New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for September 2014

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment


By Bart Geraci

This month is the start of the Saints football season. The first game of the season is at Atlanta, but it isn’t until the third game that we play at home. After all, there is no place like Dome.

August has not been hot as I remember it in years past, but it is still hot nonetheless. The internet viral sensation of dumping ice water on one’s head for ALS sounds like a good idea for this month anyway.

Locally, we’re having a testing session on September 6th.

I have appointed Summer McKnight to serve as our public relations coordinator. She has set up new accounts for our group on Instagram and Twitter (look for “NewOrleansMensa”) and also set up an open page for Facebook that is available for everyone to see ; the existing Facebook group account is still restricted to local members and is not viewable by others .

Okay, one thing I’m adding this month in the newsletter is that anniversary month of when a member joined Mensa. I know that the people who joined in August will have to wait another 11 months to see their names on the pages, but that’s the breaks.

Let’s go Saints!

So the Story Goes Like This

By Bart Geraci

I was on a boat in the far western islands of Alaska and was enjoying the sights and the obviously fresh seafood. Things were going well, but on the third day I started feeling like there was something wrong with my ear. I asked around if there was a doctor that could look at me and the captain said that he didn’t have anyone on board, but he would stop at the next island where they had some people.

So we pulled into a port and found a medical office, but the weird thing was that the first three offices had nothing but eye doctors. Finally in the last office, we met a doctor introduced himself. I asked him what was his specialty and he said he was an ENT (which meant Ear, Nose, and Throat).

I said “Great, I’m glad to really see you…”

“... instead of these Optical Aleutians.”

News & Notes for Young Mensans

Lisa Van Gemert

To the parents:

These are Mensa resources for you which lead to resources for your kids.


The Parent2Parent e-list is for parents of Young Mensans. This list is open to parents of current youth members of Mensa (under 18), whether or not the parent is him/herself a member of Mensa. Please read below for more info and visit to subscribe (you will need your child's Mensa number).

The Parent2Parent e-list is a venue for parents of Young Mensans to learn about Mensa and to connect with other parents of Mensans. Please include your child's Mensa member number in the subscription request.

- - - - -

Bright is the brightest monthly newsletter for smart kids like you, courtesy of Mensa For Kids and the Mensa Education & Research Foundation! Every issue is full of games, puzzles, activities, and fun stuff to think about. Tell your friends they can subscribe at, and if you're more of an 'online' Bright kid, you can play a number of games at

A Digital Field Trip, No Permission Slips Necessary!

School's just around the corner, so to help get your mind geared up for learning, we're taking a late summer field trip to our nation's capital to visit five of our favorite sites for bright brains:


Lisa Van Gemert Youth & Education Ambassador |

get resources:

find more:

From the RVC

By Roger Durham, Region 6 Vice Chair

After considerable thought, I have decided not to seek re-election as your Regional Vice Chairman next year. Two very good candidates have already filed to succeed me when my term ends at the beginning of July 2015: Bob Bevard of South Texas Mensa, my Assistant RVC and former national Development Officer, and Tasha (Taz) Criss of Gulf Coast Mensa, the former Teen SIG Coordinator and currently webwench for the Hell’s Ms SIG and GCM Editor as well as SynRG Chair for 2015. Other candidates may emerge as the 2015 election season goes on, but I’m confident that the region will continue to be well-represented.

There are several reasons for my decision not to run again. While I have enjoyed being your RVC, and continue to do so, I recognize that I am beginning to burn out, dealing with the same problems in the same ways, and I believe the region will benefit from new energy and new ideas. In addition, by next July I will have served as your RVC for more than 6 years, and I think it’s just time for someone else to have a turn. And finally, I have come to realize that as an RVC, I am not in a position to influence one of the biggest problems facing our organization, the constant dues increases that may be driving Mensa membership out of reach for many of our long-time members.

While it is true that dues are set by a vote of the Board of Directors, that vote usually comes at a time when it is really too late for individual members to have much say in the matter. The budget is already set, and we have to provide enough money to pay for the items that have already been decided upon. The real work on both the budget and the dues rates is done by the Finance Committee, led by the Treasurer. I served one term on the Finance Committee, and when it became obvious that I did not share our Treasurer’s enthusiasm for higher dues, I was not asked to serve again.

Consequently, I have filed as a candidate for national Treasurer, in the hope of being able to return Mensa to a course of fiscal restraint that will obviate the need for frequent dues increases in the future. I hope I can count on the same enthusiastic support I have received from you over the past 5 years.

