New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for May 2012

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment

From the Editor

Peter Salomon

Well, the NBA season is over around here (but will start up with a new owner in the Fall) and we’re still a couple of months away from football. So, it’s time to enjoy the beautiful weather and explore New Orleans!! No more excuses!

So The Story Goes Like This

Bart Geraci

I was working in a Chinese restaurant in West Texas one summer, and the owner agreed to hire me, even though I wasn't Chinese. Because of this, he spent some time with me to make sure that I knew what the different ingredients were.

Also, unlike the cooking at home I was used to, the quantity of the food in the kitchen came in much larger containers, even barrels. But over time, I learned what the ingredients were and then he trained me in detecting the quality of the ingredients and that I should be able to detect this even with my eyes closed.

After testing me on water chestnuts, he tested me on bamboo shoots, and he told me that if I passed, everything would start getting much harder.

I asked “Why?”

And he said, “Don't you know that...”

“...Nothing is ever as easy as fishing shoots from a barrel.”


Roger Durham

At the recent meeting of the American Mensa Committee, the AMC discussed several possible scenarios for adjusting annual dues. One of the proposals heard was to set up a predetermined schedule for increasing dues by either a set amount or a set percentage every two years, the thought being that this would make it easier for members to plan ahead, rather than being surprised by unexpected dues increases from time to time. Several AMC members, myself included, thought that this idea would be extremely unpopular, not to say irresponsible, and were challenged to come up with alternative proposals. I have some thoughts on this subject, which I will refine over the coming weeks and bring before the Finance and Audit Committee before we take up this discussion again at the Annual Gathering, but in the meantime, I would like to enlist the help of some of you.

The budget we just adopted for the 2012-13 year forecasts a small excess of operating costs over revenues, which is not a problem but does require some kind of action to bring the budget back into balance for the following year. Obviously, there are two ways to do this: either spend less or charge more. Anyone who has been following the national political debate over the last year or so is aware that less spending is a popular mantra these days, but the devil is in the details.

My challenge to you, therefore, is this: if you would prefer to leave the dues rate where it is (or maybe even lower it) and balance Mensa’s budget by spending less, tell me exactly what areas you would like to see cut. Would you want your local group to receive less money each month if that would allow us to cut dues? Would you like to see the Mensa Bulletin cut back to a quarterly publication, or converted to electronic distribution? The new budget is still receiving some last-minute tweaks, so it is not yet published, but last year’s budget is posted on the national website for your easy reference. If, on the other hand, it turns out to be necessary to increase dues, what would be the best way to do that? Should we apply an increase for inflation each year? Raise dues to match expenses every two years? Hold the line for as long as we can and then catch up all at once every five years or so? What’s your preference?

Put those high IQs to work and come up with some creative solutions to this dilemma, then send them to me at I welcome your input.

Don’t forget our upcoming Gatherings: the Houston RG over Memorial Day weekend, the AG in Reno, NV from July 4 - 8, the Austin RG over Labor Day weekend, and the Dallas RG over Thanksgiving weekend. I hope to see you there!

Roger Durham


Bart Geraci

I'm sitting here at Dulles in Terminal A at the Five Guys burger stand devouring a cheeseburger with everything on it and some fries while The Who song “I'm One” is playing in the background. I'm waiting for the flight to take me back to New Orleans after spending a weekend at Mensa MindGames. I've been doing MindGames every year since 2000, with the exception of 2006 (when I didn't feel like doing anything post-Federal Flood). The hotel was a nice setup and we had Aeron-like chairs in the gaming room. I slacked off a bit this year, as I only played 54 out of the 68 available games. This year's 5 Select Winners are: Coerceo, Iota, Mine Shift, Snake Oil, and Tetris Link.

One of the things I did was talk to a few people at MindGames and dropped off a few flyers about our upcoming RG. While many of these people do not live near our region, I've met a few who had good memories of New Orleans and expressed an interest in coming. I'm bringing more flyers to the SynRG in Houston at the end of the month.

We had a nice turnout for April's NOM Night at Mama Mea's. May's NOM Night is back at Salsas, but we're planning to have August's NOM Night at a member's house. If you want to hold NOM Night at your house or any other location, let me know and I'll promote it.

The first weekend in May is the 2nd weekend of Jazzfest. Baseball is back in town. Basketball...well, “wait until next year”. But the good news is that the hornets have a local owner and the 2014 All-Star game will be held in New Orleans.

Finally, I want to congratulate my other daughter for graduating from high school.

Input From Young Mensans Needed

Our Gifted Children’s Coordinator, Gerry Ward, wants to hear from young Mensans for some activities that they would be interested in. You can email her at


By Bart J Geraci on hiatus this month. Now is your chance to write an article for publication in La Plume de NOM!! Just email your article to the Editor at!

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

By John Grover

Well, it is cold, wet and starting to sleet here in Upstate New York. There is no better time to dream of the warm Mediterranean sun, to sip some Italian wine and to make some nice warm comfort food for dinner. This month we have a white wine from Italy, the 2010 Piano Maltese Bianco from the Tenuta Rapitala winery of Sicily. This wine is a blend of two local grapes, Catarratto and Grillo, with a little bit of Chardonnay. This Bianco wine is a feast for the senses. The blending of these three grapes affords several layers of aromas and tastes capturing the best characteristics of each variety. It starts with a fruit and nut-like (Almond?) bouquet. And, the taste is full of apple and melon with a good foundation of minerality and a hint of citrus as the wine lingers on the tongue. The little bit of Chardonnay blended in helps to reinforce a smooth creamy finish. This wine is wonderful as an aperitif and a good match for chicken and sea food. It pairs nicely with the recipe below and is available for between $10 and $12 a bottle.

Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

(from the website; originally presented as the recipe of the day on November 9, 2011.)

Ingredients: 1 tbsp olive oil; 1 small onion, diced; 3 stalks celery, diced; 3 cloves garlic, minced; 2 carrots, shredded;1 pound cooked, cubed chicken breast; 4 cups chicken broth; 1 (16 ounce) package mini potato gnocchi; 1 (6 ounce) bag baby spinach leaves; 1 tbsp cornstarch (optional); 2 tbsp cold water (optional); 2 cups half-and-half creamer; salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions: Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook onion, celery, garlic, and carrots in the hot oil until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in cubed chicken and chicken broth; bring to a simmer. Stir gnocchi into the simmering soup and cook until they begin to float, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in spinach; cook until wilted, about 3 additional minutes. Whisk cornstarch into cold water until smooth. Stir cornstarch mixture and half-and-half into simmering soup. Cook until soup thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

The recipe states that the ingredients in these amounts should serve six. But, I don’t think that you will satisfy more than 3 or 4 hearty eaters. Fortunately, the website has a calculator for automatically adjusting the recipe for a larger group.

I hope that you will contact me with your comments and 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.

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Last edited: 07-May-2012 . Webmaster Bart J. Geraci can be reached at