New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for May / June 2007

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment


by Anne Osteen Stringer

It’s election time in Mensa and La Plume was besieged by emails from candidates for the various offices wanting us to run their statements, biographies, and impassioned pleas for your votes. Our Excomm decided that if we couldn’t run campaign statements for everyone, we should not run any at all. So this issue is free of campaign literature and hype. But we hope that you will vote in the elections and will be an informed voter. You can read candidate biographies and statements at the American Mensa Website (You can also vote online at this site.) Candidate statements were also in the April/May issue of the National Bulletin. You have the opportunity to vote in the Mensa International election as well as the National election. You can vote in the National election until May 31, but the International polls close on May 15.

There are a lot of interesting and fun things to do listed on the calendar–there should be something for everyone. If you are a member who hasn’t attended any Mensa events in a while, we hope you will attend.

This issue includes Henry Bertrand’s report on the blossoming North Shore group and Patti Armatis has an interesting theory about rock music. The cover features Pat DiGeorge’s lovely watercolor entitled “Flora”.

RVC6 May Report

by Ray O’Connor

It’s that time of year again – Elections. If you have not done so, please vote. The AMC is the ruling body of American Mensa. If you don’t vote, you have no voice. You received your ballot in the April/May Bulletin. Please remember to vote for the international officers as well as American Mensa candidates.

Have you registered for the Gulf Coast regional gathering over Memorial Day Weekend in Houston? If you have never been to a Mensa gathering, it is a truly awesome experience. Four days and three nights of conversation, hospitality, games and programs. “Try it. You’ll like it!”

If you can’t make this RG, remember the Lone Star Mensa group offers a great RG over Labor Day weekend in Austin and North Texas Mensa hosts a Thanksgiving RG. Each is unique in their own way and great opportunities for Mensa fun.


by Patti Armatis

As far as I am concerned, every project was a winner if only because they were able to do it under “combat” conditions. The quality of exhibits was good but the quantity was reduced.

On March 15, the intrepid NOMensa judges, George Kutzgar, Gerry Ward, Bart Geraci and I gathered at the First Baptist Church meeting hall and decided that the following projects showed creativity backed by rigorous scientific reasoning sufficient to merit their Mensa award of $50 for 1st place and $20 for second. Bart also produced a personalized certificate [beautiful!] with each recipient’s name and the title of their project. George was kind enough to present the awards the next evening. And the winners are.........

Tom Strader

New Orleans Mensans will be sad to learn of the death of Tom Strader, who passed away in March. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and the Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards AFB, CA, where he was a test pilot and Astronaut Candidate. He retired in 1974 after 20 years of service, including two tours of duty in Viet Nam. After retirement, he pursued various business interests in Slidell and became known as an entrepreneur and developer. He left a large and loving family.

James Thomas Strader, Lt. Col., U.S.A.F., Ret. was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. Tom had not been active in Mensa in recent years, but longtime members remember and will miss him–a true American hero.


by Henry Bertrand

The first meeting of the NOM-North segment of New Orleans Mensa got off to a rather inauspicious start at PJ’s Coffeehouse in Slidell in March. Upon arriving just before 7pm, we learned that our reserved room was occupied by another group. Upon checking her roster for the day, the attendant found that we had been erroneously listed by their employee for a 7am get-together. Can you imagine Mensans scheduling a 7am meeting? Fortunately, PJ’s accommodated us in another comfortable area where our group of nine attendees shared ideas for possible Northshore gatherings in the future.

To our delight we had with us a brand new member, ten year old Ashton who came with his mother Gnanse (pronounced Nancy). Ashton entertained us with a song in Chinese, a language he is learning in addition to his other activities. Dale had suggested that we might bring “something curious” to show and/or talk about, like a keepsake or souvenir or unusual item acquired in travel or object we had personally created. John and Clare brought an antique gizmo which baffled us all until its use was explained. I will not divulge the secret at this point. Anyway, the idea of members bringing, if they wish, curious objects for “show and tell” seemed to catch on. Hence, we will call our first SIG over here The Most Curious SIG. We hope to meet on the second Thursday of each month at 7pm. Our plans also include varying the location in St. Tammany from the east side (Slidell/Pearl River) to the west side (Mandeville/Covington/Madisonville), as we go from month to month.

