New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for May/June 2003

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment


by Anne Osteen Stringer

The Baton Rouge/New Orleans RG committee has been meeting regularly, making grandiose plans, and enjoying delicious refreshments provided by co-chair Loretta Levene. This promises to be an exciting event and a chance to show off our city to Mensans from all over the country. We do need more volunteers though. Loretta has a list of places to be filled. Call her and let her fill you in on what is needed.

Equally as exciting as the RG is the AG which has been awarded to New Orleans for 2005. This will also be a joint venture with Baton Rouge Mensa. Incidentally, everyone I have met from BRM has been great to work with–a super group of people. There is more on this event and how we came to be selected as the site of the 2005 AG from Heather Miller elsewhere in this issue.

There’s lots of news from National Mensa. The ballots for national and international Mensa elections were contained in the April-May issue of The Bulletin. Pam Donahoo, executive director of American Mensa Ltd., emailed: “There is a misprint on the BLUE International Mensa Election Envelopes. Please change the return zip code to 76006.” Our AMC Chairman needs volunteers and RVC Dan Wilterding has a proposal that could make some money for our scholarship fund. Read it and vote! Mensa gets a shot of free publicity on June 9 at 7:00 p.m. when FOX Television (channel 8 in New Orleans) presents the “Test The Nation” program.

On our cover this month, Pat DiGeorge’s charming crustaceans trumpet the announcement of the New Orleans/Baton Rouge Regional Gathering.

Letters to the Editor

New Party Needed

Jim Lindsay

I read with interest your book review/political commentary. Many of the ideas you and the authors expressed have obvious validity. Certainly there are political mood swings, and blocks of citizens defecting to the other parties. Unfortunately for those Republicans like myself, the religious zealots have decided to propagate their agenda through our party, which most of us “Reagan Republicans” violently disagree with. Unfortunately, membership to a political party is about as exclusive as a rain storm.

A new party for fiscal conservative social moderates is badly needed, and would probably attract as many Demos as Republicans. Most of us Americans are centrists, but our political procedures almost guarantee that our political parties are run by extremists.

My only real disagreement with your reasoning is the part where you describe ‘designers, artists and actors’ as professionals. They are, in truth, not just non-professionals but the very antithesis of the professional. Although many of those people have at least some formal education in their fields, none is required, nor is the passing of an exam demonstrating expertise required.

Regardless, I’m glad to see someone writing something for the LPdeN that’s worth commenting on. Keep up the good work, and maybe others will contribute.

Jim Lindsay, Metairie

Misery Loves Company

Donna Urban

Ms. O'Steen:

Thanks for publishing your review of The Emerging Democratic Majority, and particularly for noting the difficulty of being a Democrat. From working for Price Waterhouse in the mid 80's (Reagan was re-elected while I was there) to living in Mandeville, I have often felt a political outcast, like I am indeed on the other side of the looking glass.

We have to make our opinions known. Democrats, or more particularly, people of liberal leanings (wearing the scarlet L) who don't want to resort to name-calling and lying should still speak out.

The following may appear in the Times-Picayune in the next day or two

War, deficits, unemployment, investment losses...
Am I the only one who misses Monica Lewinsky?

Thanks again. Misery loves company.

Donna Urban, Mandeville


by Richard Stringer

New Orleans Mensa and Baton Rouge Mensa are jointly hosting a Regional Gathering this December in conjunction with the Fourth Quarter AMC meeting. The RG will be held at the Maison Dupuy Hotel, at the corner of Toulouse and Burgundy in the French Quarter, Friday December 12 through Sunday December 14. In keeping with our previous RG's, the event will be called “NORGy VI--New Orleans Regional Gathering, Y'all.” New Orleans Mensa has not hosted an RG since NORGy V in 1996. Everyone has enjoyed the previous NORGy's, and, with Baton Rouge Mensa providing lots of the manpower and enthusiasm, we all expect NORGy VI to be a great success. Since RGs are often held in conjunction with AMC meetings, and since Baton Rouge Mensa was willing to help and co-sponsor the event, our ExComm put the idea to a vote of the membership at our February NOM night. The motion passed unanimously, and the long trek towards a successful RG had begun. In the meantime, an even larger issue had arisen when we were asked if we would like to host the 2005 Annual Gathering. Once again Baton Rouge was willing to help, and the quest was on. Heather Miller and Tim Folks of BRM (Baton Rouge Mensa) put together a wonderful twenty page proposal for the AMC, and traveled to Pittsburgh at the end of March to present it. Even though there were a number of people on the AMC site selection committee who favored Seattle as the host city for 2005, our proposal was accepted by the AMC, principally because we were so far along on proposed hotel contracts. See Heather Miller's article about the bid process elsewhere in this issue.

