New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for May/June, 2005

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment


by Anne Osteen Stringer

The month of June is the month for the ratification of the new bylaws for our local group. A ballot is included in this issue for those who will be unable to attend the June NOM Night. A voice vote will be taken at the June NOM Night. These new bylaws clarify the duties of officers and correct some errors in the original ones. Kudos to Phil Wilking for doing all the heavy lifting on the bylaws revision.

May is the month for electing new national officers and a new RVC for Region 6. La Plume is not publishing candidates’ statements, since the candidates are covered fully in the National Bulletin. A ballot is also enclosed in the National magazine. I urge you to consider the candidates carefully, study the issues, and VOTE. Ballots must be received by May 31. This month the National Bulletin also has a nice write up about the AG and an article by Bart Geraci about New Orleans restaurants.

In this issue, Bart tells us why he likes AGs, Patti reports on the Science Fair, and Smitty gives an exciting account of Hurricane Carla. The beautiful spring flowers pictured on the cover are courtesy of H.

Science Fair

by Patti Armatis

The New Orleans Science and Engineering Fair for greater New Orleans schools was held in the first week of March at the UNO arena. Our local group gave first and second place awards in both the senior (grades 10-12) and the junior (7-9) divisions.

The award criteria were: projects exhibiting intellectual achievement defined as the ability to learn and reason. The experiment must also exhibit good scientific methodology. This year’s winners were:



Each prizewinner received a plaque documenting the award.

The NOMensa judges, George Kutzgar, Bart Geraci, Neville Mayfield and Patti Armatis also had a good time.

Bylaws Election

by Phil Wilking

Ladies and Gentlemen, it soon will be time to vote on the proposed revised Bylaws for New Orleans Mensa which you received in your last La Plume de NOM. If you need another copy of the proposal, it is available on the NOM website.

In order to allow enough time for careful consideration of the revision, Mensa National requires a delay of at least 90 days between the posting of the proposal and a vote on it. Therefore, the Executive Committee has established the June NOM Night as the business meeting during which the vote will be conducted.

Enclosed in this issue of La Plume is a tear-out absentee ballot. This is for your use if you think you will not attend the June NOM Night. If you have any question about it, send in the ballot. If you are present at the meeting, your absentee ballot envelope will be returned to you, unopened, before the floor vote is taken.

At the June NOM Night, the LOCSEC will appoint an Election Officer from among the members present. This election officer may not be a member of the EXCOM. The entire election will be under the supervision of the Election Officer, and he or she will certify the accuracy of the results at the completion of the ballot count.

The floor vote will be conducted first, under the direction of our LOCSEC, or whomever else the Election Officer directs. After the floor vote, properly validated absentee ballot envelopes will be opened and the ballots will be separated from the envelopes, but both will be preserved. Then the valid absentee ballots will be counted, the totals will be added to the floor vote, and the result of the election will be announced. All interested members of NOM at the meeting may observe the count.

Do NOT put any identifying mark on the ballot. Merely X the APPROVE or REJECT box of your choice on the ballot, seal the ballot in an envelope, and mail it. Any identifying mark on it spoils the ballot. Spoiled ballots will be preserved with, but separate from, the valid ballots.

You must write at least your signature and membership number in the standard return address area of your envelope (upper left corner of the face) for the ballot to be counted. Your membership number is on the La Plume mailing label, just above the beginning of your name on the label. The 06-700 and the Zip Code are not included in your membership number.

The name and number on the ballot envelope will be checked against the latest NOM membership roster from Mensa National before the envelope is opened and the ballot is counted. Any disqualified envelopes will remain unopened and will be kept with the spoiled ballots.

If you wish to preserve your magazine undamaged, you may use a separate piece of paper for a ballot. Plainly write APPROVE or REJECT on it (nothing else) and mail it in your envelope. The deadline for receipt of the absentee ballots is the last mail delivery before the vote.

Remember: for your ballot to be counted, your envelope MUST have on it, in the return address area, at least your signature and Mensa membership number. Send it to:

NOM Bylaw Election
P. O. Box 1225
Metairie, Louisiana

Shall New Orleans Mensa accept the revised bylaws printed in the 
March/April issue of La Plume de NOM?

Accept []
Reject []

The MensAGumbo Pot

by Richard Stringer

Imagine winning a trip to a Mensa Annual Gathering, where all your transportation and hotel bills were paid, and the only thing you needed to pay was Registration. Every New Orleans Mensan has “won” this prize this year, as the Annual Gathering is being held right here in our hometown. Don’t fail to take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity. Fill out the Registration form in this issue and send in your check today, to reserve your spot in this incredible happening.

What do you get for your $80? The chance to meet 1500 fellow smart people from all over the country, a round-the-clock hospitality room for snacks, drinks and conversation, an incredible choice of programs to attend, games to play, and things to do. And, if you want, you can be a hero to your fellow Mensans by volunteering. As a member of the host group, you’ll have lots of special knowledge that visitors will appreciate.

