New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for Jan/Feb 2004

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment


by Anne Osteen Stringer

Last month NOMs and the members of Baton Rouge Mensa presented NORGy VI. It was wildly successful and enjoyed by all.

In November, Richard, Bart, and I helped a team from Denver Mensa with their entry in the national finals of Urban Challenge. Picture a huge scavenger hunt racing through the French Quarter and uptown while auditioning for the Jeopardy show and you will have some sense of what those participants went through. We have a report from one of them.

Several members have recently sent me their new email addresses. Thank you. I have updated my list, but would like to mention that NOMs who change their address (email or other) should update their information with National Mensa. This can be done by email to
or by mail to American Mensa, Ltd., 1229 Corporate Dr. W., Arlington, TX 76006-6103. You can also update your information on the American Mensa web site Click on Member Resources and then on My Membership.

Now that NORGy VI has come and gone, the Christmas presents have been unwrapped and put away, the New Years Resolutions have been made and broken, comes the truly crazy season. Beginning with 12th Night, King Cakes appear and the parties start. Soon we are all dodging traffic and planning our lives around balls and parade routes. H’s carnival hats on the cover remind us of what we have to look forward to.

Mail Bag

Greetings from Costa Rica

Hi to all those New Orleans Mensans who might remember me. I am doing fine living in Costa Rica. I have not yet married again, and don’t expect to. There is just too much fun in chasing after the multitudes of beautiful ladies down here. But, I do miss the Nom comraderies.

Actually, I pass much of my time writing and sometimes singing. There is only one other M that I know of in the country, but he and I have little in common, so we don’t communicate that much. There are a few other retired Gringos here who I occasionally meet and trade stories with. If there is interest from any of you, I might in future relate some tales of the foibles, joys, dangers, loves, adventures and scams of the Gringos who live here.

Till then,
John D. S.

Greetings from Grand Isle


I've been in Mensa for many years, but attend few functions because of distance--I live on Grand Isle. It has occured to me, that when it warms up, Grand Isle may be a nice site for a dinner, or a NOM night, or one of the booze-fests that those two ladies hold. I'm a cook, and I know quite a few moteliers down here. Ponder this possibility.

Also, do you have any plans for a NOM dinner at Zeke's in the near future? I know Zeke quite well. Many years ago, I lived above Franky & Johnnie's Bar & rest. on Arabella St., uptown. Zeke took over the business, and wanted my apt. for himself, but part of the agreement, written by Judge Eddie Sapir, was that I could stay in it for life, if I chose. I chose, but Zeke and his brother were slick. They knew that I hated the song "Island In the Stream" by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rodgers, so each night when Zeke would close up, he'd hit the free play button on the jukebox, and play this dreadful song at top volume about a million times. The building would shake, as would I. I took it for about a month, and packed up and left. I moved over Tipitina's before they gutted the upstairs, where I'd fall asleep to Fess or Etta James or Taj Majal instead of Dolly and Kenny.

- dan p.

Urban Challenge, Part Deux...

by Gary Smith from Matrix, Denver Mensa

As you may remember from our last episode, Dmitriy Zamoshchin and I placed third in the Denver Urban Challenge. Urban challenge is a sport that crosses a scavenger hunt with a running race, resulting in a competition that tests participants’ ability to navigate a course around an American city by solving puzzles that identify where to go and then running or using public transit to get there. By finishing well in the Denver event Dmitriy and I (team Dmitriy and Goliath) qualified for the National championships in New Orleans. Sensing a great opportunity to combine athletic endeavor with puke-on-the-sidewalk debauchery, we decided to go.

We quickly put out the word to our stalwart support team of Jeff, Yelena, Paul, and Mario, who agreed to join the fun even though the race would start at 7:00am Denver time. Paul later had to drop out due to other commitments, but we added Jim and Chris to complete the Denver team. We also put out feelers to New Orleans Mensa to see if we could find some secret weapon support folks with priceless local knowledge. We were thrilled that Richard, Anne and Bart responded to our request.

