New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for May 2015

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment

We hope you have enjoyed our usual April jocularity. And now, back to the usual serious-minded tome that is our newsletter.


By Bart Geraci

As I write this, JazzFest is around the corner and the Pelicans are in the playoffs. Earlier this week, I saw some filming going on around my office downtown (with cabs marked as from New York City) and I heard that Brad Pitt is in a movie being filmed here. And at the end of May, there’s the Greek Festival, held by the oldest Greek Orthodox church in the Americas. So there’s an awful lot going on in our city.

Lost among all this are two reminders:

(1) Have you renewed your membership in Mensa ?

(2) Have you voted in the Mensa (National & International) elections?

I want to thank Ben Rauch for hosting NOM Night in April. It was a rather eclectic space with baculum, photography, good food, and conversations.

In our group, some sad news to report: Angelika "Angie" Therrien, beloved wife of our local Treasurer Phil Therrien, has passed away recently. On behalf of our local group, we offer our sympathies to Phil and his family.

Let’s Go Pelicans & Zephyrs & VooDoo !

So The Story Goes Like This

By Bart Geraci

I did an article about a retired policeman from Edinburgh, the real one in Scotland. And he told me about a case where thieves broke into a distillery to steal some whiskey in the early 70s.

At the time, the distillery was one of the first ones to add cameras to the factory that recorded automatically to a video cassette tape. When he reviewed that the next morning, he was able to find the criminals easily. From then on, a lot of other businesses started doing the same thing.

“So,” I said, “this crime was solved…”

“...thanks to Scotch tape.”

Science Fair News

By Bart Geraci

On Wednesday, February 25th, four people from our chapter were judges at the Greater New Orleans Science and Engineering Fair (GNOSEF). Our local chapter gives out our own special awards to first and second place in Junior and Senior divisions. Our criteria are for projects that show creativity backed by rigorous scientific reasoning.

I’d like to thank our other judges: Ben Rauch, Summer McKnight, and Robert Myers.

And now for this year’s winners:

Junior Division:

Senior Division:

News and Notes for Young Mensans

Lisa Van Gemert

Happenings & Celebrations

May is National Photgraph Month.

May 4: Star Wars Day

Star Wars Day is May the Fourth (because it sounds like “May the Force (4th) be with you.” If you want to celebrate, how about watching the original Star Wars movie or play some of the games or do some of the crafts (like make a Chewbacca puppet) for kids on the official Star Wars site or visit the Star Wars Day site .

May 9: National Lost Sock Memorial Day

May 14: Dance Like A Chicken Day

Want to learn how to Vogeltanz like a pro? This video will show you: .

May 23: Lucky Penny Day

To celebrate, explore Mensa’s activities you can do with pennies: .


Do you know which author wrote a poem that includes the line, “Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May”? If you guessed Shakespeare, you’re right. A book by H.E. Bates included the phrase in its title, The Darling Buds of May. The book later became a TV series whose cast included Catherine Zeta-Jones.

It’s Your Birthday!

If you were born in May, you share your birthday month with:

Catherine the Great (2nd); Johannes Brahms (7th); Peter Tchaikovsky (7th); President Harry Truman (8th); Peter Pan author James M. Barrie (9th); Bono (10th); Florence Nightingale (12th); Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum (15th); Pierre Curie (15th); Pope John Paul II (18th); Henri Rousseau (20th); Sherlock Holmes author Arthur Conan Doyle (22nd); Queen Victoria (24th); President John F. Kennedy (29th); and Peter the Great (30th).

Benefit Highlight:

Be sure to participate in Mensa’s YM Contests and win cool prizes! Visit for more information and to find out about the current contest.

Lisa Van Gemert

Youth & Education Ambassador |

get resources: |explore:

Local Youth News

Gerry Ward

I'd like to do a "Meet ‘n’ Greet" for parents and kids. We need to get to know each other in order to plan activities for the kids. Also because we are on both sides of the lake, we need a place or places to meet. Email me at with your ideas.

