New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for November, 2011

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment

From the Editor

Peter Salomon


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So The Story Goes Like This

Bart Geraci

So I was out in the Australian Outback one summer, which is during the winter months in the states, and I came across a rest stop run by the Sisters of Mercy.

I was feeling parched and I asked them if I could get some water to drink.

They said sure, but didn't I want to try their special tea?

They explained that they had perfected an ancient recipe that called for steeping both tea leaves and eucalyptus leaves in a hot-water broth to produce a satisfying beverage.

Naturally, they named it Koala since the koala bear (not really a bear) loves to chew on eucalyptus leaves.

Well, I did try a cup, and while it was indeed refreshing, I didn't like the loose leave bits at the bottom.

That's when they explained to me that...

...the Koala tea of Mercy is not strained.


Roger Durham

As I sat down to compose this month’s missive, I was interrupted by the sad news of the passing of my predecessor as Regional Vice Chairman, Ralph Rudolph. Ralph (or Rudy, as he was known to his friends) and I met years ago, when he was Chairman of American Mensa, but I lost track of him until he moved to New Mexico and soon became the Region 6 RVC. As RVC, he was a regular attendee at our Regional Gathering here in Dallas, and as I was President (LocSec) of our local group around that time, we corresponded fairly frequently. After he resigned as RVC, due to an unfortunate dispute with some other members of the American Mensa Committee, he was kind enough to sign my petition when I became a candidate to replace him. Ralph and I did not always agree, and I never felt that his confrontational style was very effective, but nobody can deny that he worked tirelessly for Mensa, and will be missed by many. Rest in peace, Rudy.

On a more cheerful note, I feel that as this year’s Registrar, I can justify a little shameless promotion of North Texas Mensa’s RG, the Feast of Pleasures and Delights XXXII. There’s still time for you to make plans to attend this year, if you’re not already registered, and unless you’re an incurable curmudgeon, you’re virtually certain to have a good time. The easy way to sign up is on-line at, but if you’d rather do it by mail, just send a check in the amount of $70, payable to NTMRG, to me at 9920 Ridgehaven Drive, Dallas, TX 75238. If you want a ticket to one of the optional Tastings, Brandy and Wine are each an additional $12, while Beer, Chocolate, and Raw Foods are $6 each. Hotel rooms are $81 per night, including 2 breakfast buffets each morning. Call 214-341-5400 or 888-201-1718 for a reservation, and ask for the Mensa rate. We hope to see you at the Radisson Dallas East on Thanksgiving weekend!

I’m cutting this epistle short this month in the hope that your editor will be able to use the extra space to publish the attached photo, illustrating what a good time was had by your RVC at the Lone Star Mensa RG in Round Rock

Members Are Looking For:

Bart Geraci

This section will list some things that our members are looking for. Let's get this started:

“Words With Friends” players – contact Bart at

What are you looking for? Send it in and we'll get the word out.


Joseph B. Hopkins

I felt like the T in often,
Or sometimes the K in knife.
I tried not to be a distraction
Just making my way through life
People could see me,
They knew I was there,
And they still ignored me,
But I no longer care.
Like the P in pneumonia,
And the G that’s in gnu,
Lying under this headstone
I’m silent too


Bart Geraci

After the nominations that were held on October 8th, and a subsequent decision on the 9th, the results are that everyone has 2 more years in the same positions:

The report relating to the nominations has been included in a separate article.

The AMC can not have their 2012 Winter meeting on the weekend of December 7th-9th, so we have moved our 2012 RG date to November 30th through December 2nd. This is not the Friday after Thanksgiving (that's North Texas's RG Weekend), but it's the weekend after that. We are working on getting enough done to put in a bid for holding the AMC meeting soon.

The next EXCOM meeting will be held Saturday November 12th, 6 P.M. at R's. This is one hour before the NOM Night at the same location. This is a business meeting, not a social event. However, any Mensa member may attend.

Down here in New Orleans, we've been having a few days now of roll-down-the-car-window weather, so enjoy it while it lasts.

This month, you'll be able to experience a second at 11-11-11 11:11:11. Of course, November 11th is Armistice/Remembrance/ Veterans Day, celebrating when the treaty ending World War I was signed. So feel free to take time, much longer than a second, to remember those who served their country to help bring peace to the world.

