New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for September 2011

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment

From the Editor

Peter Salomon

Despite the lockout, it’s that time of year again...back to school, back to the Superdome and back to the Saints.

If you’d like to help contribute and see something you’ve written or photographed in La Plume de NOM, please email your submissions to

So The Story Goes Like This

Bart Geraci

One summer I was working with a carpenter on rehabilitating houses in a nearby community. It was hard work, but I got paid well. At the end of the summer I told him I had to get back home and he thanked me for working with him.

He pulled me aside and asked “Do you mind if I talk to you about religion?” I said that I didn't mind, and he then told me that he was a member of the Latter-Day Saints and started talking about his faith. I thanked him for the talk but told him that I was content with my particular faith, and so we parted ways.

The following year, a friend of mine was looking to earn some money over the summer and I told him about this guy. I described the work I did, the pay that I got, but also told him that he was a member of the LDS. So my friend said, “Oh...”

“... so he's a Mormon Nailer?”


Roger Durham

Most of the business that comes before the American Mensa Committee is originally dealt with by one of the AMC committees before it comes up at an AMC meeting. For that reason, committee memberships can be an important part of a Regional Vice Chairman’s job. Last term I was a member of two AMC committees, the Intellectual Property Litigation Committee, and the Name and Logo Committee. IP Litigation is the committee that recommends the commencement of any legal action against outside parties who infringe upon Mensa’s trademarks, and I have been reappointed to that committee. Name & Logo is the committee that rules primarily on granting permission to Mensa members and organizations for the use of the Mensa name and the mand- globe symbol within the organization. This term I am the chair of that committee, and in that capacity I am also an ex-officio member of the Licensing and Marketing Committees, which deal with contracting with outside interests for use of the Mensa name on their products, or Mensa endorsement of products and services marketed to our members. These committees, chaired by Development Officer Bob Bevard of South Texas Mensa, are quite significant, because our outside income from marketing and licensing deals was more than $200,000 last year.

Also this term I have been appointed to the Finance and Audit Committee, a very important committee that deals with all of our organization’s financial affairs; everything from making recommendations on employee salaries, to budgets for various officers, to the amount of dues increases. I specifically asked for a seat on this committee because I wanted to be able to tell you that I know where every dollar of your money is going. That is not true of all AMC members, because when the AMC gives final approval to the annual budget, the money is appropriated in broad categories, and it’s not always easy to tell everything that may be included in a particular budget category. The Finance and Audit Committee, on the other hand, looks at every individual line item. I want you to know that I will make every effort to be sure your money is spent wisely.

A couple of months ago, I told you about a newsletter exchange service being set up for our region. I’m happy to report that this service is now up and running, under the guiding hand of Asst. RVC Jeff Dommenge of Lone Star Mensa. If you would like to receive an email version of the newsletter of every local group in Region 6 that publishes their newsletter electronically, all you have to do is send an email to R6NewExchrequest@ , with the word “subscribe” in the subject line, and Jeff will add you to the list. This list’s email address has been added to the distribution list of every local group in the region, so as each local newsletter is sent out, a copy will go to the server at the National Office, where it will automatically be forwarded to you. (If you change your mind, just email the same address with “unsubscribe” for the subject, and you’ll be removed from the list.)

Don’t forget the upcoming Regional Gatherings: LoneStaRG XIII in Round Rock over Labor Day weekend, and Feast of Pleasures and Delights XXXII in Dallas over Thanksgiving weekend.

From the LocSec

Bart Geraci

It's back to school season now. I've got one daughter starting her Freshman year in college while the other daughter is going to be a Senior in high school.

In the city, now that the NFL lockout is over, a lot of attention is being paid to the Saints. I'm glad they're back to work. And the Superdome has been renovated with a wider concourse and better views of the field.

In our group, we have 2 big announcements.

