New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for December, 2011

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment

From the Editor

Peter Salomon

Yes, Virginia, it snows in New Orleans!!
The photo on the cover of the November La Plume de NOM was actually taken at Storyland at City one guessed correctly but pay attention in 2012 when we’ll have some more contests!

So The Story Goes Like This

Bart Geraci

So I once worked for a hotel as an assistant manager. I remember one evening in December when we were fully booked hosting a regional chess tournament.

Early one morning, I heard a loud commotion near the front desk, just outside the dining area. When I arrived, several of the competitors were arguing about who was going to win the competition and what previous competitions they won.

My boss came in and asked me if everything was alright.

I said, “Yeah, nothing to worry about....”

“...It's just chess nuts boasting in an open foyer.”


Roger Durham

Well, here it is December again, and that means the annual Mensa scholarship competition is getting into full swing. If you (or someone close to you) should happen to be looking for tuition assistance at a college or university next fall, there’s still time to get your entry in. The Mensa Foundation awards a number of scholarships in amounts up to $1,000 for applicants who can write a persuasive short essay on the subject of why they deserve financial support in achieving their educational goals. All entries are sent to a central location, and then distributed to local groups for the initial round of judging. Most local groups have a scholarship chair who arranges a judging session for whatever essays are assigned to them, which may be entries from their own local area, or sometimes from a neighboring local group which doesn’t participate in the program. The local scholarship chair begins by numbering each essay and then separating it from its cover sheet so they will all be anonymous (contest rules prohibit any identifying information on the essay itself). The local judges rank each essay according to a carefullydesigned point system, and the winning entries are forwarded to a regional judging session. Many groups have a local scholarship fund from which they award additional scholarships. Here in North Texas, we have a separately-incorporated scholarship foundation which awards two $1,000 local scholarships each year.

While you’re out buying stuff for Christmas, Chanukah, the Winter Solstice, or whatever holiday you choose to celebrate this time of year, I hope you’ll set aside a little extra for the Mensa Foundation and/or your group’s local scholarship program. Gifts to the Foundation are generally tax-deductible; gifts to your local program may or may not be, depending on the group. If you’re feeling really generous, your accountant or tax attorney can tell you whether or not you can benefit from a major tax-deductible gift.

However, even if, like many of us, you are suffering from the ravages of the current economic downturn, and don’t feel you can afford to contribute financially, you can still be of assistance to this worthwhile program. Call your local group’s Scholarship Chair and volunteer to be a judge. The essays are occasionally moving, always interesting, and frequently hilarious. The judging is usually done in one afternoon, in the company of a dozen or more of your fellow Ms, and many people enjoy it so much that they come back year after year. If your group doesn’t have a Scholarship Chair, you could volunteer to do the job yourself next year; complete instructions will be provided by the national coordinator.

Whatever you decide, please accept my best wishes for a joyful holiday season and a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year. The AMC will be meeting in Las Vegas on December 3, and I hope to have some thought-provoking news for you next month.

From the LocSec:

Bart Geraci

Well, it's December again.

This month, I'm holding the traditional End-of-theyear party at my house on Saturday December 10th. I hope to see you all there. There is no official dress code, but holiday attire is encouraged!

As of press time (November 20th), we're still working on getting the hotels for next year's RG. It's down to just a handful, and we're hoping to have a decision by the end of November.

By the time this comes out, I'll be back from the North Texas Mensa's RG “Feast of Pleasures and Delights”

We are looking for someone to take over the position of Area Coordinator for the North Shore. Rebecca Pharr has stepped down from the position. We very much thank her for all the work she's done.

We also need someone to take over as assistant editor. Our Loretta Levene will be stepping down at the end of the year, and we thank her for all her hard work. The job entails folding the LaPlume, placing the address stickers on them, organizing them by whatever method the post office wants in preparation for mailing at the reduced rates (some which are going up in January), and other postal requirements. Now that we're no longer doing paper mailings to people with email addresses, our newsletter printings have gone down from about 160 to about 80, so it's less taxing than before. All members can help reduce this number further by choosing to get their newsletters delivered electronically. Plus, the electronic version comes in glorious colors, while the mailed versions come in black and white only.

Let's Go Saints!

BRAINFORK: A Mensan writes about food

By Bart Geraci

Brainfork: Thanksgiving Sides

"The bats are in the belfry
the dew is on the moor
where are the arms that held me
and pledged her love before
and pledged her love before"
-Tom Waits "Innocent When You Dream" on "Frank's Wild Years" album-

The above quote has nothing to do with Thanksgiving sides, except that I was singing it when I cooked these Thanksgiving sides. I first heard about this album through a cookbook: “The Surreal Gourmet” by Bob Blumer. I first picked up that cookbook at the Salvador Dali museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Thanksgiving (and Christmas) is a time of gathering together with family and friends. It is not a time of reckless food experimentation. You shouldn't try to threaten your family with Brussels Sprouts Foam on a slice of raw tuna, suspended by spun sugar over a tank of irritated goldfish with lasers on their heads. Believe me, I haven't tried this.

