New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for September 2016

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment


By Bart Geraci

In August, we had an unusual series of rainy days, which led to the flooding of many places north of here, including Baton Rouge. There are many people in our area who have sent our prayers, our money, our food, and our strong workers to our neighbors to the north. Many of those people who are suffering now are the ones who helped us 11 years ago.

This month, we will have the beginning of fall. The Saints are starting the regular season, the Zephyrs are ending their season, and the snowball stands are shortening their hours. And now that Summer is over, it's time for me to resume my BrainFork column starting with ... pineapple.

Next month, we will participate in the National Mensa Testing Day. We're still working on the RG coming up in December.

Let's go Saints!

NORGY 2016 !!!

New Orleans Mensa is having a Regional Gathering in 2016 !

Dates: December 9 - 11, 2016

Taz Talks

By Taz Criss, Region 6 Vice Chair

September is a busy month for Mensa, in particular on the Mensa Foundation side. Our annual scholarship program opens on September 15th, and our scholarship chairs are hard at work advertising what we offer. If you are unaware, the Mensa Foundation provides over $87,000 a year in scholarship funds. These scholarships are based entirely on essays written by the applicants. There is no consideration given to grades, financial need, or academic program. Additionally, applicants are not required to be members.

This program is possible through the wonderful help of several hundred volunteers around the country. Our local scholarship chairs coordinate volunteer judges to read and score all of the submissions based on standard criteria as provided by the national scholarship committee. Each essay must be judged by three different people, so we can definitely use your help. The great news about this volunteer role is that it can be done from the comfort of your favorite armchair or couch.

Judging is still several months away, as it will not begin until after the application deadline of January 15, 2017. However, once the judging starts, time is short, and many hands make light work. If you are interested in judging, contact your local scholarship chair. We will also need judges at the regional level. You can reach our new regional scholarship chair, Carla Young, at

If you're jones-ing for some in-person contact, there are several upcoming Regional Gatherings that you should consider attending.

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: Pineapple

By Bart Geraci

I'm back from my Summer break and I'm ready to write more articles! Let's start with pineapple.


“Standby. You're on the air.”
“Buenos noches Senores y Senoras. Bienvenidos. La primero pregunta es: Que es mas macho, pineapple o knife ?”
“Well let's see. My guess is that a pineapple is more Macho than a knife.”
“Si! Correcto!”
- Laurie Anderson, “Smoke Rings” -

The taxonomy:

Kingdom Plantae
(unranked) Angiosperms
(unranked) Monocots
(unranked) Commelinids
Order Poales
Family Bromeliaceae
Subfamily Bromelioideae
Genus Ananas
Species Ananas Comosus

The Family Bromeliaceae is known as the bromeliads. They range from spanish moss to pineapples. There is only one bromeliad that is a food crop, the pineapple.

The Genus Ananas is interesting since it looks like “Banana”. But in French and a few other languages around the world, “Ananas” means pineapple.

Now even though we call pineapple a fruit, it is really a series of berries that merge into a multiple accessory fruit. Okay, some definitions:

It takes almost three years for a single pineapple to mature. In fact, each plant can only produce one pineapple. On the other hand, a plant can bear fruit for up to 50 years. And you don't want to pick them too soon; unripe pineapples taste vile, and can cause throat irritation and have a strong laxative effect.

Once the pineapple is harvested, it stops ripening. The outside color is mostly determined by the location where the pineapple grew. The taste of a green-outside pineapple can be just as sweet as a golden-brown-outside pineapple.

The core of a pineapple is edible, although excessive consumption can lead to bezoars in the digestive tract. The pineapple is an excellent source of manganese and Vitamin C.

Have Pineapple, Will Travel

“I am a disaster magnet. I came home from our first anniversary vacation with jellyfish stings, a puncture wound from a wrought iron pineapple and a cork-shaped bruise in my cleavage.”
- Molly Harper -

Christopher Columbus first encountered the pineapple in 1493 on the island of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean Sea. He brought it back to Europe. Then the Spanish introduced it all over the world including Zimbabwe, Philippines, Guam, and Hawaii. The Portuguese found the pineapple in Brazil and introduced it to India. The Dutch found the pineapple in Suriname and introduced it to Northern Europe.

