New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for January/February 2005

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment


by Anne Osteen Stringer

Well, I’m back! Due to a family emergency, Susan was unable to complete this issue, so I agreed to step in. Susan hopes to be back at the helm for the next La Plume.

Rene has been contacting members who have been inactive for a while to determine their interest in NOM. Most replies have been enthusiastic, and state that they intend to become more active when time permits. Well, it’s a new year and time for resolutions. I propose the following:

Resolve to become more active in your local Mensa Group. The time you put in is time well spent. The contact with other NOMs may be just what you are looking for in the new year.

Resolve to contribute your ideas, opinions, views, expertise, etc. to La Plume. It’s easy and fun and you get to see your name in print in a publication with a circulation of hundreds.

Resolve to host an event or plan a SIG. Share your interests with other NOMs.

Resolve to get involved with planning for the Annual Gathering this summer. It’s a chance to help make our local group shine in front Mensans from all over the country.

Resolve to enjoy the good things to be found in our city. H’s picture of coffee and beignets on the cover might give you an idea for a start.

Letters to the Editor

Long lost Mensan saying hello!

Hi, Anne! Does the name Janet Edwards ring a bell? Hope so. It has only been 17 years since I moved to California! :) I changed my name in '86 but most folks tend to remember the Edwards moniker (despite my scrubbing it out of my life as thoroughly as possible, along with its namesake).

So - Well, hello!!! I went to the A.G. website and then clicked the NOM link. How cool to still see a few familiar names! And the LPdN cover art that is posted is wonderful!! I was calendar editor for a couple of years when Patti Armatis, Grace Barrosse, and then Sheri Doyle were LPdN editors, and we won a few Owls. Seems like that was back in the Pleistocene...

I hope the group has not become as teensy as the site's email list would seem to indicate! I'd hope that there are many other members who just aren't online.

Well, I'm almost Mensa-less right now. After moving to the L.A. area in '87, I became very active in Orange County Mensa and have many wonderful friends there. But then six months ago I moved to L.A. County, and unfortunately the GLAAM group is so humongous that there is no monthly open house. I have not attended any SIGs or anything up here, and the old group's events are several hours away. (We don't measure miles here, because that's meaningless; we measure in freeway-time increments.) I miss my OCM friends, and I really miss their newsletter, which had become my main means of contact with many of the stalward regulars. :( *sigh*

Anyway, I have virtually nothing to say, really. I just wanted to drop a HELLO on you and the old gang. :) You never can tell, I may possibly be able to attend the AG, but at this point the summer remains nebulous and unpredictable. If so, I would love to see some familiar faces there!

Hello to one and all, and God bless.

Hello Region 6

by Dan Wilterding

Last month the AMC met in Orlando, determining (among other things) that the 2007 AG will be in Birmingham, Alabama and that the 2006 MindGames® will be in Portland, Oregon. Neither decision was an easy one given that for each event very good bids had been presented by qualified, capable and enthusiastic local groups. Robin Crawford (Chicago) was appointed Communications Officer. Several motions clarifying and consolidating issues related to Communications were passed thanks in large part to the efforts of Tim Folks (Baton Rouge), Robin's immediate predecessor. Other action included nominating two AML members to international posts: Jim Werdell as Director of Administration and Stacey Kirsch as Treasurer. The weather in Orlando was magnificent, or so I am told; as usual at AMC meetings we spent far too much time indoors.

Rumors circulating about a one-day fun event involving several contiguous local groups have brought questions to mind: How far would you be willing to travel for such an event? What would it take to tickle your fancy: mental or physical athletics; bizarre or unusual programs; or maybe the simple lure of a good time to be had by all? Share with me your thoughts, share also what it would take to instigate action on those thoughts.

Comments, anyone?

Dan Wilterding - RVC6

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe. -- Albert Einstein
Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age 18. -- Albert Einstein
You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother. -- Albert Einstein

MensAGumbo Report

by Richard Stringer

Here is an update on AG planning. We will have a site visit Jan. 21-Jan, 23 at the Sheraton New Orleans. Any NOMs who would like to volunteer to help organize the AG are welcome. Please see the Calendar In this issue for details.

Speaker Tracks. The Speaker Tracks are: History (Louisiana and Otherwise), Arts & Entertainment, The Hidden Side of New Orleans, X-Cellerated Culture (Gen-X), and Sports. We will probably be adding a Science and Technology track also. Heather Miller, AG chair, says “We still don’t have coordinators for the A/E and Hidden Side tracks, but they are being filled with speakers anyway. I give a personal round of applause to my committee and the vigor with which they are pursuing and recruiting speakers. This is an amazing group of people.” NOMs who would like to help on Speaker Tracks, or who would like to give a presentation, please contact Neville Mayfield via email to .

