New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for November 2016

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment


By Bart Geraci

It’s finally November!

I anticipate quite a reaction when the November elections are over. Aside from voting for President, we in Louisiana have to select a new U S Senator, and vote on 6 State Constitutional Amendments (and local elections as well). The U S Constitution has had 27 amendments since 1787. Our state Constitution has had 292 amendments since 1974.

In our group, we had Mensa Testing Day on October 22nd at NOMA where we tested two people. We also had one person show up to our Q&A session on the prior Thursday night. We’ve also received a beautiful group poster sent to us from National.

We had some sad news with the passing of long-time active member Fred Hatfield.

The RG is coming along nicely. For those who haven’t registered yet: November 9th is the deadline to (1) Register at reduced price ($90) for NORGY 2016 and (2) Get the great room rate ($109/$119) for the hotel.

In the city, it’s late October and I still wear shorts on weekends. But every now and then, there’s a blast of cool air passing through. The other night, my wife and I saw our NBA team, the Pelicans, play at the arena. It was a fun evening and I’m glad that they are a part of our city.

Let’s go Pelicans and Saints!

NORGY 2016 !!!

NORGY 2016: A CONSUMMATION of New Orleans Culture

Friday, December 9 – Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Gathering will feature speakers, activities, and excursions that exemplify a wide variety of New Orleans culture. The general topics to be covered include History, Food, Architecture, Literature, Music, and Lagniappe (that's a little bit extra) – all the things that make our city truly one of a kind.

Our hotel, Hilton Garden Inn New Orleans Convention Center, is located one block from the Convention Center, three blocks from the World War II Museum, and is near many restaurants.

See for more info.

In Memoriam: Fred Hatfield

A long time member, Fred Hatfield, passed away in October.

He served during WWII, co-founded the New Orleans Jazz Club, archived the Lafayette No. 1 Cemetery, and taught Computer Science.

His wife, Anne Barr Hatfield, passed away in 2010 and was also a member of Mensa.

Our deepest sympathies go to his friends and family

Taz Talks

By Taz Criss, Region 6 Vice Chair

As summer temperatures finally cool, we find ourselves at the beginning of another season - election season.

No, I'm not talking about the presidential and Congessional elections, I'm talking about the election of the American Mensa Committee, who serves as the national board of directors for American Mensa.

There are 15 voting positions on the AMC. As members of this region, you are able to vote for 6 of them. If you renew your membership on time (before April 1), you will be able to cast your vote for the five national officers -- Chair, First Vice Chair, Second Vice Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary -- as well as the Regional Vice Chair of Region 6. Mechanics of voting will be explained closer to the election, but I want to talk a bit about how the ballot is created, as this has been changed significantly with our most recent bylaws amendments.

In previous elections, members who wished to seek election could choose to apply to the national Nominating Committee or gather a petition of at least 50 signatures from members in good standing. Some members chose to do both, and the route they chose was made clear by the letters "N," "P," or "N/P" next to each candidate's name on the ballot. Due to the length of the NomComm process, people often began talking about who would be running for office 10-11 months prior to the election.

Two significant changes were made in our most recent election. The first was the removal of the NomComm. All members wishing to run for office will now have to utilize the petition process. The second change is the number of signatures required to reach the ballot. Candidates for national office must now receive 250 signatures and candidates for RVC must receive 100 signatures.

These signature totals are higher than any received in recent elections, which does concern me a bit. It is entirely possible that in previous elections, people simply stopped signing once they saw that candidates had achieved the prerequisite number. It is also entirely possible that we may have vacancies on the ballot if candidates cannot secure enough signatures. That is my primary concern.

Candidates will be able to receive signatures both on paper and electronically. If a candidate asks you to sign their petition, I hope you will consider it. It should be noted that signing a candidate's petition does NOT commit your vote to that candidate. You are absolutely allowed to sign competing candidates' petitions as well. Your signature merely says that you believe the candidate should be placed on the ballot. You will have time to review candidate statements and positions before casting your vote in April or May.

