The Peripheral View - Scott Rainey RVC-8

Mensa Gatherings Are Still Way Cool.

Last month I said: "Mensa Gatherings are just... cool. Way Cool." I still think so. However since only about 15% of members have ever attended a gathering, I thought perhaps some true tales would help the other 85% decide to take the plunge, and soon.

Today's E-Mail brought a note from a member who lives 1,500 miles away. She spoke of attending her first ever Gathering in these words:

I can't top that, but I can tell some tales that you may find interesting, from the Sacramento Gold Country RG, just last October. There were the usual presentations on Sexuality, Chocolate, Improvisation, Music, and Travel Slides in 3D, but two presentations elicited the comment "Now that's what I expected when I Joined Mensa" from multiple people.

Dr. David Deamer, a Prof at UC Santa Cruz was our dinner speaker. He heads a NASA funded effort to create real life in a lab. They want to do it in a way that it might have happened billions of years ago on the young Earth. Dr. Deamer shared with us his excitement at some of the breakthrough discoveries made by his team. He is as gifted a teacher as I've ever seen, having translated the building blocks of DNA into musical tones, and with that translation, he played us some proteins. That was awesome enough, but then came the Q&A. Suddenly from a room full "the usual Mensans" who really look like "just folks" came questions of dazzling insight and technical expertise. Rocked me back on my seat it did.

Sacramento Mensans David Scharlach, is a tall guy with a Big Telescope. He looks like he was born in a necktie, but he has a great sense of humor, with excellent timing and is one of SRM's most active amateur astronomers. David spoke on some of the ways astronomical events might suddenly end life on Earth as we know it. Of course this topic has been done a lot, but David added his own great humor and tailored the presentation for an audience of Mensans. Thus a tale often told, was made fresh and new and riveting.

Then there was this great 5-way conversation that lasted several hours into the new day. One M was born in Norway, and raised tri-lingual. He said that when he has a thought, he must pause and decide what language he'll use to articulate it and went on to describe his mental processes. Hours later, the conversation had moved through how language affects thought, how thoughts become words (different for each speaker), and how each M perceived things as they were imagined, before translating that imagining into words or pictures. One person could see an imagined machine so clearly he could make measurements. Another could see a geometric formula in his mind and the shape it described would just form. One imagined things tactically, the way a blind person might, without a corresponding visual, yet was able to translate that into words or works easily.

Mensa Gathering conversations are like that. Sometimes these experiences are part of the program, sometimes you make them happen with whomever is nearby.

If you read this as soon as you get your newsletter, you may still be able to make it to San Francisco Regional Mensa's "Brilliance By the Bay" Thanksgiving Weekend.

As always, a great link to Mensa Gathering pix is on the Oregon Site:

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to the North by Northwest gathering in Vancouver British Columbia, co-hosted by Mensa of Southwest Washington.

All the Best,

Scott Rainey