New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for January/February 2010

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment


Suzaku™ (from Japanese sousaku: search) is a compound puzzle. The first step is to solve it as a traditional sudoku puzzle, using letters instead of numbers. The second step is to search for words in the solved sudoku. Start from any letter, moving up, down, forward, backward or diagonally in any direction, changing direction as needed without reusing the same square for a word. Although there are nine letters in this puzzle, words can be longer if you can find them. For extra credit, score the words using their associated number values to try to find the highest word points. The solution will be published in the March issue.


Solution to the puzzle published in the November issue:


Loc Sec Report

Bart J Geraci

I am Bart J Geraci, the new LocSec for New Orleans Mensa. This year will be my 25th year in Mensa. I joined Mensa in 1985 in Austin, Texas to meet people outside of the University of Texas. I have been to every Annual Gathering since 1989 in Atlanta --- and I’ll be there in Detroit this year.

I’ve been maintaining the New Orleans Mensa website for many years. I lead the local team Mensa CultureQuest team “Brains on Bourbon” most years. We finished #11 in 2009 and earned $105 for our group. I have attended MindGames for almost every year since 2000, and I’ll be there in San Diego this April.

I am a New Orleans native, and I have lived here all my life with the exception of 6 years in Austin, Texas. I work at a small company in downtown New Orleans called Model Software. We write custom software, mostly in Java, for business clients. I am married with 2 wonderful teenage daughters. I love to cook, solve puzzles, play trivia, and make puns.

The best way to contact me is via cellphone at 504-312- 2636 (I have unlimited texting). My home phone number is 504-309-3719. My email is

I need to hear from you all about what you would like the group to do. In the words of Benjamin Disraeli, “I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?”

Thank you and “Go Saints!”

- Bart Geraci

Calling all Computer Wizards

Since I am now LocSec, I am looking for someone else to take over the Website. I think it is time for a redesign. I also plan to make some other changes for contacting the membership electronically and I would like to get some assistance to help with this.


From The Regional Vice-Chairman

Roger Durham

North Texas Mensa’s Regional Gathering in Dallas was, as usual, a smash hit. In addition to the folks from other groups in Region 6, like Mensa 76, East Texas, South Texas, Lone Star, Gulf Coast, Permian Basin, Baton Rouge, Central Oklahoma, and New Mexico, there were visitors from Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, Vermont, and Washington State. More than 150 Ms in all – what a party!

RG Chair Carol Hilson did her usual superb job of organization, Kevin Buchanan’s Hospitality was memorable, and Karen Brack provided an incredible array of eclectic programs, while new member Anne White put together the most popular RG dance I’ve seen in years. If you missed it, plan to come next year. And, don’t forget Gulf Coast Mensa’s 2010 RG, coming up over Memorial Day Weekend in Houston.

The proposed Mensa cruise in March, unfortunately, had to be cancelled due to lack of interest, but the train trip to the Annual Gathering has drawn numerous responses and I look forward to seeing many of you aboard the Texas Eagle next summer. I’ll be working with Amtrak to finalize plans for the trip during the next few weeks, and by February I should be able to give you all the details.

Turning from fun to serious business, it’s almost time to begin thinking about American Mensa’s next national election in 2011. We’ll be appointing the national Nominating Committee soon, and I hope to see our Region well-represented. If any of you would like to serve on the national NomComm this time around, let your LocSec know right away, as I will be asking all of our Region’s LocSecs for names of potential NomComm members before the middle of January.

LocSecs, please be thinking about who in your group has been active in American Mensa, knows lots of other members, and would be a good choice for the NomComm. It would be preferable, though not required, if NomComm members can commit to attending the AG in Michigan, as there will be planning meetings and candidate interviews taking place at that time.

And, speaking of LocSecs, 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 (rvc6@us.mensa. org) if I can be of assistance in any way.

- Roger Durham

Good Wine Cheap! (and good food to go with it!)

by John Grover

This month we will consider one of the most versatile and popular grapes in the world, Merlot. And, then we will combine it with a wonderful dish for entertaining from Morocco. As you might expect, the recipe involves beef and grilling.

Merlot is famous as a blending grape. It is combined with other varieties, such as Cabernet Franc, to soften the more severe edges of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. From these marriages come the classic Bordeaux blends. But, the New World wine growers of Australia, California and Chile have brought out Merlot as a fruity and smooth varietal wine on its own. And, most importantly, this style has been embraced by the affluent North American market.

The wine this month is the 2007 “Reserve” Merlot from Santa Ema vineyards of Chile. This is one of those wines that genuinely improve with being allowed to breathe before serving. Decanting this wine about an hour before should suffice. The wine greets you with a nose that conveys rich berry fruit and a hint of coffee (The Boss gave me one of those looks when I mentioned the latter.). But then, it is round and full bodied in the mouth. Roll this wine across the tongue and the tastes of plum, blackberry and spice clearly come through. This complex but smooth and well balanced wine is an equal match to the spices found in the marinade below. I have found this wine for between $9 and $12 a bottle.

