New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for October 2016

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment


By Bart Geraci

Well, we're now into October. The weather usually cools down a bit and it becomes one of the busiest times of the year for local conventions. The good weather brings out many more events on the weekends and a proliferation of school fairs.

At the end of the month is the VooDoo Music and Arts Experience, a 3-day concert experience in City Park. I now associate “Halloween weekend” with this Festival.

In our group, we note the passing of our former Treasurer, Phil Therrien.

On October 22, we will have Mensa Testing, and it only costs $20 instead of the usual $40. I'm sure some of you know someone who might enjoy being in our group. Let them know about the testing date and have them contact Rene Petersen to sign up.

Our New Orleans Saints are not doing well so far; there's been a few close games, though. We're starting both Pre-Season and Regular Season of the New Orleans Pelicans this month.

Let's go Saints and Pelicans!

NORGY 2016 !!!

New Orleans Mensa is having a Regional Gathering in 2016 !

Dates: December 9 - 11, 2016

So The Story Goes Like This

By Bart Geraci

So I was with some friends out in West Texas and we all got together to accompany their kids trick or treating one Halloween.

One of my friend's daughter was dressed like Frankenstein. It was her first time that she would get to say “trick or treat” to the person at the door.

Since she didn't knock too hard, she was told to ring the doorbell first. She liked the sound that the first doorbell made and started to ring all the doorbells for each of the houses -- even the ones where the person giving away candy was already sitting on the porch.

At the end of the night, I said to the daughter's parents, “You know, dressed like Frankenstein and ringing doorbells ...”

“... wouldn't that make her a knock less monster?”

In Memoriam: Phil Therrien

Phil Therrien, our former Treasurer of NOM, passed away recently.

He was a wonderful person and we were happy to have known him.

We reported that his wife had died the previous year.

Our deepest sympathies go to his friends and family.


Our upcoming Regional Gathering (RG), hosted by our local New Orleans Mensa Chapter, is rapidly approaching (December 9-11) - and your chapter members want to see you there!

So we're offering a deal that's too good to refuse, to all members of New Orleans Mensa: a 50% discount on the early RG registration price of $90, in exchange for some help with either advance preparation and set-up, miscellaneous help during the event, or packing and finishing-up when it's over. The discount will be given in the form of a refund of $45 at the end of the RG.

Here's how it works:

  1. Be sure you're a current member in good standing (dues up to date).
  2. Register for the RG before the early registration deadline of November 9. Pay the early registration of $90. ( ).
  3. Email LocSec Bart Geraci at and state that you're interested in helping with the RG in exchange for the discount.
  4. We will coordinate with you regarding how you can assist, and you will receive a refund of 50% at the close of the RG.

News For Young Mensans

By Gerry Ward, Gifted Children Coordinator

I would love to see our Young Mensans' work in the two national publications. Their parents would, too. If any YMs or guest YMs have written, drawn, painted, or sculpted anything they would like to share with us in our local newsletter, La Plume de NOM, please send a clear picture or text to

Parents and kids,
This newsletter is for our younger Mensans and guests. You can find it on the American Mensa Limited website under the logo, on a drop-down menu called LEARN, then look for Mensa for Kids. This is open to all duespaying Young Mensans and guest YMs.

Mensa For Kids' Bright! is the smartest monthly enewsletter for kids ages 6-10! Each issue is filled with fun games, puzzles, activities and factoids specially selected to encourage children to learn, explore and think outside the box.
Regular features include games of logic, math, spatial relations and word usage; science features; and activity ideas, programs and feature stories courtesy of the Mensa For Kids website and the Mensa Foundation.

Our older YMs will enjoy this quarterly---YM².

