New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for January 2011

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment

Happy New Year! It's 2011!

Peter Salomon, Editor

It’s 2011, time to look forward as well as back...

2010 will long be remembered for the New Orleans Saints winning the Super Bowl as well as the oil spill which dominated the summer. As we start 2011, with the playoffs approaching, it’s time, once again, to look’s to wishing everyone a very sweet new year!


A new 'tall tales' feature for La Plume de NOM by guest author Anne O'Steen

I once worked with a house painter named Smokey who, in the interest of saving money, often thinned down his paint with turpentine to make it go a bit further. As it happened, he got away with this for some time, but one day a local church decided to do a big restoration job on the outside of one of their buildings. Smokey put in a bid, and, because his price was so low, he got the job.

So we set about erecting the scaffolding and setting up the planks, and buying the paint and the turpentine.

Well, Smokey was up on the scaffolding, painting away, the job nearly completed, when suddenly there was a horrendous clap of thunder, the sky opened, and the rain poured down washing the thinned paint from all over the church and knocking Smokey clear off the scaffold to land on the lawn among the gravestones, surrounded by telltale puddles of the thinned and useless paint.

Smokey was no fool. He knew this was a judgment from the Almighty, so he got down on his knees and cried:

"Oh, God, Oh God, forgive me; what should I do?"

And from the thunder, a mighty voice spoke...

..."Repaint! Repaint! And thin no more!"


Roger Durham

It’s hard to believe that 2010 is already over, and it’s time to wish all of you a very happy New Year. I’m still recuperating from a very busy month in November, starting with the fall meeting of the American Mensa Committee in Fort Worth and finishing with North Texas Mensa’s Regional Gathering, the annual Feast of Pleasures and Delights, over Thanksgiving weekend. The RG was enjoyable from beginning to end; I wish I could say the same for the AMC meeting. I’m already looking forward to Gulf Coast Mensa’s RG in May.

Actually, the meeting in Fort Worth was very productive, with a lot of hard work being done by the AMC, your national Board of Directors. We discussed the report of the Governance Task Force that I talked about in last month’s column, and began the long process of considering changes to our basic organizational structure based on the Task Force’s findings. I’ll go into more detail about that as specific proposals begin to emerge from our discussions.

I was disappointed, however, that the AMC decided, over my objection, to raise dues next year by $4. This amount is what we projected to be necessary to carry us through 2013 without another increase, but I felt (and still feel) that an increase of this magnitude is unwise under present economic conditions. I did receive a commitment from at least one member of the finance committee to reconsider this increase if membership growth produces sufficient new revenue to make a lesser dues amount workable.

Should you see fit to re-elect me this spring, I will be seeking appointment to the finance committee myself when the AMC is reorganized for the 2011-13 term. Likewise, my proposal to restructure the process for disciplinary hearings failed to attract sufficient support, but it did succeed in getting the AMC members thinking about changes to the National Hearings Committee set-up, and I will be revisiting this subject in the coming months.

Speaking of changes, many groups recently went through local elections and have new officers taking over this month. My congratulations (or condolences) and best wishes to all of you who are newly elected to a leadership position in your local group. Please do not hesitate to contact me ( if I can be of assistance in any way.



Happy 2011 everyone!

Loretta Levene has served notice that she will no longer be Assistant Editor at the end of this year (2011). We thank her very much for her services. We are in need for someone to take over that position. The position involves applying the address labels to the newsletter copies, sorting them out by zip code (in order to get the best mailing rate), and following other Post Office regulations. The earlier we get a volunteer, the more time we can have for a smooth transition.

Every year, our chapter presents awards at the Greater New Orleans Science and Engineering Fair. This year, it will be held at UNO on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, February 22nd, 23rd, and 24th, with the awards ceremony on Thursday evening, February 24th. Complete schedule for the event will be posted on the GNOSEF website (http:// We are in need of judges for the fair. It is fascinating to see what today's youth are working on. For more information, contact me at

I must ask for more people to submit articles for LaPlume. After listening to many of you, you have some interesting stories that I would think make some great articles. If your taste runs towards jokes, poetry, or puzzles, those are most welcome as well.

For other volunteer opportunities, I would like to see someone manage the NOM website. I would also appreciate someone to generate the list of community events each week for the email reminders. Finally, I would like to get an RG committee together to hold one in December of this year. It has been too long since New Orleans has held an RG.

Let's Go Saints!!


Interested in hosting an event? A movie night in your living room? Sports night at a local bar/pub/tavern/ saloon? Games night? Anything at all? It’s easy...just send us an email with your idea and a date and a place and you’re good to go! This is your organization, and getting involved is simple!

Dues Up; AMC Dips into Reserves Mini-Minutes, American Mensa Committee, Nov. 13

Heather Poirier, Secretary, American Mensa Committee.

Following are the “Mini-Minutes” of the Nov. 13, 2010 meeting of the American Mensa Committee, as published on the Mensa HQ website:

A motion increasing the dues rate for single-year membership to $63 per year effective January 1, 2011, was passed.

Revisions to the AML policy concerning ride, room, and other event-associated sharing were passed, as were changes to the AML policy regarding event and gather- ing listings.

