New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for May/June 2009

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment


Lauren Alsop

Our Assistant Editor, Patti Armatis, is leaving New Orleans for a new home in Tennessee. If anyone is interested in taking over the role, please email either Patti or myself so that we can fill you in on the responsibilities - primarily the mailing of the newsletter, which involves a trip to the post office (she is probably better suited to give you details).

I hope you enjoy the issue - and I apologize to those of you who submitted and didn’t make the cut. I was tight on space this time around and I’m trying to keep from playing favorites. I’ll hold on to your articles and stories for another issue.

If any of you have photographs of members at an event, please email them to me. I would love to include more images in the next issue. Be well and be in touch!

Lauren Alsop

Brain Teasers

1. Take the letters ERGRO. Put three letters in front of it, and the same three letters behind to form a common English word.

2. What do the words below have in common?

3. Which of the following words is the odd-one-out?

Answers will be in the next issue.

LOC SEC Report

Gerry Ward

I was delighted to see how many of you renewed your membership. Please check to see that you have renewed so you will have non-stop access to the benefits of membership.

To renew, visit:
or give the national office a call at
1-888-294-8035 ext. 199.

The 2009 Annual Gathering AMFM ( About Mensans For Mensans) will be in Pittsburgh this July 1-5 at the Omni William Penn hotel. The program includes a variety of presentations, tours, hospitality room, game room, Mensan vendors selling their arts and crafts, and for all kids(not just Young Mensans) Teen SIG, Pre-teen SIG, and for the elementary school crowd, Kids’ Trek. I intend to volunteer some time there. If you decide to go, let me know so I can have an idea of how many NOMs will be there. We might get together in the Hospitality Room sometime.

I’d like to remind members that we have a Yahoo group site where you can converse with each other safely. We started this so that Mensans who can’t get to activities would still be able to meet each other and discuss things. This would be a good place for us to decide on activities for the kids. We have no Gifted Children’s Coordinator, but since I am qualified, I could be a focal point for an activity that a parent might wish to initiate. To subscribe, send a blank email to Yahoo will send you an email asking you to confirm your request to join the group. All you have to do is reply to that email. It’s so simple even a Mensan can do it!

As of this writing, we have no NOM night scheduled for May 9, but we do have one for June, thanks to J. Also thanks to A for starting Scrabble and Games night in March, and the G for continuing in April.

Always ready to “pass a good time”,
- Gerry Ward

From the Regional Vice Chairman

Roger Durham

By now you may have heard that American Mensa ended the membership year on March 31st with an all-time record membership of more than 57,800. Considering the state of the economy, that is little short of amazing. Our national office staff deserves our thanks and hearty congratulations for their efforts. However, the end of the membership year also saw the usual percentage of members not renew their membership for another year.

If your local group has not participated in the annual lapsed member campaigns in the past, I encourage you to contact your local officers now and urge them to take part this year. American Mensa will pay your group cold hard cash to contact your lapsed members and ask them to rejoin. The national organization will be doing that too, but it’s not nearly as effective coming from them.

Many former members, when asked to rejoin, have said, “Why should I? No one from my local group cares whether I am a member or not.” So why not get a committee together and mail some postcards or send some e-mails to those lapsed members? Make them feel wanted, and they just might be inspired to get active and help provide new leadership for your group.

Also, if you haven’t voted in the American Mensa election yet, please take a few minutes to do so. Although there’s no contest here in Region 6 this year, there are a number of candidates for other national offices who would like your support. The election materials won’t be in the Mensa Bulletin this year; they have been mailed to everyone separately. The materials for the International election, however, are in the Bulletin as usual.

Finally, don’t forget SynRG, the Gulf Coast Mensa Regional Gathering, in Houston over Memorial Day weekend. Registration information can be found on the national website, If you’ve never been to a Regional Gathering, you can’t imagine what a wonderful experience it can be to spend an entire weekend with dozens of Mensans. And if you really want a mind-blowing experience, there’s still time to register for the Annual Gathering in Pittsburgh the first week of July. Nearly 2,000 Ms are expected to attend, and that means non-stop excitement. More about that next month.

American Mensa Elections

Make your vote count!

All members of American Mensa, Ltd., whose membership is current on April 1, 2009, are eligible to vote in both the American Mensa, Ltd. national election and the Mensa International, Ltd. election.

This year, the American Mensa national election ballot was direct-mailed separately from the April/May Mensa Bulletin and should have already arrived with your mail. Included with your AML election ballot is a candidate information booklet and the referenda for your review when making your voting decisions.

If you renewed your membership on or before March 31, 2009, and you either do not receive a national ballot in the mail, or you do not have a international ballot included with the April/May Bulletin, please email the National Office at or call 888/294-8035 ext. 5502.

