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2006 Sep: World Gathering Awards and Memories
By Travis Hardin Sep 2006
Originally published in the newsletter of North Alabama Mensa

Attendees from North Alabama Mensa: Roger and Martha Williams; Glenn and Shirley Jackson; Jimmy McWilliams; Nolie Bell; Malcolm Gillis; Ulf Lindström and Kelly Morger; Travis and Louise Hardin; Shirley Simms; and Jenny Jett.

The words "North Alabama Mensa" were announced at least twice during awards ceremonies at the ‘06 Mensa World Gathering, and we proudly brought back the corresponding plaques. Mensans from 41 countries (90% from the U.S.) gathered at Orlando, Florida, from August 8th to13th for fun, games, contests, education, and congratulation on the occasion of International Mensa’s 60th anniversary.

The "Innovative Owl" for highest renewal rate of any group in the U.S. was won by literally all of you, the 96% of you who renewed on-time for 2006. Thank you all for earning North Alabama Mensa that award, which I accepted as immediate past LocSec.

The second and more prestigious plaque went to Martha Feld Williams for Outstanding Service to Mensa. Martha’s national – and now international – service has been what she calls Kids’ Trek, a program of entertainment and learning for the children of gathering attendees. Martha, who is a teacher and a natural with children, started Kids’ Trek in 1989. Martha’s main North Alabama helpers this year were her persevering husband Roger Williams along with Glenn and Shirley Jackson. In addition, Jimmy McWilliams, Ulf Lindström, Kelly Morger, Jenny Jett and Louise Hardin provided children’s programs.

I said we got some education - here are some tidbits I heard:

• In a public place in Cairo it is customary to share water-- A native might take a drink from your water bottle then hand it back. So I’m told.

• Mensan Alan Rachins’ apartment superintendent in NYC was a sleepy guy named Al Pacino when both were trying to break into acting.

• Merchants of the Middle Ages were allowed to sell on tables lined up beside the town church walls only if they used tables of church-prescribed size. "Bankrupt" means "bench (bank)-break (ruptus)," an act done by churchmen to merchants who did not give the church its daily share of the proceeds. Such a man was out of business.

• George Washington grew hemp & threw away the leaves. In 1900 cocaine, cannabis, and opium were sold freely. U.S. drug policy since the ‘30s has ignored every executive commission that ever reported on the subject, and most medical and law enforcement advice, including President Nixon’s Shaffer Commission, that wrote on March 22, 1972,

"Neither the marijuana user nor the drug itself can be said to constitute a danger to public safety". But Nixon’s position was, "I want a g**d*** strong statement about marijuana. ... I mean one on marijuana that just tears the a** out of them." - Oval Office tapes, 10 May 26, 1971.

• Winter tourists to Sweden pay a good deal of money to sleep in the north on an ice bed in an ice hotel. Absolut Vodka is served at the ice bar in ice glasses.

• High-speed Internet is routine in the Pretoria ex-urbs.

• Members of SWIG make great mead.

• The facts of global warming are undisputed.

(Ed. Note: I dispute that. :P )

• Sweden’s restaurants do NOT expect you to take leftovers home.

• U.S. finger gestures are offensive in many cultures, including using the "two for dinner" sign, offensive in the UK. A paddle hand is safest, and make it the right hand in Muslim cultures.

• A woman with body piercing and tattoos may not be a drug user but a Ph.D. candidate in psychology who plays heavy metal by night.

• In Bali, male and female children are given one of the same four names. If there are more than 4, they start over. Each Balinese family has one artistic specialty, such as dancing.

• A majority of people in the Netherlands speak English – better than you!

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Last updated April 2016