New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for July 2011

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment

From the Editor

Peter Salomon

It’s that time again: Hurricane Season. And, if rumors are to be believed, it’ll almost be football season as well...

So The Story Goes Like This

Bart Geraci

So when I moved into my first apartment I bought a toaster oven --- rather than a toaster --- because I wanted the option to enjoy toasted bagels as well as bread slices. After about three months it started giving me problems. I determined that it came with only a 90-day warranty and it was now out of warranty. Grrr.

At first, it wouldn't heat up at all. When I put it on for a longer time, it burned the bread quite badly. One time I got an electrical shock and had to go to the hospital after hitting my head. Another time, the fire from the toaster oven hit the kitchen cabinet. And there was the one time I put bread in and it came out frozen. Weird.

My friend, fresh from law school, suggested I sue the manufacturer. He asked me to bring all the receipts related to the toaster (hospital, doctors, kitchen repair, etc.) and he would add a figure for my pain and suffering.

So I asked him, “Do you want me to bring the grocery receipts to show how much money I spent on bread?”

He replied, “No, we can't include food costs in our lawsuit...”

“...because there's no accounting for toast.”


Roger Durham

First of all, my thanks to those of you who voted to keep me as your Regional Vice Chairman for another two years. To those of you who were hoping to see James Franzen’s name at the bottom of this column, I can only say that I’m sorry if I failed to meet your expectations, and I promise I’ll try to do better in the future.

As I write this, I have just returned from a very enjoyable weekend in Houston, at SynRG 2011, Gulf Coast Mensa’s Regional Gathering. Co-chairs Patty and Chris Williams did a great job of putting together a stimulating mix of speakers and other events, plus a well-stocked hospitality suite. Patty and Chris have already signed on as co-chairs of next year’s event, so I know it will be equally memorable. I’m especially grateful to Hospitality Chair Anne So for the smoked salmon every morning, which I hope to see next year as well.

Which brings me to the region’s next opportunity for fun, fellowship, and foolishness, LoneStaRG XIII, Lone Star Mensa’s Regional Gathering. I hope to see many of you in Round Rock over Labor Day weekend to celebrate “Halloween in September”, the theme of this year’s event. Check LSM’s website (http:// for details.

In other news, T.J. Lundeen of Central Oklahoma and Roy Huff of South Texas suggested a few weeks ago that there ought to be a way for members to subscribe to the electronic editions of the newsletters of the other local groups in the region. I thought that was a good suggestion, so I asked Howard Prince, our resident computer guru at the National Office, how that could be accomplished. The outcome is that sometime in July, when Howard has recovered from the national election and the Annual Gathering, he will set up an eaddress, similar to “region6-talk” to which you can send an e-mail request to be subscribed. Jeff Dommenge of Lone Star Mensa, my long-suffering Assistant RVC, has agreed to be the administrator for this list, and after he adds you as a subscriber, you will automatically begin to receive copies of all the Region 6 local group newsletters by e-mail. I’ll provide details next month. Sorry, you won’t be able to request only certain newsletters, it’s going to be all or nothing.

That’s all for now, folks - I’m off to Oregon for the Annual Gathering and the first meeting of the newly-elected American Mensa Committee. Thanks again for your support; I’ll be back next month with more info on the newsletter subscriptions and details of the AG and AMC meeting.



The Annual Gathering is going on when this issue comes out. This year it's in Portland, OR. Next year it will be in Reno, NV (which is further west than Los Angeles, CA) then in 2013 it'll be in Fort Worth, TX. One of the thing I look forward to is seeing all my friends from all across the country.

One person I will be missing this year is Joe Zanca, who passed away this Spring. Our family has gotten to know him, his wife Nancy, and their daughter Ashley. It seems that Joe and I decided to bring our family to the AGs year after year, so our kids grew up together. One time, one of our kids was apparently raising her hand like all the other adults in the AG auction room. Joe alerted us to this fact, but not after taking some good-natured bidding.

In New Orleans, there is the “Running of the Bulls” Celebration July 7th-10th, with the running taking place on Saturday, July 9 at 8:00 a.m. It's like the one in Pamplona, except our bulls are replaced by Big Easy Roller Derby girls with Viking helmets and whiffle bats. It's events like these that makes this city like no other place in the world. Check out for more information.

Rebecca Pharr has written an article about the trip to the Tulane Primate Research Center. Richard Garrett has penned a story of sweet revenge. And I talk about cucumbers. Just another crazy month in the city.

This time of the year, I'd like to remind you to keep cool and well-hydrated.

Looking for New Ideas

We're looking for new ideas to increase attendance at NOM meetings and events. If you have an idea for any activity, let me know and we'll give it a try.


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!


Rebecca Pharr

1. It is proposed that New Orleans Mensa give a Regional Gathering in December, 2012.

Circle one: FOR AGAINST

2. I would be willing to (Circle all that apply):

Be in charge of organizing the RG

Chair a committee

Work on a committee

Participate in the organization of the RG

Volunteer to serve at the RG

Attend the RG

3. I am interested in the following committees (Circle all that apply):

Hotel site selection: Guest hotel rooms, meeting rooms, hospitality rooms, etc.