Coming up over Thanksgiving Weekend is the Feast of Pleasures and Delights XXXII RG in Dallas TX, put on by North Texas Mensa. Wow, 32 years! So spend Black Friday at an RG instead of a mall, and do your holiday shopping online instead :-). More information at: region-6-feast-of-pleasures/262-paulw.html

We are looking for someone to take over the position of Area Coordinator for the North Shore. Rebecca Pharr has stepped down from the position. We very much thank her for all the work she's done.

We also need someone to take over as assistant editor. Our Loretta Levene will be stepping down at the end of the year, and we thank her for all her hard work. The job entails folding the LaPlume, placing the address stickers on them, organizing them by whatever method the post office wants in preparation for mailing at the reduced rates (some which are going up in January), and other postal requirements. Now that we're no longer doing paper mailings to people with email addresses, our newsletter printings have gone down from about 160 to about 80, so it's less taxing than before. All members can help reduce this number further by choosing to get their newsletters delivered electronically. Plus, the electronic version comes in glorious colors, while the mailed versions come in black and white only.

Let's Go Saints!

In Memoriam

We are sad to announce the passing of John D. Monteiro of Houma. He was in Mensa for nearly 10 years and he was remembered as a nice person by some of our members.

BRAINFORK: A Mensan writes about food

By Bart Geraci

Brainfork: Tea

"If he thought to himself, such a machine is a virtual impossibility, then it must logically be a finite improbability. So all I have to do in order to make one is to work out exactly how improbable it is, feed that into the finite improbability generator, give it a fresh cup of really hot tea...and turn it on!"
-Douglas Adams "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"-

Tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. Yes, a Camellia plant, but you can't go ripping off leaves from any random old Camellia plant; there seems to be about 40 different Camellia species. The scientific classification for this plant is:


“If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.”
-Abraham Lincoln -

“Herbal Tea” is commonly used to refer to a concoction made from herbs that does not include the C. Sinensis leaves. A more proper word to describe this is “tisane” or “ptisan”. If it doesn't have leaves from the tea plant, it shouldn't be called a tea. Besides, “tisane” and “ptisan” would form longer words in Scrabble, and possibly cover more bonus squares.

“Chai Tea” involves a little bit of sloppy linguistics as well. It does contain black tea, so it can be called a tea, but “chai” means “tea” so “chai tea” means “tea tea”. “Masala chai” means “spiced tea” and more accurately describes the beverage. The beverage is made with a strong black tea, a sweetener, milk (often used, but optional), and a collection of spices, which can vary from place to place, but usually chosen among ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, peppercorn, cloves, and nutmeg.

“Black Tea” are tea leaves that are crushed and allowed to ferment, then dried.

“Green Tea” (Chinese-style) are tea leaves that are pan-fired, then rolled and dried.

“Green Tea” (Japanese-style) are tea leaves that are steamed, then pan-fired and dried.

“White Tea” are tea leaves that are withered, then steamed, then dried.

“Lapsang Souchong” is black tea dried over smoky pine fires.

“Arnold Palmer” is half iced tea, half lemonade.

“Long Island Iced Tea” is an alcoholic drink made with vodka, tequila, rum, triple sec, gin, and other stuff with a splash of cola, enough to tint the drink to look like iced tea.

“Mr. T” pities the fool.

Touring Celestial Seasonings

One of the most famous tea purveyors is Celestial Seasonings. During our stay for the Denver AG, we took a trip to visit their headquarters in Boulder, Colorado. We took the tour where they showed us bags of tea and other herbs in the main area, and then the tour took us to a separately walled off area where their mint (and only mint) is stored. Entering the room, your body feels like it has been slammed to the ground by the overwhelming invigorating mint essence. It is the perfect revenge for all those peppermint candies: instead of you chewing it, it has chewed you.

Iced Tea

“If you are cold, tea will warm you;
If you are too heated, it will cool you;
If you are depressed, it will cheer you;
If you are excited, it will calm you.”
-William Gladstone-

Iced Tea (along with ice cream cones, hot dogs, peanut butter, and cotton candy) was first popularized at the 1904 St. Louis World Fair. Down in The South, the phrase “Iced Tea” means it was sweetened with sugar in the hot water as the tea steeps. Pre-Katrina, “Iced Tea” in New Orleans (which is not part of “The South”) meant unsweetened. Post-Katrina, everyone has both versions and you have to specify “sweet” or “unsweet”.


