Cheat Sheet of the British Monetary Colloquialisms in the time of Charles Dickens 

by Martin Oakes and Denise K. Yancey

The holidays are the time of year when we re-read "A Christmas Carol" written by Charles Dickens in 1843.  There are many references to "shilling" and "half-a-crown" and other curious British forms of money. For instance, at the end of the story, on Christmas morning, Scrooge stops the errand boy and offers him a shilling to buy the biggest turkey in the butcher's window for Christmas Dinner, and offers the boy a half-a-crown if he hurries.   Mensan Martin Oakes got curious and just wouldn't leave it alone.  He took it upon himself to sift through it all and came up with the following cheat sheet:


Shilling Pence Synonyms
  0.25 farthing    
  0.5 halfpenny hapenny  
  1 penny copper  
  2 twopenny tuppence half groat
  3 threepenny thruppence joey
  4 groat    
  6 sixpence tanner  
1 0 shilling bob twelvepence
2 0 florin two bob bit  
2 6 half crown    
5 0 crown dollar  
20 0 pound sovereign quid
21 0 guinea    

Let Martin know if it helps!


SueAnn Gilmore, Regional Vice Chair Region 8

The American Mensa Committee (AMC – our governing body) Meeting in Grapevine, TX, the day of strategizing that preceded it, and the committee meetings that we attended Saturday night made for a very full weekend December 4-6.  The AMC worked hard, and well, together and we even shared some laughter in the process. By the time you read this, a video of Sunday’s meeting should be posted online, so if you’re curious about what we did and how we did it, please give it a look.  You can find it at    Select the meeting you’re interested in and then click on the video (or audio for 10-25-15).

Early November to early December 2015 has been my favorite month as your RVC!  It started with a visit to Ellensburg, WA, where I met three members of Columbia River Mensa at a brunch that’s held monthly.  One of those attendees drove from Yakima, WA to attend his very first Mensa event, even though he’s been a member for several years. Now Jonathan Martin, a retired judge, is working to get some activities going in Yakima.  Very cool!  Kent Van Cleave and his beautiful little daughter, Athena, were there too, along with Torrie Large and another regular attendee.  After a very scenic drive along the Yakima River, I met Mark Mitchell, LocSec of Columbia River Mensa, and former LocSec Steve LePage, to talk about the VineRGy happening April 22-24 in Prosser.  Prosser is a quaint town surrounded by scores of wineries and hops fields, and it was fun to explore and to dine at Jeremy’s 1896 Public House, which is right next to the Wine Valley Inn, the RG headquarters property.  The food was yummy and the atmosphere was upbeat. For more info on VineRGy, please go to Facebook and join Region 8 Mensa. 

Next stop was lunch in Sacramento with Debra Reiger, Dave Clark, Joan Shaffer, and Tom Hammond.  Joan was at the very first Mensa event I ever attended, Santa Barbara’s RG in 1979!  Dave and I closed the place down talking about his soon-to-be position of LocSec of Sacramento Regional Mensa and what can be done to get more participation from the membership.

Then it was on to Monterey County Mensa, where I met with the new LocSec and Assistant LocSec, Judith Burdick and Richard Ryan for lunch after dining on Wednesday night with Judy, newsletter editor Holly Davis, former LocSec Carol Robles, Fran Cartier (who had lots of interesting stories about the early days of Mensa), Karen Judkins, Steve Wade and Judy Burdick. I was awarded a plate of homemade (by Judy) chocolate chip/oatmeal cookies just for being their RVC.  Wow!  Definitely was worth the drive.

The RG in Santa Cruz, Brilliance by the Bay, was the best RG ever!  Run by Stephanie Thornton, our national membership officer, it had excellent speakers, great hospitality, and a lovely venue with beautiful views of the bay.  The food served by the hotel was amazingly good.  I’ve asked Stephanie to please redo this event, in the same place, every year but, surprisingly, she’s yet to agree.  Darn!  At a Gathering, being in the company of other bright people is delightful and when so many of them are longtime friends, it’s better still.  Try it!

Here’s hoping that your holidays were merry and that you found time to meet and mingle with some of your Mensa friends.

More next time…

SueAnn Gilmore  --    Region 8 Mensa (on Facebook)

Essence of Political Science - a great but snarky look at Poli Sci.