Magic, Mensa, & Mayhem

Karina Fabian’s newest novel, Magic, Mensa and Mayhem, features fire-breathing dragon detective and his partner, a mage/nun, escorting magical creatures to a Mensa World Gathering. Based on an award-winning serial in the North Dakota Mensa magazine, The Prairie Dawg, it’s full of silliness and puns that will have Mensans and Densans laughing.

Magic, Mensa and Mayhem, Fabian’s first fantasy novel, involves the dragon detective Vern and his partner the mage Sister Grace as they escort a band of magical creatures at a human Mensa convention. When the pixies start pranking, the Valkyrie start vamping and a dispute among the elves threatened to involve Florida in a war, Vern and Grace face the toughest job they won’t get paid for. Publisher’s Weekly calls Magic, Mensa and Mayhem densely plotted with memorable and occasionally silly characters and groan-worthy puns.

The idea for the novel started when North Dakota Mensan Shirley Starke encouraged her to join Mensa and to write a fantasy serial for their newsletter. “World Gathering: Magic, Mensa and Mayhem” won the Contributors’ Award for Outstanding Fiction.

Learn more about Karina Fabian and her works at

Garden Gnomes

Thais St. Julien

I think of garden gnomes. I don’t know why. There aren’t many to speak of in New Orleans, and who would speak of them if there were? I wonder about them. I see them in my thoughts, in odd places. Sometimes, I envision a bright green lawn, the side of a gently sloping hill. There is a large grey stone building at the top of the hill, I suppose some kind of English manor. But I don’t see this structure entire, only a portion, for in this odd vision I am standing to the side, some distance away, gazing down the hill at the back of this brightly painted garden gnome. His pants are red and his coat is green, the paint very shinny. He has a slouched, pointy hat, but I can’t see very clearly, he is quite far away from me and this maybe manor house, facing away from us, looking down the hill.

This gnome is not very satisfying. The paint is very shiny. He is, perhaps, a counterfeit gnome. I wonder what has prompted someone to counterfeit a gnome, and what the false gnome thinks about it.

Sometimes I see another gnome, amid what is possibly an English garden. I have never been to England, and my experience of English gardens is derived from mystery novels and glossy magazines devoted to the dreams of middle class America. But I think this an English garden. It is untidy and wild, I believe it is late fall. The plants seem tired, somewhat leggy, somewhat dry. I see this gnome quite clearly, for in this vision behind my eyes we are quite close. Not clearly in the sense of counting every detail. I do see he is concrete, and quite old. His paint is not at all shinny, and it is worn away in places. He is quite old, sharp lines and edges worn away in face and clothing. He is quite old, his nose has lost a bit of its shape, worn by wind and rain and snow. I see him clearly in the sense that one sees a Platonic Ideal.

His smile is not weary, in spite of his age, not threatening or sad or scornful. It is a gnome’s smile, the Platonic Ideal of the smile a gnome would have, must have, because this ideal gnome must have a smile, as well as a curly, comforting beard.

I wonder what it is like to be a garden gnome. Not the ideal garden gnome of Plato, but a gnome that is not ideal. I could sit quite quietly in place, without fear of criticism. Who would query the placement of a gnome? I would be quite close to the ground, and, amid the garden, out of harms way. Frogs would crouch behind me, kittens would play about my head and shoulders, birds would search for worms beneath my feet. Nothing would be expected of me, only the expectation that I would stay in place barring intervention. Would I? My smile would never be questioned, for it would be a gnome’s smile, no one would try to read hidden thoughts revealed in a quirk of eyebrow or set of mouth. My attire would not provoke comment, my paint would not be very shinny. I would not provoke fear or envy or criticism. Creatures would pass before me, hunting and mating and laughing and weeping and lying and failing in the face of truth. I would smile my gnome’s smile.

I think of garden gnomes. I think of them quite often.

NOM Goes to the Science Fair

Patti Armatis

On March 4, 2009, three intrepid NOMensans and a friend judged the projects and displays in the New Orleans regional Science Fair competition. Criteria for our award: projects which showed creativity backed by rigorous scientific reasoning. First place winners [both divisions] received a check for $50; runners-up were given a check for $25.

Senior division winners [grades 9-12] Junior Division [grades 6-8] Congratulations to the winners and many thanks to our judges Gerry Ward, George Kutzgar and Wesley Kidd. Since this will be my last time coordinating the Science Fair, WE NEED A VOLUNTEER TO COORDINATE THE GNOSEF for next year. Email me at if you are interested. or contact our LocSec, Gerry Ward.
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