New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for May 2013

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment

So The Story Goes Like This

Bart Geraci

So I was out in Hollywood meeting a friend of mine who was telling me about pitching a game show overseas. He was a native of Oman and wanted to do a show back home where people compete to do daring and dangerous stunts for money.

“Like 'Fear Factor', right?”

“Yes, that's the idea – they're not in danger of losing life and limb, but they are challenged to do things that freak them out. I've got most of the details worked out, except the name. Naturally I'd like to use something different than the show you mentioned, but I've been bouncing ideas with my relatives back home and I haven't found anything catchy yet.”

“Hmmm. Okay, what's the currency of Oman?”

“The rial. Why?”

“So your search for a title for your show has been a matter of...”

“...Rial and Terror.”


By Bart Geraci

I've come back from Mind Games, and I'm still tired. There's a full article on that later.

May is election time for positions in American and International Mensa. This September we will have nominations for positions in our chapter. There's more on that later.

By the time you get this, CultureQuest will be over.

May starts off in the city with JazzFest.

Let's go Zephyrs!

Report on Mind Games

By Bart Geraci

Over the weekend of April 19-21, I joined nearly 300 other people to evaluate games at the Mensa Mind Games meeting. It's a fun and exhausting time, and I've been doing this almost every year since 2000. This year it was held at a Marriott by the airport in St. Louis.

Unlike a typical “Games Night” event, we don't play games at a leisurely pace. We are required to evaluate the 30 games randomly assigned to us and we typically have only 36 hours to do this. So we quickly form impressions on the game, try to understand the directions, get a sense of how the game plays. If the final phase of the game is different from the middle phases, we'll skip ahead to get a feel for it.

Over the many years I've been evaluating games, I have noticed that most manufacturers have been paying attention to color blindness issues. In addition to using colors, they also use a distinguishing mark or icon. Also I like manufacturers who give some sort of game play examples in their instructions book. A few of the instructions included answers to some questions we had during the game.

Here's a list of the winners for this year:

Upcoming NOM Elections

By Bart Geraci

It's time to start thinking about NOM Elections. There are four positions eligible for election:

From the bylaws:

Now for my announcement:

As LocSec for the past 4 years, I'd like to let someone else take the LocSec position. If you are interested in the position, I strongly encourage that you talk to me first. I have a lot of materials and information about what is involved. I also want to get to know you to see how you run our chapter. I promise to do everything to make it a smooth transition for you.

From the Editor

By Kevin Chesnut

You’ve probably received the ballot for this year’s American Mensa elections. We’ve published several candidate statements in La Plume de NOM. Included with the ballot, and on the website ( ), you’ll find additional information on the candidates for both American Mensa and International Mensa positions. Please consider taking some time to review the choices, and participate in charting next year’s course for our organization.

On Sunday, April 28, I joined Bart Geraci, Phil Wilking, and Richard Garrett in taking on the annual Culture Quest trivia quiz, seeking pride (and prize money) for our local group. It was quite challenging as usual. A few of my favorite questions:

Piece o’ cake, you say? Then plan to join us on the team next year!

Go green in more ways than one – help save paper (the printing kind) and paper (the spending kind) by switching to electronic delivery of La Plume de NOM.

Young Mensans' Column

By Alexander Adams

Hello Mensans, and welcome to the first of many hopeful issues of this column. The Young Mensans in this region are very active in competitions, academic endeavors, and artistic achievements. Its time that we showcase that prowess and talent and in this column I hope to achieve that. Before I get into this first article, I want to introduce myself. My name is Alexander Adams. I am a vocalist attending the St. James Parish Virtual Academy and will be graduating a year early and attending Louisiana State University School of Music for a degree in vocal performance. I am the son of Kim (hometown of Vacherie) and Patrick (hometown of Cutoff) Adams. Now that you know who I am, I want to learn more about you guys.