Lauren Marbe, 16 Years Old, Has an IQ of 160 - Girl With 161 Iq

A British teenager, who loves tanning, manicures and parties, is being hailed as smarter than Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates.

According to the Telegraph, Lauren Marbe, a 16-year-old from Loughton, Essex, has an IQ of 161. The straight-A student took the Mensa brain test with other high achievers from her school, and wound up getting a score that could be higher than some of the world's most revered minds.

“I was one of the last people to get my result and everybody before me had got around the 130 mark so that was the kind of result I was expecting," Marbe, who is a singer and hopes to study at the University of Cambridge, told the Telegraph. “My teachers knew I was quite clever because of my grades but they had always thought I was blonde and a bit ditzy. Now they keep saying ’I didn’t realize you were that clever.'"

It's important to note that the IQ scores of German theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and American founder of Microsoft Bill Gates are mere estimates. Einstein never actually took an IQ test because none of the modern intelligence tests existed during his lifetime, Yahoo! News U.K. notes. He is believed to have had an IQ around the 160 mark. Hawking and Gates might have scored 160, as well.

Business Insider stresses that IQ scoring is an inexact science. "Even with a test result in hand, the number can vary from exam to exam," writes BI reporter Robert Johnson. "Third party scoring or estimates based upon intellectual achievements are a popular way of getting a ballpark figure."

Mensa U.K. even notes that percentile is a more accurate assessment than IQ number. "An IQ of 150 is a meaningless claim unless the testing mechanism is also cited, but an IQ in the 98th percentile (i.e. higher than 98 per cent of the population) has consistent meaning," according to Mensa. A score of 132 on the Culture Fair test used by British Mensa places a candidate in the top 2%.

Either way, Marbe has earned the praise of her peers and superiors.

"In a time where the media and Government criticise our youth for their supposed ignorance and superficiality it is even more vital to celebrate and encourage intelligence," the principal of Roding Valley High School, where the 16-year-old "girl genius" attends school, told Yahoo! News U.K. "It is these bright young things which we hope - with the guidance of a good education - will become the future leaders of our society."

News of Marbe's IQ accomplishment follows the announcement that a 3-year-old boy has been inducted into Mensa. Sherwyn Sarabi from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, has become one of the youngest members of Mensa. His IQ is 136, and he can count to 200 and name every country in the world.

Hello Mensa Alaska! Article from President Dana Spinney

My name is Dana Spinney and I’ve been serving as President of Alaska Mensa since January of this year. Being a part of a group in a remote location presents both joys and challenges. In Alaska, we have one Mensa group consisting of approximately 120 members for the entire state. Anchorage and the nearby Mat-Su Valley host the largest concentration of our group’s members. Anchorage has a population of about 300,000 people, which is approximately one-half the population of the entire state. From Anchorage, a six-hour drive north will bring you to the second largest city of Fairbanks. A significant number of towns/villages in our state, including our state capital of Juneau, have no road system connecting them to other parts of the state and can only be accessed by plane, boat or even snow machine in the winter months. 

Because of this, there’s little opportunity to meet Mensa Alaska members outside of the Anchorage area in which I reside. The travel distance also creates a situation wherein most of our group’s officers are from Anchorage. Our board meets once per month in Anchorage, and one of my goals is to explore ways we can use technology to involve those members who would like to participate in meetings but realistically cannot travel to them. 

Mensa Alaska has members who reside in farthest reaches of the state - from Barrow in the northwest down to Ketchikan on the Southeast Peninsula - dotted all across Alaska’s 586,000 square miles. Some members live in small villages with no indoor plumbing and no Internet access and where subsistence upon hunting, fishing and gathering is the way of life. Communication with our members has to take many forms in order to reach everyone. While our Web site [] is newly redesigned and frequently updated, quarterly newsletters sent via snail mail are also needed for members who have no or unreliable Internet access. 
Last month, our Saturday morning Anchorage breakfast group was delighted to have two members from Barrow join us. Interestingly, although Barrow is a small town, these two Mensans hadn’t met each other prior to breakfast in Anchorage that morning. 