Revisions to the Minimum Standard Bylaws and the Model Bylaws were adopted.

The board authorized a loan of up to $300,000 from the principal of the Life Dues Fund investment account to fund current operations through December 31, 2010. The principal, including interest at an annualized rate of 2.5%, must be repaid to the Life Dues Fund investment account by March 31, 2011.

The budgetary and purchasing policy was amended, as well as the policy for reimbursable items.

The AML Strategic Plan was amended.

The AMC expressed its desire to hold physical meetings four times per year.

Willem Bouwens was endorsed by AML as a candidate for chair of Mensa International Ltd.

The next AMC meeting will be held March 26, 2011, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Respectfully submitted, Heather Poirier, Secretary, American Mensa Committee.


Interested in writing for our newsletter? Have a poem to share? A photograph? An idea for a monthly column or even just a joke? Send it in! See your name in lights...well, in black and white in a small newsletter sent out to your fellow New Orleans’ Mensa members. We’re looking for content! Email the Editor, Peter Salomon, at The right to edit is reserved.

BRAINFORK: A Mensan writes about food

By Bart Geraci

Pretty Weird Food

For those attending the December NOM Night at my house, you were treated to a pair of pretty weird food items. And by this I don't necessarily mean that weirdness was emphasized by the word “pretty”, I mean that in addition to the food being unusual, they were also aesthetically beautiful.

Romanesco Broccoli

While most of us are familiar with regular broccoli, Romanesco Broccoli is strikingly different by its appearance. It is a living example of a fractal: the larger shape is composed of smaller copies of the same shape. Adding to its fractal shape is that the inner stems (meristems) are arranged in a logarithmic spiral. So you have a pyramid with smaller pyramids spiraling around the outside going from larger to smaller as you approach the top. The smaller pyramids are themselves composed of even smaller pyramids doing the same thing.

I was surprised and delighted to find this at the Crescent City Farmer's Market the day of the NOM night. So for the party, I let it stand on its own as a centerpiece. A few days later, I broke it down to cook it. What I found out was that the meristems are more thick like the cauliflower (as opposed to thinner stemmed broccoli). So despite the beautiful green broccoli-like appearance, at least to my taste, it resembled more of a cauliflower in texture and in taste as well.


In terms of a recipe, the fractal nature is an attraction, so I'd stay away from anything that cooks it to a mush. I would treat it as a cauliflower more than a broccoli, so I would suggest steaming or boiling, but not too long – just to take the rawness off. Then toss it with some pasta, or serve it with a little bit of oil and vinegar, or lemon juice.

Some people have described the taste of Romanesco Broccoli as a little bit nutty, so I would play up that angle a bit by applying an Almondine sauce with this. So let's try:

Romanesco Broccoli (or any cruciferous vegetable), steamed or blanched
Almonds (or pecans, which is more native to the New Orleans area).
Lemon juice

Melt butter in pan, add almonds. When the nuts start to brown, add lemon juice. When sauce is brown enough for your liking, pour over your veggies. Some people like to add in a bit of Worchestershire sauce at the end.

Buddha's Hand (Citron)

The other item that was unusual was the Buddha's Hand. It looks like a hand with multiple fingers coming out of a central area, and each finger would be replaced by an elongated lemon. The fruit is a variety of the citron, which distinguishes itself from lemons by having little or no juice and little or no acidic flesh. And the aroma is divine! Many people have described it as a combination of lemons and roses.

In displaying the Buddha's Hand at the party, the fingers pointed upwards; however, when they are growing on the tree, the fingers point downwards. The fruit is considered to be a symbol of prosperity and may be found near cash registers of Asian restaurants and shops.


First off, the most familiar exposure to citron (in general) is in its candied state tucked away in fruitcake mixes with the cherries and pineapples. This involves cutting the fingers into cubes, blanching 3 times, soaking in a sugar/water syrup, air-drying, and then tossed with more sugar.

Looking at the characteristics of this fruit, we discover that it has a great aroma in the rind, so it can be zested and used like lemon zest. Unlike other citrus, the white pith is not bitter (usually, depends on variety), and there is no (or very little) pulp. Taking advantage of this, I've seen a series of recipes that use the zest for cakes and muffins, and the left over white pith (which is thick and has a little bit of flavor as well) diced and tossed with other fruit in a fruit salad.

Since the pith is not bitter, there is less worry about the need to remove it from the rind. I have seen recipes for “Buddhacello”, which is a Limoncello (a sweet lemon vodka liquor) made with Buddha Hand in place of lemons. Someone used the fruit to produce a marmalade, (using an orange marmalade recipe as a guide), with the caveat that since the fruit has little or no juice, lemon juice was added to the mixture. Another recipe uses thinly (1/8 of an inch) sliced fruit raw in salads, and another recipe uses the fruit as part of a fish marinade.

Simplest recipe I could find would be for the Buddha Hand Citron Vodka:

1 Buddha Hand
1 quart vodka

Wash Buddha Hand, slice in half, cut peel into strips. Place peels and vodka into clean dry bottle(s). Cap and store for at least one month.

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