If you have questions regarding the election process, you can reach the Election Committee Chair, Tabby Vos, at

As always, I ask that if you have any questions, concerns, or general comments, please let me know. I have created a simple online form where members can offer feedback on any topic, both by name or anonymously. You can find this form at Of course, if you prefer, you can always contact me via email at

BrainFork: Pomegranate

By Bart Geraci

Pomegranate... isn’t that...



“Fun fact #1 about pomegranates: Pomegranates are awesome.
Fun fact #2: Pomegranates are like little explosions of awesome in your mouth.
Fun fact #3: A lot of people think you're not supposed to eat the seeds of a pomegranate - but that's not true, people who tell you that are liars, and they don't know anything about life, and they should never be trusted.”
- Tahereh Mafi -

The name pomegranate comes from Medieval Latin parts “pomme” meaning apple and “granatum” meaning seeded.

The taxonomy:

Kingdom Plantae
(unranked) Angiosperms
(unranked) Eudicots
(unranked) Rosids
Order Myrtales
Family Lythraceae
Genus Punica
Species P. granatum

The order Myrtales has one Family called Myrtaceae, which is known as the Myrtle family. Well, pomegranates are not in that one. Originally it was located in the Punicaceae family, pretty much all alone. Then it got moved to the Lythraceae Family, also known as the Loosestrife Family.

Why the move? The Angiosperm Phylogeny Group is a group of botanists that was formed to reconcile quite a few classification systems that were in use by different nations. They determined that due to genetic and evolutionary analysis, pomegranates were closely related to the Loosestrife Family.

The Genus Punica comes from the fact that the pomegranate was introduced to Italy by way of Carthage (Punic).

Aril is aril is Aril

“If you're always tearing paper into teeny weeny bits,
You need an analyst, a psychoanalyst
If you've got a secret closet full of pomegranate pits,
You need an analyst, a psychoanalyst”
- Allan Sherman, “You Need an Analyst” -

So you have a pomegranate. So how do you eat it?

Well, unlike other fruits, you want to eat the seeds. Or more precisely, the sarcotesta, the fleshy edible seed coating. There are anywhere from 200 to 1400 of these in each fruit.

So one way I like to get the seeds involves getting a bowl with a bit of water in it. After scoring the pomegranate on the outside, I break the pomegranate to pieces and let them fall in the bowl. There is a white spongy membrane that is holding the seeds. This membrane is bitter and is not eaten. But unlike the seeds, they will float in the water and the seeds will sink. So as they float, you can skim these pieces off the top before getting all the seeds below.

The fruit can be stored in the fridge for a week, but once the seeds are extracted, they tend to keep for a few days at most. The good news is that the seeds can be frozen. You’ll dry them off first, put on wax paper on a sheet pan, spread them out and freeze for at least a couple of hours. When frozen, store in a freezer bag. BTW, I use this method to freeze berries, fruits, and vegetables in order to keep them as individual pieces and not clump up in one frozen mass.

Now in India, they’ll take these seeds and dry them out in the air for 10 - 15 days, then grind them to be used as a spice called anardana.

So let’s get back to the word aril that’s in this section title. An aril is the material covering the seed. One example of an aril is the nutmeg seed, which is covered by a red material - this material is ground and sold as the spice called mace.

Now do pomegranates have arils? No. The sarcotesta is part of the seed coat. To be an aril, it needs to be a separate outgrowth from the seed itself. But you’ll see the word “aril” used since it’s easier to say (and cuter-looking) than “sarcotesta”.


“Brown-eyed women and red grenadine
The bottle was dusty but the liquor was clean”
-Grateful Dead “Brown-Eyed Woman”-

The town Granada in Spain was named in part due to the pomegranate. In fact, a pomegranate plant is on the city’s coat or arms.

