James Spaith (1951-2021)

Jim Spaith was born in Wichita and grew up with his parents in Lenexa, KS. He attended local schools, graduating in 1969. He earned a Bachelor’s degree (Baker University, 1973) and a Law degree (Washburn University, 1973). He served as a White House intern in 1974-75. He worked for the USPS as a labor attorney. In addition, Jim was a proud member of Mensa since May 1982. He took great pleasure in all aspects of what it meant to be a Mensan. He took on many leadership roles:  including LocSec, 1st Vice President, Secretary, and Member-at-Large. In addition, he coordinated and participated in numerous SIGs. He often was one of the first to arrive and the last to leave when anyone else needed help. If you needed something done, you called Jim and he would be there for you. Besides being a member of Mid-America Mensa, Jim belonged to numerous other groups, for example: the Kansas City St. Andrew Society, the Lenexa Historical Society, the Kansas City Ballet Guild, and he was a friend of the Nelson Atkins Museum. He was married to, and is survived by, Nancey Spaith (who is also a Mensa member) in 1993. Along with his wife Nancey and a sister, Joan Spaith of North Carolina, we all will greatly miss him.

James Spaith

Q&A with COVID Worker & MAM Member William Sunderland

Q1/ Give us a short biography of who you are. How did you join up with Mensa?

William/ I’ve been a member since 1983. I have only attended one event, but read the Bulletin regularly and enjoy the thoughtful, often funny, sometimes snarky articles. Keep up the good work. I joined Mensa as a rejoinder to my wife’s argument of “Just who is the Phi Beta Kappa here?” My membership is an effective “touche”.

I retired after forty years from my Lee’s Summit CPA practice in 2017. After retiring I did all the obligatory things:  took a cruise, bought a Buick, caught up on lots of missed naps. I also did some political things — knocked on doors for candidates and circulated a petition. Of course, the pandemic put a halt to all that.

Q2/ How did you get the opportunity to volunteer at a COVID testing center?

William/ There is a great need to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Our local paper ran an article of the need for help with testing and contact tracing. I have absolutely no medical background, but responded by email. There were opportunities even for someone like me. The Medical Reserve Corp, of which I now belong, needed people to help with traffic at a drive-in test site, to help patients complete on-line applications, to do contact tracing by phone and to write grant applications.

Q3/ What are your team responsibilities? Is it hard work?

William/ The actual nose-tickling, and later vaccinating, went to nurses and doctors. But, volunteers freed these highly-qualified people to do their jobs while we, with the medical knowledge of the traffic cones we placed, helped keep the lines going. The hardest part was donning and discarding the personal protective equipment — N95 masks, double gloves, gowns and face shields. Still, protection is vital. One in four, to one in six of those we tested in Jackson County were positive for COVID-19.

Q4/ For the sake of being accountable, who qualifies for COVID testing and vaccination at this time?

William/ The only qualifications to volunteer for MRC are passing a background check and completing an on-line orientation. Further on-line training must be done within thirty days. Those and a willingness to work 4 to 8 hour shifts are the only qualifications. Recently, I have been working at vaccination sites as a line monitor (more traffic, but inside), completing vaccination records and answering questions. The patients sign up by email, check in at the facility, complete a questionnaire, get vaccinated, then sit for fifteen minutes in the observation area self-assessing for side effects. People who show up appreciate the opportunity to get the vaccine. Those who want to wait for others to get the shots first, vaccine deniers, and COVID hoaxers aren’t there.

Q5/ How was your vaccination experience? Can you describe it?

William/ Kansas and Missouri have different rules about who is in group 1a. Medical professionals are group 1a in both states. Both states include MRC volunteers as medical personnel. The Missouri site vaccinated me immediately (totally painless, no side effects whatsoever). The Kansas site required five service days before vaccination. However, if they have excess vaccines thawed due to no-shows, Kansas vaccinates even first-time volunteers rather than waste the vaccine. Logical.

Q6/ What other impressions can you share with us?

William/ Fighting this pandemic is the greatest public health effort of this generation, perhaps this century. I’m proud to be part of it. Mensans who wish to volunteer should go to https://mrc.hhs.gov for information.

Mensa Scholarships

Mid-America Mensa is proud to be participating again this year in the Mensa Education and Research Foundation Scholarship Essay Contest. Entry forms are now available at www.mensafoundation.org/scholarships. The application form is online, and applicants will submit their essays at the Mensa website.

As in past years interested applicants will submit a 550-word essay describing their goals and aspirations. The essays selected by our local judges will go on to be judged at the Regional and National levels for the awarding of scholarships. Any person who will be enrolled in an accredited US institution for the 2021–2022 academic year is eligible to participate. It is not necessary to be a member of Mensa. There is a separate competition for Mensa members and their dependents, with details available at the same website. The deadline to participate is January 15, 2021.

