New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for September/October, 2008

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment


by Anne Osteen Stringer

This Labor Day NOMs will venture to the Fontainebleau State Park for a day of relaxation and fun. Fontainebleau Park was hit hard by Katrina. Hundreds of trees were lost and the park was closed for two years. But nature has a way of restoring itself and the park is beautiful again. Fontainebleau was originally a sugar plantation owned by Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville, the founder of the city that bears his name. The crumbling ruins of his sugar mill remain. Situated on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain, Fontainebleau covers almost 3000 acres of Louisiana woodland and wetland. It is home to more than 400 species of birds and other wildlife. There is a sandy beach for basking, nature trails to explore, and the Tammany Trace for hiking, biking, or skating. If that seems strenuous, you can just sit and watch the sailboats on the lake. Bring food for your family and come enjoy a day by the lake. The park charges $1 per person entry, but there will be no regular NOM Night charge.

This issue contains new staff listings and a suggestion by Phil Wilking to ensure safe and happy web surfing. Cover art is by H.

LocSec’s Lucubrations

by Gerry Ward

This month I am happy to announce that instead of a NOM night, we will have a NOM Day. It will be our first Mensa Family Picnic. On Labor Day, September 1, pack up the kids, the food and drink, sports equipment, and games. Then head over to Fountainbleau State Park right outside of Mandeville. The driving instructions are in the calendar. We will not charge any Mensa NOM night fee because we will not be supplying the food. We will post the big black and gold Mensa logo sign . I would love to meet all of you.

The Ex-comm met , and the appointments are as follows:

A few notes on the jobs: the historian will keep a scrapbook with pictures and memorabilia of notable happenings besides copies of La Plume. The Young Mensan Activities Advisor is a new position I created because who knows what children like to do better than the kids themselves. He will advise our new GCC. The YMAA may become a yearly rotating position so that the others will have a turn to advise on activities they like. We’ll see how it goes. The Public Relations Person needs to send out press releases whenever we test and announce discounts from National. National testing Day in October needs to be played up a lot by using the suggestions sent from headquarters. Also announce the winners of our prizes for the Regional Science Fair.

Thanks to Henry Bertrand for his work as North Shore Coordinator. He requested that he step down due to his having to go to Hammond 3 days a week to care for his mother who had a stroke. He recommended Rebecca who helped him set up several of the dinners, her enthusiasm , and her having hosted 2 NOM nights within the past year.

Thank you to Claudia Daquin for her service as the Gifted Children’s Resource Contact. Our new GCC will take over all functions of the job including being a resource contact for parents.

Thanks to former historian George Kutzgar for having saved copies of LaPlume all these years as part of our history. George is extremely busy working on restoring his home ruined by hurricane Katrina , and has no time to keep the new scrapbook.

Congratulations to the new and continuing appointees who have agreed to actively pursue the positions to keep us running smoothly and going forward. Dues are going up to $59 next year. If you renew before Dec. 31, 2008, you may renew at the current rate of $52. This also goes for multi-year renewals.

From time to time, members email me and ask which members run a certain business or perform a service. We are looking into having ads run in our newsletter. I would like feedback from you. Email me at

Please come out and meet your fellow Mensans at the first NOM picnic. Have a happy Labor Day!

RVC-6 Report

by Ralph Rudolph

I'm pleased to announce that Rhonda McLean of Central Oklahoma has volunteered to be our Regional Scholarship Coordinator, so Region 6 will be taking part in our scholarship programs. It's a bit sad that not all groups are participating in this program as it helps some aspiring folks and makes for a good PR opportunity to get your group's name in the newspapers. In my group, we treat the scholarship winners to dinner and do press releases on this.

Again in my own group, I've taken over as testing coordinator and am boosting our own testing to about every other month with more test locations as we have built up a backlog of about 50 prospective members. We are boosting our number of proctors to six to be able to do this. I merely did a search (through the National Office) of members with degrees in psychology as they can easily become proctors (with a bit of sweet talk). I'm pleased to see that other groups are also giving an increased emphasis on testing.

Some groups are doing interesting things. For instances, TJ Lundeen of Central Oklahoma is trying to put together a weekend near Ft. Smith (on the Oklahoma side), inviting members from Arkansas, Eastern Oklahoma and East Texas. It will be a low-key weekend with camping, cabins and RV sites, making it very affordable, most probably over the Halloween weekend. A Mensa test session may also be held, with testees invited to a pot-luck dinner. Way to go! And it will be kid friendly.

Within Louisiana, with the agreement of both LocSecs, certain zip codes of Baton Rouge Mensa are being transferred to New Orleans Mensa. Several members of the zip codes have already preferenced into New Orleans.