The initial legwork on the hotel contracts was done by Jacquelyn Naquin of our group and Heather Miller of Baton Rouge. At a joint New Orleans/Baton Rouge ExComm meeting prior to February NOM night, it was decided that the groups would co-host, and each group would provide a co-chair for the event and a co-chair for each committee. Our group's Loretta Levene has chaired two RG's for Indianapolis Mensa, and volunteered to co-chair the event for NOM. Heather Miller, outgoing LocSec of BRM, is the Baton Rouge co-chair. Committee co-chairs are: Hospitality committee: Anne O'Steen (NOM) and Melinda Fain (BRM); Hotel Liaison: Jacquelyn Naquin (NOM); Publicity: Richard Stringer (NOM) and Jason Bowlds (BRM); Registrar: Tim Folks (BRM); Program: Irene Vandiver (BRM).

The RG will be a fun event, and I hope all NOM's will register early and plan to attend. Mark your calendars now! Please call Loretta Levene to volunteer; we will need several more people to be involved in the planning.

NOM Night, Book Sale, and Punny Contest

by Anne O’Steen Stringer

While NOM’s stuffed their faces with red beans, strawberries, pecans, and Patti’s famous fruit punch, and pored over a collection of books that could charitably be called eclectic, some puns that could not charitably be called other than awful were heard. The winner of the evening was Richard Garrett. He reported that after eating a salad that contained fennel fronds, he suffered from what is euphemistically called “digestive distress”. (Is there a nicer, more polite way of saying “euphemism?”) Anyway, on hearing of the malady, his son said “With fronds like that, who needs enemas?” Richard Stringer reported that a canine virus was killing off the dogs of Alaska so rapidly that a Dogless Fairbanks was feared. He also noted that “Atheism is a non-prophet organization.”

I shamelessly took advantage of the occasion to tell my favorite pun: A Sioux Chief, who already had two wives and two sons decided to take a third wife. The first two wives objected strenuously and to make peace he agreed to buy them all new tepees. He bought the first wife a traditional teepee of deer hide and the second wife received a modern teepee of antelope hide. He was so smitten with his new third wife that he traded for a fantastic design of a teepee made of hippopotamus hide. Time passed and eventually so did the chief. In his will, he left one half of his possessions to the third wife and one half to be divided between the sons of his first two wives. Thus proving...The squaw of the hippopotamus is equal to the sons of the squaws of the other two hides.

A Mensan who prefers to remain anonymous told about a phone message he took for his wife: “Honey, the Gyno Colleges called and said the Pabst Beer is fine. I thought you didn’t like beer.” He wonders why she told him to buy an answering machine and not to take any more messages.

Overheard puns:

Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, but when they lit a fire in the craft, it sank–proving once and for all that you can’t have your kayak and heat it, too.

The short fortune teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

Mensans agreed: A day without puns is like a day without sunshine–there’s gloom for improvement.

New Orleans/Baton Rouge Mensa Awarded AG in 2005

by Heather Miller

Heather Miller and Tim Folks of Baton Rouge Mensa attended the AMC meeting in Pittsburgh March 28-29 to present our bid for hosting the 2005 AG. They prepared an excellent bid document and made a persuasive presentation on our behalf.

GNO Science and Engineering Fair ––March 18th, 2003

by Patti Armatis

Bart Geraci, George Kutzgar, Ralph Strickland and Phil Wilking and I were the NOMensa judges searching among the student exhibits for projects displaying intellectual achievement defined as the ability to learn and reason.

And we found them!!

An engraved plaque was given to each award winner.

All of the judges enjoyed looking at the work of these talented students. Perhaps next year some others of our group could join us?

It’s That Time Again

by Dan Wilterding

Hello Region 6,

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."
Excerpt from "The Walrus and the Carpenter" -- Lewis Carroll

Perhaps the specific subjects have changed but the time has indeed come. I wish to remind you of the pending elections and proposed bylaws revisions that appear on the ballot.

