Thursday, September 8, 2011

Metro Washington Mensa in the Summer

This is what I wrote for Metro Washington Mensa's newsletter for September. I am posting everything I now write for that publication here as well.

The column follows as it appeared.

I've had an interesting month in Metro Washington Mensa. Between Mensa events and events that I invited our members to, quite a bit has happened of note.

Possibly the most Mensa oriented weekend was the last weekend in July. There was quite a bit on our calendar. I began that weekend by attending, once again, Herb Guggenheim's Salon at La Madeleine. This was, as usual, an occasion for many fascinating conversations on a variety of topics. Herb's practice of having everyone write down a question for discussion helps not only attract thoughtful members, but also sparks a variety of discussions. Even before the “formal” discussion begins, we talk about all sorts of things ranging from culture to politics to management at companies where we have worked. Or, perhaps, I should say mismanagement. Those of us in tech fields are particularly well acquainted with poor management. I've even given talks on the subject at Regional Gatherings, focusing on the mess at NASA. Two, given at Snowball in 2003 and 2004, about the Columbia accident helped set my current course in life. That Friday I do remember, among other things, I remember seeing Stefan and hearing Herb's wife Leslie briefly mention Veterans Administration health care. Since I am a veteran, I took especial note of that. I'm trying to follow up her comments now.

On Saturday I awoke early enough – with the weather pleasant enough – to head out for a six mile run. How many of you are runners – or even get much physical exercise? While our minds are good, we also need to take of our bodies. I look forward to living as long as Mom – who passed on at 93 – and Uncle Don – who made it to 92. Keeping physically active also helps keep one's mind sharp. When I am running alone, I also think about the day ahead – and more. After the run, I had a good breakfast, read some e-mail and got ready to head out.

The big event on Saturday was Dave and Liz Remine's Corn Boil out in Virginia. I first got to know Liz and Dave when I joined Mensa up in New Jersey three decades ago. I remember enjoyable parties at their home. I can also remember the two of them coming to dinner parties I began organizing at local restaurants. My criteria for choosing those restaurants was fairly simple. They had to be good restaurants – and they could not be part of a major chain. Good Time Charlie's qualified. TGIF didn't. One very memorable evening started at a restaurant. We all then then proceeded to see the film Starman at a local theater. I won't discuss this evening more in this column. Just ask me about it the next time we see each other at an event. You will be amused. You will also learn a bit about one incident that pushed my politics in a libertarian direction.

I ran into quite a few interesting people at the Corn Boil. Besides Liz and Dave, there were local leaders such as much of the ExComm, Heather Poirier, her husband, and two people with whom I have another connection – the Hash House Harriers. Possibly the most interesting conversation I had at the Corn Boil, though, was with the people from Roanoke. We talked about photography a bit. They encouraged me to come down to Roanoke and do some serious photography there. I think I will in the not too distant future. I did some photography at the Corn Boil. You can see the results on Flickr at

That evening I returned to Maryland. I would have liked to attend Herb and Leslie's Saturday evening party, especially since they told us it would be going on into the wee hours of Sunday, but I do need my sleep – and Sunday morning I had another special event to attend.

Sunday morning into afternoon was the annual Fourth of July Crab Feast at St. Mark's. Fourth of July? You need a sense of humor. The service begins with members of the College of Crustaceans processing in, dressed in some Crab outfits and acting rather silly. You can see my photos of this event on Flickr at People at St. Mark's really enjoy my photography. They are now calling me the church photographer. Now you know why I had to be well rested for that event. People at St. Mark's are also quite intelligent. During one recent conversation, Louise said to me “My IQ is only 147. Charlie's (her husband) is over 160.” They are also warm, friendly people. I hope MWMers and my friends at St. Mark's get to know one another better. I think it will be better for all.

Sunday concluded with another fine party at Alex Belinfante's. I know I miss Keren – but not nearly as much as Alex does. Besides the usual attendees (Alex, Jared Levine, Bruce Ford, more), Alex invited friends from other circles, especially artistic ones. I did some photography of this event as well. You can find my photos on Flickr at .

The first weekend in August I tried to bring together friends from a variety of groups. On Friday evening I put the Dupont Circle galleries First Friday open houses into our calendar. I also got Beltway Bob – a Hash House Harriers local Friday night Happy Hour tradition – to meet at The Big Hunt on Connecticut just south of Dupont Circle. I mentioned the Beltway Bob Happy Hour on littlem. I also plugged both events at St. Mark's. A number of hashers came to The Big Hunt and had an enjoyable time. Alas, I got a poor response from both MWM and St. Mark's. One MWM member did try to reach me on my cell phone, but I didn't hear it ringing. It got loud some of the time at both The Big Hunt and the trip around the galleries. I think I will try this again in November. Perhaps the fall will be better for this kind of thing.

We also have a new SIG. Our newsletter editor Colby Hostetler – who is doing a fine job – has added a SIG she has named the Guest Events for M's. These events are designed to bring together Ms and speakers on the hot topics of the day. See her announcement for more information.

That's enough for now. I definitely plan on attending Dave Cahn's party this month as well as some other events. I look forward to seeing many of you soon.

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