Our Gifted Youth Coordinator gave me this column to reach out to my fellow young members. I responded to a short paragraph in a newsletter a few weeks back asking kids to get more active. I have wanted to write for this newsletter for a while, but never knew whom to contact, who would want me to write, and what I would be worth. Now I know the answers to those questions and I want you to have them too. This column is your outlet to make an imprint in this group. I am not the author of this column. We are. So send me your art, short essays, poems, personal narratives, anything. Let’s see what you can do (which I am sure is a lot)! Please remember, Mensa does not endorse any specific political party, religion, or wizarding house.

The next order of business is that this column does not have a name. I would like you all to respond in some way with your ideas for a title or ideas about the direction of this column. I can be reached at I really do want to hear from my fellow Young Mensans. Show Off! Sound Off!

Young Mensan Weekend … Florida Keys … June 7-9, 2013

By Christina Westerberg, Gifted Youth Coordinator, Central Florida Mensa

This is going to be an unforgettable time of your life. This hotel has a private beach and there will be plenty of activities such as scavenger hunts, campfire with smores, live music on the beach and much more. The hotel also offers water sport activities for wild kids, teens and adults. Besides all that, there is a place very close to the hotel where you can swim with dolphins. Furthermore, the Florida Keys are fantastic for scuba diving. If you are a scuba diver you are welcome to join a group who are planning to enjoy some great wreck and reef scuba diving.

Come and join your fellow Young Mensans for a lot of fun at the Hilton Key Largo Resort. Parents and children age 0-2 are free. Young Mensans and siblings age 2+ pay $20 per person. Please mail your check to Christina Westerberg, c/o Nordic Backup, 600 Rinehart Road, Suite 3050, Lake Mary, FL 32746

Book your room (at your own expense) directly with the hotel now: and register to this event with Mensa by email ( Please inform how many are coming, names and ages of the youth.

Questions? Don't hesitate to contact:
Christina Westerberg
Gifted Youth Coordinator
Central Florida Mensa

From the RVC

Roger Durham, Region 6 Vice Chairman

At the March meeting of the American Mensa Committee, I agreed to serve on a task force led by our Membership Officer, Beth Anne Demeter, charged with trying to come up with a better way to fund local groups. The problem with the current system, since local group funding is based solely on membership, is two-fold: first, local groups get the same amount of money from American Mensa whether or not they are doing a good job of serving their members. Second, the larger groups, which get the most money, are the ones that need it least, since they can take advantage of economies of scale that are unavailable to smaller groups. A number of years ago, before I was elected to the AMC, American Mensa tried a system whereby group funding was tied to various local activities, in order to ensure that local groups were actually doing something. This turned out to be a fiasco, primarily, I suspect, because there were so many categories of activities that the necessary reporting became a bureaucratic nightmare.

As I see it, the objective of this new task force is to design a program that provides sufficient funding for smaller groups to grow, without giving additional money to the largest groups that will simply put it in the bank with the thousands of dollars they already have sitting around doing nothing. We have already taken a small step in this direction by changing the funding system for the testing program so that local groups now get a flat $25 payment for each month in which they give at least one Mensa test, in addition to the $15 per candidate payment the groups have historically received. This relieves the fear that many smaller groups have had, that they will pay $25 or more to use a testing venue but only one person will show up to take the test, so the group will lose money.

The task force will look at other ways we can change the funding paradigm to put the money where it is needed. Now that we have allowed local groups to distribute the majority of their newsletters electronically, printing and postage no longer account for the vast majority of local group expenses, so larger groups have seen substantial savings. However, for some mid-sized groups, the change to primarily electronic distribution has actually increased their costs, since they no longer have enough members receiving print newsletters to allow them to qualify for bulk-rate postage, and the expense of sending out newsletters first class more than offsets the savings in printing costs. These groups need more funding, but the larger groups actually need less. How can we reconcile these two seemingly contradictory objectives?