Food and Beverage: hospitality room, snacks, dinners, etc.

Publicity: promotion, welcome packet, programs, gifts, logo, etc.

Administration: Legal, Accounting, Registration, etc.

Booking: speakers, vendors, activities, etc.


Volunteer recruitment and assignment

Other (please list): _________________________________________

4. It is proposed that a meeting be held to begin planning the RG. Circle One: FOR AGAINST

5. If you wish to be contacted about this RG, please provide the information below:


American Mensa membership number:




City, State, Zip:

Please keep me informed of:


BRAINFORK: A Mensan writes about food

By Bart Geraci

Brainfork: Cucumber

I was a stand-up tomato: a juicy, sexy, beefsteak tomato. Nobody does vegetables like me. I did an evening of vegetables off- Broadway. I did the best tomato, the best cucumber... I did an endive salad that knocked the critics on their ass. -Tootsie-

The taxonomy of the cucumber is:

Cucumber types:

Vegetables can be really sensuous, don't you think? No, vegetables are sensual. People are sensuous -Animal House-

Random Facts


A cucumber should be well-sliced, dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out. -Samuel Johnson-

Cool as a Cucumber Mocktail

On a recent cruise, I came across this non-alcoholic cocktail (“mocktail”) that sounded interesting. It's made with fresh mint, cucumber, fresh lime and lemon-lime soda. It was refreshing and delicious. I never did get the exact recipe, but I found something close:

Peel one small cucumber (optionally remove seeds) and juice it with some mint leaves. Add some fresh lime juice, lemon-lime soda to the juice in a glass. Garnish with crushed ice, mint sprigs, and cucumber slice.

I don't want a pickle. I just want to ride on my motor-sickle -Arlo Guthrie-

Alton Brown's B & B's (Bread & Butter) Pickles

This recipe came from Food Network and was highly rated by many people who tried it out.

Thinly slice cucumbers and some onions (2 cucumbers & 1/2 onion). Place in glass container. In non-reactive pan: combine 1 cup water, 1 cup cider vinegar, 1.5 cups of sugar, pinch salt, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp celery seeds, 1/2 tsp pickling spice. Bring to boil and let simmer 4 minutes. Pour into container, let pickles cool to room temperature, top off with any remaining liquid before closing container and putting it in the fridge.

Variations: Bread and Butter pickles are sweet, so adjust the sugar downwards to your taste. In place of pickling spice, one book suggested crab boil. If neither is available, add any combination of bay leaf, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, or dill. Turmeric will stain everything bright yellow (one reason to use glass containers); the color is very much appreciated, but you can reduce it or omit it altogether. You could strain out the seeds in the mixture before pouring it in the glass container. Taste the mixture first to see if you feel that it contains the flavors you are looking for.


By Rebecca Pharr

I was looking forward to the big NOM North event of the summer, the tour of the Tulane National Primate Research Center in Covington, Louisiana, north of Lake Pontchartrain. One of our members, Dr. K, who works at the TNPRC, attended many of the NOM North activities several years ago right after Katrina, but I have not seen or heard from him lately. I had already learned from Ms.V, who scheduled the tour for me, that Mr. J who was giving the tour needed to start the tour promptly at 11:00 a.m. and asked that the eighteen members of NOM North arrive as early as 10:30. I met 2 people at 10:30 a.m. in the parking lot, and went into the building and found 5 more already waiting in the lobby. We met with Ms. V and Mr. J and proceeded into the meeting room where Mr. J gave us an overview of the TNPRC. Another member met with us as the meeting started and we were later joined by other members and their guests. We were all given a bottle of water and a little bag with some literature and a little toy monkey, which is the mascot of the TNPRC, a very prized little toy because it can only be obtained from the TNPRC. Isn’t he cute?

TNPRC Monkey

What struck me the most was the priority of humane treatment given the monkeys. When used for research, the researchers are not allowed to come in contact with the monkeys. All research procedures have to be administered by the veterinary personnel. So the only humans who are allowed direct contact with the monkeys are people who love animals and are trained to treat the monkeys in a humane, caring way. There are laws governing how the animals are used in research so that they are at the minimum of suffering possible, and the maximum of heath and happiness possible, and these are adhered to and monitored closely.

TNPRC performs drug testing on monkeys to be sure they are safe before testing on humans in clinical trials, which is required by Federal law. The major disease being studied at the TNPRC is the HIV and AIDS virus, along with diseases which are complications of AIDS. Other diseases studied include tuberculosis, malaria, and cholera. TNPRC research has already made possible many medical breakthroughs over the years that have become standard practice in medicine today, such as a test for detecting Lyme’s disease. The diseases studied presently are mostly infectious diseases.

