New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for July/August, 2003

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment


by Anne Osteen Stringer

The results of the elections are in. New national officers are Jean Becker, Chair; Russ Bakke, Vice Chair; Dan Burg, Second Vice Chair; Jim Werdell, Treasurer; and Judy Vasiliauskas, Secretary. Our own RVC, Dan Wilterding was reelected. Interestingly, nationally only 7.87% of Mensans voted in these elections and in our region, only 7.76% exercised their franchise. That’s dismal and worse even than voting in US Presidential elections. Five of the six amendments to the bylaws passed. There is a full report on the elections in the National Mensa Bulletin.

In case you haven’t noticed, the National Bulletin has a new editor, Dick Hodgson, and the magazine has a new look. The type face is easier to read, there are fewer jumps, and more people pictures–overall I think it’s a more user friendly publication now. The editorial staff of La Plume pondered this and said “Gee, maybe we can improve too!” Why don’t you let us know what you think? Email your suggestions for making La Plume better.

RG planning continues apace and registrations are already coming in. There is a registration form included with this issue. Register early and take advantage of the discount. It’s going to be a great party. We still need more volunteers to help with hospitality and publicity. Contact Loretta to volunteer.

Pat DiGeorge’s patriotic owl on the cover reminds us to celebrate the true spirit of America on July 4th.

The Reading M

by Anne O’Steen Stringer
Ed. note: New Orleans author and Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Bragg recently resigned from the staff of the New York Times for writing a story with a questionable byline. Although Bragg undoubtedly wrote the page one story about oyster fishermen in Apalachicola, the reporting and interviewing were done by a stringer and Bragg visited Apalachicola only briefly. The New York Times, already reeling from the revelations that another of its reporters, Jayson Blair, had fabricated a goodly number of the stories he wrote, imposed a two week suspension. Bragg resigned, without admitting any lapses of journalistic ethics.

Rick Bragg’s All Over But the Shouting is a love song to his mother. Bragg’s account of growing up poor in the rural south is at times laugh out loud funny, gut wrenching, heart breaking and ultimately triumphant. The second of three children born to an alcoholic, ne’er do well father and a selfless, loving mother, Bragg’s first memory is of riding on a cotton sack pulled by his mother as she picked cotton in the hot Alabama sun. Her struggle to keep the family through grinding poverty, enlivened by Bragg’s humorous take on all things southern, make up the first part of the book. The chapter on southern religion, “On the Wings of a Great Speckled Bird,” is illuminating, without being either condescending or proselytizing. Bragg is an excellent wordsmith. He retells the stories he heard from his mother, “like puppies spilling out of a cardboard box, jumping all over each other” and describes redbirds fluttering “like scraps of burning rags.” He has written a report from the heart of the poor, rural south–violent, yet also sweet and warm.

Bragg’s father left the family for good in 1965. After that, his mother, Margaret, supported the family by working in the cotton fields. When mechanical pickers became commonplace in the late 1960's, she took in washing, cleaned houses, flipped hamburgers, picked pecans, and at low points, she had to accept charity from her family. She wore hand me down clothes and didn’t have a new dress for eighteen years, but her boys always had new clothes for school and enough bacon, biscuits, and turnip greens to eat.

Violence was always stalking around the edges of Bragg’s youth. His father came home from the Korean War, a hot tempered, violent man, who beat and terrorized his family. Family members were frequently in jail or on the run from the law. Bragg and his brothers fought each other with sticks, rocks, or whatever was close at hand, but they would band together to fight any outsider. Once Bragg himself was briefly a suspect in a murder investigation.

Overcoming the violence of his childhood is a part of his story. Another part is making peace with his father, who died in 1975. Shortly before his father died, Bragg, then a high school student, visited him for the last time. The father talked about his life and war experiences, and gave him some gifts–a new rifle and three boxes of books. Bragg was not yet ready to forgive, and refused to go to the funeral. Years later, when he thought he might become a father himself, he realized that his greatest fear was becoming like his own father. It was not until he was a grown man and had bought a new house for his mother that he was able to lay his father’s ghost to rest.

The second part of the book describes Bragg’s rise to the pinnacle of his profession and describes the stories that contributed to that rise. His mother left the south for the first time when she accompanied him to New York for the Pulitzer Prize ceremony. Bragg is entitled to a little bragging at this point–which he does do. In spite of this, he has written an honest book that explores the ghosts from his past and their effect on him now.

RG/AG Update

by Heather Miller

NORGy VI planning continues full force, with a site visit to the Maison Dupuy held near the beginning of June. Speakers are being lined up right now, and we hope to have the full roster developed by the end of July. Melinda Fain and Anne O'Steen are our hospitality room chairpersons. They've got some terrific ideas for goodies.

We need on-site volunteers now, especially for the hospitality suite, for speaker shepherds, and for registration. Please contact Loretta Levene or a member of the excom if you're interested.

Developments for the 2005 AG continue to progress. The final hotel contract was negotiated with the Sheraton and was signed April 30 by Jean Becker. The contract had some relatively minor additions, but the basic contract points, as presented in Pittsburgh, remained intact.