In the coming months, the task force will be examining various scenarios for linking local group funding to actual local group needs, rather than the one-size-fits-all approach we use currently. If you have any ideas along these lines, I would be happy to hear from you. As always, feel free to contact me by email at

American Mensa Board Elections - Messages from Candidates

The following candidates for American Mensa office asked us to include their campaign messages in our newsletter. I plan to publish the first such message that we receive from each candidate. No endorsement of any candidate is implied. –Ed.

Members who have renewed before 11:59 p.m., Central time, on March 31 will be eligible to vote in both the American Mensa and Mensa International board elections. Ballots will be mailed to all eligible members via standard mail on or around April 10. The election begins on April 15 and ends at 11:59 p.m., Central time, on May 31. Information on referenda and candidates will be available on the American Mensa Web site beginning in April at –Excerpt from email from RVC6 Roger Durham

Candidates for SECOND VICE CHAIR

LaRae Bakerink

Mensa became a part of my life in 2001 and I couldn’t be happier about being involved. My Mensa experience includes serving as Activities Officer, Development Officer, LocSec, RG Chair, Database Coordinator, Webmaster, Testing Coordinator, Proctor, LDW Chair, Mind Games Chair 2010, and Scholarship Chair. Nationally I am currently serving as the National Testing Officer, AG Chair 2016, Membership Committee, Leadership Development Committee, the Awards Task Force, and as Assistant RVC 9.

Leadership Development is an important member experience that can and should be provided to members so they can grow and flourish, in and out of Mensa. I believe that we should provide better tools to the local groups, especially electronic tools. It is my hope that we can start a Technology Committee for the Local Groups to use as a starting point. Mensa should also turn to being more Community Minded and help involve the members more in their local groups and communities. These are some of the things that will attract and keep new and younger members.

With my background and experience in the business world, I believe I have the necessary skills that will enable me to provide strong and smart leadership on the AMC. We need experienced leadership with new ideas to keep up with the changes in our world. Let me bring my new ideas to Mensa to help enhance our member experience.

Please vote for me for 2nd Vice Chair.

For more information about my background please go to: or contact me directly at

Essay or Memoir?

By Martha Sheldon

Recently when I felt oppressed by income tax details, I spent several hours dusting my book shelves. I have always found books an antidote for annoyance, boredom, and bad temper. So it was this time too. I began to remember favorites I hadn't thought of recently. I began to wonder which I would keep if I had severely limited space.

Webster's Unabridged Dictionary and the King James Bible, certainly. Timetables of History, the New York Times Almanac (I'm lucky enough to own the 2009 volume, the next-to-last one), The Red Fairy Book (how could I do without Princess Rosette and her little dog Fritz?) I need the Essays of Elia. Agatha Christie Mallowan's memoir/essay Come, Tell Me How You Live, about an archeological dig in Syria. Agnes Keith's Land Below the Wind. Lafcadio Hearn's Chita, about the Last Island Hurricane of 1856, done in purple prose, a compelling human story. Thurber's Many Moons. Okay, so that's ten and I've hardly begun.

I am fond of early detective novels. To begin with, Mary Roberts Rhinehart's The Circular Staircase. E. Phillips Oppenheim's The Great Impersonation, the best spy story of all. Sayers' Gaudy Night -- mystery without murder but I defy you to put it down in mid-tale. Ngaio Marsh's Clutch of Constables. Ellis Peters: An Excellent Mystery.

Still all the odd bits: Kipling's Just-So Stories, Padraic Colum's Story of the Odyssey, Jean Webster's duo, Daddy Long Legs / Dear Enemy, Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. Not just the Prologue, either, the whole gorgeously bawdy thing. All those four-letter words shown as what they were, the everyday English of the Middle Ages. Of course, too, that ultimately Victorian novel, St. Elmo, by Augusta Evans. Best-seller of 1864-1867, long out of print. I have my grandmother's copy. When you finish St. Elmo, you KNOW the Victorian Era. I must see if Amazon can scare up a copy.

I could go on all night, but I won't. It's a zany list but mine own. Thanks for listening.