Other ideas introduced at this meeting (and some of these go way back to my early days in Mensa) include: A Music SIG where we listen to classical or popular music, choice of host, at someone’s home. A Movie SIG where we watch a DVD or VHS tape followed by discussion, again at someone’s home. A Lecturer SIG with topics pre-announced at locations wherever possible. A Don’t Waste Your Breath SIG for controversial discussions of politics, religion, legal issues and other subjects where everyone has the correct opinion. And a few more unrecorded offerings. Unfortunately, there were no volunteers to “run with the ball” in getting any of these SIG’s into a reality show. Perhaps someone at our next gathering will step forward.

Our next gathering will be at the Big Apple Chinese Buffet on May 10. See the Calendar for details.

Mensans from both the North and South shores are welcome, along with mates and guests. Bring a “curiosity”, if you wish.


by Patti Armatis

One of the best things about Mensa you never know what will come up in conversation.

Last February I sat with a group of Mensans at our regular Coffeehouse SIG and mentioned the upcoming GNO Science Fair. In the spirit of gentle arm-twisting I was hoping that some of our newer members might consider volunteering as judges for the award we present. Like many such discussions it wandered, but Claudia D’Aquin’s remarks really piqued my interest. Her story goes like this:

Several years back (mid-1990s) the latest theory on raising intelligent children involved listening to classical music in utero and beyond. One teenager, after reading the published research on the "Mozart Effect", proposed as the hypothesis of his Science Fair project that it was not just classical, but any music that increased learning ability. He was attempting to prove that there was no difference due to the type of music (He was a hard rock music fan).

He obtained 72 lab mice, divided them into 3 groups and tested their maze-running prowess. Each group's average time was 10 minutes at the beginning of the experiment.. The 3 groups were then separated into 3 rooms in the basement of his house for the duration of the experiment. The first group listened to classical music (Mozart) 10 hours per day, the second group was exposed to hard rock music 10 hours a day and the control group to no music. (The 3 groups were aurally separated, so that there was no sound bleed-over). Each group ran the maze each day in order to get to their food.

At the conclusion of the experiment, the control mice ran the maze in an average of 5 minutes, but the classical mice ran it in 90 seconds--- great confirmation of the effect of classical music on brain activity! Unfortunately, the hard rock mice had regressed, and now took 30 minutes. Our budding scientist won the state science fair with this project, despite being amazed and disappointed that his favorite music was so detrimental. It also came out in conversation with him that this experiment had been started during the previous year but was not able to be completed. Reason--- the groups were each housed in a single cage, and during the course of the experiment, the “rock mice” started attacking each other! A number of mice in this group died. Next year the experiment was repeated with the mice caged individually.

Because this was fascinating to me, I related the story to my husband, a retired Professor of Physiology. He was reminded of a situation that occurred while a new building was being constructed at LSU Medical Center. It seems that all the LSUMC experimental animals were housed in the basement of the adjoining building. While the pilings for the new foundation were being driven and to some extent when other heavy equipment was shaking the ground NO SCIENTIST could get reliable results from their animal testing. Reason--The stress hormones of the rats, dogs, etc were off the chart. In other words, normal controls were not available. So the next time you hear a heavy bass beat coming from a car, remember this article.

Inspection Sticker

by Joe Hopkins

The first car I bought was a six year old Lincoln. I was sixteen years old and bought it with my own funds which I had saved from various jobs and my own business.The car was in decent shape but did not have the required PA inspection sticker. I can't recall why I didn't take it to a mechanic and let him do what was needed but for some reason I did not. Pennsylvania is known as the Keystone State and the inspection sticker had an image of a keystone on it.

In Pennsylvania liquor is sold only through the state run liquor stores.The State stores,as they are known, use the Keystone symbol in their newspaper ads. The Keystones in the state store ads were about the same size as those on the inspection sticker. It didn't take more than 5 minutes to cut the ad out of the newspaper, hit it with a crayon to make the color right and glue it onto the windshield. It lasted until the next inspection was due.When I took the car in for inspection,they scraped the old sticker off to replace it before they noticed that it was bogus.That made me wonder how close they examined things during the inspection.


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