That’s all for now. Don’t forget North Texas Mensa’s upcoming RG in Irving, just east of DFW Airport, over the Thanksgiving weekend. For more information contact Deborah Lockhart,

BrainFork: A Mensan Talks About Food

By Bart Geraci


Sheldon Cooper: Your argument is lacking in all scientific merit. Now, it is well established Superman cleans his cape by flying into Earth's yellow sun, which incinerates any contaminant matter and leaves the invulnerable kryptonian fabric unharmed and daisy-fresh.
Howard Wolowitz: What if he gets something kryptonian on it?
Sheldon Cooper: Like what?
Howard Wolowitz: I don't know. Kryptonian mustard.
Sheldon Cooper: I think we can safely assume all Kryptonian condiments were destroyed when the planet Krypton exploded.
Raj Koothrappali: Or it turned into mustard kryptonite, the only way to destroy a rogue kryptonian hot dog threatening Earth.
Leonard Hofstadter: Raj, please. Let's stay serious here.
-- The Big Bang Theory (TV Series) --

Concluding the condiment trilogy (after ketchup and mayonnaise), we’re doing mustard this month.

The Mustard Plant

“....try the mustard, -- a man can't know what turnips are in perfection without mustard.”
-- Mark Twain, ‘The Gilded Age’ --

The reason Mark Twain talks about a turnip and mustard combination that works is that both of them come from the same genus. So let’s look at the mustard plant taxonomy:

Kingdom Plantae
(unranked) Angiosperms
(unranked) Eudicots
(unranked) Rosids
Order Brassicales
Family Brassicaceae
Genus Brassica / Sinapis

The Brassicaceae family is known as the mustards. The Brassica genus are commonly known as cruciferous vegetables, cabbages, or mustard plants. The Sinapis genus contains the white mustard plant -- it was originally classified as Brassica hirta, but has been reclassified as Sinapis alba.

Three specific species of Brassica are:

It turns out that 3 more species were derived from pairwise combinations:

This discovery was made by Korean-Japanese botanist Woo Jang-choon and it is known as the Triangle of U.

The Mustard Seed

“So never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often in such matters the mustard-seed germinates and roots itself.”
-- Oscar Wilde --

Mustard seeds come in 3 varieties:

White / Yellow Brassica hirta / Sinapis alba Least pungent
Brown / Indian Brassica juncea
Black Brassica nigra Most pungent

Mustard seeds are tiny: it takes around 180,000 to make up a pound.

The Mustard Condiment

Joey: Want some jam?
Chandler: No thanks, I just had a jar of mustard.
-- Friends (TV series) --

The origin of the name comes from Latin: “mustum” for young wine and “ardens” for hot / flaming. Originally, ground mustard seeds were combined with young wine to make a paste. A recipe was found as early as 4th or 5th century A.D. The standard recipe uses vinegar, water, and ground mustard.

In the 1700s in Dijon, France, Marcus Grey (the recipe guy) and Auguste Poupon (the money guy) together created their famous Grey Poupon Dijon mustard. The Dijon mustard takes a standard recipe, but adds white wine to the mix.

In the late 1800s, Emile Zatarain created Creole mustard. The recipe uses mustard seeds from Trieste (which was then a part of Austria, now a part of Italy). In Austrian cuisine, there’s a lot of horseradish flavor, so to recapture that flavor into the mustard, he planted rows of horseradish alternating with rows of mustards. The recipe includes whole brown mustard seeds that are not crushed all the way into a powder.

At the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair (where a lot of food history was made), Robert and George French introduced his famous yellow mustard. So “French’s” is named for a person, not the country. It adds turmeric to the standard recipe to get its bright yellow color.

Located in Middleton, Wisconsin is the National Mustard Museum ( The museum was started by Barry Levenson (At this point, you may say “Oooh, I like his movies ‘Diner’ and ‘Rain Main’ ” which I would follow up with “I like them too, but that’s Levinson with an ‘i’, not an ‘e’ ”) and was in Mount Horeb before moving to Middleton in 2009. The museum has over 5600 mustards and other memorabilia. They celebrate National Mustard Day on the first Saturday in August.


“Mustard's no good without roast beef.”
-- Chico Marx --

Mustard, like chili peppers and black pepper, have a pungency that works by irritating the throat and nasal passages. But the peppers need to have heat applied in order to bring out its potential, whereas mustard (and horseradish and wasabi) has this potency at room temperature. The pungency comes from isothiocyanates. The irritant exists as a defense mechanism for plants against animals that would eat it.

When a mustard seed is ground, the seed coat breaks down into chemicals that surround the oil particles, making it an emulsifier. White mustard seeds have a higher percentage of this emulsifying material than brown or black mustard seeds. Often a vinaigrette recipe will call for a little bit of mustard in order to prevent the oil from separating itself from the vinegar.