Large-scale cultivation on Hawaii began in the early 1900s when James Dole started a pineapple plantation. The plantation is a tourist attraction and is home to the world's largest garden maze, where at the center ... is a pineapple. In 1917, Del Monte also started growing pineapples in Hawaii. But now, neither company uses Hawaii as a primary source of pineapples and most of the pineapples are grown in Costa Rica, Philippines, Brazil, and Thailand.

There are 4 major cultivars of pineapples:

Meat Tenderizer in my Pineapple?

“There is an ache in my chest today, sweet, searching, and painful, like a tongue that is cut and tingles with sweetness and pain after eating a strong pineapple."
- Binyavanga Wainaina -

There is an enzyme called bromelain that is derived from the stem of pineapples. It has the ability to digest other proteins, which can be good or bad.

On the good side, bromelain has long been used as a digestive aid, cough suppressant, and to loosen mucus. It also appears to make the body produce substances that fight pain and swelling. Surprisingly, bromelain (and another enzyme, papain) can tenderize meat for cooking by destroying chains of collagen.

One downside is that the bromelain will break down the proteins used in gelatinous structural properties - so you can't use fresh pineapple in your jello mold. But there's an easy way around that: cooking pineapple to about 160°F (70°C) will deactivate the enzyme.


“He called her a melon, a pineapple, an olive tree, an emerald, and a fox in the snow all in the space of three seconds; he did not know whether he had heard her, tasted her, seen her, or all three together.”
- Virginia Woolf -

It has been said that the pineapple has long been a symbol of Hospitality. It comes about because the pineapple represents the fact that the host has spared no expense for her guests. And that pineapples were carved into bed posts, painted on plates, etc. A local plantation has said that in addition to welcoming, if one finds a pineapple sitting at the foot of your bed, it means you have overstayed your welcome.

However, someone doing research into this noticed that there was no written evidence for this and concluded that it's probably made up. The earliest reference on the pineapple as a symbol of hospitality seems to be a book put out by the Dole people in 1935. The pineapple-like symbols found on furniture and other decorations are mostly allusions to pinecones.

In the TV show “Psych” the writers have included a pineapple in every episode. During the Chinese New Year, the pineapple represents good fortune and gambling luck.

I Was Told There Would Be No Math

“Pick up a sunflower and count the florets running into its centre, or count the spiral scales of a pine cone or a pineapple, running from its bottom up its sides to the top, and you will find an extraordinary truth: recurring numbers, ratios and proportions.”
- Charles Jencks -

There is a sequence of integers called the Fibonacci numbers: 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21, and so on. Each number is the sum of the previous two. As the numbers get larger, the ratio gets closer to the golden ratio (1.61803.. or (1 + √5) / 2).

Now look at a hexagon on the pineapple itself; we can determine three lines that cross it from one edge to the opposite edge. There are A rows in parallel for the shallowest slope that goes around the hexagon. Then for the medium size slope, there are B lines in parallel. For the steepest slope, there are C parallel rows. As it turns out, A, B, and C are 3 adjacent Fibonacci numbers.

Aquatic Architecture

“Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?
- “SpongeBob SquarePants” theme song -

The house is located at 124 Conch Street, Bikini Bottom, Pacific Ocean. It is a land pineapple that had fallen off a ship and into the water. There is in fact a sea pineapple (Halocynthia Roretzi) which is a sea squirt animal, that is edible and consumed mostly in Korea.

It is three stories high, a garage is in the back. On the first floor, there is a living room and kitchen. The second floor has a bathroom. The library/study area is on both the second and third floors. The top floor has the bedroom and bathroom. There is an escape hatch leading to the grassy roof on top of the house. Since pineapples float, it must be the weight of all the furniture that makes it stay on the ocean floor.

The house has been repeatedly destroyed in several episodes, but has been rebuilt in time for the next one. There is a dinosaur skeleton under the house. And like the Doctor's TARDIS, it is indeed bigger on the inside than the outside.