(1) NOM Election Time

In the September LaPlume (this issue), we are announcing a call for nominations to serve on the executive committee (a.k.a. EXCOM) of New Orleans Mensa, for the next 2 years starting January 1, 2012. The four positions are:

At the October NOM Night, we will have the Nominations meeting. At the end of the Nominating meeting, we will publish the ballot in the November newsletter. If an office is unopposed, that candidate will be declared the winner. If you wish to run, please submit your intent to run to our Elections chairperson, Gerry Ward. The Nomination Meeting will be held at the October NOM Night (instead of September). If you want to run for a position, you can do so in person at the Nomination Meeting. If you cannot be there in person, you must notify Gerry in writing in advance of the October meeting. She can be contacted via email at or through postal mail.

(2) New Orleans Mensa December 2012 RG

At the EXCOM meeting in August, we decided to host a 2012 RG. As of this publication deadline, we have:

All we need are:

Naturally, we're looking for people to help and get involved. We'll have more details and RG meetings in the coming months.

New Ideas for our Group

I've heard from a member who said that he belongs to enough social groups. What he was looking to get out of New Orleans Mensa is some intelligent and stimulating conversations --- something he can't get in his other social groups. So here are some ideas:

La Plume Newsletter Preferences

At their March 2011 meeting, the American Mensa Committee passed a motion to make electronic delivery (instead of print delivery) the default release for members to receive local electronic publications. This policy will take effect Sept. 1, 2011.

Making a selection is simple. Members can visit and select

When selecting the electronic option, members are prompted to provide an email address and release their email address within the organization.

Members can also

Our Web Services team ( or 888/294-8035 ext. 5005) is happy to assist with member login issues.


Bart Geraci

Brainfork: Boston Butt

“The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It's as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”
-Nolan Bushnell-

The Boston Butt is a cut of pork that comes from the upper part of the shoulder from the front legs. So it's not really the rear part of the animal --- the meat from the hind legs are used for ham. The word “butt” comes from the casks or barrels (called “butt”) that the cuts were typically packed in. The way the meat was cut was done in the style that was done in Boston. So now everywhere across the nation (except for Boston) it's called a “Boston Butt”.

In the grocery store, I found a nice 7 lb piece. You can also find the double-pack, weighing about 16 pounds. And you may find a whole shoulder roast, which includes the Butt and the Picnic Shoulder. The Boston Butt is excellent cut for smoking, 10-12 hours with the internal temperature reaching 195-200. There's enough marbling to keep the roast moist when cooking. When it is done, the meat shreds into strands.

“I like big butts and I can not lie.”
-Sir Mix-A-Lot-

Recipe: Slow-Cooked Shredded Pork

What I like to do is to use the slow cooker, since I can do it overnight and don't have to tend a smoker.

Rub the meat with the spice rub all over. Place meat in slow cooker. Add a little bit of liquids, say 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water or soy sauce for more saltiness. I've found that my slow cooker does not need too much liquids. Slow cook for 12 hours on low or 6 hours on high. I like to start this around 8pm so it cooks overnight and people in the house smell the meat cooking all night and in their dreams.

At the end of the cooking, the meat should be fallapart tender. I take the meat out and cool it off a little bit before I start shredding it. The liquids in the slow cooker should be poured off into a container to put in the fridge. What'll happen is that the fat will congeal on the top and a pork-jelly will be on the bottom. You can then separate the two and use them in other recipes.

Then what I can do is clean out the slow cooker and use it for people to serve themselves buffet style. Since I've separated out the fat and pork-jelly, I'll cook up some of the jelly and mix it with barbecue sauce, reheat the shredded meat in the microwave, and mix them in the slow cooker and keep it on the warm setting for the buffet.

“Here is my journey's end, here is my butt; And very sea-mark of my utmost sail.”
-William Shakespeare-


By Richard Garrett

Some years ago my friend,Al(not his real name) had inherited a trust fund which enabled him to avoid working the usual 9 to 5 job. He had a great love for bridge and was exceptionally good at the game. He money permitted him to attend bridge tournaments around the country. At these tournaments he met other people as rich as, or richer than, him. One man he met I will call Mr. U. Mr. U had his main office in New York City - on Park Avenue, which, as you know, houses the most expensive real estate in Manhattan.

