New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for Sept/Oct 2002

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment


by Anne Osteen Stringer

Thanks to everyone who wrote, called, or emailed with compliments on last month’s issue. Modesty prevents me from publishing these, but they were appreciated.

This issue contains a fervent plea for you to go out and recruit new members. The regulars are a great, groovy group of guys and gals (I can’t help it–alliteration is in my blood.), but WE NEED MORE MEMBERS! Some have suggested that there is so much to do in New Orleans and people are so busy having fun that they don’t have time for organizations like Mensa. Some have suggested that people who choose to live in a city that is built below sea level, with mosquitos the size of song birds, and the climate of a steam bath in Hell could not possibly be Mensa material. Whatever the reason, we do not have the number of members that other cities of comparable size have. I believe there are just as many smart people here as anywhere. We just have to find them.

Cover art is a picture of the World Trade Center, to remind us of what we lost. It’s been almost one year since those proud towers fell. One year since all that life was lost in a whirling, flaming blur. One year since the curtain was pulled back and we saw the hideous face of fanaticism, frustration, and fear. We must never forget.

“I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.” (Groucho Marx)

by Anne Osteen Stringer

Sometimes it seems lonely out here at the end of the bell curve–but it shouldn’t be. Approximately 2% of the population qualifies for Mensa. That means that in the New Orleans Metropolitan area, there are almost 20,000 people who qualify. Out of every 100 people that you meet, 2 of them would qualify for membership. Why then, you ask, do we have so few members? Well, there’s that perception problem–I wrestled with that one before I joined. I thought that the members would be either nerds or eggheads--not that there’s anything wrong with that. I imagined deep discussions about world peace or conversations entirely about helical x-ray powder diagrams. Would I understand what was going on? Would I get the jokes?

Another problem in recruitment is the test. Testing is done annually in New Orleans by our esteemed proctor, Ellen MacKenzie. The next test will be given Saturday, October 19 at noon at the *Jefferson Parish Lakeshore Library* It lasts about 2 hours and Ellen reports that most of those who take it survive. If a prospective member doesn’t want to wait and is willing to take a short drive up scenic I-10, Baton Rouge Mensa tests every other month. If a prospective member has taken a vow, as I did, never to submit to another test, scores on prior tests can be submitted for membership. A list of qualifying scores on some of the more frequently used tests follows:

Mensa Qualifying Scores
California Test of Mental Maturity 132
Stanford Binet, Form L-M 132
SAT prior to 9/30/74 1300
SAT 9/30/74 through 1/31/94 1250
LSAT prior to 1982 662
LSAT 1982 through 5/91 39
LSAT Effective 6/91 163
GRE prior to 5/94 1250
GRE Effective 5/94 1875
ACT prior to 9/89 29

Many other test scores will qualify one for Mensa, but almost any test with “achievement” in the title is not acceptable. Unsupervised testing is not acceptable, nor tests administered electronically or through the Internet. Mensa will individually appraise all applications and reserves the right to make the final determination about the acceptability of the test. More information on tests and qualifying can be found at .

Let’s all take a closer look at our friends and colleagues. If you think someone might qualify, show him/her this list and suggest they investigate further. Tell them it’s easy and fun and you get this wonderful newsletter.


One definition of man is ‘an intelligence served by organs.’
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Man is an intelligence, not served by, but in servitude to his organs.
Aldous Huxley


by Patricia Di George

Nebraska by Ron Hansen.

“She walks the green hose around to the spigot and screws down the nozzle so that the spray is a misty crystal bowl softly baptizing the ivy.” This is but one of the lovely descriptive passages in the title story of Nebraska. The other stories in this book cover a wide range of plots. Two of these, “Wickedness”, the story of the 1888 blizzard in Nebraska, grips your soul with its iciness and its cool recounting of death and devastation whereas “Red Letter Days” is really about humdrum everyday days. None, however, offers the beautiful floating prose of Mariette.

Mariette in Ecstacy, also by Ron Hansen...

is written with the loveliest phrasing of anything I’ve read lately. The story is of a young girl of seventeen who aspires to become a nun. Although life in a convent at the beginning of the 1900's is described in detail, this is not a religious book. It is a story of inspiration, thwarted desires, and ultimate hope.


by Renee Richard McKenna

(This was written by Richard’s cousin who lives in Manhattan and visited Ground Zero three weeks after September 11, 2001.)

GOTTERDAMMERUNG, the final opera of Wagner's Ring Cycle, translated literally "Twilight of the Gods", has come to represent the end of the world. By the conclusion of the opera the gods are dead, Valhalla has burned, the Rhine has overflowed the earth and we understand (while listening to the most gorgeous, passionate music ever written) that the old order has passed, all that we knew is gone and the world awaits its inevitable renewal.

