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MenTally

August 2018 MenTally

July 2018 MenTally

RVC Columns

THE TENTH STORY for July

The next meeting of the American Mensa Committee will be held on July 5, 2018 at the 2018 Annual Gathering in Indianapolis, IN. At this writing, the agenda has not been finalized, but it will be posted shortly at https://www.us.mensa.org/read/board-meeting-reports/ if you would like to peruse them and offer any feedback. I can be reached at RVC10@us.mensa.org.

At a couple of ExComm meetings over the past month I discovered that there was a common misunderstanding among some Local Group officers, and so I expect that some of you might have the same impression. So I'd like to clarify a point:
In the past few months, the national office has been moving forward with its Higher Logic project and launched Mensa Connect (https://connect.us.mensa.org/) Despite any impression the name may have given you, Mensa Connect is NOT A DATING APP. (We have a partnership with Match.com for that.) Mensa Connect is the new home of the Mensa Community, and has expanded to include many of the mail lists for committees as well. This gives the membership and its leaders and volunteers a new, robust tool for planning and socializing. And this past month, two great new features were introduced:
Mensa Connect now has an app for your mobile devices! If you go to the Apple Store or Google Play Store and search for "MemberCentric", you’ll be able to download the Higher Logic app. I've been using it for the past couple of weeks and am very pleased with it. You can set member contacts and send and receive messages directly to and from individuals or groups, receive announcements, view calendars, and join community forums and SIGs (Special Interest Groups). There are news links that can show you the latest American Mensa updates on Twitter or browse member benefits, and a repository where you can share files with your groups.

And the most recent update has created forums for the Local Groups! Two of the first three Groups to join were Tallahassee Area Mensa and Northwest Florida Mensa (thank you, Robin Preston and Richard Hurt!). And Art Schwartz in Tampa Bay Mensa has taken it the next step, and after setting up the local group for the service, created subgroups for their ExComm and RG (Regional Gathering). So now your local groups have new tools for organizing, planning, and connecting to the membership as well.

So Mensa Connect is so much more than a dating app! (Although who knows who you might meet in the forums...)

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On another topic, I had received feedback regarding the Mensa Cares! project that was launched last year in which some individuals told me in no uncertain terms that Mensa shouldn't become a service organization. So I want to clarify that as well.

American Mensa created the Community Services Committee over 20 years ago in 1997, so this is not a new idea, nor is it intended to change the nature of Mensa. Rather, as stated in the committee charter, "The Committee ... is charged with generating positive images of and for Mensa through Community Service."

While participation is encouraged, it is not required of any member. Since many members have mentioned in surveys that they would like Mensa to be more involved in the community, this is a good program to have available for members who are so inclined.

I have run out of space for now, but I will be writing more about the program in future columns.

Until next month (or until I see you online),

Thomas George Thomas
Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.g.thomas

THE TENTH STORY for June

While I usually use this column to report on the actions of the American Mensa Committee (AMC), we're in a slow period right now, as our last meeting was in April and our next will be at the Annual Gathering (AG) in July. But of course this doesn't mean nothing is happening.

Mind Games was held towards the end of April, with 64 games chosen to be evaluated by a large group of Mensa judges, and five games were awarded the Mensa Select seal, which will continue to put our name out to the a demographic group (gamers) who would have a higher than average interest in Mensa. Although I didn't go to Mind Games this year, I did pick up one of the winners (Azul, from Next Move Games) the day they were announced. The other winners were Constellations (Xtronaut Enterprises), Ex Libris (Renegade Game Studio), Photosynthesis (Blue Orange Games), and Raiders of the North Sea (Renegade Game Studio).

107 teams participated in CultureQuest this year, with 200 questions ranging from the arcane to the arcade, but everyone I've heard from had a lot of fun. Winners will be announced at the AG in July. Will Tragic Kingdom from Central Florida maintain their streak of first place finishes? Stay tuned...

May is the time of year when we focus on lapsed members. While Region 10 had 1,125 lapsed members at the end of the 2016-2017 year, we only had 802 lapsed members at the end of March 2018, and as of this writing, we're down to 612 lapsed members, which isn't unusual. Membership Officer Henri Buccine-Schraeder and Director of Membership Timothy Brooks will be distributing the annual Lapsed Member survey this month to get feedback on what factors lead to lapses, with the side benefit of reminding some members who procrastinated to send in their renewals. And local groups are also encouraged to reach out to their own lapsed members in order to add a personal touch, and get a little additional funding for the effort.