About 13 Mensa Alaska members and guests attended the AG in Portland last month. Each of us enjoyed meeting Mensans from across the country and the many other experiences these large gatherings offer. While the summer visiting season is winding to a close, Alaska can also be fun to visit in the fall or winter. Winter festivals, beautiful aurora borealis sightings and the Iditarod dog sled race are experiences well worth braving the cold and snow. I’m happy to answer inquiries members may have about our group and Alaska in general. Email Dana at

Eating Alaska Wild!  by Marie Lundstrom

Instead of eating my usual poached eggs, bagel, and bowl of fruit breakfast and sharing war stories with other Mensans at Doriola’s in Anchorage, Saturday, August 4, I was eating wild (and tame!) foods on Yukon Island, 20 minutes by water taxi across Kachemak Bay from Homer. This was a weekend class on edible wild Alaskan foods sponsored by Olé (Opportunities for Lifelong Education, – see box) for Olé members ($195 each)—enough to make at least 15, which is about how many Gretchen Abbott Bersch’s Yukon Island Center for Research and Education ( comfortably accommodates. 

The weekend began Friday with the five-hour drive from Anchorage to Homer, then at 3:30, the 20-minute-plus water taxi trip ($65 round trip) on Red Mountain Marine’s Beowulf, captained by Ellie Huffstutler (other trips, owners Tom or Tammy Hopkins might captain), to the beach on Yukon Island (no dock) and Gretchen’s expansive summer quarters (she calls it her Dream House), 60 stairsteps up from the beach. The Center is a large multi-level house with dining room, kitchen, living room, library, meeting areas, bedrooms (mostly multi-bed, dormitory style), a pair of outhouses a few steps away on a boardwalk path, a new wood-fired sauna a few more steps down the path, and a beach-level barn with more bedrooms and an outhouse. Altogether the Center has 35-plus acres, a combination of the Abbott family homestead and a one-time fox farm. Wood stoves heat the place, and the kitchen uses propane. There is an alternative energy system for lights and enough power for charging cameras and cell phones. I shared a room with Karen—she had a lower bunk (no one on the upper); I had a double bed and slept very well both nights.

There’s a lot of green on Yukon Island—fireweed, currants, high-bush cranberries, salmonberries, devil’s club, red-berried elder, blueberries, cottonwood, watermelon berries, birch, yarrow, spruce, and acres of tall grass and putschki (cow parsnip). On Sunday morning, to get to an archaelogical site just about 50 yards from the Center, we took the long way around by the beach—otherwise, to go straight across the meadow, we would have needed a machete to hack through the heavy greenery, and we would have been soaked.

Now, about the food. I ate and ate, both wild and domestic food. The only reason I didn’t gain weight on the weekend is that I hiked on the beach and scrambled over barnacle-encrusted rocks to Elephant Rock most of Saturday morning, hiked uphill to pick berries Saturday afternoon, and hiked around the long way to the archaelogical site Sunday morning. The food was scrumptious/delicious/exotic/wonderful/without peer the entire weekend. Most of it was prepared by Melissa, Gretchen’s sister, and Gretchen herself. My favorite mental picture of Gretchen is of her kneading bread dough, flour on her arms, and rolling and folding the dough into loaves. We also had a couple of instructors for the wild edible foods—Jenni Medley, from the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies in Homer, an under-thirty ukelele player who seemed perfectly at home among us older vintage folks as she identified for us wild plants and sea critters; and Marci Johnson, from the UAF Cooperative Extension Service in Anchorage, who had gobs of advice and recipes on how to prepare and preserve wild foods. I now have small jars of red salmon caviar, salmonberry jam, and Yukon Island jam (blueberries, currants, salmonberries), in my refrigerator (but not for long—they’re going fast!).

What did we eat? Here’s a list. The asterisks indicate a recipe *from Gretchen or *from Marci in a UAF Cooperative Extension Service publication.

