New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for November/December 2003

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment


by Anne Osteen Stringer

Congratulations to our newly elected officers for 2004! Loc Sec Rene Petersen, Asst. Loc Sec Sharon Kirkpatrick, Secretary Loretta Levene, and Treasure Phil Wilking.

I want to remind everyone that the deadline for that great hotel rate at the Maison Dupuy is fast approaching. If you’re coming to the RG and want to stay in middle of all the action, get your reservations in NOW! The hotel deadline is Nov. 12 and after that time rooms may be available, but not at that bargain basement rate. The RG is shaping up nicely and promises to be something no NOM should miss. We’re including a schedule of activities in this issue.

This issue contains a plea for help from a Denver Mensan who is a finalist in the National Urban Challenge. All you NOM’s who are trivia whizzes and/or have a good knowledge New Orleans streets, bus lines, trolleys, ferries, etc. should give him a hand.

We’re also featuring the cartooning skills or Byron Lord, a member of Middle Tennessee Mensa. Check out his other cartoons at

Pat DiGeorge’s cover illustration of “Feeding the Ducks at City Park” reminds us of a fun thing to do on these lovely fall afternoons.

Letters to the Editor

Highway 61 Revisited

Just read the latest issue with particular interest in Richard Stringer's "The Reading M" reviewing Bill McKeen's "Highway 61." He might be interested to know that Dr. McKeen's host here in New Orleans was none other than a longtime M (since 1972, actually)--moi! I'll be sharing the review with Bill. (Incidentally, a recent reviewer in the TP liked the New Orleans leg of the journey, at least the interview with Iler Pope of Cafe Atchafalaya.) S.L. Alexander, PhD

Atrocity SIG ?!?!

I have a collection of several years worth of old "Atrocity SIG" newsletters. Is there anyone interested in them? Bart Geraci

NOM News

A business meeting was held at the September NOM Night at S’s home. Nominations for 2004 officers were opened at 8:00. Nominations and seconds from the floor were for Loc Sec: Rene Petersen; for Asst Loc Sec: Sharon Kirkpatrick; for Secretary: Loretta Levene; for Treasurer: Phil Wilking. Since there were no contested nominations, these will be our officers for 2004.

Also at the September meeting the members present voted to increase the refreshment fee for attending NOM Night from $2.00 to $3.00 and to reduce the stipend paid to the host/hostess from $60.00 to $50.00.

National News

RVC Dan Wilterding reports that American Mensa needs our help to resolve a discrepancy between our Certificate of Incorporation and our bylaws. The problem is that by not specifying otherwise, our Certificate of Incorporation requires that a quorum of 50% of the membership be physically present for business to be conducted. The solution is to amend the Certificate to set a quorum at a reasonably achievable number. But (there’s always a but) in order to do this National Mensa needs to collect proxies equal to one more than 50% of the membership. Both hard copy and electronic proxies will be allowed.

There will be more discussion of this issue in the November National Bulletin or you can go to “Proxy Information” on the national website When you receive your proxy, SIGN IT AND SEND IT IN!

RG Report

by Heather Miller

New Orleans Mensa and Baton Rouge Mensa welcome you to NORGy VI!

Dates: December 12, 13 and 14, 2003. Registration is $55 until November 15-use the registration form in the center of this issue or go to to download the registration form and get in at the base rate. After November 15, registration will be $65. One-day registrations are $25 until November 1, then $35 afterward.

Dominique’s, the four-star restaurant in the Maison Dupuy, is catering our meals-and what meals they will be! Saturday lunch, Saturday night banquet, and Sunday brunch tickets are available individually or in any combination you want.

Send your registration forms, money and related questions to:
P.O. Box 75
Franklinton, LA 70438

The host hotel is the Maison Dupuy, 1001 Rue Toulouse, New Orleans, LA, 70112. Visit the hotel website at The rate is only $89 per night. This rate is guaranteed only until Nov. 12. Call the hotel at 800-535-9177 or 504-586-8000 and request the Mensa rate. The Maison Dupuy is located in the Vieux Carré, just two blocks from Bourbon Street.

The American Mensa Committee will hold its quarterly meeting in conjunction with NORGy VI. You’ll also enjoy meets-and-greets, terrific programs, and time on your own to enjoy New Orleans’s legendary delights. See the NORGy VI website at for the program listing, and check back for updates.

