New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for February 2014

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment

From The Editor

Kevin Chestnut

By the time you read this, Groundhog Day, and with it the Super Bowl, will have come and gone. Whatever the result, the following comments might come in handy for post-game discussions:

By the way, since we're a non-profit organization, and not trying to imply that we are the official Mensa newsletter of Super Bowl XLVIII, we don't have to call it the "Big Game". But you may have heard some advertisers resort to such stilted phrases as, "Come in on Sunday evening and have some soup, or bowl a few games", or maybe, "Enjoy a superb ol' tradition with us this Sunday".

So The Story Goes Like This

Bart Geraci

I was at an Arts and Crafts festival in West Texas where I was just looking around at the different exhibits. I came across an artist who specialized in birds. I was looking at several pictures when I came across one with a beautiful heron with long legs standing on the seashore. It seemed to call out my name in some sort of way, so I told the artist I was interested in getting that picture.

He said "Let me check something real quick," and went to look at some other bins.

"I'm sorry," he came back, "but I don't have another copy of that painting, so I can't sell it to you. I can take your name and number and I'll call you when I have more copies. If there's something else you would like, I'm sure I have some more copies."

"So you're telling me," I replied, "that this painting ."

"... is your one and only egret."


By Bart Geraci

I was walking around my downtown office the other day and I had noticed that even though it was around the 20th of January, the reviewing stands were not up yet. I knew that Mardi Gras was late this year (March 4th) and I thought to myself that we still have some time before the carnival season gets into high gear.

The very next day, the reviewing stands started to go up.

We have a new SIG, Bon Temps Joueurs, hosted by Summer McKnight. It is to meet together and play some board games. The first meeting is February 12th, 6pm at Rue de la Course (1140 S. Carrollton Ave., New Orleans).

Coming on February 19th, our chapter will once again be judging the participants of the Greater New Orleans Science and Engineering Fair (see This is one of the ways our chapter gives back to the community. If you are interested in helping us judge, contact me at

I noticed a message from American Mensa that there is now a digital version of the monthly Bulletin magazine. For more information, see

The Saints ended their season winning one game in the playoffs, but losing to the eventual NFC champion Seattle Seahawks. We put up a great fight and what I appreciated was that the Saints fought all the way until the end of the game. I'm looking forward to next season, but let's turn our attention to our basketball team now.

Let's Go Pelicans!

Inaugural Meeting of Bon Temps Joueurs

By Summer McKnight

Join us for the first meeting of the newest SIG in town, dedicated to enjoying board games! Feel free to bring your own, or choose from the many I happen to have lying around:

Battle of the Sexes


Big Brain Academy

Candy Land


Loaded Questions: Political Party


Passing the Bar


Saturday Night Live: The Game

Scrabble: Deluxe Edition

The Settlers of Catan

Trivial Pursuit: Digital Choice

Trivial Pursuit: The Lord of the Rings


Word Rich

Worst Case Scenario Survival Game: The Office

Would You Rather?

The meetings will be on the second Wednesday of the month at Rue de la Course (1140 S Carrollton Ave., New Orleans), with our first meeting on February 12, 2014 at 6:00pm. If you have any ideas, additional people to invite, or are interested in meeting sooner, just shoot me an email at

Young Mensan News & Notes

From Lisa Van Gemert, Gifted Youth Specialist

Happenings & Celebrations:

February is Great American Pie Month and also National Cherry Month. Put them both together and you've got cherry pie! Celebrate by baking this super easy recipe

Triviality: February 1865 is the only month in recorded history that never had a full moon.

Lego® Contest Winners Announced!

The Young Mensan Lego Contest just ended, and the judges had a great time viewing all the creations. Some divisions were very crowded, and the judges struggled to pick among wonderful entries. The winning entries will be featured in the next issue of Young Mensan Magazine, available at

Announcing the Young Mensa Six-Word Biography Contest!

We want to know your life story, but you can only use six words. Tricky, eh? For inspiration, see some examples from young people at You may illustrate it yourself or use an image. All images must be copyright free and royalty free. You may wish to visit for some great, free images. The guidelines for the contest are as follows:

To enter, or to ask questions, send email to Unfortunately, we cannot accept pdf files.

And a note from Gerry Ward, our Gifted Children Coordinator:

I am going to return to the old definition of Young Mensan (child members only). The all-inclusive one of all children and grandchildren of Members is too confusing. I will call them MKids (Mensans' Kids).

And More From The LocSec

By Bart Geraci

NOM Night Changes - Get Involved

The NOM Executive Committee (EXCOM) has voted to make some changes to enhance participation, and to clarify NOM Night rules. We really want to increase participation in the NOM Nights, both in attendance and in hosting.

NOM Nights have been an institution in New Orleans Mensa for many years now. However, you may be aware that fewer and fewer NOM Nights have been hosted by members. Many recent events have been held at local restaurants, and usually the same location many times. There may be several reasons for this trend, including lack of knowledge of how to host, the cost of hosting, unfamiliarity with the specified locations, or even access and distance to the location. The following identifies what we are doing to address these issues.