Mensa Connect is also progressing, with all the national committees using them in order to do their business. The techies at the National Office are in the process of working with some groups on testing the functionality for local group communities, and they should be rolled out to all the local groups soon as a home grown social network that won't require members to be on Facebook to participate.

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This will be my last chance to put in a plug for the AG coming up in July in Indianapolis, as well as the Annual Business and AMC meetings which will be held there. Unfortunately, the agenda for the meeting is not available in time for this column, so I recommend checking online during June at https://www.us.mensa.org/read/board-meeting-reports/ to see the agenda when it is ready, as well as minutes of our past meetings.

I also encourage anyone who is interested in ongoing Mensa news to subscribe to the e-newsletter Mensa Wired (https://www.us.mensa.org/read/enewsletters/mensa-wired/), where you can get information much faster than through my monthly columns.

Until next month (or until I see you online),

Thomas George Thomas
Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.g.thomas

THE TENTH STORY for May

The Constitution of Mensa establishes that one of our three main purposes is to provide a stimulating intellectual and social environment for our members. The primary avenue for providing that is through Gatherings, and the next one is coming up soon! After taking a break last year due to the nearby Annual Gathering (AG) in Hollywood, Tampa Bay Mensa is back on schedule with Margarita Bay, their annual Memorial Day Regional Gathering (RG) on May 25-28. This has always been a fun event, and if you've never been to a Gathering, you owe it to yourself to go, as the total immersion experience is a great way to interact with your fellow Mensans. Registration is now open at http://www.tampa.us.mensa.org/. Tammy Hicks and team are putting together another great event, and I look forward to seeing you there!

If for some reason you can't join us in Tampa, we also have the Annual Gathering (AG) coming up in July in Indianapolis (not quite as close, of course). Along with several tracks of presentation, games, tournaments, and other events, the Mensa Foundation hosts the Colloquium each year on the day before the AG on a specialized topic. This year it will be on "The Evolution and Revolution of Manufacturing".

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The American Mensa Committee (AMC) met by teleconference on April 17, 2018. Aside from some housekeeping items including approval of the minutes from the March AMC meeting and cleanup of some obsolete ASIEs, the main purpose of the meeting was the formation of a new Events Committee to replace the AG Policy and Site Selection Committees. This streamlines the existing process, while also removing some obsolete references. Tax Criss (RVC 6) was appointed Chair of the Events Committee, joined by Deb Stone (AMC Treasurer) and John Voymas (RVC 3) as the other voting AMC members. The next meeting of the AMC will be on July 5, 2018 at the JW Marriott Indianapolis Downtown, site of the 2018 Annual Gathering.

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Following the annual renewal period, Region 10 started the year with a membership of 3,389 members ? an increase of 114 members over the same date last year. Southwest By South Florida Mensa had the best retention rate at 88%, while once again Central Florida Mensa is the largest group in Region 10, just squeaking by Tampa Bay Mensa, 578 members to 575 members.

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I attended several local group picnics in April, including the Broward Mensa Spring Fling, Tampa Bay Mensa's Spring Picnic, and Central Florida Mensa's Annual picnic, as well as more local group Executive Committee (ExComm) meetings (North Florida, Northwest Florida, Central Florida, Tallahassee, and Manasota) in March and April. I hope to finish off the year by visiting Southwest By South Florida Mensa and Miami Mensa before the Annual Gathering, if they have any weekend events in the next few weeks.

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Thanks to all of you who are back for the coming year, and I hope to see you at one of the events in 2018-2019!

Until next month (or until I see you online),

Thomas George Thomas
Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.g.thomas

THE TENTH STORY for April

The American Mensa Committee (AMC) met on March 3, with several presentations, including the first report by our new Executive Director Trevor Mitchell, the regular Treasurer's report by Deb Stone including a presentation of the Annual Budget Review and Budget Process, a presentation by Committee Chair Jon Gruebele of the new Strategic Planning Committee, and a couple of presentations by Membership Officer Henri Buccine-Schraeder regarding the membership satisfaction survey and other membership information. These presentations will be available under the meeting reports on the national website at www.us.mensa.org/read/board-meeting-reports/ under the dropdown 2018-03-03 - Denver, CO once the minutes have been approved. Actions taken during the meeting included approval of the 2018-2019 Budget, a waiver of Equity Restoration requirement for 2018-2019, and rejecting a motion regarding making guest memberships available to Mensa International Members for additional fees. The next meeting of the AMC will be on July 5, 2018 at the JW Marriott Indianapolis Downtown, site of the 2018 Annual Gathering.