*Pickled fireweed shoots (spring shoots- regular & Russian recipes)
Smoked salmon
Steamed Halibut Cove mussels: with white wine and garlic
*Nettle pesto (nesto), and pasta with shrimp
*Green salad – Yukon Island garden lettuce (Melissa), fireweed & wild geranium blossoms, salmonberries with salmonberry balsamic dressing.
*Rose petal cupcakes
*Blueberry coffee cake
Oatmeal with toppings including red currant syrup
Rose petal butter
*Rosehip tea
Rhubarb/high-bush cranberry/orange juice
Soup: sauteed onion, garlic, celery, clams & clam juice, mussels, sea lettuce
*Nettle pesto bread
*Rose petal lemon cookies
*Pickled bulb or bullwhip kelp 
Smoked & regular salmon 
Home-grown tomatoes, fresh basil & oil
Salad:  fresh lettuce and some beach greens with sesame ginger dressing
*Rice: brown basmati with sea lettuce, nori, and lovage
*Lambs quarter: sauteed in olive and sesame oils (like spinach)
Salmon: grilled with butter/dill and Yoshida’s teriyaki
Bidarki: sautéed, then dressed with garlic, onion & olive oil
*Salmonberry/blueberry cobbler (pandowdy)
Scrambled eggs with basil
Omelet with basil & lambs quarter
*Ribbon kelp: fried (like bacon)
Salmonberries and blueberries: fresh, sweetened
Beans: baked with *high-bush cranberry catsup
Salmon: patty melt with salmon/celery/mayo, avacado, cheddar cheese
Sea cucumber: sauteed
*Rose hip soup with rose hips and cherries for lunch dessert
Toast with fireweed honey, *salmonberry freezer jam & *Yukon Island freezer jam (salmonberry, blueberry, red currant)
**Salmon caviar: red salmon, pink salmon

After all the great food and company and entertainment—Jenni and Ellen on their ukeleles, accompanied by words and humming from those of us who did and didn’t know words, and Ellen on the piano—it was almost a downer to head back to Homer Sunday at 2:00 on the Beowulf on calmer waters than on the way over, then drive the 200-plus miles back to Anchorage. I was home, though, at 7:45 pm and for dessert at dinner, enjoyed toast and Yukon Island jam! 


By Norma Gertson 

I recently went home to attend my 45th high school class reunion and a family reunion on my father’s side.  This trip was way different from my last visit ten years ago.

Akron (Colorado, not Ohio) once boomed with 1500 souls and businesses galore. As the County Seat, Akron had responsibilities above and beyond those of surrounding towns in the middle of wheat-growing, beef-raising farms and ranches.  Akron was the largest school district in the county - my class graduated 47 students in 1967!  (The class of 2012 graduated 22.)

I learned on arrival that the “old” high school was being demolished!  “What?  We just moved into that brand new school the end of my sophomore year!”  Oh, wait.  This is my 45th reunion and there has been a slew of kids, teachers, and personnel roaming those halls in the interim.  Plans are also in place to build a new bus garage and complete tearing down the elementary school which is even older than the high school – my 1st grade class was one of the first to occupy the newer part of this elementary school.

I had to see all this for myself, of course, so took advantage of an Open House to walk through the old halls, now so empty and quiet, to take a gander.  Was thinking the old place looked perfectly good, when I entered an area where the roof had been leaking and leaking, obviously, for quite some time.  No fresh paint will cover that type of damage.  A slide show provided a glimpse of the new K-12 facility built adjacent to this old structure on, what used to be, the student parking lot.

My visit to the school generated memories:

The Hydrogen Sulfide Experiment, wherein a not-so-innocent chemistry teacher and his class unleashed gaseous material into a room where an equally non-

Frustrating days spent in the Typing class my mother insisted that I take.  In the 60’s, there was a  common misconception that all a young lady needed to learn was Home Economics and typing, but I had bigger dreams, plans and aspirations - I wasn’t going to be just a “part-time secretary!” innocent biology teacher and his class were already plotting revenge.  The elements created a much larger volume than planned, spread much further than intended, reaching, in point of fact, the Principal’s office and a Home Economics class, which had cooked a full meal that day, and neither of the unanticipated recipients was happy.

FYI for you young Mensans, this was not keyboarding on a computer!  This was pushing down on long-armed keys that, literally, could get crossed over each other and stop you cold.  No copier then either, just flimsy carbon paper for up to four or five copies, at most, if the carbons were brand new.  Correcting typos was not an easy process and involved a single-edged razor blade and patience!  For multiple copies of whatever, a mimeograph “master” was used and can most easily be described as a film on which you typed your project, mounted it reverse side up onto a hand-cranked duplicating machine where the film was then “pressed” over the type with each crank.  No errors allowed, as they were nearly impossible to fix, so you had to learn to watch your paper as you typed, not the typewriter keys.