The first building Mr. J showed us on the walking tour was the original building on this piece of property, a cypress house which is still structurally sound, that is over a hundred years old. It was the most picturesque building on the site, but of course photographing was not allowed on the tour. The other buildings we saw on the tour were the administration building, the research building which housed the experimental animals, and the building where bio-defense was being studied. We did not go into these latter two buildings, because they had high security. The walkways we were walking on were elevated with pipe underneath. A member and her family wore coolie hats on the walking tour, which helped in the 90-degree heat when we were outdoors. The rest of us just sweated it out.

When we toured the breeding colony in the tour bus, it was surrounded by a high fence topped with a segment of wall sloping inward so that the monkeys could not climb over it to escape. The majority of the monkeys were rhesus monkeys, because they have the same genetics as human beings, making them ideal for medical research. The other four species of monkeys and macaques that live at TNPRC are endangered species. The cages themselves were of ample size to hold a family of monkeys comfortably with room inside to run, play, climb, and perch on branch-­-like perches about 6 to 8 feet above the floor of the cage, which was composed of chain link fencing on the top as well as the sides. The cages were as big as a room in a house. There were toy balls that the monkeys enjoyed playing with in the cages. There was a water fountain in each cage to supply drinking water. We saw varying numbers of rhesus monkeys in these room-sized cages, some maybe about three up to about ten. We were informed that the monkeys were kept together in families. There was a little shelter that resembled a doghouse or a plastic igloo in each cage to provide shade if the monkeys wanted it, but they mostly liked to sit on the perches or look at us in the tour bus. There were also other cages which more closely resembled round bird cages which seemed to be made of wrought iron. These were smaller than the room-sized cages and more ornamental, but they were big enough that about three or four monkeys could play around freely. One interesting note was that we were told not to smile or make faces at the monkeys, because this is interpreted as a grimace or threat to them. But they were very curious and looked at us in our “cage” in the tour bus!

The bus tour could not hold our entire group of 18 members and guests, so the group was split in half and went on 2 bus trips. After the tour of the TNPRC was over, some of the group went to lunch at Acme Oyster House across the Highway 190.

My thanks to Ms. V and Mr. J for arranging this tour, and to all eighteen members and guests who were able to come and make this a most enjoyable and educational experience.


By Geri Neemidge, Co-Chair LonestaRG the 13th

Lone Star Mensa is holding it's 13th annual RG over Labor Day weekend, Sep. 2-5, 2011, in Round Rock Texas. We are working on a rich program with a Halloween theme which includes a blood drive, a forensic entomologist, and a zombie prom.
Regional Gatherings are a great member benefit offering lectures, workshops, games, and parties with about 100 Mensans mostly from Region 6.
Your registration fee includes all the events plus meals and beverages (beer and margaritas too) all weekend in our hospitality suite.
You can find more details and register at our website:

REVENGE, il est douce

By Richard Garrett

Some years ago Mr. Hebert was struggling to raise his family in Lafayette, Louisiana. He had limited education but was bright enough to have obtained as a salesman a line of men's toiletries. Times were tough. It was not easy to make a sale.

At this time Mr. Hebert was given the territory of New Orleans which had great possibilities.He wheeled his samples into a prosperous store on the main street, hoping to make a sale. He was greeted by the proprietor, Mr. Robichaux. "Comment sa va?" said Mr. Hebert. Mr. Robichaux's expression became sour immediately. He said to Mr. Hebert, "We only speak English here!" Mr. Hebert was mortified. He left the store crestfallen, vowing to himself to get even one day. It took several years for him to get even. This is how he did it

Sometime after the incident with Mr. Robichaux,Mr.Hebert was driving a taxi in a small Louisiana town.One day he picked up two passengers who spent the time in the cab talking about where they planned to drill for oil. Mr Hebert had a feeling that these passengers were on to something. Mr Hebert scraped together money to get an oil lease on a parcel of land near the area discussed by his passengers.

Hebert rounded up a drilling company which proceeded to drill for oil. The hole turned out to be dry but when Hebert reviewed the lease and diagrams he noticed that the driller had not drilled exactly where he was supposed to. When Hebert confronted the driller with this error, the driller drilled once again in a slightly different location. This time Hebert struck oil and in large quantities. When the well was tested and completed it flowed enough to produce for Hebert $200,000.00 per month income

Hebert decided to settle in Lafayette. Louisiana where he had spent many happy years. With his hoard of money he bought the property which Mr Robichaux occupied as tenant. Robichaux's lease had several months to run. When the lease ran out, Robichaux saw that the building had a new owner- Hebert. Robichaux went to see Hebert, happily expecting to renew the lease for a reasonable length of time. After all, the location had proved to be prosperous for lessee and lessor alike.

When Robichaux greeted Hebert, he said , "Comment sa va?" whereupon Hebert said, "We only speak English here! Get the hell out of my building!"

Revenge, il est douce.

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Last edited: 10-Jul-2011 . Webmaster Bart J. Geraci can be reached at