On the AMC level, we have a closed forum called AMC-lists where we discuss items of interest (?) before proposing them for the agenda at our meetings. This saves meeting time as items with little support don't have to be argued in person and poorly worded items can be edited. Given that we are having a November planning meeting to develop action plans for our future (strategic vision) you'd think that we'd be discussing this a lot. Not so. Administrivia rules. or

North Shore News

by Rebecca Pharr

Many Mensans living in St. Tammany Parish have preferenced into New Orleans Mensa, as it has more in common culturally with New Orleans than its official inclusion in Baton Rouge Mensa. But even with the progress made in uniting the Mensans on the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain with our members south of the lake, many of our members hesitate to take that trip either on the Causeway or the I-10 to attend the activities on the other side of the lake.

Henry Bertrand and myself, along with about a dozen faithful Northshore Mensans have been meeting every third Thursday at different restaurants and coffeehouses during the past year, along with occasional South Shore members. Henry has served for two years as North Shore coordinator, and says he wants to step down if someone else wants to take over the position. He asked me if I would like to have the job, and after the initial shock of being asked, decided to apply for the position.

As Northshore Coordinator, I will work with Henry and Gerry and the New Orleans Mensa to encourage more of our members in St. Tammany Parish to participate in the activities of New Orleans Mensa south of the lake. Several members have told me that they preferenced into New Orleans Mensa because it is so much more active than Baton Rouge Mensa. Yet many of these same members hesitate to participate in those activities south of the lake because of the distance, the cost of the gas and the tolls, and their own unfamiliarity with the city.

Yes, it is a challenge to cross that 24-mile bridge across Lake Pontchartrain and an extra bother to pay the three-dollar toll to an unfamiliar area, but the ride is well worth it. Don’t let the excuses turn into reasons not to make the fullest of your Mensa membership.. I would also encourage more of our Orleans and Jefferson Parish members to come up to our meetings in St. Tammany Parish. With all the urbanization and development in St. Tammany Parish, as well as its unique blend of city and country living, a visit to the north shore might be a refreshing change.

Since Katrina, many areas in St. Tammany Parish, especially Slidell, Covington, and Mandeville, are no longer small rural communities but have developed into cities with large shopping malls, fast-growing businesses, and lovely residential and recreational areas. While keeping pace with the rapid development, many areas still retain the charm of country and rural living. There are still the country fairs and festivals, the farm-fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s markets. I plan to watch the North Shore news for activities that Mensans might like to participate in.

And of course, many fine places to eat such as Mandina’s and Acme Oyster House, to name a few, have opened up north of the lake, and we plan to make our NOM-North monthly meeting a culinary adventure. I would also like to encourage more attendance at the monthly NOM Night, the Eclectic SIG and the Dinner Club on the south shore by our north shore members. I don't know about the Celebration SIG, though, because too much celebration might not make it safe to drive back home across the lake!

Tired Of Advertising On Your Web Browser?

by Phil Wilking

If you are tired of receiving innumerable pop-up ads on every World Wide Web site you visit, there is something you can do to block their appearance. You can lie to your computer.

When you tell your web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Netscape Navigator, etc., it doesn’t matter which one) to go to a web site, you type a URL into the address space and press <GO> or <ENTER> or something similar. This URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is usually in the form of (or .org, .gov, etc.). But that is what a human calls it, not what the computer wants.

The computer deals only in numbers, so it needs the URL to be in the form of 444.333.222.111 or something similar. When you press <ENTER> , the computer first checks its own list (called the HOSTS file) of previously visited sites to look for the numerical equivalent of the letter name you entered. If it does not find an entry for the name you typed, it goes on-line to a web site which maintains the name-number equivalent master list and adds the entry it finds there to its HOSTS file as it displays the web site. If it finds an entry on the HOSTS file, it goes directly to that recorded numerical address without checking further. And that is the key, the web browser always goes to one address and checks no further if something is wrong with that one.

It turns out that there is a numerical address which has been designated as the universal dead-end address by all the agencies which assign name-number pairs. If your web browser is told to look for it will find nothing, and it will look no further. So – every time a web site sends your browser to a subsidiary web address for advertising, you could investigate the properties of the ad site to find out what its URL name address is, and add that name to your HOSTS file with the numerical address, OR you can do it the easy way. Point your web browser at the site (or go to any standard search engine, tell it to search for HOSTS, and let it find the site for you). These people have already done the work of listing thousands of advertising sites with the dummy address, and you can have a free copy of their work. All you need do is follow the instructions to replace your current HOSTS file with their much larger one which will block every advertising site on their VERY large list. It really is as simple as that: replace your current HOSTS file with the doctored one and clean up your web browsing a LOT.

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