From 5th grade on, Band was huge in my life and provided one of the most spectacular and memorable moments of my high school career.  The band instructor, covering all his “basses” (ha, ha), divvied up instruments and my brother, Tom, and I shared a clarinet.  We had our own mouthpieces and reeds, of course (BOY COOTIES!), which worked fine till I entered high school and left Tom behind in junior high, several blocks away.  This seeming crisis, however, introduced me to the wonderful world of alto and bass clarinets and led to a real appreciation of their value in achieving that full band sound.

No high school band program would be complete without its marching band - performing at football, basketball and wrestling games, pep rallies, rated competitions, and affording venues for meeting guys like red-headed Barney from…but, I digress!  During my junior year, our school was asked to perform at the half-time program for a Denver Broncos home game - WHAT A THRILL FOR ALL OF US!  Everyone, down to the junior high level, was recruited; our uniforms differed a bit but our hats all matched.  Extra practices were called, tempers were lost but, after weeks of extra hard work, we all came together and put on a vigorous, nonstop, complexly choreographed, entertainment achievement enjoyed by all.

There were many more memories, of course, but before I can spill them, I need to contact my former co-conspirators to assure they have no qualms about me telling some of our secrets.  There is an old adage along the lines of “You can never go home!”, and while that is true in many respects, going home can bring back a lot of fun, and meaningful, experiences.  It also makes me think of less stressful times and many more freedoms than our younger generations are experiencing.

MentalFloss Magazine had an interesting article in their May/June 2012 edition, on page 62: The Scale That Rates Our Smarts.  It's an article about who, when, why and how the IQ test was developed.


by Tom Hough

I’ve been a Mensan off and on (on for the last 15 years; Yea Me!) for almost three decades. In that time, I’ve been affiliated with Eastern Oklahoma Mensa, Palm Beach County Mensa in Florida, and most recently with Mensa Alaska. My membership in Mensa Alaska started in 2000 and is the local group with my longest affiliation. However, to say I “belonged” before this past year would be very inaccurate.

I lived in Anchorage for about a year and a half, and then moved to Big Lake in the Mat-Su Valley. In all that time I had never attended a local group function or had any contact with Mensa Alaska members except for occasional unsolicited emails from the officers. I worked a North Slope schedule until late 2006 and that was my excuse for not getting very involved. My wife passed away in early 2007 and I retreated into a hard-shelled depression that nixed any chance of being social.

But what really kept me from actively participating was a feeling of inconvenience. I thought nothing of driving for more than an hour to go shopping at a specialty store, but the thought of driving an hour for a meeting or to play some board games or attend a movie night and then another hour driving home seemed daunting. To get up early on Saturday morning (I mean really early), get dressed (Dressed! On Saturday! Can you imagine?) and make it to breakfast (I wasn’t eating breakfast at home; why think I’d go out to do it?) just wasn’t going to happen. Ever. Attending dinners meant getting home around 9:30 or 10 pm, usually on weekdays when I tried to wake up around 4:30 am.

Here’s what some of my ‘self-talk’ sounded like. See if any of it is familiar. “I joined Mensa for the (notoriety / recognition / elitist feeling / surprise factor; take your pick), not to socialize.” “What do I have in common with them?” “It’s too (far / late / complicated) to go.” “What’s in it for me?” “I’m too (tired / busy / wound up) to enjoy it.” “I’d rather (read / watch TV / sleep / pick my nose) than go.” The bottom line is that I didn’t believe there was more value in making the effort than in letting the opportunity pass.

That may be true for you. But I made (at least) one mistake: I didn’t try anything before I dismissed it all as too much work.

I finally attended my first AG this past July and had a really good time. On the very first day I met The One For Whom I Had Wished. (Small Print: Not everyone who attends Mensa AGs can expect to meet their perfect mate; your experience may be different. No warranty is expressed nor implied.) I came back to Alaska and began to attend dinners. My new mate (the most recent past award-winning Vermont LocSec) moved here and together we have been attending breakfasts, meetings and other events. My life is completely different, in no small part to my involvement in Mensa.