We’re anticipating more than 150 programs over the four days, and they run the gamut from local themes, to scientific research, to lifestyle choices, to arts and letters. Local-themed programs include New Orleans Architecture, the French Quarter of Tennessee Williams, Baseball in New Orleans, and Dealing with Public Corruption in Louisiana. The “Canal Street Madam” will host a showing of the movie about her brothel, and will speak and answer questions. Scientific themes include Hurricane Storm Surge Modeling in South Louisiana, Global Warming and Energy, How the Ancient Egyptians Measured Planet Earth, How Computers Got Misinvented, an appearance by the author of the acclaimed “Secret Guide to Computers,” and a hands-on demonstration, in City Park, of the ancient spear-throwing tool the atlatl. Lifestyle choices include an appearance by one of the authors of “Sugarbusters,” Cancer, from Death Knell to Manageable Malady, Investment Strategies and Retirement Planning, and Ask the Sexologists. Besides an all-day everyday game room, there will be LAN computer gaming, a geocaching event in City Park (geocaching is a field game for GPS users), and instructions in card-counting and Zen and the Art of Craps. For entertainment, hypnotist Marshall Sylver brings his Las Vegas-style act, there are ballroom and swing dance classes, two dances and a gospel jazz brunch. This is a very brief look at a sample of the program schedule. For the full schedule, which is being updated continually, check the Programs tab at the AG website .

There will be tours of some area attractions, including a rare opportunity to go behind the scenes and meet the scientists at the Southern Regional Research Center and the Stennis Space Center. There will be a Garden District Walking Tour, ending with lunch at Commander’s Palace, a tour of Laura and Oak Alley plantations with lunch at Oak Alley, and Tea at Longue Vue Gardens.

There is literally something for everyone. You’ll find yourself having to make some hard choices of which programs to attend. Don’t miss this opportunity, whatever you do! For registration questions or to volunteer, contact L.

Why We Go To The AG

by Bart J. Geraci

I've been to every AG since 1989, my wife since 1991, and our kids since they were born. Why do we do it every year?

Ignatius DiGeorge 1913-2005

Mensans will be sad to learn of the death of Ignatius DiGeorge, the beloved husband of our cover artist, Patricia DiGeorge. A charming and courtly gentleman, a decorated hero of WWII, and a true Christian who spent hours serving those less fortunate–he will be missed.


by Clarence Smith

Money was getting short. It was time to go back to sea. Finally a call came for a second mate on an old Liberty ship going to Brazil. I wasn't really fond of Liberty ships but shipping in Houston was pretty slow, as it was all over the country, so I figured this was about the best I could do.

The EVICYNTHIA was not in the best of shape. She was about seventeen years old and showed every year but she looked as though she could hold together for a few more trips.

Captain Crane was a naturalized citizen, originally from Romania. He had a marked accent and it soon became apparent that he didn't know a hell of a lot about ships.

We hung around a few days, cleaning holds and I was able to go home every night. Then we went to the grain elevator where we loaded most of the cargo of grain. After that we sailed a few miles down the channel to a dock where we loaded more grain in bags on top of the loose grain in a couple of the holds. This was to stabilize the loose grain, not allowing it to shift around.

While we loaded the bagged grain we started getting reports of hurricane “Carla,” which seemed to be headed our way. By the time the cargo was finished it was evident that the hurricane was going to come ashore somewhere on the Texas coast.

The intelligent thing to do would have been to put out extra mooring lines and stay right at the dock but the dock superintendent convinced Captain Crane that we had to leave. This was not true. We could have stayed there where it was safe.

We steamed down to Galveston bay where we put out both anchors with maximum chain and waited for the hurricane to make up its mind.

Carla made up her mind all right. She ran right over Galveston and the EVICYNTHIA.

It was lucky that this was not one of the real giant storms but there was no question that it was a hurricane. The wind blew the spray horizontally so hard that it actually came through invisible cracks in the wheelhouse, which looked like solid steel. There was no way to screw down the porthole dogs hard enough to keep out the water.

Visibility was so bad we couldn't see the mast right in front of the bridge, thirty feet away.

The center of the storm passed over us in the early afternoon and the calm was supernatural. We could see Galveston Island but it was obvious we were nowhere near where we had anchored. I just hoped that we hadn't been blown aground. We appeared to be somewhere near the west end of the island, where we would have been aground if it hadn’t been for the storm surge.

We had a few minutes while we were in the eye of the storm, so we made a quick check of the hatch covers to make certain none of them had been blown off, then the wind started picking up again and we headed for the safety of the superstructure.

During the first half of the storm the wind blew from the east and, after the center passed, the wind blew from the opposite direction.
Because of the forward motion of the storm, the wind was somewhat stronger during the first half of the storm but the visibility was just as bad and the water blew through the walls during the second half, too.

Night had fallen when Carla finally did blow herself out we didn't have the foggiest idea where we were until morning. All the navigation buoys and lights had been blown away and there was nothing to get a fix on.

When morning finally came we could see the city of Galveston and the jetty of the ship channel. We had been blown back nearly to our original anchorage and we were obviously not aground.

We sounded the bilges, finding a bit of water but not enough to worry about. On inspecting the ship, we found a few things blown away, like the main radio antenna. This was the most important damage. We could not sail without the radio antenna. Fortunately the radio operator found a spare and we were able to rig it without too much trouble. The able seamen had to climb the masts a few times, replacing lines and pulleys but they made it.

In the afternoon a pilot came out to see if we wanted to sail. There were no aids to navigation but we were in a good position and he was sure we could make it simply by sailing along the jetty and then a compass course when we got to the entrance.

We made it and I got the radio operator to send a message to Marta that we were all right and on the way to Brazil.

Carla cost the lives of 42 people and billions of dollars in damage and, because of Capt. Crain, we were in the center of it.

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