Other Events. Thus far we have scheduled: Tours (including the post-AG cruise), a MERF benefit golf scramble, Kid’s Trek, a blood drive, and Gen-X and Gay SIG special events. There will be a Mensa Marketplace, where Mensans from all over can sell their wares, and a Speakers’ Table, where our speakers can sell their books and such.

Publicity. We will have articles in each issue of the Mensa Bulletin from January through June.

There is a Registration form included in this issue of La Plume. Get your registrations in now. For full information please see the MensAGumbo website at .

The Reading M

by Richard Stringer

I suppose some Mensans have the same reaction I do-we avoid the Fiction best-seller lists. However, after over a year, I finally read The DaVinci Code, by Dan Brown.

My first impression is that it’s an Umberto Eco novel on speed: the leisurely plod through the Templar and Grail mysteries of Foucault’s Pendulum, speeded up for an American mass audience, with car chases, evil villains, and sexual tension. I don’t recall anything actually blowing up in the book, but I’m sure the movie will correct that.

Basically the book is a mystery set in modern day Paris and London involving the Holy Grail. Grail lore and legend is provided as background, along with a smattering of the history of the goddess religions and their destruction by the patriarchists, the history of Christianity, and the political decisions in fourth century Rome which determined the doctrines and direction of Christianity.

If this sounds like a tall order, it indeed is. The book could be more, and Brown is a little loose with the facts, but, lest I sound condescending, let me shout from the rooftops that any information to counter the current resurgence within American Christianity of nasty tribal religion with its angry, vengeful gods and its glorification of selfishness and patriarchy is a good thing. Hopefully some readers of The DaVinci Code will be encouraged to investigate further and acquire a better base of spiritual understanding. Indeed, an ancillary publishing industry of explanatory books, some objective and some polemical, has developed since the publication of DaVinci.

If you’re familiar with the subjects of the Grail, the Templars, goddess religions, and the Council of Nicea, you won’t learn anything new, but will probably enjoy the romp anyway. If you’re unfamiliar with these quintessential religious mysteries, by all means read The DaVinci Code, and then do some research.


by Al Thomas

We have established why a stop loss order is a requirement for the successful investor. Now let’s look at some of the simpler methods.

There are 3 basic methods (and many more we will not discuss here) for stops that almost anyone can master. They are percentages ofthe price action, moving averages and support areas. These cannot be covered in detail here, but you can do further research on your own.

Any stock, fund or Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) you buy you think is going to go up, but there is the chance that it may go in the other direction. The stock you buy is $50 per share. You certainly don’t want to hold it while it goes to $25 or $10 as many did in 2000. Your first thought should be how much am I willing to risk if I am wrong and that is called your loss limit. Let’s pick an arbitrary amount of $5.00 per share. That’s 10%. If it goes down that is the maximum amount you will lose and you still have 90% of your money remaining to find a better investment. When it goes up you will want to protect your profit by moving the stop up.

When an equity advances to $55.00 your stop of 10% should be moved to $49.50 that is 10% of $55. When it goes to $60 your stop is now $54. Nothing complicated here. There have been many stocks that gone from $20 to $250 and then down to $2.00. Think what a stop loss would have done for you in that case.

As I have said before never buy anything unless it is going up. That same $50 stock was moving steadily higher in a rather narrow trading range. If you decide to use a 20 day moving average you will have to do the calculations either daily or weekly. You add up the closing prices for the past 20 days and divide by 20. This should be done once each week and the number calculated is your stop loss. Again nothing complicated. The steeper the advance the shorter should be the number of days for the moving average. If you are lucky enough to have one of those skyrockets you might even be down to a 5DMA. Some traders use a 50 day MA and others even a 200-day MA. Mutual funds lend themselves to the latter.

Finding support and resistance points requires a more sophisticated approach. This is something you are going to have to study. There are many places on the Internet that have short explanations with examples of how to determine these points. Briefly you watch a stock, fund, ETF run up and then you see it stop and set back like a stair step. It will rest for a while with a short up and down sideways pattern that forms before the next move higher. Your stop should now be down at the point the recent up move started. When it advances again this current formation becomes the stop loss point. This is not mechanical and requires a more experienced trader to determine these points. Once you learn this technique you will also begin to see the orderliness of the market.

The mastery of an exit strategy with stop loss orders will immediate put you in the top 10% of all investors. Learning how to sell is the key to successful investing.

F*R*E*E investment letter
Author of best seller "IF IT DOESN'T GO UP, DON'T BUY IT!" Never lose money in the market.
Copyright 2004 Albert W. Thomas All rights reserved. Former 17-year exchange member, floor trader and brokerage company owner.

NOM 2004 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 2004 year for New Orleans Mensa.

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