For NOM Nights held in a private residence, it was our policy to charge a nominal fee for each attendee, and the host was given $60 to help defray any costs. The EXCOM has increased host fees to $100 (with flexibility for special costs) and to eliminate the attendance fees. NOM Night is a monthly meet-and-greet event for members to generally enjoy the company of their fellow Mensans and initiate, or participate in, discussions of common interest. It is not formal with rigid guidelines.

If a member wishes to host a NOM Night, they should contact any EXCOM member to get the night scheduled. The member will provide directions to their home, which will be published in the newsletter with other announcements. The member should provide snacks, sandwich trays, sodas, tea, coffee, etc. NOM will provide a $100 check to the host at the NOM Night.


To increase both attendance and participation, we decided on an optional floating NOM Night. What that means is that we are asking members, who cannot or do not wish to host, to recommend a location in their area where we can have a NOM Night. This could be a good opportunity for you to meet other Mensans living in your area as well as the general membership. In lieu of the hosting fee, NOM will pay for the first beverage (of any type) at the establishment for each member attending. Once we get recommendations, we can discuss any special needs with you and/or the establishment.


If you have access issues, contact an EXCOM member and we will attempt to assist you in any way we can.

From the RVC

Roger Durham, Region 6 Vice Chairman

Well, the holidays are over, which means it's time to start thinking about the Annual Gathering. This year's AG, as most of you know, will be in Boston. The main hotel is already sold out, but there are two others that still have plenty of rooms, and the AG Committee is working feverishly to ensure that there are lots of exciting programs and activities for you to enjoy. Just go to the national website, , and click on Attend - Annual Gathering - AG Locations - Brilliance in Beantown. A word of advice, however: if you go to Boston, don't plan to drive there. Hotel parking will cost you nearly as much as your room.

Between now and the AG, of course, we'll have one last chance to rehearse our gathering skills at the Gulf Coast Mensa Regional Gathering, SynRG 2014. Don't pass up the opportunity to party with our Houston-area members over the Memorial Day weekend. After the AG, of course, comes Lonestar Mensa's RG in Round Rock over Labor Day weekend, and then this year the North Texas Mensa RG in Dallas returns after a break last year for the Fort Worth AG.

If you haven't read your January Mensa Bulletin yet, please dig it out and take a look for details about the replacement for the Publications Recognition Program (PRP). The PRP was discontinued last year due to widespread complaints about the format, followed by a lack of judges, but a new competition is being rolled out for 2014. A replacement program for the Group of the Year Awards (GOTYA) is also in the works and you'll get more information about that soon.

In the meantime, membership renewals are due next month, so don't forget to get your renewal in to the National Office as soon as possible. Early renewals save money for Mensa that can be used for the support of valuable membership services.

As always, if you have any comments or questions about American Mensa or Region 6, please feel free to contact me by email at

2014 CultureQuest

By Bart Geraci

I will lead our team, Brains on Bourbon, again this year for the 2014 CultureQuest® competition, which will take place on Sunday, April 27, from 3:00pm - 4:30pm (known around here as the first Sunday of Jazzfest). It is a closed-book 90 minute test on all types of culture trivia, from names of newspapers to the names of the Greek Muses. If you are a trivia buff, we would welcome you to join us. We compete for fun, bragging rights, and cash prizes for our group. We can have five on our team plus two alternates. If you are interested, contact me at as soon as possible. Rules for the Adult Division team are as follows.

For our young Mensa members, I want to announce that there is a separate Youth Division for CultureQuest. If anyone is interested in setting up a separate team to participate, I can help you with that. The rules for the Youth Division are a little different:

BrainFork: A Mensan talks about food

By Bart Geraci


“Chic is a kind of mayonnaise, either it tastes, or it doesn’t.”
-Karl Lagerfeld-

I was undecided about what to write about this month, until I heard a promotion on the radio about an upcoming discussion regarding Blue Plate Foods, which is owned by the local company William B. Reilly Co. One of their most famous product that I have in my fridge is their Blue Plate Mayonnaise.

A Little History

Mayonnaise: One of the sauces which serve the French in place of a state religion.
- Ambrose Bierce “The Devil’s Dictionary”-

Okay, so we can start with Hannibal. Yes that one, not the George Peppard (or Anthony Hopkins) one. His brother Mago retreated to the island of Menorca and founded the city that bears his name, Mahon. There was a local sauce made from eggs, which became known as Mayonnaise.

In Rochester, Minnesota, the Mayo Clinic is named for Dr. William Worrall Mayo and his two sons. No relation to the sauce as far as I can tell.