Young Mensan Magazine is a free quarterly magazine designed to help Young Mensans connect and share their interests. Please encourage your YMs to contribute to the magazine! The magazine also publishes puzzles; poems; book, movie and game reviews; and essays about favorite subjects and activities. The most-recent issue is open to the public, but the YM² online archive is available only to current Mensa members. In addition to stories, recipes, poetry, essays, and other items submitted by Young Mensans, each issue contains the following features:
RANDOM: Have you ever had the experience of finding some random, strange fact and you just wanted to share it with someone? Well, here's your opportunity! Young Mensans love random facts, and we want to read yours. We can't wait to see what you come up with!
ASK AN M: Do you have a question you'd like answered? We've got other YMs standing by, ready to share their advice with you. Would you like another perspective on something that's troubling you with school, homework, siblings, other family, friends, teachers or anything else? Send them to us! If you see advice printed that you'd like to add to, we'll take that, too!
HUMOR: Young Mensans love jokes, and we love to share them.
BOOK REVIEWS: Reviews for the books read by Young Mensans who participate in the program are published in YM².
FEATURED M: Young Mensans are doing all sorts of interesting things. If you are (or know) a Young Mensan with an interesting story to tell, we'd love to hear about it.

Submit your work to YM²
Contributors must be members of American Mensa and should be under 18 years of age. They can submit any writing they've done, jokes they've made up or tricky pieces of trivia they've found. If you're a current Young Mensan, send your content to YM². Include the full name and age of the submitter, and preferably their membership number as well.
Other criteria of note: Look on American Mensa Limited's website. Then click on LEARN under the logo, click on Mensa for Kids, and on YM2.

Taz Talks

By Taz Criss, Region 6 Vice Chair

The months of October and November will play host to a great deal of changes on the national website. We are beginning to implement a new association management software (AMS) that will affect all members to an extent. The effects will be greater for any officers who utilize the many tools that are offered through the national website. There will be brief, planned service interruptions as we work through this implementation. The AMS is going to be extremely positive for the organization as a whole. It will allow the staff at the National Office to serve you, as members, in a more efficient manner. You can learn more about the AMS and its implementation process at .

One key thing that I would encourage all of you to do is update your contact information with the National Office. Once the AMS has been implemented, it will no longer be possible to log in to the national website (or any local website that uses the national database to verify users) by your member number. Instead, a unique email address will be required for every user. You can update your information easily at

I am getting ready to start my next round of travels. I will be visiting Eastern Oklahoma Mensa, Arkansas Mensa, New Mexico Mensa, Paso del Norte Mensa, and New Orleans Mensa in the next 8 months in order to meet the commitment I made at the beginning of this term - to visit every group in the region. If you live in one of these 5 groups, be on the lookout for more information regarding my schedule and when I will be coming to a city near you. (Yes, I know that sounds cliché. Go with it, okay?)

This year will be ending with two great parties for the members of our region.

The first is North Texas Mensa's 36th Feast of Pleasures and Delights, held November 24-27, 2016 at the Marriott Quorum in Dallas. The programs and tastings at NTM's annual event are always excellent, and this is a great way to escape the holiday chaos and spend some time with your fellow Ms. Get more information on NTM's website at

New Orleans Mensa's NORGY returns this year, held December 9-11, 2016 at the Hilton Garden Inn Convention Center in New Orleans. It has been a few years since NOM hosted an RG, and I'm very excited to see what this dynamic group comes up with. The entire American Mensa Committee will also be present at this RG, holding their quarterly meeting in conjunction with the event. You can find out more 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: Persimmon

By Bart Geraci

Persimmons... isn't that...

No. You're thinking of pomegranates. Those are the big red fruit with the “chimney” on top. These are the small orange things with the greenery on top.


“Several ripe persimmons
Left on the branches
Gray clouds come and go.”
- Santoka Taneda -

The taxonomy:

Kingdom Plantae
(unranked) Angiosperms
(unranked) Eudicots
(unranked) Asterids
Order Ericales
Family Ebenaceae
Genus Diospyros

The order Ericales includes things like tea, azaleas, and blueberries. The family Ebenaceae includes the Ebony hardwood, which is dense enough to sink in water. By the time we get to the genus Diospyros, the trees are casually described as ebony trees if they are harvested for their woods, persimmon trees if they are harvested for their fruits.

