New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for February 2016

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment


By Bart Geraci

It has gotten cold for a few days here and there in January, and we can expect more of the same this month. By cold, I mean temperatures in the 40s. Winter is one reason why we live in New Orleans and not up North somewhere.

In the city, we recently had a gathering to remember David Bowie, who passed away recently. The gathering was led by Arcade Fire and Preservation Hall and for something that was put together over 2 or 3 days, there was a rather large crowd of people who met in the French Quarter and marched.

Mardi Gras is February 9th this year. By the time you read this, we will be in the midst of parade season with its usual street closings and traffic blockages. If it sounds like I'm complaining about parades, I'm really not - I'm saying just to be prepared. I was talking with a group of friends and we were talking about how our kids grew up expecting that parades mean people throw things (beads, doubloons, toys, food) at you. And that when they go to other parades like Macy's Thanksgiving and Disney World, they're surprised that these people do NOT throw stuff at them.

Starting February 10th, most people in our city begin the period of Lent. This is usually the time when New Orleanians begin their New Year's Resolutions.

This month, we will be judging the Greater New Orleans Science and Engineering Fair, in order to present a special award on behalf of New Orleans Mensa. I've been doing this for many years now, and I enjoy seeing what the youth of our city are coming up with. If you want to join me and help judge, contact me at No experience is needed, and it's a great satisfying time.

Let’s go Pelicans!

NORGY 2016 !!!

New Orleans Mensa is having a Regional Gathering in 2016 !

Dates: December 9 - 11, 2016

Taz Talks

From Taz Criss, Region 6 Vice Chair

February has always been a catch up month for me. After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, January tends to speed by before I realize what is happening. February is generally my first chance to stop and take a breath. This year will be no exception, as I moved into a new house in January, making the month even more hectic. I'm looking forward to the chance to simply vegging out for a weekend. Unfortunately, that is still a few weeks away from the time I am writing this.

I am currently preparing to attend the budget meeting in my role as a member of Mensa's Finance & Audit Committee. After the budget is reviewed by the committee, it will come before the American Mensa Committee for vote at the March board meeting. As with all quarterly AMC meetings, the March meeting will be open to all current Mensa members. This meeting will once again be held in Region 6, though we will be leaving the DFW area and visiting South Texas Mensa in San Antonio. I encourage any of you who are interested to attend this meeting. South Texas Mensa is also planning to host a hospitality suite and a speaker meeting during the weekend as well. I will have more information available next month.

February is also the time that you will start seeing more frequent notices to renew your Mensa membership. Your early renewal saves Mensa money, allowing us more funding to support valuable membership services. You can renew by phone, mail, or online at

While you are preparing to renew you membership, consider adding the Annual Gathering to your summer plans. This year, the AG will be held in San Diego, CA. AGs are a unique opportunity to connect with Mensans from across the country. There will be around 2,000 members in attendance, making this the largest Mensa event in the country. This year, we are taking over a resort completely, allowing us the rare opportunity to not have to share convention space with any other group during the AG. You can find out more about the AG and register online at

As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or general comments, please let me know. I have created a simple online form where members can offer feedback on any topic, both by name or anonymously. You can find this form at . Of course, if you prefer, you can always contact me via email at

News and Notes for Young Mensans

From the National Office


Starting with the December 2015 Issue YM2 will be in FRONT of the paywall! This means that you do not have to be a member to access all the great content and exciting Mensa activity reported there.

We are excited to announce some changes to the Mensa Honor and Junior Honor Society programs. Effective December 1, 2016 we will be enacting the following:

All renewals will now be due in September with a 15 day grace period. Applications will still be accepted all year long, but renewals for all levels and colors will be due in September. (Remember, renewals are not sent to a committee member for approval)

All currently enrolled members will be grandfathered in and will receive notice of their status and be made current based on the changes effective December 1, 2015.


If you'd like to see less paper in your mailbox and get your reports days before the mail comes, or if you'd like to "go green" along with other officers, you can sign up for edistribution! It's simple to set up. All you have to do is visit and agree to the terms of our Member Data Agreement. That's it! It's that simple! I'll get an email from our system indicating that you've completed the process. Of course, if you've already agreed to our MDA, there's no need to do so again.

We appreciate your hard work and dedication to American Mensa!

New/Fun Stuff:


Maryland Mensa's gifted youth program welcomes Young Mensans from across the country, and of all abilities, to participate in our RoyaltYMastered virtual chess club. Just follow the steps below and join us for some strategy-loving fun!

We will be using as our online platform. Please add as the “coach” e-mail address during registration, so that we can add you to the club. You only need a free account to participate, but paid accounts are available at a group discount rate. Also, please note that the site allows youth under the age of 13 to participate, but only with the full consent and supervision of a parent or legal guardian over the age of 18.

Please have a parent/guardian e-mail with:
1) the Young Mensan's name,
2) the corresponding American Mensa membership number, and
3) the username.
Only youth members of American Mensa (i.e., under the age of 18 years old) and background checked GYC's will be allowed to join the club

Club members are welcomed and encouraged to initiate matches, and the system allows members to play each other even if they are not online at the same time. We will also organize tournaments at designated dates and times, so stay tuned, because there's always more fun to be had when chess is involved!

BrainFork: A Mensan Talks About Food : Rosemary

by Bart Geraci
“Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
Remember me to one who lives there.
She once was a true love of mine.”
“Scarborough Fair” -

I want to thank you for your patience, having been distracted by other foodstuff for the past two months.


