster Bart J. Geraci can be reached at