Your life may not change much as you get involved. You may decide it’s really not for you. That would be all right if you at least made a good-faith attempt to see what all the hoopla is about. Live in the Bush? Pick a Mensa Alaska member at random from the directory and mail them a post card (‘Winter Nights in Barrow’; ‘Polar Bears in a Blizzard’;‘Greetings From Wherever the Hell This Is’). Live in Fairbanks? OK, you’ve got a reason to be depressed. But it can be better if you’re depressed with someone who understands. Here’s the clue that finally smacked me in the head: It’s the fellowship, dummy! It’s consistently been the one venue where I was always immediately and happily accepted as ‘belonging’. It didn’t matter how long I had been assigned to the group, how long I had not participated, how much I wanted to get involved. I have always been accepted and welcomed. Feel different? That’s our theme song! With all of our amazing experiences and backgrounds we still have one thing in common: we are all masters of the standardized paper-and -pencil test. If that doesn’t make us worth knowing, nothing does.

So, like a reformed smoker or a recovering addict, I take up the cause and trumpet the party line. Reach out! Take a chance! If it doesn’t work you’re where you are right now.  There’s no downside. Make a call. Show up at breakfast. It may be the most significant action you take this year.

Mensa Breakfast at Doriola’s Breaks Record for Numbers

by Marie Lundstrom

Wow! Even though it was at least 10 below zero all day, as it was for far too many days in a row, making this a record cold January, our Mensa breakfast at Doriola’s Saturday, January 28, was a record for attendance—16! Dave and Wally from the old days at Hogg Brothers showed up, Denise and Alvie Yancey, Betsy Campbell, Jim and Nancy Larson, Dana Spinney, Don Naff and Amy Whinston, Norma Gertson, Blakeney Bartlett and Tom Hough, Bill and Jeanne Morita, and I were eating, drinking, and enjoying. We packed the back room and kept Vivian and her crew hopping to keep us supplied with coffee and breakfast stuff.
It sounded a lot like the old days at Hogg Brothers, too, with Dave and Wally and Jim talking ham radio (I didn’t hear anything about dogs, but that could have happened after I left at 10 to go a few doors down to the Quilt Zone to feast my eyes on fabric). Giveaway books circulated; Blakeney gave directions to her house for a craft session the next day; Denise related details of the Scrabbler’s Scramble games the previous night; Bill gave me copies of Science magazine and talked topology with Amy; the noise and comfort levels were nicely high—it was a fine Mensa get-together!
Dear Mensa Friends . . . 
Many thanks to all who came to support the Mensa Biz-Bee team. We tied for second, no small feat, (and I will never, ever forget how to spell "dolorifuge," a word I had never heard or read before.  (Sigh...)

It was a great night; you supported us and we were awarded the "Most Spirited Support" award -again, no small feat. We did more tonight to publicize Mensa than has happened in years. I think it was worth every penny of the $600 we paid to have a team and to have a table for the cheering section. I hope we can have a team again next year, and I think Norma and Denise would agree that the experience was well worth it.

 Many thanks to all, and especially to Jackie Wilson-having all that practice at her place really paid off-we knew all the words, except the ones that weren't in the list- dolorifuge, nacelle, appetency - I'm not sure of the spelling on that even now, and I'm very glad we had a pass for it! A fine night-it will take a while to come down off the high. Best to all-see some of you at breakfast tomorrow morning. 

   ~ Marie Lundstrom 

Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, By Sidney Kelley
The Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival was really fun, all two weeks of it. The really surprising class was Cabaret: Ron got us calmed down, played wonderful piano, and I did OK. I declared that after learning many wonderful old ballads of murder, rape and public execution (“Popular Ballads of England and Scotland”, by Francis Child, the first English Literature Professor at Harvard), I’m hoping to not send my Great Nephews and Nieces into Psycho Therapy, so I’m learning “mindlessly happy swing tunes.” At the 2 Friday performances I sang “Wrap your troubles in dreams, and dream your troubles away”, and “The sunny side of the street.” It is wonderful to be thronged during intermission by people declaring that I’d sung well. Except for the first and last 2 nights, I slept in a tent at an RV park by the Chena River, surrounded by expensive RV’s. The photo is of the July 23 Fairbanks "Red Green Regatta", named after the Public TV Legend.