Everybody wants the same thing they ate last year and the year before, but you can add an extra dish once in a while to see how everyone reacts. In some cases, the new dish becomes part of the tradition, so make it something that you like to make, bonus points if it's really easy.

Traditional Recipe: Sausage Dressing

"If you want money in your pocket and a top hat on your head
a hot meal on your table and a blanket on your bed
Well, today is grey skies tomorrow is tears
You’ll have to wait ‘til yesterday is here"
-Tom Waits "Yesterday Is Here"-

This is based on a traditional recipe used by my in-law's family. It's called “Dressing” since it's not inside the turkey; otherwise it's called “Stuffing”

1-pound Sausage Roll (Jimmy Dean is one brand)
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
(optional other veggies, chopped)
garlic, chopped
Spices and Herbs
14 oz bag of cubed bread or “Stuffing mix”
2 1/2 cups of chicken broth (or turkey broth, if you have it).
1 stick butter
(optional cooked turkey pieces)

Zeroth, heat the broth with a stick of butter on the back burner.

First, saute the sausage roll in a pan, until cooked. Then add the chopped onion, celery (and optional other veggies) and saute until the veggies are soft to your liking. Saute garlic briefly at the end of this cooking time. Add herbs and spices to this somewhere along the way. For Thanksgiving, this is the one time of the year that you'll use the herb called Sage.

Then transfer this mix to a big bowl, add the bread, add the broth/butter, optional turkey pieces and mix well. Put in a 9x12 pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.

New Tradition: Carrot Souffle

"You gotta keep the devil
way down in the hole"
-Tom Waits "Way Down in the Hole"-

This recipe comes from the cookbook “Cooking Up A Storm”, edited by Marcelle Bienvenue and Judy Walker. The book is a collection of over 200 recipes that were once posted in the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper. After the Corps of Engineers failure on 29 August 2005 washed away many people's recipe collection (including my ten bookshelves), people sent requests to the paper to reprint their favorite recipes.

This carrot souffle is similar to the one being served at the Piccadilly Cafeteria. Now in the 60s-70s, New Orleans had a lot of cafeterias: Morrison, A&G, Wise, just to name a few. And these cafeterias served pretty good food. I remember someone talking about different hospital cafeterias and which one was the best and where to get certain dishes.

Even though this a “carrot” dish, it's even less healthier than Carrot Cake. So don't treat this as a vegetable dish; you'll see that this is a rich dessert dish.

3 pounds carrots, boiled until soft enough to run through the food processor, drained
3 sticks butter, room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
Optional spices, such as orange rind, cinnamon, etc.

Take everything and run it through the food processor and pour into a 9x12 pan, bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Ok, I'll Include A Thanksgiving Related Quote

"As the Supreme Deity has been aware of, my mental cogitations had apparently erroneously deduced that the fowl 'Meleagris gallopavo' was capable of aviation.[1]”
- Arthur Carlson, “WKRP in Cincinnati” -

[1] Okay, what he really said was: "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!!!"

New Orleans Mensa ExComm Meeting, November 12, 2011

Claudia D’Aquin, Secretary

6:00 PM Home of Rene` Petersen

Members present: Bart Geraci, Rene` Petersen, Phil Therrien, Claudia D’Aquin

Meeting was called to order at 6:15 PM

1. Rene` reported that 4 prospective new members were tested at the last testing session on Oct. 29.

2. Treasurer’s report: Bank account balance $9,247.70.

3. Bart submitted expenses for printing the most recent newsletters. Phil accepted these and reimbursed Bart.

4. Loretta Levene, who has served as assistant to the newsletter editor for several years, has announced that she is retiring from this position. She has taken care of assembling the printed newsletter and taking it to the post office for mailing, dealing with the USPS account, etc. We need someone to take over this role. Bart will publish this information in the next newsletter and ask for a member volunteer for the position. He will also send an email to the general membership to ask for a volunteer.

5. Rebecca Pharr has resigned as coordinator for Northshore activities for New Orleans Mensa. We would like to find a replacement, even though this is not an official position, because there are many members who live across the lake.

6. Update on the RG for 2012: Bart and his wife have been working on finding a site. They are having difficulty. Many hotels do not have room. The ones who have space have quoted prices upwards of $170, and we feel this is too high. Angie Therrien offered some suggestions of places. She will talk to Lovie Geraci and see if they can finalize a site over the next month.

7. As our election officer reported via email after the last meeting, Phil Wilking decided to withdraw as a candidate for treasurer. This means that Phil Therrien was re-elected as treasurer.

8. Christmas party will the next NOM night, at the home of Bart Geraci, Dec. 10, 2011. The cost per person attending is $5.00 for this party, due to the increased costs of food, etc. There is no official dress code, but holiday attire is encouraged!

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 6:55 PM.

Submitted by Claudia D’Aquin, Secretary

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