KEBAB KOUTBANE (Appetizer Kebabs in a Moorish Marinade)

This typically Moroccan dish is an excellent hors d’oeuvre to serve at any time. It is amazing how the small cubes of suet (beef fat) improve the flavor of the kebab after some of the fat has burned off. The use of suet is particularly effective when cooking kebabs over a charcoal fire. If no one has a dietary restriction, you can substitute bacon for the suet.

Cut 1 Ib. FILLET OF BEEF OR STEAK into 3/4-inch cubes (approximately 32 cubes).

Cut 1/2 Ib. BEEF SUET (it’s really just fat guys) into 1/2- inch cubes.

In an 8 x 10-inch shallow baking dish, prepare the Moorish Marinade:

Combine: 1/4 cup ONION, finely chopped and 2 Tbs. PARSLEY, finely chopped.

Blend: 1/2 cup OLIVE OIL; 1 tsp. SALT; 1/4 tsp. PEPPER (always fresh ground); 1/4 tsp. GARLIC POWDER; 1 tsp. GROUND CORIANDER; 1/2 tsp. GROUND CUMIN

Blend the beef and suet cubes with the marinade and allow the mixture to marinate for several hours (over night is the best).

Thread pieces of beef alternately with pieces of suet (start and end with beef) on a 6-inch metal or bamboo skewers.

Yield: 8 6-inch kebabs

Grill or Broil using a hot fire, basting occasionally with the marinade.

This should cook in five to eight minutes. The fat from the suet and oil from the marinade will help to flame the fire and sear the outside of the meat while still rare to medium inside. This dish has been a hit when we have served it (a hungry pack of wolves comes to mind).

I hope that you will contact me with your comments and about your favorite wines at I will be happy to share them with the broader Mensa group.

John Grover is a member of Mensa of Northeastern New York. He lives with his wife Sharon in the Hudson Valley of New York.

Antecdotes & Tidbits

by Joseph Hopkins


With the coming of warmer weather, the chances of encountering one of our reptilian neighbors increases. There aren’t too many people who really like snakes. Snakes have a rough time of it (look at the B.C. comic strip) partly because people find it difficult to distinguish between good snakes and bad snakes. . Some people say you can tell them apart by the shape of the head. A round head is good and triangular is bad. There is an even easier way. If the head is on this end, it’s a bad snake, if it’s on that end, it’s a good snake.

The Beatles

Most everyone, I suspect, is aware of the Beatles’ connection to the invention of the CT or CAT, (Computerized Axial Tomography), scanner. But just for those who may not have heard, the Beatles were recording on a label owned by EMI, Electrical and Musical Industries, a company involved in, among other things, technology and research. Early on they had produced a transistorized computer but it was not a commercial success.

The engineer primarily responsible for its development, Sir Godfrey Hounsfield had also developed a prototype CT scanner but lacked the funds to refine it to the point where it could be a useful diagnostic tool. During the 60’s the Beatles generated huge sums of money and EMI gave Sir Godfrey what he needed to continue the project.

The first unit was released in 1972 and Sir Godfrey Hounsfield received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1979.

Not many people are aware of the connection one of the Beatles, John Lennon, had with the Little Caesar Pizza chain. You may have seen the commercial where at the end the little figure shouts “Pizza, Pizza”. John Lennon was the one who said in one of his songs,” give Pizza chants”.

A Little Punny Business

In honor of our new Loc Sec’s affection for puns, I thought I’d share a few I found online:

1. I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.

2. Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off? He’s all right now.

3. I couldn’t quite remember how to throw a boomerang, but eventually it came back to me.

4. There was a sign on the lawn at a drug re-hab center that said ‘Keep off the Grass’.

5. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.

6. He drove his expensive car into a tree and found out how the Mercedes bends.

7. Police were called to a daycare where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.

8. To write with a broken pencil is pointless.

9. A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital. When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was a nurse said ‘No change yet’.

10. A bicycle can’t stand on its own because it is twotired.

11. Organ donors put their heart into it.

12. Show me a piano falling down a mineshaft and I’ll show you A-flat minor.

13. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

14. There was once a cross-eyed teacher who couldn’t control his pupils.

15. Some people’s noses and feet are built backwards: their feet smell and their noses run.

16. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

17. Pencils could be made with erasers at both ends, but what would be the point?

18. Atheists don’t solve exponential equations because they don’t believe in higher powers.

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Last edited: 11-Jan-2010 . Webmaster Bart J. Geraci can be reached at