What's in a Name?

“In sixth grade Mrs. Walker
Slapped the back of my head
and made me stand in the corner
for not knowing the difference
between persimmon and precision.”
- Li-Young Lee, “Persimmons” -

Now I would have thought that persimmon and permission could be easily confused, but that's not what I want to talk about.

The Genus for persimmons is Diospyros. Now with a genus starting with “Dios”, the persimmon would appear to be some kind of “fruit of the Gods”, but the prefix is actually “Dio” and along with the “spyros”, translates closer to “lotus” or “fruit of nettle tree.” It is believed that the reference to “lotus” in the Odyssey by Homer refers to the persimmon.

The English word “persimmon” is derived from a word in the Powhatan language meaning “a dry fruit”.

Two Levels of Astringency

“So for awhile, I'll just play my guitar
And I'll sing a couple of these tunes”
-The Monkees “Naked Persimmon”-

While there are many different cultivars and varieties, the simplest classification is astringent versus non-astringent.

Astringent persimmons are those that have high levels of tannins and are unpalatable if eaten before completely ripe and soft. The most common variety found in grocery stores is called Hachiya.

Non-astringent persimmons actually have tannins in them, but they start off with a smaller amount and lose their tannic quality much faster. So these fruit can be eaten while firm. But they won't get really soft like the astringent varieties. The most common variety is called Fuyu.

There are many ways to ripen them after they have been picked. Many centuries ago, the Chinese buried the fruit in mud for several days, depriving it of oxygen. This causes the fruit to produce acetaldehyde (C2H4O), which binds to the tannins so it buffers the tannins from the tongue. Today, we just can wrap persimmons tightly in plastic wrap, or put it next to ethylene-producing fruits like apples and bananas.

There are two compounds in persimmons that are interesting: shibuol and betulinic acid. The good news is that they are thought to have anticancer properties. The bad news is that when shibuol comes into contact with stomach acid, it can form a bezoar, which is an indigestible object found in the gastrointestinal system. For those with cats, one variety of bezoar are hairballs. A medical review in 2013 showed that quite a number of patients found relief by ... drinking Coca-Cola.

Dyeing From a Persimmon

“Oh, love is a hand you hold
When you think you've lost your mind
It is bitter as persimmons
Yet sweet of rose on vine"
- Nanci Griffith, “Truly Something Fine” -

A dye, called kakishibu, is made from the juice of unripe astringent persimmons. It has to be the astringent variety because the color comes from the tannin molecules. In addition to dyeing properties, it is used in hardening the fibers in paper, on fishing nets to prevent corrosion, and removing proteins from brewing sake (rice wine). A paper published in 2013 discusses how this juice can be made into a gel that is effective in removing caffeine from green tea drinks.


“Tangerines and persimmons
And sugarcane
Grapes and honeydew melon
Enough fit for a queen”
-Lucinda Williams, “Fruits Of My Labor” -

In Ozark folklore, the severity of the upcoming winter is said to be predictable by slicing a persimmon seed and observing the cutlery-shaped formation within it. If it's a spoon, expect lots of snow; a knife means sharp cold; a fork means a mild winter.

In Korean folklore, the persimmon has a reputation for scaring away tigers. I know I haven't seen any tigers when I go grocery shopping....


“Persimmons are not born soft,
But they are valued for their softness.
Their ripeness.”
- Yiyun Li -

Well, this recipe couldn't be any simpler.

Frozen Persimmon

Put an overripe very soft persimmon in freezer for about 2 hours (or longer). Cut off top with serrated knife and spoon out the middle to enjoy.

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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: 25-Nov-2016. Webmaster Bart J. Geraci can be reached at