“For her I changed pebbles into diamonds, shoes into mirrors, I changed glass into water, I gave her wings and pulled birds from her ears and in her pockets she found the feathers, I asked a pear to become a pineapple, a pineapple to become a lightbulb, a lightbulb to become the moon, and the moon to become a coin I flipped for her love...”
- Nicole Krauss -

One of the delights found in Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom is the Dole Pineapple Whip.

Pineapple Whip

4 units: Frozen pineapple pieces (One variation has a frozen banana replacing some pineapple).

1 unit: Dairy - could be coconut milk, non-dairy milk, sweetened condensed milk, etc. or any mixture thereof.

Put all ingredients in blender and process until smooth. You can enjoy it as soft-serve right away, or freeze it for a little while to let it get harder. Naturally, you can add other fruits, flavorings, sugars, etc. to this as well.

So The Story Goes Like This

By Bart Geraci

So one day out in West Texas, I went over to a friend's house. He first apologized for missing my birthday, and then gave me a belated birthday present. It was a waffle iron and a cookbook specific for waffle irons. He told me that he was amazed at what it could do and that I'll probably enjoy it as well.

When I got home I ended up being distracted with things so I put it in the pantry and left it there for some time.

Months later, I came across it and I told myself that I should use it. So I opened the box, left it on the kitchen counter, and relaxed in a chair reading the cookbook.

I too was amazed at the variety of recipes for both sweet and savory waffles, and accompaniments for them. After trying a few, I was impressed and ended up using it on a daily basis.

But lately, I've been seeing advertisements by restaurants with large fluffy pancakes stacked on top of each other. So when I get up in the morning, I tend to say to myself "Let's change it up and cook some pancakes today...."

"...but in the end, I keep waffling."

New Orleans Mensa ExCom Meeting

By Claudia D'Aquin

Saturday, August 13, 2016. Home of Bart Geraci.

Mensa ExCom Members present: Bart Geraci, Claudia D'Aquin, Kevin Chesnut, Robert Myers, Summer McKnight, Gerry Ward

Meeting called to order at 5:15 p.m.

Old Business:

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

New Business:

1. Treasurer's report: (René Petersen was not present, but sent his report to Bart. Balances: General Account $11,553.44 RG account $469.38

2. Bart reported on the AG in San Diego. He went to the leadership sessions.

3. We have received a certificate for a Mensa Jewel Award - Emerald, for Class 3, Outstanding Performance of a local chapter.

4. Culture Quest - our teams did not finish in the top 20.

5. Gifted Children Coordinator's report: Star Wars activity will be tomorrow at her home. Gerry also announced that the planned "Arts Fest" will be postponed. More information in the Spring.

6. Claudia reported on testing. We are negotiating with a new coordinator at the museum. Claudia will go see the new coordinator to confirm this as our testing site. We will offer a "bring a friend" special for NOMA community (members and employees) for National Testing Day on October 17. This will be a "two people test for one price" offer. As testing is discounted to $20 for this session, we will cover the cost of the second person. Claudia will present this offer to NOMA.

7. Bart reported that he has contacted our lapsed members, and we have received the reimbursement from National for this. He read a letter from a lapsed member to the group. This was a 50-year member who has decided not to renew because the national office has decided that his membership was not continuous because it lapsed in 2006 for one year, following Katrina. Bart will forward this letter to the national office.

8. SIGHT report: we have a Danish member coming in for a few days in September. We will go to Destrehan Plantation and the French Quarter. Another member is coming from Texas, looking for information on an ancestor who was a Confederate soldier. Gerry will try to help her.

9. RG activities discussion. Some registrations have come in. Our website can accept electronic payments. Funds are deposited directly in our account.

10. We will offer a refund of 50% of the RG cost to local members in good standing in exchange for their assistance in organizing and producing the RG. Claudia will write a paragraph explaining this to be published in La Plume. Rough draft will be sent to Bart and Kevin within two weeks.

11. Group discussion about status of speakers. Bob Myers contacted Fred Hatfield about doing our cemetery tour, but Fred is too ill. Claudia will contact Save Our Cemeteries to arrange the tour of Lafayette Cemetery.

12. Next RG planning meeting will be September 17, 5:00 p.m., Bart's house.

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

All business being concluded, the meeting was adjourned at 6:45 p.m.

Submitted by Claudia D'Aquin, Secretary

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