.....Today--3-weeks since the attack, I went to Ground Zero. To see the sight with my own eyes is to attend the ultimate funeral. You come out of the only subway currently running there and you're surprised by how orderly everything is. National Guard guys direct you very gently to follow the yellow plastic tapes that cordon off the area. You file slowly in a circular direction staring all the while incredulous of the physical enormity of the mess. No tv picture can capture the scope of 100 foot-high piles of molten matter that look like crazy modern sculptures. They give out an eerie hissing sound and a bit of white smoke. And the smell! Burning plastic--thousands of computers and cables and equipment, a horrible unhealthy emission that makes your throat sore and your eyes burn (all this 3 weeks later--imagine the guts it took to deal with this at first.)

And so we slowly move along--big crowd, hundreds, thousands? I'm so staggered with numbers: 6 thousand dead, x billions to repair--I can't tell anymore. We file by the gigantic bier, some weeping. But here's the thing: Absolute silence. It's the quiet that reaches inside of you and breaks your heart. Not a word spoken, of course no traffic; if workmen are talking to each other you can't hear it. We must be too far away but it seems the cranes and bulldozers are muffled. I can only compare the feeling to my visit to the military cemeteries in Normandy. As often as you've seen the pictures, when you stand looking at the white crosses reaching to the horizon, the utter stillness is palpable and transporting.

.....So, I've experienced Gotterdammerung. It's worse than they can convey on tv, more disruptive to more lives than you'll read in the papers, plus we're losing our incomparable mayor. For sure the old order is gone. But they've cleaned up the ash in the streets, they're testing surrounding buildings for reoccupancy. Little by little, renewal.

.....But here's the kicker: In Gotterdammerung the only character to survive is EVIL in the form of Alberich, whose whereabouts at the end are unknown. One doubts that his ambition and hatred are quenched......


  1. WTC 1, 110 stories, 1368 feet tall
  2. WTC 2, 110 stories, 1362 feet tall
  3. Five more buildings in the World Trade Center complex
  4. 430 businesses, shops, and government agencies
  5. Sixteen acres in lower Manhattan covered by 1.8 million tons of rubble.
  6. Almost 3000 lives!

Anything we do seems inadequate, but if you would like to spend a few moments to honor those who died, bring a candle to the Lafreniere Park Meadow at 7:00 pm on September 11.


The September NOM Night will include a general membership meeting for the purpose of nominating officers to serve for the next year. Any member not able to attend may nominate someone, have it seconded by another member, and may submit the nomination to the LocSec in writing or by email PRIOR to the September meeting. Nominations received after the September meeting are void. A ballot containing all the contested offices will be mailed to each member in October, to be returned prior to or at the November meeting. The election will be held at the November meeting.


After 3 1/2 yrs. of play, I am down to my last game in Free Cell. I've won 31999 games but can't for the life of me win this one. I know that there are people in Mensa that could help me. Could you please pass on this game number 11982 to the others. Maybe they can e-mail me back the game plan so that I can win this one too. <address deleted>.

Webmaster's Note: This Free Cell game (11982) IS unsolvable. You can use <ctrl>-<shift>-<F10> and click the "Abort" button, then make a move. Then you can win.

NOM on Safari

by Richard Stringer

Global Wildlife Center, Folsom LA Saturday Sept. 21, 3 PM

Anybody who has visited the Global Wildlife Center, near Folsom, can attest that it is a magical place. More than 3,000 exotic animals have free range over 900 acres of rolling land on the North Shore of Lake Ponchartrain. Visitors, armed with cameras and buckets of feed, board a specially-built tram and tour the preserve, which bills itself as the largest totally free-roaming wildlife preserve in the country. No matter how blase you think you are, having a giraffe eat out of your hand is a pretty primal experience.

If you have access to a kid or kids, you should definitely bring them. Not just for their own enjoyment, but also so they can serve as an effective cover for your own childlike glee when a camel sticks his nose into your feed cup. But even without kids, you should definitely come join us for a few hours in the great outdoors.

We will take the 3 o'clock tram, so you must be there ahead of time. Allow at least an hour and a half from the city. Drive into the preserve, and up to the complex of buildings in the distance on the left. We'll be gathered in one of the pavilions, and we'll have an owl banner with us. Admission is $10 per adult, $9 per senior (over 62), $8 per child (under age 2 free). And plan on spending at least $4-$5 each for feed. Two adults and two kids should get the personal bucket, for $13. The tram trip will last about an hour and a half, and I guarantee it will make your day.

Check their website,, and click on Safari Scrapbook at the bottom of the page.

DIRECTIONS: Take the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway to the North Shore. Continue on Causeway Blvd 3 miles to I-12. Take I-12 west (Hammond) 16 miles to Exit 47 (Robert). At the exit, turn right on LA 445 North and proceed about 10-1/2 miles north, then turn right on LA 40 East. The Global Wildlfe Center is 1-1/2 miles on the left.

Alternate: Take Causeway as above, stay on Causeway Blvd., which becomes US 190 West. Go past I-12 and past the downtown Covington exit, to the junction of LA 25 on the north side of Covington. Take LA 25 North to Folsom. At the first traffic light in Folsom, turn left on LA 40 West. Global Wildlife Center is about 6 miles on right. This route is a few miles shorter, but has considerably more traffic, especially on the two-lane LA 25.

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