When mustard seeds are stored, it is bitter, but not spicy hot. When mustard seeds are ground up, the irritants are released and the bitterness goes away. When mustard seeds are cooked until the seeds pop (as in many Indian recipes), the irritants are deactivated and what remains are a nutty and bitter flavor, but not pungent.

Now the liquid mustard that we are familiar with starts off with ground mustard seeds. At this point, the pungency is there, but dormant. Once water is added, the pungency comes out in full force. However, over time, the pungency loses its power. If an acid liquid is added, the pungency is mellowed, but the acid preserves the pungency level for a long time.

Plastered Mustard And Vice Versa

“Someone is putting brandy in your bonbons, Grand Marnier in your breakfast jam, Kahlua in your ice cream, Scotch in your mustard and Wild Turkey in your cake.”
-- Marian Burros --

For centuries, mustards have been made with wine, beer, and other spirits. Even today, you’ll find Champagne mustard, wine mustard, and even Jack Daniel’s mustard.

In the other direction, a mustard plaster was used as a home remedy for flu, coughs, and other ailments. The idea was to bring heat (and the illness) to the surface and out of the body. So what would happen is that a mix of flour, dry mustard, and water (or egg whites) were combined to make a paste (not too thin). Then it would be spread on a towel and then the towel would go on the skin, so the skin is not in contact with the actual paste. The towel would be only be on for less than 30 minutes at a time, otherwise, the skin may be irritated and blister.


Major Monogram: Doofenshmirtz has been buying up all the hard salami, kaiser rolls, pickles, roast beef, mustard, horseradish, sauerkraut and pimento loaf in the Tri-State Area. We don't know what it means, but it sounds like a recipe for evil. Or at least an evil sandwich.
-- Phineas and Ferb (TV Series) --

Liquid Mustard

To create the liquid mustard condiment from powder one uses 8 parts mustard powder to 7 parts liquid. What liquid? Could be water alone, or half water and half vinegar. Additions? Salt or honey. It will be hot when first mixed, but as it ages it will become mellower. The mellowing takes place at room temperature - refrigeration will stop the mellowing.

Honey Mustard Sauce

You know, I hear about this all the time, and the irony is that neither honey nor mustard is the main component of this recipe.

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp prepared yellow mustard
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp honey
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice

So the ratio is 8 parts mayo, 3 parts mustard, 2 parts honey or: 8 / 3 / 2 + 1/2 lemon juice

Other ratios I found:

6 / 1 / 2

16 / 5.3 / 2

8 / 3 / 3

4 / 1 / 1

8 / 2 / 4

8 (nonfat yogurt) / 2 / 2 + 1 vinegar

0 / 3 / 5 + 2 vinegar

0 / 5 / 4 + 4 vinegar, then whisk in 6 oil

0 / 8 / 4 + 2 oil

New Orleans Mensa Executive Committee Meeting Minutes

By Claudia D'Aquin

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Home of Bart Geraci

Members present: Bart Geraci, Claudia D'Aquin, Phil Therrien, Gerry Ward, Robert Myers, Summer McKnight, Daniel Pounder

Meeting called to order at 5:05 p.m.

Old Business:

  1. Bart presented the minutes from the May meeting. The minutes were accepted.

New Business:

  1. Bart reported that he contacted lapsed members and we received credit from National for the contact. Several did renew; to date, 5 renewals of lapsed members.
  2. Culture Quest was held April 27. We had one team, came in 14th place. Received $85 award.
  3. Summer McKnight reported that she has added our chapter to Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit, in addition a new public Facebook page. She is asking for more content from members.
  4. She suggested that we try a public open house a few times a year. Idea of partnering with the museum to do this, possibly on a scheduled testing day. Claudia will contact the museum to see about setting something up for a first event. Summer suggested a bingo night. She will start working on this.
  5. Bart appointed Summer McKnight to serve as our public relations coordinator.
  6. Treasurer's report: Current balance $9,365.43 as of 7/31/2014.
  7. We are continuing to offer each member who attends NOM night one beverage at our expense. This has been successful, seems to encourage attendance.
  8. Summer mentioned that National recognizes local groups for assisting with local fundraising. We will look into assisting with events such as WYES telethon (answering the phones one evening).
  9. Summer created a member participation survey. Presented it for discussion. We will send it out via all of our methods.
  10. Bart mentioned that ABC is looking for contestants for "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire", specifically recruiting Mensans. He will send this out to the membership.

Next ExCom meeting will be November 8, 5:00 p.m., Bart's house.

All business being concluded, the meeting was adjourned at 6:00 p.m.

Submitted by

Claudia D'Aquin, Secretary

Back to the La Plume de NOM main page.

These pages and all content Copyright (c) 2014 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: 1-Sep-2014. Webmaster Bart J. Geraci can be reached at