New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for March 2013

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment

So The Story Goes Like This

Bart Geraci

So I was over in West Texas when a friend of mine stopped by. He was working for a pharmaceutical company on making Omega-3 supplements. They have been doing research on small crustaceans called krill and raising them to produce these supplements. He was excited upon hearing the news that after many years of permits and regulations, the company was granted all of the needed approvals for them to set up a hatchery.

He said “Wow! Do you know what this means?” I said “Sure...”

“ just got your license to krill.”


By Bart Geraci

As someone who works downtown, I am so excited to see normal traffic patterns again after the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras.

In February, we had our first testing session in our new location: The New Orleans Museum of Art. We thank NOMA for their co-operation and hope that this is (cue Bogart) the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

On Sunday, April 28 (the first Jazzfest weekend) at 3 p.m. will be CultureQuest. Our team, Brains on Bourbon, will get together for another 90-minute closed-book culture / trivia test, competing against other groups nationwide for money and glory! If you want to be on our team, send me an email at

Coming up on the first of April is YOUR MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL (unless you have a life membership or a multi-year membership or took advantage of some other promotion). As you might have expected, the life membership cost is based on actuarial tables, which in turn is based on math and statistics.

Speaking of math, don't forget that March 14 will be Pi Day (as well as Albert Einstein's birthday). This will be the first Pi Day without Hubig's – we all hope to see the factory come back soon.

March in New Orleans will see the first day of Spring and the beginning of snowball season. And by snowball, I mean fine ice pieces with sweet flavored syrup as opposed to things to throw behind fort-shaped snow structures. The weather has still an occasional cold day or so, but the days are getting longer, and there are more days of short-sleeve shirt weather.

March will also mark the days of St. Patrick's on the 17th and St. Joseph’s on the 19th. I remember moving to Austin, Texas one year and being surprised that they didn't have a St. Joseph's altar like we do down here. So be sure to enjoy what makes our city unique. I've helped make food for an altar in the past. Easter Sunday will be in March this year since Ash Wednesday was so early.

In sports news, the Zephyrs will start up in April, the Hornets / Pelicans will close down in April (unless weird things happen). But the AFL New Orleans Voodoo will start again on the 24th of March.

So take advantage of the upcoming warmer days and enjoy all that the city has to offer.

And let's go Voodoo (cue Hendrix) waaaah unk wah unk wah un-wa...!

New Officers

I'm pleased to announce that:

Thank you very much!

From the Editor

By Kevin Chesnut

I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as editor of La Plume de NOM. I have been filling the role of Assistant Editor for a few months, preparing the paper copies for mailing. My son Alex, who has been assisting the assistant, now steps into that position.

I welcome your suggestions and comments about the newsletter, as well as submissions of content. If you would like to share a story (fiction or non-fiction), personal experience (Mensa-related or otherwise), photograph, or other contribution, we would like to see it.

When I opened my “Renewal B” form from American Mensa (that’s a second notice, for those of you who are not into procrastination), I thought of how awkward it would be if, as my first official act as your new editor, I were booted out for delinquency of dues … so I replied immediately. Allow me to echo the suggestions of our LocSec and RVC: don’t delay, renew today! And when you do, please consider checking the box labeled “Please send my group newsletter electronically if available”.

One more note: Just last month, Bart’s BrainFork column referenced the Charles deGaulle quote, “Only peril can bring the French together. One can't impose unity out of the blue on a country that has 265 different kinds of cheese.” You may have noticed that on the February 25 broadcast of Jeopardy!, that very quote was used as the basis for a clue. Where’s our royalties, Trebek??

From the RVC

Roger Durham, Region 6 Vice Chairman

It’s March once again, and that means it’s time to renew your Mensa membership again (unless, of course, you’re a life member, or you paid for a multi-year renewal that still has some time to run).

I know some of you are disappointed that dues have increased once again this year, and I sympathize with you, but the fact is that our costs continue to increase and we have to keep up somehow. However, as I have mentioned before, a life membership will insulate you from further dues increases - forever. Why not make this the year that you invest in Mensa membership once and for all?

Another thing that it’s time to do is make your plans to attend the 2013 version of SynRG, the Regional Gathering of Gulf Coast Mensa, taking place over Memorial Day weekend in Houston. Go to for more information and a registration form. It’s also time to make plans to attend the 2013 Annual Gathering of American Mensa, July 3-7 in Fort Worth this summer. Visit for details.

Also, of course, the arrival of March means another American Mensa election is right around the corner. There are quite a few contested races this year, the outcome of which could be vitally important to the future of our organization, so please read the biographies and candidate statements in the Mensa Bulletin carefully, and then vote for the candidates of your choice. I’m happy to say that, as no one filed to run against me, I have been automatically elected to another two-year term as your Regional Vice Chairman. I will do my best to deserve your continued confidence in my representation.