Al liked action. He played dice and high stakes card games including bridge. He became friendly with Mr. U over a period of months. Mr. U learned from Al that Al was investing with friends in drilling fairly shallow oil wells in Louisiana and Mississippi. Mr. U became interested in the subject of oil drilling because of its great tax advantages, particularly for the very wealthy.

Mr. U asked Al if he could invest money in one of Al's drilling prospects. Al said okay. Mr. U proposed putting up $140,000.00 for participating in one or more drilling ventures. The money was turned over to Al.

At the time I used to take a piece of the action along with Al. Al really had given me part of his portion. The reason he did so was so that whenever he would go to the well site , he would have company along the way. Several other friends would pool their money to get enough together to drill the well. Usually our wells would be drilled to a depth of about 5000 feet. We would find locations most of the time around Natchez, Mississippi, or Ferriday, Louisiana. There were several known oil sands at that depth. Some of them could be quite lucrative.

The big problem now was whether to put all the money into one well or to put a portion into several wells. This had to be decided before we went to New York to see Mr. U since he wanted to know where his money was going. I felt we should use the money in several ventures so that if one was a dry hole, there would be other opportunities. The majority of the investors felt otherwise; they wanted it all to go into one prospect which Mr. U would own almost entirely by himself.

Our geologists located a prospect around Krotz Springs, Louisiana, north of Baton Rouge. Now we had to go to New York City to present the deal to Mr. U. Several of us went together to see Mr. U at his office on Park Avenue. As you know, Park Avenue has some of the most valuable real estate in America.

We had decided to stay at a hotel the night before the appointment so we would be fresh for the meeting the next morning. This was in the heat of summer. I had assumed hotels on the south side of Central Park were fully air conditioned - an erroneous assumption.

Maybe I had the only unairconditioned room in the city. Not only it wasn't cool, but I heard the clop clop of horses all night as horses and buggies drove lovers through the park-starting at my hotel.

The oil gang got together the next morning to go over the presentation. We were now ready but since we had an hour to kill, we decided to walk to his office, a distance of about six blocks (New York blocks). As we approached Mr. U's office we were walking along Park Avenue. Whole square blocks had large new buildings with signs in front reading: OWNED AND OPERATED BY U BROTHERS. His office, also on Park Avenue across from the Waldorf Astoria, was an imposing new 33 story building , owned by him. We got off the elevator on the 13th floor into an all marble foyer - very swank.

The presentation went well. He listened, then asked a few questions about the deal, and finally okayed the Krotz Springs Prospect.

Next we are back in Louisiana where the rig owner and the geologist are preparing the site, To get to the actual site we had to have built a long wooden road to get from the highway to the well site. Sometimes you are lucky if you have a site near a public road. No such luck here. So an expensive strong wooden road had to be constructed capable of holding heavy oil field trucks. Over the next few weeks the well was "spudded in" and drilled to around 5000 feet. We actually struck oil. The geologist and rig owners and investors put their heads together to decide whether to complete the well. We had to guess whether the oil reservoir we found was large enough to be a moneymaker. It was decided to complete the well.

The cost of the roadway, plus the drilling costs and completion casts used up the money given by Mr. U. The well began to produce. We had reason to feel we were in time going to be wealthy since this man had the largest real estate assessment in the United States. There was plenty money for future wells and we were his only connection.

That is not how it turned out After the well produced, it started flowing salt water. The oil reservoir was not sufficient to be a moneymaker. This was worse that a dry hole. At least if it had been a dry hole, there would have been money left over - maybe for another prospect....

So Mr. U drilled no more wells. He decided to stick to real estate , which he knew well.

