News & Notes

Have you gotten the jab? May is the unofficial start of summer and new seasonal activities and changes to our schedule(s) are gradually ramping up. If you have gotten your COVID-19 vaccination and/or you will be graduating in May, oh the places you’ll go! Likewise, Mid-America Mensa is seeing an uptick in its activities & events as well.

First, Walkabout KC in May heads out to Antioch Park, 6501 Antioch Rd., Merriam, KS, on Saturday, May 1st at 10:00 am. We had a big turnout enjoy the MAM comradery, warmer weather, and light exercise last month at Leawood Park. Hopefully more MAM members and friends will meet up with us in May for another casual & enjoyable walk about a local park.

Ad Astra Mensa (via Zoom)

Ad Astra Mensa (Topeka, Lawrence, and environs) met virtually via Zoom on Monday, April 12. Topics discussed included Covid-19, places we would like to visit when travel restrictions are lifted, vaccinations, masks, the freedom to see people in person for those who have received their shots, movies, TV shows, books, Genghis Khan, the evolution of warfare, awareness (or lack thereof) of consequences of one’s actions, gardening, and haircuts. If you would like to discuss these topics, or others that interest you, please join us virtually on Monday, May 10 at 7:00 pm. Please check out the May Mension if you are interested in learning more about this upcoming MAM event.

Salon with a Double Twist — Saturday, May 15th, at 2:00 pm via Zoom

The usual way to have a salon is to select a topic and ask that everyone be prepared to offer their two cents’ worth on the subject. Well, that’s still true, but the first twist is this: In order to allow everyone time to speak and not have the salon be dominated by a particularly lengthy speaker, comments will be limited to one minute at a time. Everyone will have multiple opportunities, in turn with everyone else, to offer their wisdom and insights. The second twist is having a Salon via Zoom instead of in-person. The focus will continue to be intelligent, witty, insightful dialog. The Salon topic: What will be your new normal in life after Coronavirus?

Theodore Talks – Sunday, May 23rd, from 2:00-3:00 pm via Zoom

Vernacular Knowledge: Looking for Intelligence in Unexpected Places — Dr. John Laudun

Join us for this MAM event (which is the very first lecture in MAM’s new speaker/talk series). Please look in the May Mension for more information about this MAM speaker event and how to make your reservation to attend!

Theodore Talks: Dr. John Laudun

Dr. John Laudun has been selected to be the first speaker of Theodore Talks, our new speaker/talk series. He is scheduled to speak May 23rd, 2:00-3:00 pm in the MAM Zoom room. The speaker’s information for this lecture immediately follows below.

TITLEVernacular Knowledge: Looking for Intelligence in Unexpected Places

SPEAKER BIO – Dr. John Laudun is on the specialist faculty at the U.S. Combined Arms Center’s Army Management Staff College where he focuses on social information systems. In addition to his programmatic duties, his current research looks at TED talks in relationship to contemporary culture as well as the spread of ideas across online social networks. A folklorist by training, with a PhD from Indiana University’s Folklore Institute, Dr. Laudun has documented, analyzed, and published on Cajun and Creole cultures, embedded creativity, and folk narratives about places and people. He has been a Javits Fellow, a MacArthur Scholar, and been supported in his research by the NEH, the NSF, and the Andrew Mellon Foundation. His scholarly work has appeared in a number of journals and been translated into Chinese. Dr. Laudun has been interviewed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Atlanta Constitution.

Editor’s note: The following editorial comments/notes are only those of this editor and are just intended to help offer some background as to what Dr. Laudun’s speech may be about.

Can you imagine how a quest for intelligence in unexpected places appeals to all of us? We live lives which have a changing narrative and timeline. We each have a physical, and digital, vantage point which keeps us living subject to the societal norms and values which we must learn to accept. Like a search for truth, this partial and portable variable makes our origins derived and grounded in many beliefs; and thus, this comprehensive nature of community (or, belonging to a regional organization) does indeed fall within the realm of ‘science’ proper.

By way of another example, Mensans know that there exists one common theme among members and groups within Mensa – it is something interwoven throughout our nature. Do you know what it is? Mensa “is based on an objective criterion of selection, an assessment of the applicant’s ability to think effectively. Mensa aims to be a forum of the intelligent of every persuasion, so it is simply and permanently not possible for Mensa to have any controversial collective views or policies.” (Serebriakoff 1985, Mensa: The Society for the Highly Intelligent, pg. 263) Like a story slowly becoming dissected and analyzed, we do not always see things eye-to-eye and we can have very different and opposing points of view on certain issues. More than anything else, perhaps, these few ideas are what constitute the ‘golden rule’ of Mensa.