Local activities are open to all gifted children in the area and the children of our members. If you like us, join us, and get the benefits of membership such as the following contest from National.

1. Reminder:

Did you know that you can sign up for text messages (there's an email option, too) about what's going on in Mensa for youth? It’s a good way to stay up-to-date and not worry that you're going to miss an email. They’re not sent too often, so don’t worry about being flooded with texts. You can sign up by following the directions here

2. Volunteer Record:

If your child volunteers, it can be hard to track that in one place. We created this form specifically for those in our Mensa Honor Society, but anyone can use it! If you have feedback on it, please email

Photography Contest

The art of photography is an area where Mensans from more than 50 countries with different languages, customs and traditions can converge with a single, visual language. Use your creativity, skills and technical expertise to produce your entry in this year’s PhotoCup competition. The theme for 2015 is Urgency. Let your imagination run wild.

American Mensans can participate by submitting up to three photos to no later than July 31. Photos should be in .jpg format and not exceed 1 MB per file. All entries must be the sole work of entrant. The top three winners will be sent to the International competition to compete with other Mensan entrants from around the world. For a complete list of rules, email

From the RVC

By Roger Durham, Region 6 Vice Chair

It is my unhappy duty to report that the number of local groups in our Region has decreased by one. In April I disbanded East Texas Mensa and merged it with North Texas. A few members opted to be assigned to Gulf Coast or Northern Louisiana, but the area in the northeast corner of the state which was formerly assigned to East Texas, along with most of its members, is now part of North Texas.

I did not take this action lightly or in haste. East Texas Mensa has been basically non-functional for at least the past year. They had no Local Secretary, no Editor, no Program Chair, and no Proctor. No meetings had been held in nearly a year, no newsletter published, and no tests given. No one could be found to fill the vacant offices. This was unfair to the members of the group, who were not receiving the services that American Mensa expects local groups to provide. Both the remaining and former local officers and I attempted to find volunteers to reinvigorate the group, but apparently things had just deteriorated too far, and the job was too daunting.

Mensa is very much a do-it-yourself organization. We depend upon our members to create a vibrant, exciting atmosphere within each local group. Please don’t wait for someone else to step forward and provide activities and leadership for your local group. When I was a LocSec, I frequently heard from people who complained that the local group was too clique-ish and didn’t welcome new members, but I think what they really meant was they didn’t know how to become an integral part of the group. If you want to become part of the “in-crowd” of your local Mensa group in a hurry, just contact your LocSec, or President, or whatever the office is called in your group, and ask “what can I do to help?” In almost every case your group will have an appointed office just waiting to be filled. Take the initiative and volunteer!

Don’t forget the Houston Regional Gathering coming up over Memorial Day weekend (, and the 2015 Annual Gathering, July 1-5 in Louisville, KY ( And, if you haven’t done so already, please take a few moments to vote in the national Mensa election this month. Your friendly local RVC would particularly appreciate your vote for national Treasurer.

As always, please remember that if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, you can reach me at

BrainFork: A Mensan Talks About Food

By Bart Geraci

BrainFork is on summer vacation.

American Mensa Elections

The voting period for American Mensa elections will be April 15 through May 31. All members in good standing as of 4/1/2015 (dues paid by 3/31/2015 at 11:59 p.m. Central time) may vote. The default voting format will be electronic; members may vote via paper ballot instead by updating their profiles at We have received the following messages from candidates for Vice Chair for Region 6. Information on all candidates for office can be found at

Candidates for Vice Chair, Region 6

Taz Criss

My name is Taz Criss, and I am pleased to [be] running for Regional Vice Chair of Region 6.

I feel that Mensa is a dynamic and ever-changing organization. Our members have a wide range of interests and priorities, and it follows that Mensa membership will mean something different to every member. For me, Mensa is primarily, and most importantly, a social organization. While we have several worthwhile endeavors in addition to the social aspect, such as scholarships, community service and gifted youth resources, I firmly believe that everything comes back to personal interaction between members -- whether in person or online.