Our group got together to commiserate. We were sad but tried to cheer each other up. One of the guys said, "We should have walked into the marble foyer of Mr. U's Park Avenue office to say to him (the holder of the largest assessment of real estate in America): 'MR. U, WE'RE GOING TO MAKE YOU RICH!!' "

Afternoon Tea: NOM North Event on Sunday, November 20

By Rebecca Pharr
“Tea, though ridiculed by those that are naturally coarse in their sensibilities, will always be the favored beverage of the intellectual”.
– Thomas de Quincey (1785-1859)

You are cordially invited to Afternoon Tea at Vianne’s Tea House We will be sipping tea at a special NOM North event on Sunday, November 20, 2011 at 2:30 p.m. Vianne’s has a presentation prepared for us on “Teas around the World.” We will have a three-course meal, a different flavor of tea at each of the three courses, along with scones and other accouterments. We will have our choice from the extensive variety of teas that are available at the tea house. The price for this fabulous and elegant experience will be $35.00, payable at the time of the tea. Please R.S.V.P. to Rebecca Pharr at as soon as possible but no later than November 1, 2011, as I have reserved a room and I need to tell them how many people to expect. I know we ladies (and any interested men!) will enjoy this delightful and informative afternoon get-together!

Vianne’s Tea House
544 Girod Street
Mandeville, LA 70448-5204
(985) 624-5683

The Vianne’s Tea – commonly referred to as “high tea” – a three-course experience: delicious fresh baked scones with accoutrements of lemon curd, cream and jam; assortment of tea sandwiches and savories; dainty desserts; served with a large pot or two small pots of tea from our gourmet tea menu 26.99 + Tax & Gratuity = $35.00.

Louisiana Renaissance Festival : NOM North Event, Saturday December 3rd


You are invited to the December NOM North Event Saturday, December 3, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. At the Louisiana Renaissance Festival
46468 River Road
Hammond, LA 70401-4248
(985) 429-9992

This weekend will be the Highland Fling!

Dec 3/4 - Show your Celtic pride and join us as we celebrate all things Irish and Scottish. We’ll be celebrating the music, dance, and culture of the Celtic nations throughout the weekend with a variety of events. Listen to the sounds of traditional Pipe and Drum bands and sing along with our musicians as they perform Celtic tunes for your enjoyment. Wear your kilt with pride and join us for our Best Knees contest!


Please send your check for your tickets to Rebecca Pharr, P.O. Box 4, Lacombe, LA 70445 before September 20 to get the group rate at a 20% discount. We need a minimum of 10 people to get the group rate. I will order the tickets for the group online all at once.

Remember that children 5 and younger get in for free! Pets are not allowed in the festival area.

Group Rate Ticket Prices
Group rate Single Day Admission Tickets are available for groups of 10 or more.
Group Rate tickets are $12.75 for adults and $7.45 for children (ages 6-12).

NOM EXCOM Meeting: May 14, 2011

Claudia D'Aquin, Secretary

Executive Committee Meeting
May 14, 2011 5:30 PM
Home of Bart Geraci
Members present:
Bart Geraci
Phil Therrien
Claudia D'Aquin
Other members:
Rebecca Pharr
Gerry Ward

Meeting was called to order at 5:32 PM Items for discussion:

  1. Approved minutes of March 12 meeting
  2. Treasurer reported items paid: $318- postage for newsletter; $27.00- for Northshore events; $60- to host for April Nom Night; $127- Iona productions, for entertainment for Nom Night. No other expenses noted.
  3. Claudia reported that the Coffeehouse SIG will move to a new location beginning on June 2. New location is The Chateau Coffee House, in the Robert E. Lee shopping center, at Robert E. Lee and West End Blvd. Claudia will email the coffee group this week. Claudia and Gerry will have dinner at the Chateau this Thursday May 19, and will invite anyone interested to stop by to see the new location.
  4. Update on the question about our bylaws from March meeting: matter was referred the parliamentarian Phil Wilking. He reports that our bylaws already incorporate the minimum standard bylaws required by Mensa National, and do not need to be updated.
  5. Bart mentioned the Symphony book fair this week.
  6. Bart reported that we have an offer from a member from Alabama who is an engineer to speak at one of our meetings when he is in New Orleans in September. Bart will look into this.
  7. Bart reported that he has received the lapsed membership list (list of members dropped from the rolls due to non-payment of dues in March). There are about 40 names. We will publish a reminder about this in the next newsletter.
  8. Bart notified us about a memo from national regarding the Mensa Foundation scholarships. Applications for the scholarship are accepted from Sept. 2011- January 15, 2012. We can nominate a local scholarship chairperson. We will publicize this in the newsletter. We also need more info from national. Bart will request details.
  9. Bart reported that Mensa national has changed the way local chapter newsletters will be distributed. Beginning in September, 2011, newsletters will automatically be delivered electronically to all members who have supplied an email address to Mensa, unless the member notifies Mensa that he/she wishes to receive a print version.
  10. Rebecca reported that she is interested in organizing an RG in New Orleans. She will write an article for the newsletter to ask for members who would be interested in forming a steering committee to explore possibility of producing an RG in New Orleans in 2012.