BrainFork: A Mensan talks about food

Cobb Salad

By Bart Geraci

“For a long time, I went to bed early...”
- Marcel Proust “In Search of Lost Time”-

So I was eating a Cobb Salad in the Airport Marriott in St. Louis on the eve of another MindGames weekend where I would find myself pleasantly exhausted at its completion.

And it brought back memories – of past Cobb Salads.

“And soon, mechanically, weary after a dull day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate than a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, but individual, detached, with no suggestion of its origin.... Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I was conscious that it was connected with the taste of tea and cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savours, could not, indeed, be of the same nature as theirs. Whence did it come? What did it signify? How could I seize upon and define it?”
-M. Proust-

Swans? No Way

A cob is a male swan. There is no swan in the salad. Neither is there corn with kernels attached or unattached to the center.

Within a Grove

In a grove we will find some ingredients for the salad: Lettuce, tomatoes, watercress, chicory, romaine, and olives.

The Guacamole Way

Avocado is another ingredient found in the salad. The many Haas avocados that you see in the groceries all derive from single ancestor tree in La Habra Heights, California. The Haas avocado tree has the distinction of being the first time a tree received a US patent.

Sodom and Gomorrah

So the Cobb Salad was invented in Los Angeles at the Brown Derby Restaurant. It is named for the restaurant's owner, Robert (“Bob”) Howard Cobb. One legend says that one night in 1937, Cobb mixed together some leftovers he found in the kitchen, plus some bacon, and tossed it with the French Dressing on hand. It was so good, that Sid Grauman (of Grauman's Chinese Theatre), who was with Bob that night, came by the restaurant the next day and asked for a “Cobb Salad.” Soon afterwards it was put on the menu and became a hit.

The Captive

Roquefort cheese is a cheese that has captured within itself the Penicillium roqueforti bacteria that comes from the local caves, thus giving its characteristic blue-green veins throughout the cheese.

Albumin Gone? Not!

Both hard-boiled eggs and chicken are another part of the salad. Paul Simon said that one day when he ate at a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco, he saw a menu item describing a dish containing chicken and eggs as “Mother and Child Reunion.” He thought that was too good of a name to pass up for a song title.

And there's bacon. Because everything is better with bacon, including Kyra Sedgwick.

Time Regained

Time is running out, so I must begin writing the recipe.

Cobb Salad

1/2 head lettuce, about 4 cups
1 bunch watercress
1 small bunch chicory, about 2 1/2 cups
1/2 head romaine, about 2 1/2 cups
2 medium peeled tomatoes
6 strips of crisp bacon
2 breasts of boiled chicken
3 hard cooked eggs
1 avocado
1/2 cup crumbled Roquefort cheese
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 cup (approximately) Original Cobb Salad Dressing

Cut lettuce, half the watercress, chicory and romaine in fine pieces and arrange in a large salad bowl.
Cut tomatoes, bacon, chicken, eggs, and avocado in small pieces and arrange, along with the crumbled Roquefort cheese, in strips on the greens.
Sprinkle finely cut chives over the Cobb salad and garnish with the remaining watercress.
Just before serving mix the salad with the Cobb salad dressing.

Original Cobb Salad Dressing

Makes 1 1/2 cups

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon dry English mustard
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup full-flavored olive oil
3/4 cup salad oil

Blend all ingredients together, except oils. Add olive and salad oils. Mix well. Blend well again before mixing with salad.
A note from the Brown Derby: "The water is optional, depending upon the degree of oiliness desired in the dressing."

“If at least, time enough were allotted to me to accomplish my work, I would not fail to mark it with the seal of Time, the idea of which imposed itself upon me with so much force to-day, and I would therein describe men, if need be, as monsters occupying a place in Time infinitely more important than the restricted one reserved for them in space, a place, on the, contrary, prolonged immeasurably since, simultaneously touching widely separated years and the distant periods they have lived through--between which so many days have ranged themselves--they stand like giants immersed in Time.”
-M. Proust-

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Last edited: 13-May-2013 . Webmaster Bart J. Geraci can be reached at