New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for January 2012

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment

From the Editor

Peter Salomon

Well, 2012 is here and there’s so much to see and do this year for all of us here at New Orleans Mensa! The year kicks off with the BCS National Championship here with LSU going for the title and there’s going to be a lot more coming great events coming, and we’ll do our best to keep you informed and up to date! Happy New Year!!

So The Story Goes Like This

Bart Geraci

Well, I was a bartender again, and I had this doctor as a regular customer. He liked his daiquiris and I would make them for him. After a while he said that he wanted me to create a new daiquiri for him on Fridays.I enjoyed doing this for him – he tipped well.

I had an out-of-town friend drop by one day and he gave me a present of shagbark hickory syrup. It's sweet like a maple syrup, but it has a bit of smokiness to it.

So the next Friday rolled around and I used a little bit of that syrup in his drink and he tasted it.

“Wow! I like that bit of smokiness in there.That's so interesting. What do you call it?”

And of course I said...

... "It's a hickory daiquiri, doc."


Roger Durham

Once again, another year is gone, and it’s time to wish all of you a very happy New Year. As I write this in mid-December, I have just returned from the winter meeting of the American Mensa Committee in Las Vegas.

As we begin a new year, perhaps this is a good time to explain to all our newer members that Mensa is very much a self-help organization. At the AMC meetings we consistently hear of members who have dropped out of Mensa because it offered nothing that appealed to them. I can’t help but think that this is, at least to some extent, the result of a misunderstanding on the member’s part, because what Mensa offers is theoretically almost unlimited. I say “almost” because there is one very significant limitation: your imagination and initiative. Now it’s true that if you live in say, San Saba, your social opportunities in Mensa are going to be far fewer than if you lived in Houston, but even there Mensa has many features that could provide significant value to virtually anyone. You, however, are responsible for seeking them out, and if necessary, creating them.

Let me explain: let’s say you’re interested in Ming dynasty pottery. You look in your local newsletter for a Chinese pottery collector’s group, but you don’t find one. “Oh well,” you say, “Mensa is clearly not for me.” But wait – just because no one has put Chinese pottery in the newsletter doesn’t mean nobody is interested. There may be 3 other members of your group who would be highly interested in learning more about Ming dynasty pottery, but think there is no one in town who knows enough about the subject to guide them to resource materials. If you put a discussion group in the calendar, inviting anyone to show up who may be interested in Chinese pottery, you might be surprised at the turnout. If you’ve already looked in the national directory and know that there is only one other member within 50 miles and she is 8 years old, then try asking for e-­-mails from anyone interested. If that doesn’t work, try contacting the National SIG Coordinator to launch a national Pottery Collectors SIG. Out of our 60,000 members, I’d just about guarantee there are some who are as interested as you.

To change the subject, if yours is one of the groups which recently went through local elections and have new officers taking over this month, my sincere 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.


Bart Geraci

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2012, an election year.

(Wait, don't go running off screaming. Come back. I'll start over.)

Welcome to 2012, it's a leap year and the Olympics in London this summer.

In New Orleans, the Saints are in the playoffs again, LSU is playing for the National Championship, and the Hornets are back in action again (sans Chris Paul). It was also announced that both the Eagles and Beach Boys will be playing at JazzFest.

In New Orleans Mensa news, I want to thank everyone who attended the end-of-the-year party; a great time was had by all.

It will soon be time for NOM members to judge for the 2012 Greater New Orleans Science and Engineering Fair (GNOSEF), scheduled on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, February 28th, 29th, and March 1st, with the awards ceremony on Thursday evening, March 1st. If you want to join our judging crew, send me an email at

We have had some ideas for us to get together: Games night, a debate club, people who like to solve creative puzzles. If you have an idea on something fun and intellectual to do, then let us try an event or two.

Finally, we are in need of an assistant editor to handle the bulk mailing of the newsletters.

Let's Go Saints!


Bart Geraci

November 30 – December 2nd, 2012
Hilton St. Charles Hotel
333 St. Charles Ave.
Details as they develop.