All business being concluded, the meeting was adjourned at 6:45 PM
Submitted by
Claudia D'Aquin, Secretary

NOM EXCOM Meeting: August 13, 2011

Claudia D'Aquin, Secretary

New Orleans Mensa Executive Committee Meeting
1:30 PM
Home of Phil Therrien
Members present:
Bart Geraci
Phil Therrien
Claudia D'Aquin
Gerry Ward
Rebecca Pharr

  1. Gerry Ward reminded the board that she has agreed to serve as Gifted Children's Coordinator.
  2. Bart announced that the minutes from the May EXCOM meeting have not yet been published. They will be published in the next newsletter along with the August meeting minutes.
  3. September NOM night will be hosted at the home of a member.
  4. Bart mentioned that we could put in the newsletter a general description of what is needed in a place to host NOM night; i.e., requirements of the host, etc. We will put a description on the local website.
  5. October NOM night-- location? Claudia will check with Rene` Petersen. Rebecca Pharr would like to host an event in October, either NOM night or a North Shore group event.
  6. September is election time. Bart will ask Loretta Levene if she would receive nominations. We will publish a call for nominations in the next newsletter. October NOM will be the nominations meeting, after which a ballot of candidates will be published in the newsletter. If no offices are opposed, the candidates will be declared winners and their names and offices published in the newsletter.
  7. Bart announced that all members who have supplied an email address now receive La Plume via email. Beginning in September, email delivery will be the default for all Mensa members. New Orleans Mensa will continue to publish a paper newsletter. This will be mailed to any member who has not supplied an email address and to any who request to continue to receive a paper copy. Requests must be made in writing to National.
  8. Continued discussion about hosting an RG in New Orleans in 2012. Bart and Lovie Geraci have agreed to serve as co-chairs of an RG. We will notify National that we have decided to host an RG in December, 2012.
  9. Treasurer' report: current balance $8,710.19.
  10. Gerry Ward reported ideas for activities for gifted children. September 24 is Smithsonian Magazine's museum day, Admission to participating museums is free to anyone who downloads a ticket from the Smithsonian magazine website. She will try to organize some visits to the WW 2 museum for teen members and LA Children's museum for younger children on this day. Gerry requested that this be announced in the newsletter with a link to the Smithsonian site for downloading a ticket.
    (The link is:

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 2:50 PM.
Submitted by Claudia D'Aquin, Secretary

Thoughts After Reading Marco Polo

Martha Sheldon

Come, deep sea, sing songs to me
Of piercing silver light.
Sing me songs of the Middle Sea
And its arching, lambent night.

When Achates followed his master's flight,
Did their wine-dark sea strike cold?
Did Crusaders marvel at stranger sights
Than they'd deamed the world could hold?

What ivory and pearls did barques of old
Bear home from danger's quest?
Did cloves perfume each ship's dark hold
On its journey East to West?

Sing too of brave men deadly-pressed
By Barbary's wing-cut sails;
Of treasures lost to storm-foamed crest
In your lashing winter gales.

Sing caravans threading from desert trails
With your lade of silks and tea.
Come, Middle Sea, come tell these tales
As you sing your songs to me.

From the chapbook "Driving Alone" by Martha Sheldon

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These pages and all content Copyright (c) 2011 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: 30-Aug-2011 . Webmaster Bart J. Geraci can be reached at