My-nez in N’awlins

“I'm not a person who writes really abstract things with oblique references. I look at abstraction like I look at condiments. Give me some Tabasco sauce, some ketchup, some mayonnaise. I love all of that. Put it on a trumpet. I've just got to have the ketchup and Tabasco sauce. That's my attitude about musical philosophy.”
-Wynton Marsalis-

In New Orleans in 1929, Blue Plate Foods, Inc. is founded and begins producing mayonnaise in Gretna, Louisiana. In 1941, the famous Blue Plate factory building at 1315 S. Jefferson Davis Parkway is constructed. The architect is August Perez, Jr. and the building is constructed in a Streamline Moderne style, evoking nautical themes and colors and shaped like a long, sleek luxury liner. Post-Katrina, it is no longer a factory, but it has been converted to apartments. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 16, 2008 (NRIS reference number is 08000989).

So What is Mayonnaise?

Patrick: Is mayonnaise an instrument?
Squidward: No, Patrick, mayonnaise is not an instrument.
*Patrick raises hand again*
Squidward: No, Patrick. Horseradish is not an instrument either.
-Spongebob Squarepants-

The basic components of mayonnaise are egg yolks, oil, and some type of acid (lemon juice or vinegar). The stability of the mayonnaise comes from emulsifiers and stabilizers.

An emulsion is a mixture of two liquids that don’t normally mix. In our case, the containing liquid is the water and lemon juice and the dispersed liquid is the oil. The egg yolks (which is actually an emulsion itself) contain lecithin, which is an excellent emulsifier. Traditional French recipes also use mustard, which contains proteins and carbohydrates, to stabilize the mayonnaise so it doesn’t separate back into oil and water layers.

The amount of lecithin found in a single egg yolk is powerful enough to be able to emulsify 10 or more cups of oil. The limiting factor is the amount of containing liquid to accommodate all that oil. Therefore, a rule of thumb is to have 3 parts oil to 1 part containing liquid. In order to have greater control over the end thickness, most recipes will mix the egg yolks and acid first, then add the oil slowly to create the emulsion, then add a bit of water at the end to reach the desired viscosity.

To get the oil to disperse into billions of droplets in the containing liquid, blending is needed. While this can be done by hand with a whisk, the blades of a blender will produce finer particles. Some recipes also use salt crystals to help break down the oil particles as well.

The Use of Mayonnaise

Jules: [repeating] Royale with Cheese. What'd they call a Big Mac?
Vincent: Big Mac's a Big Mac, but they call it Le Big Mac.
Jules: Le Big Mac. What do they call a Whopper?
Vincent: I dunno, I didn't go into a Burger King. But you know what they put on french fries in Holland instead of ketchup?
Jules: What?
Vincent: Mayonnaise.
-Pulp Fiction-

Yes indeedy. On a trip to Amsterdam, we found a french-fry shop just outside of our hotel, and one of the most common topping was mayonnaise (I think they had Bearnaise sauce as well). Growing up in New Orleans, I enjoyed my fried seafood platters, which would often be accompanied by French Fries and Tartar Sauce, which is a mix of mayonnaise and pickles, so it was an easy transition to mayonnaise on French Fries.

Any Final Thoughts on Mayonnaise?

“My favorite sandwich is peanut butter, baloney, cheddar cheese, lettuce, and mayonnaise on toasted bread with catsup on the side.”
-Hubert H. Humphrey-

Okay...let’s go to the recipe.


Bill: What if you mix the mayonnaise in the can, WITH the tunafish? Or... hold it! Chuck! I got it! Take LIVE tuna fish, and FEED 'em mayonnaise! Oh this is great. Call Starkist!
-Night Shift (movie)-

Under the category of “Things That Can’t Possibly Work” is the Three-Ingredient Biscuit recipes I have below. But first, a little bit of history. During World War II, a lot of foods were either rationed or scarce, including eggs, butter, and shortening. So for baked goods, mayonnaise (which was not rationed) was used in place of eggs and oil and salt. So there are recipes like Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake and the Three-Ingredient Biscuits below.

Three-Ingredient Biscuits

(Variation #1)

2 cups self-rising flour

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 cup whole milk

Combine ingredients in a small bowl; stir until all ingredients are well mixed. Drop in greased muffin tins. Bake at 450 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Makes 1 dozen medium biscuits.

(Variation #2)

2 cup self-rising flour

1 cup milk

1/2 cup mayonnaise

Combine ingredients in a small bowl; stir until all ingredients are well mixed. Drop in greased muffin tins. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Makes 1 dozen medium biscuits.


#1 rose higher, possibly due to the higher temperature and having less fat to weigh down the biscuit.

#2 had a lighter inside and had a more pronounced taste, probably due to having more mayonnaise in the recipe.

Also #2 had a more crunchier bottom, possibly due to a longer cooking time.


By Martha Sheldon


The shadow of a butterfly -
A second's dimming of pale light,
An insubstantial borrowed shape,
Yet leaving in my memory
Its lasting trace.


Pronouns, though most useful words,
Result in obfuscation,
Unless their antecedents gird
Their every conversation.

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Last edited: 07-Feb-2014. Webmaster Bart J. Geraci can be reached at