So over in the mixer section of your grocery store (did you know some states disallow selling alcohol in grocery stores? I know, isn’t that weird?), you’ll see club sodas, tonic waters, simple syrups, and bitters.

Somewhere in this area is Grenadine syrup.

This syrup was made for cocktails. It’s the red in a Tequila Sunrise, the pink of a Pink Lemonade, the - whatever part applies - makes a 7-Up into a Shirley Temple.

The word Grenadine comes from the french word for pomegranate: “grenade”. And it was originally made from pomegranate juice, water, and sugar. That may still be the case for a few brands, but most of them (like the one I bought a few months back) doesn’t - it’s just a simple syrup with food coloring.

You can make your own syrup by taking unsweetened pomegranate juice, some sugar (some like a 4 to 1 ratio of juice to sugar) and put in a wide skillet and simmer for a while. You want the water to evaporate, but hard boiling will turn the color muddy. You don’t want it to be a syrup, since it will thicken as it cools. Let it cool, and add some optional (lemon / orange / lime ) juice to add a little bit of acidity, adjust for sweetness with a little bit of sugar.


“And her sweet red lips on these lips of mine
Burned like the ruby fire set
In the swinging lamp of a crimson shrine,
Or the bleeding wounds of the pomegranate,
Or the heart of the lotus drenched and wet
With the spilt-out blood of the rose-red wine.”
-Oscar Wilde -

One characteristic of the pomegranate is the plethora of seeds within the fruit, thus becoming a symbol associated with abundance and fertility by many cultures.

Some say it was the fruit in Garden of Eden that led to the Fall of Man.

It is traditional to consume pomegranates on Rosh Hashanah because the fruit is said to hold 613 seeds, one for each law in the Torah.


“Close to the Gates a spacious Garden lies,
From the Storms defended and inclement Skies
Four Acres was the allotted Space of Ground,
Fenc'd with a green Enclosure all around.
Tall thriving Trees confessed the fruitful Mold
The reddening Apple ripens here to Gold,
Here the blue Fig with luscious Juice overflows,
With deeper Red the full Pomegranate glows,
The Branch here bends beneath the weighty Pear,
And verdant Olives flourish round the Year”
- Homer -

Here are a couple of recipes:

Pomegranate Relish

Saute some shallots in oil until soft/golden. Add pomegranate seeds, some pomegranate juice, lime juice, salt and pepper. Reduce over heat until it reaches a desired consistency (could be a little runny). Remove from heat, let cool, and add some chopped cilantro.

Pomegranate Americano

It’s a non-alcoholic version of Campari and Soda Fill glass with ice, add some pomegranate juice, top with club soda. Then add a few Angostura bitters on top. Due to density of juice and soda, you may want to stir this well either before or after adding the bitters.

So The Story Goes Like This

By Bart Geraci

So one day my friend and I left West Texas for a vacation to San Francisco. We wandered around and we found ourselves in the Chinatown district.

One store in particular had a lot of cute items that were perfect for our friends back home, so we decided to get quite a few. After an hour in the store we had a basket full of items that we brought to the cashier. I’d been trying to keep a rough estimate on what the total would be, but it became harder and harder as we picked up more items.

The cashier took out his abacus, and started adding up the prices. I was impressed by how fast he was going and in no time at all he announced a grand total that was about $10 less than I thought.

I loved the lower price, but I wanted to make sure he didn’t forget to price an item, so I asked him politely, &ldquoAre you sure you got everything in that total?”

He said, “I trust my abacus ...”

“... it’s something I can count on.”

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These pages and all content Copyright (c) 2016 by New Orleans Mensa, all rights reserved. Mensa® and the Mensa logo (as depicted for example in U.S. TM Reg. No. 1,405,381) are registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by American Mensa, Ltd., and are registered in other countries by Mensa International Limited and/or affiliated national Mensa organizations. Mensa does not hold any opinion or have, or express, any political or religious views.
Last edited: 5-Mar-2017. Webmaster Bart J. Geraci can be reached at