Similarly, as the sole candidate, the outgoing Chair of American Mensa, Elissa Rudolph, has been automatically elected to the office of International Chair, beginning this summer. Elissa will also serve as Past Chair of American Mensa for the next two years. Finally, as always, please remember that if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, you can reach me at


Roger Durham

BrainFork: A Mensan talks about food


Bart Geraci

“Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.”
-P. J. O'Rourke –

(Before we begin, I'd like to point out that finding quotes and song lyrics about “whiskey” this month was a lot easier than last month's article on “kohlrabi”. You may continue.)

Whiskey is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mush. Which grain? You have your choice of barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat or corn.

Fermentation is achieved by adding yeast and having the resulting mush throw off liquids. The liquid is heated and the escaping gases, which are carrying a lot of aromas and substances, are captured. This tube of gases is passed through a colder area, so that condensation forms, trapping the aromas in water vapor.

Now the yeast fermentation can result in thousands of substances, but some of these are rather unpleasant and some are toxic, like methanol. In order to capture only the desired aromas for the whiskey, some attention must be paid to which gases are emitted at which temperature in the distillation process. For instance, methanol is emitted earlier than different aroma compounds, so the first set of distilled liquids are often discarded and not used in the final product.

Any Advice on Whiskey as First Aid?

“Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake.”
-W. C. Fields-

To E or Not to E

“My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whisky.”
-William Faulkner-

In USA & Ireland, it's spelled “whiskey”. In Canada, Japan, Scotland & Wales, it's spelled “whisky”.

Now, if you want to talk about whiskey from Scotland, you normally say (at least in the US) “Scotch”, which is shorthand for “Scotch Whisky”, and everyone calls it “Scotch”, except of course in Scotland, where they call it “Whisky”

So What Do The Names Mean?

Ninety percent I'll spend on good times, women and Irish Whiskey. The other ten percent I'll probably waste.
-Tug McGraw-

There's a lot of different whiskey types and variations, so here's an explanation of the nomenclature:

So, the tradeoff is that by blending from different casks, distilleries, etc. you have a more consistent flavor from bottle to bottle; on the other hand, blending may remove some of the nuances from a particular cask. Let's continue with more names.

Some Whiskeys have a country name associated with them:

Okay, what about U.S. States?

Roll Out the Barrels

“Tell me what brand of whiskey that Grant drinks. I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals.”
-Abraham Lincoln-

One characteristic of whiskey production is the use of oak barrels. The barrels are used (instead of say steel tanks) for at least these 2 reasons: (1) the wood itself lends a vanilla-like flavoring to the whiskey, especially if the barrel has been charred on the insides, and (2) the wood is porous enough to allow both water and alcohol to evaporate; thus concentrating the flavors more deeply.

For all whiskeys, the barrels are charred on the inside. Bourbon uses only new barrels, while other varieties can reuse the same barrels as before.


“The Americans are a funny lot; they drink whiskey to keep them warm; then they put some ice in it to keep it cool; they put some sugar in it to make it sweet; and then they put a slice of lemon in it to make it sour. Then they say "here's to you" and drink it themselves”
-B. N. Chakravaty-

In New Orleans, we love our Bread Pudding. So let's cook up a whiskey sauce to go along with this.

Whiskey Sauce

Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup butter in a saucepan over low heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Break one egg into a bowl and beat it. Gradually add the hot liquid to the egg, beating all the while to keep the egg from curdling. Pour bowl back into saucepan and cook until thickened. Gradually add 1/3 cup bourbon.

And for the Christmas Season, someone usually makes rum balls and/or whiskey balls.

Whiskey Balls

Combine 1/4 cup cocoa, 1/4 cup light corn syrup, 1 pound vanilla wafers (crushed very fine), 1/2 cup Bourbon or other whiskey, and 1 cup of pecans (chopped fine). Form into balls 1 inch across and roll in powdered sugar.

And we need to have a Sazerac recipe since it is the Official Cocktail of the City of New Orleans.

Sazerac Cocktail

Chill an old-fashioned glass. In a second glass, muddle sugar cube with 3 dashes of Peychaud's bitters. Add 2 ounces rye whiskey and stir to combine. In the first glass, pour in a just a little bit of Absinthe or Herbsaint and twirl the glass to just coat it, discard any excess liqueur. Pour the second glass ingredients into this cold coated glass, twist and rub a lemon peel on the rim of the glass, then discard the peel.

Variation: Peychaud's bitters is the classic bitters to use. But there are some people who will add in one (and ONLY one) drop of Angostura bitters as well to open up the flavors as well. And some have used bourbon whiskey in its place, but the rye whiskey lends a bit of spiciness over the sweetness of the bourbon.

By the way, any last words?

"I’ve had eighteen straight whiskies, I think that's a record!"
-Dylan Thomas’ supposed last words -
"I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis”
-Humphrey Bogart’s last words-

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Last edited: 10-Mar-2013 . Webmaster Bart J. Geraci can be reached at