In the midst of a great deal of discussion concerning the use of volunteers versus contractors, it's important to remember that the spirit of volunteerism has to be fostered and nurtured. Volunteers don't usually appear unasked for. I believe the best way to encourage volunteers is to make things fun. As an organization, we need to remember to facilitate those personal connections among our members, and especially our volunteers. Volunteers who enjoy the people they work with will continue to volunteer.

In order for Mensa to grow, we need to do a better job of both recruitment and retention. In particular, I think we need to look at retention. I recently looked at the records for my own local group, which is the 6th largest in the nation. In the past 10 years, we have had almost as many members lapsed as we currently have active. If all of our lapsed members renewed, our group would effectively double in size.

To me, that says that we need to work on the value provided to our members. I realize that there are dozens, if not hundreds, of reasons why people let their memberships lapse. And the reality is, many people who do lapse will never tell us why. The best solution I can offer is that we continue to develop new ways to reach our members in the hopes that the niches they are searching for can be filled.

An RVC needs to be able to address organizational concerns with their region's members in mind. I believe that for members to be engaged in a group, they need to be aware of what is happening on multiple levels in the organization. As Mensans, we know we're smart, but if our members do not understand or have not been told why and how a decision was reached, they tend to think of AMC members as the ominous THEM who make not-smart decisions.

An RVC should actively reach out to the members of their region in any way possible. Talking to actual members about what works and doesn't work within local groups is essential. RVCs should be able to bring best practices from their region's local groups into the national forum of the AMC. An RVC who doesn't know what the members of their region want is an empty position.

For more information go to or email me at

Bob Bevard

What is BEST for the members? What does the Local Group need? How can I help the LG ExComms? Top of my mind questions. Always! This was the case when I was a LocSec and as the Development Officer for AML. These will certainly continue to be important issues for me as a Mensa member, and I think they are important issues for every RVC and AMC member.

I have spent my career developing the skills to prepare me to serve as your RVC6, both in the business world and in Mensa, and I ask for your vote.

I have high-level critical thinking, communication, coaching, and training skills. I have spent the best part of my career as a professional speaker, consultant, mentor, and coach. I bring that to you.

Strengths: Ideation, Maximizer, Strategic, Command, Activator.

I’ve been your Assistant RVC for the last two years, was the AMC Development Officer for four, LocSec for South Texas Mensa for two, and I am the STM Ombudsman.

I was STM 2007 Mensan of the Year, and given the AML Chairman’s Award July 5, 2013. Additionally, I was given a plaque from American Mensa on July 4, 2014, that says “in gratitude for special contributions to the organization.”

I created the Best Practices program for the AG Leadership program, Godfathered two Region 6 LDWs in the last six years, set up our Facebook page, and was the driving force behind the AML award-winning promotional video. I am personally responsible for American Mensa receiving signed 50th Anniversary Proclamations from the President of the United States and from the Governor of Texas.

As Development Officer, I chaired the Marketing, Mind Games, Hall of Fame, and Licensing committees. I also served four years on the Finance Committee and currently serve on the Membership Committee.

Additionally, I was a Founding Board Member for Pre-K 4SA, the template for premiere Pre-K in the USA, with a $43 million budget, serving on the Operations, Facilities, and Communication committees. I also spent several years on the San Antonio Summer Art and Jazz Festival Board, and have served in almost every position on the HDNA Board for many years. I understand how Boards work and know how to facilitate cooperation and success.

I understand marketing and PR very well, and can assist LGs with ideas in this arena. Indeed, I have given many interviews over the years for radio, television, and newspapers, often specifically about Mensa. I just had a magazine cover and cover story, December 2014, and Mensa figured prominently in the piece.

I work well with almost everyone. I will have virtually zero learning curve. I understand the AMC process, I understand the requirements of the RVC office, and I know many of the members and officers throughout Region 6. I have assisted many of them with coaching, questions, problems, and difficulties over the years.

I thank you for your kind consideration.


Bob Bevard


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Last edited: 12-May-2015. Webmaster Bart J. Geraci can be reached at