New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for July/August, 2007

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment


by Anne Osteen Stringer

As the months of July and August near, New Orleanians tend to lay back in the air conditioning and do little or nothing but fan themselves and sip a cool drink. Ok, we worry about hurricanes, too. But physical activity is not appealing when the temperature and humidity are approaching that of a steambath in Hell. But we have a lot of great activities planned for the summer months, and I hope you can bestir yourself to attend some of them. G plans to take the Eclectic SIG to the Twilight Concerts in City Park.. These concerts are wonderful–the setting is beautiful, the music is superb, and the park at twilight is almost cool and refreshing. Every Friday in July and August, Louisiana residents will be admitted free to the Hermann-Grima House and the Gallier House. Wouldn’t it be fun to visit some of the attractions that draw people from all over the world to our city?

In this issue, Deborah Ruf offers some helpful advice to the parents of young children. I was going to say gifted children, but then I realized that all children are gifted. We also have the first column from our newly elected RVC, Ralph Rudolph, and his ideas about GenX activities. Cover art is by H.

Region 6 News

by Ralph “Rudy” Rudolph, RVC6-elect

Thanks for electing me as your RVC. My first “official” act is to have Jeff Dommenge appointed as Asst RVC because of his involvement with the Gen-X SIG, a portion of Mensa I wish to emphasize as they are our future leaders. Too many of our smaller groups have peacefully “aged” and offer few activities that attract Gen-X participation. Frankly, boredom isn’t exactly a great retention tool for younger folks.

My own group, New Mexico Mensa, discussed this vigorously at an LDW I facilitated on May 20th in Albuquerque and we will be making a strong effort to get our own Gen-Xers involved. Jeff will be sending you various questions to try to get a database of involvement; please make his life easy by cooperating with him. His efforts could mean a lot for Region 6 and your group.

The July AMC meeting and Annual Business meeting will be very routine, merely a bunch of appointments, so there isn’t much to discuss about them. I will be communicating a lot about future meetings and I will be asking your opinons about various agenda items and such. I’m retired and certainly have to time to consider your suggestions on ways to improve our Region. Please e-mail me at or (eventually)

I will, if I can, revive the old Region6 yahoo site.

Having been an RG Chairman several times, I am immensely aware of how much effort goes into making them a success and I congratulate those that bring joy. But they won’t be a major topic of my RVC columns even though I plan on attending.

I am well aware that we have a few local groups who are teetering on nonexistence, and I will be doing what I can to resurrect them (or, as necessary) merge them as a subgroup into a neighboring group.

A Lack of Curiosity

by Henry Bertrand

I’m sorry to report that The Most Curious SIG has not lived up to its ambitious appellative. As Northshore Coordinator for our New Orleans Chapter, I have attempted to schedule a monthly event alternating sites in the eastern and western segments of St Tammany. Unfortunately, except for a few non-member guests that I personally invited, attendance by Mensans has slowly dropped to the zero level. And it gets a little embarrassing to request a larger table at a restaurant only to occupy two or three of the chairs. I truly appreciate the couple of notes received with regrets for non-attendance, and I understand family commitments, driving distances, timing conflicts, summer vacations, and other very legitimate reasons for not showing. So what do we do now?

I intend to hold my post as “Coordinator”, unless someone else wants the job. I will also continue to be available by telephone or email to accept events at homes, restaurants or other venues which Northshore Mensans want to host. And I will do my best to attend all events so scheduled.

How Smart Is My Child?

by Deborah L. Ruf, Ph.D.

Many parents wonder how their children compare to other children. They may have very good reasons to suspect their children are gifted (for example, their five-year-old is adding pupils and eyelashes to their drawings of people or their three-year-old can read an "Exit" sign), but they're not sure how to prove or disprove it. Proof about giftedness can be critical, because it helps parents to provide more opportunities for their kids' increased growth, enjoyment, and success in areas of interest.

There are certain childhood behaviors - milestones - that can tell us when children are ahead of or behind others their age. Most of the charts on childhood development show the typical range of behaviors for each age group. If your child is ahead of those tables, that doesn't necessarily mean he or she is on the fast track or slated to become the next Doogie Howser, M.D. Levels of Giftedness range from those who are simply bright to those who are intellectually astonishing.

Here's an overview of the various levels of giftedness and milestones that are common-but not necessary-to each Level. Here, also, are the numbers at each Level of Giftedness that you are likely to find in an average elementary classroom of 28 children. It is the overall "feel" of where the child fits that tells you the Level.

Level One

Level Two

Level Three

Level Four

Level Five

Once you have a sense of your children's abilities, you can provide them with more activities and experiences that build on these strengths and take advantage of their talents. Parents who have more than one child may notice that each child seems to have different interests and talents even when we encourage them equally. This is because we don't cause our children's abilities; we can only recognize and nurture them. To do less is truly depriving them of chances to do what they are good at and what they enjoy. To do less for our children probably chips away at their potential, too, for how can we get good at the things we don't get to practice? There are more potential geniuses - children who are remarkably intellectually different from their same-age classmates - than most people believe, and your child may well be one of them.

Deborah Ruf, Ph.D., Minneapolis, specialist in gifted assessment, test interpretation, and guidance for the gifted, has been the National Gifted Children Program Coordinator for American Mensa since 2003. Having been a parent, teacher and administrator in elementary through graduate education, she writes and speaks about school issues and social and emotional adjustment of gifted children. Her book, Losing Our Minds: Gifted Children Left Behind (July, 2005), summarizes "levels of intelligence" and highlights profoundly gifted children. See

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