As a matter of self-education, I am working shifts in four different areas at the St. Paul AG this summer.

Summary of NOM Finances

Arnold P. Wilking, Jr., Treasurer

      Summary of the New Orleans Mensa Society's Finances, 01JAN03 to date

June 23, 2003 at 3:41 p.m.


Balance Forward from the previous year:                           3,166.32

Income - total:                                                   2,012.89

   Wire transfers from Mensa National:               867.11
   Bank account interest:                              8.28
   N.O.M. Nights cash takes:                         126.00
   Non-NOM member "La Plume" subscriptions:            0.00
   Book Sale Proceeds:                                11.50
   Miscellaneous income:                           1,000.00

   Total income:                                   2,012.89

Outgo - total:                                                    2,830.30

   "La Plume" printing:                              732.64
   Postage:                                          114.10
   N.O.M. Night host fees                            240.00
   Proctor fees:                                       0.00
   Office supplies and stationery:                     0.00
   Science Fair prizes and fees:                      43.56
   Bank service charges and check printing fees:       0.00
   New Orleans Mensa telephone charges                 0.00
   Miscellaneous expenses:                         1,700.00

   Total outgo:                                    2,830.30

Bank Account Balance:                                             2,348.91

                      Details of the bank account activity

           Remitter of a credit, or                           Received
Date       Payee of a check with the reason for the payment                Paid

01/01/2003 Balance Forward from 2002                               .00      .00
01/09/2003 Anne O'Steen; Printing JAN/FEB "La Plume"               .00   220.33
01/11/2003 Phil Wilking; N.O.M. Night Cash Take                  48.00      .00
01/11/2003 Pam Butler; N.O.M. Night Hostess Fee                    .00    60.00
01/14/2003 Bank Account Interest                                  1.88      .00
01/17/2003 Mensa National Wire Transfer                         140.23      .00
02/11/2003 Bank Acount Interest                                   1.41      .00
02/15/2003 Phil Wilking; N.O.M. Night Cash Take                  14.00      .00
02/15/2003 Anne O'Steen Stringer; N.O.M. Night Hostess Fee         .00    60.00
02/21/2003 Mensa National Wire Transfer                         157.97      .00
03/12/2003 Anne O'Steen Stringer; "La Plume" Printing              .00   199.62
03/13/2003 Bank Account Interest                                  1.43      .00
03/15/2003 Phil Wilking; N.O.M. Night Cash Take                  26.00      .00
03/15/2003 Rene Petersen; N.O.M. Night Host Fee                    .00    60.00
03/18/2003 P. E. Armatis; Science Fair Plaques                     .00    43.56
03/21/2003 Mensa National Wire Transfer                         141.62      .00
03/22/2003 Heather Miller; 1/2 fare to pitch 2005 A.G.             .00   200.00
03/31/2003 Transfer to open new Special Events Account             .00  1000.00
04/07/2003 Special Events Account closed; money returned.      1000.00      .00
04/10/2003 Bank Account Interest                                  1.09      .00
04/12/2003 Phil Wilking; NOM Night and book sale cash takes      39.50      .00
04/12/2003 Patti Armatis; N.O.M. Night Hostess Fee                 .00    60.00
04/12/2003 Anne O'Steen Stringer; Meeting Postcard Printing        .00    86.99
04/18/2003 Mensa National Wire Tansfer                          157.30      .00
05/11/2003 Anne O'Steen Stringer; printing and postage             .00   277.36
05/13/2003 Bank Account Interest                                  1.33      .00
05/16/2003 Mensa National Wire Transfer                         131.21      .00
05/30/2003 Phil Wilking; N.O.M. Night Cash Take received 5/30    10.00      .00
06/12/2003 Bank Account Interest                                  1.14      .00
06/13/2003 Sharon Kirkpatrick; 2003 R.G. Seed Money                .00   500.00
06/17/2003 Anne O'Steen Stringer; June Postcard Mailing            .00    62.44
06/20/2003 Mensa National Wire Transfer                         138.78      .00


TOTALS:    Total Income                                     2,012.89
           Total Outgo                                      2,830.30

           Net change to the account so far this year:      - 817.41

Notes to this report:

“Miscellaneous” income and expenses are explained in the detailed report of account activity.

The Balance Forward from last year is shown at the top of the activity list as a zero sum activity because my antique software insists on listing it, but it really is not a transaction of any kind. Go to the Summary Report to see the current bank balance.

Credits to the account are recorded when deposited in person, placed in a mailbox, or notice of a wire transfer is received; debits from the account are subtracted from the balance when the checks are drawn.

Mensa National now sends us advance notice of dates and amounts of wire transfers to our account.

Credits to the account shown as “Wire Transfers” are actually something called “Automatic Clearing House” transfers. I don't know what the difference may be, except that genuine wire transfers cost us $7.50 each to receive, while “ACH” transfers incur no charge.

Respectfully submitted,
Arnold P. Wilking, Jr., Treasurer

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