BRAINFORK: A Mensan writes about food

By Bart Geraci

Brainfork: Limes

"Lime and limpid green, a second scene
A fight between the blue you once knew.
Floating down, the sound resounds
Around the icy waters underground."
- Pink Floyd “Astronomy Domine”-

At the End-of-the-year party for New Orleans Mensa, I was given a gift of several limes, both Persians and Keys. Taxonomically speaking, we're dealing with

Kingdom: Plantae
(subdivision): Angiosperms
(subdivision): Eudicots
(subdivision): Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Rutaceae
Genus: Citrus

and the species depend on which one you're looking at.

Limes get their aroma from molecules called terpenes, which consist of a base block of 5 carbon atoms. The three common terpenes found in limes are limonene, pinene, and terpinene. These molecules are the first ones to reach the nose, hence their strong aromas. But even with a brief cooking, the aroma disappears. In order to preserve the aroma, lime juice is often added only at the last minute to a dish.

Out of all common citrus, limes have the highest acid/sugar ratio (oranges have the lowest).

Like all citrus, limes are thought to originate from Southeast China, Northern India, and Southeast Asia. In John McPhee's book “Oranges”, he describes how all the citrus species can be intermingled to the point where you can have multiple species growing on the same tree. Naturally, hybrids are possible as well. For instance, the Limequat is a cross between a Key Lime and a Kumquat.

Limes on the High Seas

Like all citrus crops, limes are a good source of Vitamin C. To prevent scurvy during the 19th century, British sailors were issued a daily allowance of citrus. Initially, lemons were used, but lemon trees do not grow as well as lime trees in the tropical areas visited by the British Navy. Therefore the lemons were replaced by limes. This is why the British sailors (and eventually others) were referred to as limeys.

Persians (Citrus latifolia)

The fruit that you will see in the grocery stores across the US and Europe that is called “lime” is known as the Persian lime, or Tahiti lime or Bearss lime (named after John T. Bearss who developed this lime variety in the late 1800s in California).

Keys (Citrus aurantifolia)

I can usually find Key limes already packaged in a bag at some grocery stores. It is much smaller (about 1-2 inches in diameter) and a lot more yellow than green – but it's ripe when it's yellow, so don't let that fool you. It is also called the Mexican lime or Sour lime. This is the lime that is associated with Key Lime Pie.

Ma Krut / Kaffirs (Citrus hystrix)

In my Indian and Southeast Asain cookbooks, I often come across Kaffir lime leaves as an ingredient. This is because the leaves have a rich amount of citronellal, which gives it a distinctive taste that differs from lemongrass. The kaffir lime itself is about the same size as a Key lime, but it is very green and has a very bumpy rind. The lime is also called the Ma Krut, after the Thai name of the tree. In Arabic, “kaffir” means “unbeliever”, so the Ma Krut name is more commonly used.

Key limes vs Persian limes

Ziva David, Mossad Liaison: My family also has a hangover remedy. Jasmine tea with lime.
NCIS Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo: Ugh! Thats disgusting! Remind me never to have a hangover in Israel.

What may be surprising is that the Key lime is the older of the two and the Persian lime is a hybrid of the key lime and a citron. In parts of the world other than US and Europe, “lime” refers to the smaller Key lime fruit. The difference between the two species are:

  Key Persian
Size Smaller Larger
Seeds Some None
Tartness/Bitterness More Less
Acidity Higher Lower
Thorns on PlantMore None
Shelf life Shorter Longer

The mysterious attraction of Lime Jello

Leonard: What are you doing?
Sheldon Cooper: I’m preparing Petri dishes for throat cultures.
Leonard: With lime Jello?
Sheldon Cooper: I needed a culture medium, and someone polished off the apricot yogurt.
-Big Bang Theory-

The story goes that one night at a SciFi convention, a drunk confided that the sexiest thing in the world was a bathtub full of Lime Jello; he made the mistake of saying this within earshot of others. The next day he was kept away from his hotel room while every supermarket in town was scoured bare of lime gelatin. Legend does not report how this person reacted to returning to a green quivering bathtub.


[to Sayid]
Hurley: Hey man. You gonna put the lime in the coconut and drink em both up?
[Sayid doesnt get it]
Hurley: Lime in the coconut? The song?
Sayid: What do you want Hurley?