Techno-rocker Moby and Kelly Tisdale opened up the vegetarian tea shop Teany in New York (tea-N.Y.) that is rather small (teeny). I've purchased the “Teany Book” where the virtue of tea is extolled and delicious recipes are given.


"Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea."
-T.S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"-

Preparing tea is a combination of water temperature, tea leaves amount, and steeping time. For one teaspoon of tea leaves, prepare 8 oz water heated to specific temperature and steeped for a specific time:

If you want a stronger concentration, do so by increasing the amount of tea leaves, not by steeping longer. If you're making iced tea, double the amount of tea leaves per 8 oz water, and keep the steeping times the same.

What happens is that the lesser processed teas (white, green) have delicate flavors, so that flavor profile will come out at lower temperatures, whereas the black tea has been processed and oxidized more, so it takes a higher temperature to extract the flavors.

According to Moby, a way to decaffeinate tea is to follow the basic directions, but let it steep for about 45 seconds. Then pour that tea out (keeping the leaves) and follow the directions as normal for the for the 2nd infusion using the same leaves.


In 1984 I was trying to decide between attending Brown University and University of Texas at Austin for graduate studies in Computer Science. I visited both campuses and cities in April, each one with their good and bad points, and it was close.

What it came down to was iced tea.

I could not get iced tea at any of the places in Providence, Rhode Island. One restaurant offered to make me a Long Island Iced Tea, but I declined. In Austin, iced tea was available everywhere. So I chose UT.

In 1985, I joined Mensa to become more social outside of the University environment. In 1988, I returned to New Orleans after completing my M.A. in Computer Science. In 1989, I met Lovie. In 1990, I married Lovie. And the rest is history.

Report and Comments of the NOM Nominating Meeting

Bart Geraci

The first section is the report as it was recorded for the New Orleans Mensa Nominating Meeting. After this report, I will make some further comments in a following section.

NOM Nominating Meeting Report (as Recorded)

New Orleans Mensa
General Membership Meeting
October 8, 2011
7:00 PM
Home of Bart Geraci
Members present:
Bart Geraci
Claudia D'Aquin
Rene` Petersen
Gerry Ward
Phil Wilking
After an hour of socializing, the meeting was called to order by LocSec Bart Geraci at 8:00 PM.

1. First item of business on the agenda was the nomination of candidates for officers for New Orleans Mensa.

Gerry Ward was appointed as our Election Officer at the August Executive Committee meeting. The upcoming election was announced in the September newsletter, with a request for nominations for office to sent to Gerry. Gerry reported that the following candidates were nominated:

As 3 of the offices were unopposed, according to the Mensa bylaws, those officers shall be declared as elected at the close of the meeting. There are 2 candidates for the office of Treasurer. The membership will receive a ballot in the November newsletter, which will be distributed via email on or before November 1, and will be mailed by November 1, to those members who requested delivery of a print copy. Any member wishing to vote must return the completed ballot on or before the November 12 general membership meeting.

Mailed ballots must be received before the meeting in order to be counted.

Ballots may be mailed to: Gerry Ward

Any questions about the ballot may be directed to Gerry Ward; she may be reached via her email address (

The November 12 meeting will be held at the home of R. This is a general meeting and is open to all current members in good standing of New Orleans Mensa. All such members are eligible to vote.

2. Second item of business: Bart Geraci announced that the upcoming Mensa Regional Gathering in New Orleans has been scheduled for November 30- December 2, 2012. The national office has confirmed and approved this date. Bart and Lovie Geraci are co-chairs of this event.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 9:00 PM. Gerry Ward declared the 3 unopposed officers to be elected in accordance with the bylaws.

Submitted by
Claudia J. D'Aquin,

Comments on the Nominating Meeting Report

(1) The next day, Phil Wilking withdrew his candidacy from the Treasurer position. Therefore, Phil Therrien was declared elected in accordance with the bylaws. Since all positions were unopposed, no ballot is needed.

(2) The statement regarding the Regional Gathering in New Orleans in 2012 is a bit inaccurate. Yes, we have moved the date to November 30th to December 2nd, in order to try to get the AMC to hold their meeting in conjunction with the RG (because the AMC could not meet December 7th-9th). However, we are still working on the application for the RG and the RG is not official as of this date (October 22nd, 2011) and has not been approved by the national office yet.

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Last edited: 30-Oct-2011 . Webmaster Bart J. Geraci can be reached at