“Rosemary started drinkin' hard and seein' her reflection in the knife
She was tired of the attention, tired of playin' the role of Big Jim's wife
She had done a lot of bad things, even once tried suicide
Was lookin' to do just one good deed before she died
She was gazin' to the future, riding on the Jack of Hearts”
- Bob Dylan “Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts” -

Let's start off with a taxonomy.

Kingdom Plantae
(unranked) Angiosperms
(unranked) Eudicots
(unranked) Asterids
Order Lamiales
Family Lamiaceae
Genus Rosmarinus
Species R. officinalis

The Family Lamiaceae is known as the Mint Family. Sage, which we covered earlier, is also a mint family member. The Sage species is known as Salvia officinalis, Rosemary is Rosmarinus officinalis, both “officinalis” means that they were considered important herbs to be kept in a monastery storeroom.

When we get down to the Genus level, there's not much in terms of variations. There's only a handful of separate species.

The name is said to come from the Latin words “ros” (meaning dew) and “marinus” (meaning sea). It is found along the coast of the Mediterranean and North Africa, so there's a sea connection there. The “dew” portion relates to the light blue color of its flowers, although some other cultivars have different colors. A legend states that during the Virgin Mary's flight to Egypt, she laid a blue cloak over some white-flowered Rosemary to rest. When she got up, the flowers turned to the blue shade that we are now familiar with.

The Plant

“I loved to walk in her garden after dinner; it felt alive, even in the winter. She always told me that rosemary grows in the garden of a strong woman. Hers were like trees."
- Erica Bauermeister -

The plant itself is relatively hardy. It can withstand long droughts, making it suitable for xeriscape landscapes. It is pest-resistant and easy to grow, even in pots. The strong woody stems also makes it suitable for topiary creations. We've grown rosemary down here at the different houses we've lived in the New Orleans area.


“There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray you, love,
remember. And there is pansies, that's for thoughts.”
- William Shakespeare (Hamlet, Act 4, Scene 5) -

Rosemary is closely associated with memory. In Ancient Greece, students would study for exams with Rosemary in their hair. A sprig of rosemary was often put in the hands of the deceased at funerals for remembrance.

Rosemary is also used in weddings as it symbolizes happiness, loyalty and love. A girl would place a plate of flour under a rosemary bush on midsummer's eve, and find her future husband's initials would be written in it. If a girl wishes to see her true love in a dream, she would put rosemary under a pillow.


“She ain't got no money
Her clothes are kinda funny
Her hair is kinda wild and free
Oh, but love grows where my Rosemary goes”
- Edison Lighthouse “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” -

Like other herbs, rosemary is loaded with all kinds of terpenes: cineole, pinene, terpineol, borneol, myrcene, and camphor. You want antioxidants? We've got your carnosic acid ( C20 H28 O4 ) and your carnosol ( C20 H26 O4 ).

Some scientific research has shown that rosmarinic acid (C18 H16 O8) , one of the main constituents of rosemary, inhibits certain enzymes linked to neurological disorders causing memory loss. In addition, rosmarinic acid is an anxiolytic, which means it relieves anxiety, because it binds with the GABA transaminase enzyme and inhibits its potential activity.

Rosemary was used in creating “Hungary Water,” which is the first European alcohol-based perfume. One simple recipe combines 3 parts alcohol, 2 parts rosemary flowers and tops. It is let to sit in a warm place for a couple of days, then used both internally (with food and drink) and externally (to wash face and limb).


“As for rosemary, I let it run all over my garden walls, not only because my bees love it but because it is the herb sacred to remembrance and to friendship, whence a sprig of it hath a dumb language."
- Sir Thomas More -

Rosemary is well used in Italian & Greek cooking, and it has a notable affinity with lamb, olive oil, and garlic. What's perhaps lesser known is its pairing with citrus and honey. I've come across a few sweet dessert recipes where rosemary was used with lemons and oranges, both in quick breads and tarts.

One can create a simple syrup infused with rosemary to be added to mixed drinks. All one needs to do is to cook sugar in water until it dissolves nicely. Then let some rosemary steep in it for a few minutes before straining it out.

Ok, how about a recipe that you don't eat?

Orange Rosemary Salt Scrub

1 cup salt

zest of one orange

1 tsp. rosemary leaves taken off the stem

1/3 cup olive oil

In a food processor, add orange zest, rosemary and salt. Then pulse a few times until the rosemary is chopped finely. Add olive oil and pulse a couple times more. Store in a jar or airtight container. To use the scrub, wet your hands or entire body with warm water, then in gentle circular motions rub the salt scrub. Rinse completely with warm water. Pat skin dry.

So The Story Goes Like This

By Bart Geraci

So I was visiting a friend out in West Texas the other day and she had gotten back from a trip to Asia. She showed me the pictures she took and the food she ate. Then the doorbell rang.

It was a delivery for her from a shop she stopped at while she was over there. She had it shipped since it was too large to carry back with her.

I helped her to open the box and unpacked the item and it turned out to be a lamp. But instead of a cylindrical shade, the shade covering the light bulb was in the shape of a person's head. I looked at it and said “Is that...”

She replied, “Yes, that's the profile of Buddha.”

I said “A Buddha lamp...”

“... how enlightening.”

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These pages and all content Copyright (c) 2016 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-January-2016. Webmaster Bart J. Geraci can be reached at