Mojito is a classic alcoholic beverage created in Havana. An odd bit of trivia: the very first time the present-day Cuban flag was flown anywhere was in New Orleans in 1850 by Narciso Lopez. There's a marker on Poydras Street by the U S District Court building.

4 mint leaves
1 lime
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
crushed ice
2 ounces white rum
2 ounces club soda
1 sprig of mint (for garnishing)
Put the mint leaves into a Collins glass and squeeze the lime juice over them. Add the powdered sugar and then muddle the mint, lime juice and sugar together. Add crushed ice, stir in rum and top off with club soda. Garnish with mint sprig.


“If life gives you limes, make margaritas.”
-Jimmy Buffett -

The margarita cocktail (non-frozen verison).
1 ounce tequila
Dash of Triple Sec
Juice of 1/2 lime
Pour over crushed ice, stir. Rub the rim of a stem glass with lime rind, spin in salt—pour, and sip.

Key Lime Pie

Either regular pie crust, prebaked or graham cracker crust
4 egg yolks
1 can condensed milk (14oz)
1/3 to 1/2 cup key lime juice
Optional: 8 oz cream cheese
Optional: 8 oz sour cream
Optional: grated key lime zest
Mix yolks and condensed milk together first, then add the key lime juice slowly. Add in optional cream cheese and sour cream. Bake 350 for 20 minutes. Let cool.
Top w/ whipped cream OR use the egg whites to make a meringue OR just eat it as is.

Notes: I made this recipe without the cream cheese and sour cream. While I liked it, I can understand the need for a bit more creaminess to it, so I'll incorporate it next time.

Have a Blast at Mind Games®

by Jared Levine and Jess Byron, Mind Games co-chairs

Thinking about attending Mind Games®? You’ve heard about it, thought about it, maybe even checked out the website, but what is it really? Here’s what you should know before you go.

Mind Games is a weekend-long event that has up to 300 people playing games that have been on the market for no more than one year, testing them out, providing manufacturers valuable feedback, and selecting the Top 5. Every year, Mensa solicits new games of all types (except video games) from the various game manufacturers, from big names to small independent outfits. There are approximately 60 distinct titles in any typical year, and we get to test them all out. Sometimes we're among the first to ever even see the finished version of a game.

When you get your registration packet, you are handed the list of games. Everyone gets the same list, randomized order-wise, so that the first 30 games listed for each person are different. These are your “assigned” games for the weekend – the only games from which you are permitted to vote for the Top 5, which receive the Mensa Select® seal. Throughout the weekend, you are expected to play those 30 games; while you can play the rest of the games with your extra time, you don’t have to.

As you play, you try to find the main features of the games. You can provide feedback to the manufacturers on all sorts of items. Some games will be quick to understand and play, while others take longer. There’s the occasional dud in the mix, but you’ll play many great games over the weekend, some of which you’ll be so excited about that you decide to play again despite having many other games to play. These are some of the best moments in Mind Games — enjoy them.

At the end of the fun, frenzied weekend of play, we announce the Top 5 winners and then hold a games give-away. All of the games played throughout the weekend are repackaged, the names of the Mensans in attendance are randomized, and, in order, we get to select which game we want to take home with us – a nice perk of the weekend. If there are any games left over when we hit the bottom of the list, we work our way back up the list until all the games are gone.

For 2012, we are holding Mind Games in Herndon, VA at the Hyatt Dulles, a short hotel shuttle ride from Dulles Airport. Registration includes round-the-clock hospitality and all the games you can play. All meals from dinner on Friday through breakfast on Sunday will be provided, including two buffet dinners provided by the hotel.

The official start time where announcements happen is at 4pm on Friday, but, if you're trying to decide whether to come early or late, err on the early side. Registration will start around 9am, the games are fluffed (prepared) starting around 10am or so; once we’ve completely finished that process anyone who has already arrived is usually welcome to start playing. We're also looking into hosting some early gaming (not using the Mind Games entries) the night before. To find out additional important information, keep up with the happenings, and ask questions, find us on Facebook (search Mind Games 2012). To register for Mind Games, go to To make your hotel reservations, go to We'll see you in Herndon on April 20 when Mind Games 2012 officially begins!

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These pages and all content Copyright (c) 2012 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: 01-Jan-2012 . Webmaster Bart J. Geraci can be reached at