Many of the scholarships are unrestricted, meaning that all entrants will compete for them. There is also a number of restricted awards whose recipients must meet certain criteria. The following is a brief summary of those:

  • 4 Paws and a Tail ($1,000) – Restricted to graduate level studies or continuing education of an established Veterinarian.
  • Bob and Mary Ann Cox Scholarship ($500) – For a student who has been out of formal education for a period of six or more years.
  • Carol Martinez Scholarship ($2,500) – Restricted to the field of Information Technology.
  • David Mann Scholarship ($2,000) – Study of aeronautical engineering or an aerospace field.
  • Don and Virginia Prince Scholarship ($600) – Must be a military veteran or spouse of a veteran.
  • Dr. Peter M. Kendall Science Scholarship ($600) – Restricted to the Natural Sciences including but not limited to Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy, Geology, Environmental Science, Forestry, Pre-Med, Pre-Dentistry.
  • Greg Timmers Arts Education Scholarship ($600) – Fine Arts that can include applied arts such as architecture, photography, ceramics and textiles.
  • Harper Fowley – Isolated M Award ($600) – Study for an undergraduate liberal arts degree (B.A. or A.A.).
  • Helen Kupper Scholarship ($600) – For a student pursuing a degree in the Fine Arts.
  • Lester London Award ($600) – Graduate study in history.
  • Margie Mandelblatt Award ($1,000) – Study in journalism.
  • Margot Seitelman Memorial Scholarship ($1,000) – Graduate student who plans a career in professional writing or teaching English grammar and/or writing.
  • Rita Levine Memorial Scholarship ($600) – For a female returning to school after any absence of seven or more years – may be re-enrolled at time of application.
  • Rosemary Greathouse Scholarship ($600) – For a student pursuing a degree in the Arts, including creative writing and journalism.
  • The Skinner HELL’s M’s Memorial Scholarship ($500) – Interpersonal communications, mediation, or related study.
  • STEM scholarship ($2,000) – For natural and applied science, technology, and math majors (includes medical and health sciences majors).
  • The Sylvia Scholarship ($600) – For a woman pursuing a degree in the Natural Sciences or Mathematics.
  • Walt and Mary McGrew Scholarship for Veterans ($1,000) – For a veteran.

The following are restricted scholarships which are new this year!

  • Stem Scholarship for Women ($7,000) – (Four scholarships) – Restricted to the study of STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics for a female or transgender female.
  • CGM Health Careers Scholarship ($600) – Restricted to Medicine, Pharmacy, Veterinary Science, Nursing, Respiratory Therapy, Physical Therapy, or other Allied Health Fields.
  • First Timers’ Grant ($1,000) – Affirm and declare that applicant is the first person in family to have earned in excess of twelve college credits.
  • Celebrating Racial Diversity ($1,000) – For a person of color.

Election Soon of MAM’s 2021-2022 Board Members

Mid-America Mensa (MAM) will be electing a new Board of Directors before the January Board meeting. MAM’s Nominating Committee has chosen the following Board member nominees for their slate of board officers:

LocSec — Kim Jackowski
1st Vice President — Cynthia Heller
2nd Vice President — Brad Lucht
Secretary — Curt Krambeck
Treasurer — Shawn Dyer
1st Member at Large — Larry Cork
2nd Member at Large — Anita Ford

MAM’s Nominating Committee will meet at 6:30 pm just prior to the MAM Board meeting scheduled for January 14th, 2021, to present their slate as is.

MAM’s Nominating Committee is responsible for submitting a slate of officers at the Nominating Meeting to be held no later than January 15th. There is also an option for making nominations from the floor, but some stipulations apply, so it is important to review the requirements in the MAM Bylaws. If there is only one nominee for any position, the Election Committee will announce the nominee to be elected ‘by acclamation’. If there is more than one nominee for any position, the MAM Election Committee will be responsible for conducting an election in accordance with the group Bylaws.

Pythagorean Theorem Day

Pythagorean Theorem Day is celebrated when the sum of the squares of the month and day of a date equals the square of the last 2 digits of the year of that date. So we have one in December, 12/16/20 (122+162=202 or 144+256=400), another one on 7/24/25, and the last one this century will be 10/24/26. But that will be your last chance to celebrate until March of 2105, so don’t wait, whoop it up now!

In honor of the day (and the Theorem), I have included below, one of my favorite graphical proofs of the Pythagorean Theorem. Look closely at the animated image and you can see why, with a right triangle with sides a, b, and c, that a2+b2 must be the same as c2. Note that the right triangles remain the same, they merely get rearranged. It is the left over area that gets reallocated as a2+b2 or c2 within the larger fixed-size square.

Updated: MAM Wins Ruby Award

Mid-America Mensa (MAM) received some well-deserved recognition during a recent recalculation based upon the 2020 American Mensa Annual Awards. In Class II, MAM was awarded a RUBY for a variety of its activities and accomplishments – earned by the local group as a whole. Basically, groups can earn points for “active participation in all that Mensa has to offer to positively impact the experience of the local group members”. The award was the culmination of points earned during the fiscal year just completed for April 2019 – March 2020. For more about this see: Jewel Awards Criteria, https://www.us.mensa.org/recognize/group-awards/local-group-jewels/

Awards like this one from American Mensa are like a precious gemstone because they show a degree of bright, active participation and glowing vitality that are so greatly needed by a living, breathing social organization. We had received the SAPPHIRE level of recognition in an earlier announcement but it has now been upgraded to the RUBY level which perhaps indicates a very solid core group of members who continue to build Mid-America Mensa’s story with a very high level of service. In addition, we continue to foster the growth of our entire membership through hosting local activities and events (like Cabin Fever earlier this year). Truly, we must like each other well enough to stick around with each other in MAM. Belonging to MAM continues to be time well spent by our members; so, congratulations to Mid-America Mensa for winning this American Mensa local group jewel award!

Ruby Jewel Award