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Speaking of the Annual Gathering, have you made your reservations for AG2018 yet? Co-Chairs Teresa Gregory and Jan Pfeil Doyle have been hard at work in creating an exciting event, including booking Gala Dinner Speaker Dr. David Wolf, veteran of seven spacewalks and one-time MIR resident. Of course, you'll also have an opportunity to see the AMC in action, and participate in the business of American Mensa at our Annual Business Meeting (ABM). We understand that there will be many other intriguing presentations and events that might draw your attention away from the AMC meeting, but I do hope you'll try to attend the ABM, since we can't conduct any business (including the introduction of member-instituted referenda for the 2019 election) unless we have a quorum for the meeting.

The Mensa Foundation Colloquium will take place the day before the AG, with the theme "The Evolution and Revolution of Manufacturing", with featured presenter Scott N. Paul, President of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. More information on both of these events can be found at ag.us.mensa.org, and you can find discussions about the events at www.facebook.com/events/234054937121565/

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On a more local note, don't forget to sign up for the next Regional Gathering in Florida, which will be in Tampa Bay over Memorial Day weekend. Registration is now open at http://www.tampa.us.mensa.org/. Tammy Hicks and team are putting together another great event, and I look forward to seeing you there!

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Over the past several weeks I've been making the rounds to many of the local groups, with visits to the ExComm meetings for Central Florida, Palm Beach Area, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, and Space Coast Area, with upcoming meetings scheduled for Northwest Florida and Tallahassee. I'll be scheduling meetings with the remaining groups as well, and hope to get to all of you before the AG.

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Now that renewal season is over, thank you to all of you who have continued your membership for the next year or longer. If you haven't renewed, it's not too late! I hope you'll stay involved.

Until next month (or until I see you online),

Thomas George Thomas
Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.g.thomas

THE TENTH STORY for March

The American Mensa Committee (AMC) will meet in Denver, CO on March 3, 2018. At the time I write this the agenda has not been published, but by the time you read this it will be available on the national website at www.us.mensa.org/read/board-meeting-reports/ under the dropdown 2018-03-03 - Denver, CO.

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Central Florida Mensa threw another wonderful Regional Gathering in January, thanks to Chair Debbie Freeland and committee members Jennifer Keating, Stephen Stull, Bill Keevan, and Melissa Stephens, and all the other volunteers who worked to make it happen. The next Regional Gathering will be in Tampa Bay over Memorial Day weekend, with Chair Tammy Hicks hard at work with her team. Everything that happens in our Region or in any of our chapters are due to the efforts of volunteers, so please thank them when you see them.

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The Mensa Foundation Scholarship Program is underway, and submissions are being evaluated by local group volunteers. Once they finish their work, the essays will move on up to the regional level, headed by Regional Scholarship Chair Wynn Rostek and his team of Regional Judges - Nora Foust, George Lebovitz, Elizabeth Potter, Tammy Hicks, Darcy Schiller, and Suzanne Rostek.

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Have you put together your CultureQuest XXIX teams yet? Each team may have up to five members plus two alternates, but if any team members are not renewed by March 31, the entire team will be disqualified - so encourage your smartest teammates to renew early! The competition lasts 90 minutes, with all teams across the country beginning simultaneously. Game Day is Sunday, April 29.

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I'd like to congratulate North Florida Mensa and Palm Beach Area Mensa, both of which are currently exceeding their membership levels from this same time last year. With a little over six weeks to go in the fiscal year, I'm hoping more of our groups will join them.

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One metric where our Region is falling behind is in Mensa Testing. In the fourth quarter last year, only 26 people took the Mensa test in Region 10, while half of our local groups had not held any test sessions at all. That said, I would like to recognize Testing Coordinator Nancy Heinrich of Manasota Mensa, who was responsible for over 40% of all the tests given during that time period!

Part of the issue is that we're running low on Proctors - the volunteer members who administer our tests to those who are interested in joining Mensa. Three of our Local Groups only have a single Proctor, and at present there are only three Proctors-In-Training across the Region. I trained to become a Proctor in 2005, and have found it gratifying to meet people I've tested at events after they've joined. If you have a four-year degree minimum from a college or university, you could be part of our front-line greeters for new members. Contact your Local Secretary/President or Local Group Testing Coordinator for details.

Until next month (or until I see you online),

Thomas George Thomas
Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.g.thomas

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