Our speakers cover a range of stimulating topics. Speaker sessions begin at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Registration and hospitality open Friday at 4 p.m. Join your friends in our two hospitality rooms (smoking and non-smoking) and begin the party early.

Have friends who aren’t Mensans yet? Bring them along for the testing session Saturday.

Saturday lunch consists of mixed seasonal greens with grapeseed vinaigrette; a choice of chicken fettuccine, jambalaya, or blackened fish; and cheesecake with pecan topping.

Saturday night’s meal is another feast catered by Dominique’s, consisting of gumbo; a choice of shrimp sauce piquante or pork tenderloin; specially prepared vegetables; and chocolate mousse in a Florentine lily with seasonal berries and fruit coulis.

Saturday night, the AMC will hold a discussion session to talk with members about a needed amendment to American Mensa’s certificate of incorporation. Proxies will be available for members to sign.

We’ll wrap up the gathering with our scholarship raffle, awards, and holiday wishes for everyone.

Sunday brunch will be the amazing spread prepared by the chefs at Dominique’s. Dish after delectable dish awaits you!

The first registration deadline has already passed-don’t let the November deadline catch you! Get registered, get your hotel room, and get ready to laissez les bon temps rouler!

Denver Mensan in Finals of Urban Challenge

We received an email from Mario DeBenedettis and Gary Smith, of Denver Mensa, asking for our help for their team in the National Urban Challenge Finals, to be held in New Orleans Saturday November 15.

Hello to New Orleans Mensa from Denver Mensa.

We qualified for the National Urban Challenge to be held in New Orleans on Nov. 15 by winning third place in a local (Denver) contest. We need your help in enlisting a support team in the New Orleans area. Ideally these would be Mensans who know the area very well and also know the bus schedules very well.

The Urban Challenge is a series of races held in cities around the U.S. In the Challenges, two-person teams try to reach a series of checkpoints scattered around each town. The teams must solve clues to the location of each checkpoint and then must navigate to the checkpoint on foot or by using the public bus system. They must decide when they have reached the proper checkpoint and have their picture taken to prove that they correctly solved the clue and made it to the checkpoint. The first team to correctly identify all the checkpoints and reach them in order wins.

Dmitriy Zamoshchin, from the Rocky Mountain Orienteering Club, and Gary Smith of Denver Mensa decided to team up for the challenge. Teams are allowed to get outside help for solving the clues, so Gary put the word out on the two Denver Mensa listservs asking for support. Denver Mensa responded with a support team consisting of Mario and several other Denver Ms.
According to the Urban Challenge website at, the object of Urban Challenge is to visit twelve checkpoints in correct order and return to event headquarters. The first team back wins. The only allowed methods of travel are by foot or local public transportation —— city bus, ferry, train, or trolley. The Urban Challenge begins with a trivia test held at event headquarters. The Trivia Challenge tests general knowledge with thirty multiple choice questions. A team's starting position is determined by its performance on the Trivia Challenge. The teams with the highest scores begin first. Teams receive a Checkpoint Clue Sheet moments before they're released from event headquarters. The locations of all twelve checkpoints are embedded in the clues on the Checkpoint Clue Sheet. There is no set course to Urban Challenge, nor are checkpoints marked. Teams prove they visited each checkpoint in the correct order by photographing themselves at each checkpoint. The first team back to HQ wins.

Urban Challenge notes that it is a game which tests mind and body, as competing in the trivia contest which determines starting position, and deciphering the clues which identify the checkpoints are a definite mental exercise, and running or jogging between checkpoints reachable by foot tests physical endurance. The National Finals begin with a Semifinal Challenge Saturday morning at 7:30. The first seven teams to finish that Challenge then undertake the Final Challenge, at 2:00 Saturday afternoon. The winner of that event takes home $50,000. Headquarters for the National Finals is the Fairmont Hotel. Urban Challenge is partnered with the National Prostate Cancer Coalition, and raises funds for that organization.

If you'd like to help in this effort, please contact Richard Stringer at or Gary Smith at

This sounds like a fun project. Hopefully Gary and the Denver team will make it to our NOM Night the same evening.

Happy Holidays!

Our Holiday wish for you...
A Christmas that is not white, but sunny and mild...
Good things to eat...
Lots of presents...
The joy of giving...
The companionship of those you love...
Peace on Earth.

See you in 2004!

La Plume staff

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