News & Notes

April is when MAM members traditionally have to answer the following question: Who cares? First, it is the traditional time for Mensa Cares (which is Mensa’s annual local community service projects). But with living in the current pandemic, perhaps members of Mid-America Mensa rather need to move closer toward a ‘new normal’ in what we may do daily and how we spend our time. Also, it is the start of a new fiscal and membership year in Mensa. So, let’s take a look at how some of MAM’s activities can now maybe exist in a more stable environment and world.

Ad Astra Mensa via Zoom

On March 8th, Ad Astra Mensa (Topeka, Lawrence, and environs) met virtually via Zoom. Topics discussed included legal aspects of travel company contracts during Covid-19, Covid-19 generally, vaccines, when travel will be safe again, where people would like to travel to (Peru, Great Britain, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Germany, Turkey, Egypt, India, Greece, Vietnam, Thailand, Jordan, Australia), the humanities (KU is dropping its humanities program), Classical Latin and Greek, the influence of ancient philosophers on the Founding Fathers, TV shows, movies, French cave art, books, culinary traditions of St. Patrick’s Day, how to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day during Covid-19, Egyptian pyramids, camels, petroglyphs, Nazca lines, astronomy, ancient architecture, Australian dream states, primitive drawings in Colombia, and other subjects. Ad Astra Mensa will meet virtually by Zoom again on Monday, April 12th at 7:00 pm.

Ethnic Eats

Spring has either sprung or sprang, depending on your preferred colloquialism. What’s your favorite ethnic spring-like dish? Lamb? Dandelions? Spring rolls? Bring a dish that makes you think of Spring. We hope to see MAM members via Zoom on Saturday, April 10th at 1:00 pm.

2021 Mensa Elections & Portal

April is especially important for American Mensa because it includes the start of the national election period. If you have an email address on file with the National Office, look for your electronic ballot in your Inbox on or soon after April 15. If the office doesn’t have an email address for you, they’ll mail you a paper ballot. Marked ballots need to be returned by May 15. You can see the list of candidates and access their candidacy materials after logging onto American Mensa’s website and going to: You may see that we have contests going for four of the five national offices, one referendum for a Bylaws amendment, and several active races for RVC posts. There’s no RVC contest in our Heartland Region, because Beth Anne Demeter is running unopposed and, therefore, she will be declared elected.

Editor’s Note: Portions of the April 2021 Mid-America Mensa Mension were used in this article.

MAM Leadership Updates

Friends SIG

Hey, MAM members:  There is an all-new, all-purpose, all-weather Friends SIG premiering right here within MAM!  The Friends SIG is the following, in total:  find an M, and then call her/him on the phone once a week to see how they’re doing. Especially whether they need anything — a ride to the doctor, some coffee and a treat, or just someone to talk to. What matters is to be there for another M that might need you. One phone call, one M, once a week. That’s it. We only propose that ordinary, garden–variety MAM members try in a simple way to make the world a little better place than it might be for another M.

If you ever wondered how you, one person, can make a difference, join us in this effort. You’re an M, you could be an M–Friend. Friends SIG sole purpose would be to help Mensans take action, based in hope, to look out for other Ms in concrete ways. Ways that go beyond wishing people well as we hurry past them. If Mensans do that, Mensa will become the model of tolerance and acceptance it says it wants to be.

MAM Volunteers Needed

Did you know that Mid-America Mensa is run entirely by volunteers? If you take a look at the back page of the Mension, you will see a list of our local members who are currently serving on the Board, as Appointed Officers, as Area Coordinators and as SIG coordinators. But you will also notice a few open slots!

Special Events Coordinator(s) – So what is a special event? Pretty much any event that is open to the entire membership and is not part of a SIG. While we are not doing any in-person events right now, we could really use help putting together some online events. We could use help planning and hosting online events like speakers, a movie night, happy hours, a salon, or any other fun or interesting idea you can come up with. This does not have to be a one-person job, so if you can help with even one of these events, even if one time, we would love to have you!

Online Games Coordinator – In the age of Covid, we could really use someone who loves to play online games and can help to plan and host some game nights! When we can start meeting in person again, we will be looking for someone to schedule and/or host an in-person game night.

Gifted Youth Coordinator – We have a wonderful parent volunteer, who is coordinating our youth activities, but we could really use a member with some related background to monitor information and resources provided by the national office, help plan and coordinate activities, assist with identifying gifted youth resources, etc. There are some specific requirements for this position. Contact LocSec Kim Jackowski to discuss.

PR Coordinator – The PR coordinator helps to build and maintain awareness of the local group within the community. This position would ideally be held by someone with some experience interacting with the media.

The more people who get involved in planning for and supporting the group, the more fun we can have. Contact LocSec Kim Jackowski about the MAM positions listed above and for more information about how you can get involved as a MAM volunteer.