Of course, now we had a logistical nightmare on our hands. How to coordinate eight support people in two different cities with two dazed and confused runners loose on the streets of New Orleans. The organizers weren’t making it any easier by providing the clues wrapped around a baton that would be impossible to copy or fax. We arranged for communications between the two cities by lots of cell phones, an e-mail discussion list set up by Mario and a chat room set up by Chris. Our plan was to get our clue baton at the start of the race and immediately deliver it to Bart, who would be waiting in the race hotel business center. Bart would take pictures of the clues with a digital camera, upload them to the business center computer and broadcast them to the support team via e-mail, letting them start solving the clues immediately. It sounded good in theory, anyway.

On race day Dmitriy and Goliath headed to the Fairmont bright and early for the trivia test that would determine our starting time. The questions were much harder than for the regional race, and we felt we had done fairly poorly.

But it turned out that everyone else had too and we were amazed to see our number appear first on the results board. This meant we would start in the very first wave at 8:00 am New Orleans time. Fortunately everyone was in position. Bart was waiting in the business center, steps away from the start. We assembled just outside the Fairmont, got our last minute instructions, were handed our clue sheet and were off. Clue SHEET?? We opened it and read that in order to get our clue BATON we had to run 8 or 9 blocks to a café in the French Quarter. Time for plan B. We called Bart and asked him to follow us to the French Quarter and headed off.

Fortunately, Dmitriy had decided at the last minute to bring his digital camera. We ran to the Café Pontalba and collected our baton. Dmitriy started snapping pictures while Bart caught up with us. We also read our first clue to the support team over the phone. We needed to find a business in the French Quarter that had the same name as an old Atari game. Bart arrived and we handed him Dmitriy’s camera, now loaded with precious pictures of the clues. While he headed off to his nearby office to broadcast them (this worked GREAT!), the Denver folks worked on the Atari clue, Richard and Anne went in search of the skip person (who would let us skip a checkpoint if we could find her) and Dmitriy and I went to work on the next clue, a long code.

The first news was from Richard and Anne, who had spotted the skip person a few blocks away. We headed over to find her and then heard from the Denver folks who had decided that “Popeye’s” was both an old Atari game and a restaurant on Canal St. at the edge of the French Quarter. We ran over there and snapped it as our first checkpoint. By now we had figured out that the code was Jabberwocky from Alice in Wonderland. Everyone was searching frantically for shops that matched one of Jabberwocky’s nonsense words, but no luck. After a long period of fruitless head scratching, we decided to give it up and skip this checkpoint. We later found out that the clue “Checkpoint 5 is the French Market Inn” had been slipped into the middle of the code. Duh! Next we were off on the bus down Magazine Street looking for a place whose name translated to a Ric Ocasek song. Our crack team translated “Let the good times roll” to a restaurant named “Laissez les bon temps rouler.”

Finally we were moving along at a good pace. The next two legs had us run from the restaurant to a home near Audubon Park and the “Blarney stone” at Tulane Univ. Bart, who had attended Tulane, guided us to the stone step by step by over the phone. From there it was back downtown on the St. Charles St. Streetcar. Four more checkpoints took us back to the French quarter, where we had three more checkpoints to solve before we could finish. One, an anagram of “Foamy Barn” had us well stumped, but we got help from another team who let us follow them to the Framboyan antique store. Richard and Anne, who had been driving around the French Quarter looking at store signs found it a few minutes later. We had finally completed all the checkpoints and crossed the finish line at 4 hrs 45 min in 66th place (out of about 130 teams). But, we had made an error on one of the checkpoints we thought we had right. A true/False question about the movie/book “Blood Work” was really false when we thought it was true. When the officials reviewed our photos, we had the wrong one and were disqualified. We were hardly alone in this, as only 54 teams successfully completed the course in under five hours.

Overall, we found the race about as tough physically as the Denver course, but the clues and trivia were MUCH harder. Still, we had a great time running the course and meeting with the other participants from around the country. It was also great to meet the folks from New Orleans Mensa and to have the chance to work with them on an interesting challenge. We were disappointed in our result, but just wait till next year!!

Ed note: The clues and answers can be found at the Urban Challenge web site: Click on "semi-finals" and then "checkpoints".