Kindly remember my challenge regarding the upcoming national elections: To the Region 6 group that has the highest percentage of members voting I will present $100 for their scholarship fund. If the percentage of members voting in Region 6 exceeds the percentage of voters across the nation I will present an additional $50 to the highest ranking group as well as $100 for the scholarship fund of the next highest.

If the number of voters across the Region reaches or exceeds 15% all awards are doubled.

Concerning the proposed bylaws amendments:

I support amendments 1 through 4 and suggest that you vote for them.

Amendment 5 is completely unnecessary given the wording of the bylaws as they currently exist and is too easily subject to abuse; I strongly urge you to vote against #5.

In the Bulletin you will find that Rick Magnus (RVC 3) presents a good argument against amendment 6. Please take his points into consideration when you vote.

Letter from AMC Chairman

by Jean Becker

At American Mensa Committee meeting at the Annual Gathering in July, we will be appointing all American Mensa’s national level volunteers. There is a wide array of committees and appointees, and my hope is to have several members who can bring a fresh, local level perspective on almost all of the committees.

Serving on an AMC committee gives you the chance to work with others who share your interest from all across the country as well as the National Offices and staff. In return you are giving your experience and ideas to keep American Mensa current and relevant.

Many committees meet at the AG, but do their work primarily by email the rest of the year. The amount of time and experience needed varies depending on the assignment, and sometimes is seasonal.

If you are curious, please contact me. I will do my best to match your availability and interests with where we need a volunteer, or just tell you more about where we need more help. No automatic obligation for asking, but I warn you, I have seldom had anyone volunteer that I could not find somewhere for them to help!

Jean Becker, AMC Chairman,

Tentative list of committees and Appointed Officers: Bylaws, Site Selection, Intellectual Event, Mind Games, Colloquium, Community Service, CAP, Literacy, Project Inkslinger, Membership, GOTYA, Culture Quest, SIGHT Coordinatorand assistants, SIGS Officer and assistants, SIGS Advisor, SIGNET Editor, Mensa World Connect, Publications, PRP, Interloc Editor, Internet Services, Content Advisory, Technical Advisory, Finance, Risk Management, Corporate Counsel, Interpretive Councel, Intellectual Property Counsel, Elections, Licensing, Name and Logo, Marketing, Gifted Children, Kids Trek Coordinator, Half A Step Ahead Editor, Local Group GC Coordinator, GC Questions Coordinator, Research Review, Salny Award Committee, Leadership Development, Leadership Development Workshop Coordinator, Leadership Development Workshop Guide Editor, Editors for many handbooks.

Test The Nation

On Monday, June 9th, the FOX television network will air the program Test The Nation. The program will air at 7 p.m. Central time on WVUE, channel 8 in New Orleans. During the live, two-hour program, a studio audience will take Test The Nation's 60-question "intelligence" test. At the same time, Americans will be invited to take the test online ( Each test taker will fill out a questionnaire before taking the test, allowing the viewing audience to track the smartest groups of Americans. (Blondes or brunettes? Virgos or Libras? Accountants or construction workers?) The show will be hosted by Leeza Gibbons. American Mensa's supervisory psychologist, Dr. Frank Lawlis, will be a guest on the program. Dr. Lawlis will present information about Mensa and intelligence testing. He will also reinforce that the Test The Nation test is for entertainment purposes and accurate intelligence testing must be done under the supervision of a licensed psychologist.

American Mensa has assisted Test The Nation producers in norming their test. On March 22nd and 23rd, ten Mensa proctors administered Test The Nation's test, along with a Mensa qualifying test, to more than 200 candidates nationwide. Results from the Mensa qualifying test were compared to the results of Test The Nation's test to help develop Test The Nation's scoring system.

Test The Nation has aired in several countries including Great Britain, Australia, and Germany. In each of these countries, inquiries to Mensa increased dramatically after the program aired. We are preparing for this at the national office and we are working to create opportunities to add to Mensa's exposure surrounding the program.

We encourage local groups to attempt to capitalize on this opportunity as well. One idea is to set up a "watching party" for the program. You may then contact your local FOX affiliate and tell them about your event. Let them know that Mensa is the high IQ society and members of your group will be gathering to watch Test The Nation. They may be interested in getting your predictions and reactions regarding the program. We will be in touch with local PR coordinators with more information on contacting the local FOX station. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Jim Blackmore ( or Catherine Barney

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