Hello Region 6

by Dan Wilterding

The AMC met again in December, this time in New Orleans and in conjunction with NORGy -- the RG put on as a joint effort of the Baton Rouge and New Orleans Mensas. The hotel was nice -- down in the French Quarter just a short walk from Bourbon Street or Harrah's casino -- the food was quite good and the company of Mensans was excellent. The '05 AG (put on by the same two groups) should be quite a shindig.

An ongoing discussion at AMC meetings involves SIGs and risk management (not to be confused with risk elimination). Issues include how to address non-Mensan participation in SIGs and the legal liability of a member or the organization if and when problems arise. Also on the risk management plate is the matter of processes and procedures for dealing with minors with regards to activities of all sorts. Those of you participating in national SIGs or Mensa activities that include children please be aware that changes may be coming soon.

A more recent continuing discussion concerns ProxyQuest. Approximately $45,000 has been allotted for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2004; more will be allocated in what is expected to be an already stressed budget next year for the period between April 1 and June 30. Please -- satisfy any concerns that you may have about this matter and submit your proxy so that we can spend our dues money in ways that have a more immediately positive impact on our enjoyment of Mensa.

One of the more active local groups in Region6 is Arkansas Mensa. They have set up an email list that has a large base of correspondents and a wide range of discussions. Their enthusiasm is high and they don't let differing points of view get in the way of being friends. It's been refreshing and a distinct pleasure to lurk on that list. Thanks to all of you.

Comments, anyone?

Dan Wilterding - RVC6


Congratulations NOMs and BRMs (Baton Rouge Mensans)! NORGy VI was a tremendous success! Thanks to Loretta and Heather for chairing the event. They remained calm, but cracked the whip when needed. Their efforts paid off when everything came together at the Maison Dupuy, December 12-14.

Hospitality was ‘round the clock.Hospitality opened at 4:00 pm on Friday and did not close again until noon on Sunday. Food, drink, and conversation flowed as we showed Mensans from all over the country some southern hospitality. Several RG regulars were heard to say it was the best-run Hospitality Room they’d ever encountered. Registration went like clockwork, thanks to superb pre-organizing by Loretta and the help of a number of volunteers. We were surprised and gratified to have about twenty walk-in registrants, which brought our total number of attendees to 132 (about twice as many as we had initially expected).

Attendees got a great introduction to New Orleans cuisine and ambiance as Friday night’s Dine-around groups visited Antoine’s, Galatoire’s, the Bombay Club, Irene’s Cuisine and the Gumbo Shop in the company of NOM and BRM hosts. It was a great introduction to the city. Saturday night the Gen-Xers performed a noble scientific experiment comparing the drinks and entertainment at the Quarter’s various night clubs, in the guise of the Gen-X Pub Crawl.

Throughout the day Saturday three tracks of programs kept the crowd busy, and the AMC spent all day (and a good part of the evening) taking care of Mensa’s business, while a crowd of gamesters conquered the world in a marathon game of Diplomacy. All the while Hospitality hummed along, dispensing snacks, sandwiches, and a never-ending supply of soft drinks, beer and wine. For those fatigued from such heavy lifting, a resident masseur provided a masterful respite. Saturday lunch, Saturday night’s banquet, and Sunday’s Jazz Brunch were catered by the Dupuy’s four-star restaurant, Dominique’s, and were very impressive.

Saturday evening also saw card games in the game room, wonderful guitar and mandolin music in the smoking Hospitality room, and lots of Mensa’s and the world’s problems solved in the comfortable confines of main Hospitality, as members encountered the national officers and exchanged ideas and jokes.

The hotel and its location were ideal for the gathering, and the hotel staff was excellent in every department. The RG committee did a superb job of organizing and executing, and the many NOM and BRM volunteers made it all possible. We can say for certain that, having seen our groups in action, the AMC has a very good feeling about our capabilities for hosting the 2005 Mensa Annual Gathering.

NOM 2003 Finances Report

by Arnold P. Wilking, Jr., Treasurer

This is a link to a text file which contains the details of the statement of finances for the 2003 year for New Orleans Mensa.

Back to the La Plume de NOM main page.
These pages and all content Copyright (c) 2008 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: 15-Mar-2009 . Webmaster Bart J. Geraci can be reached at