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November 2006 RVC Column

(Written and posted 10/5/06)

Northwest Passages

RVC Column for November Newsletters in Region 8
by John Recht, Region 8 RVC

It was like coming home, even though I had never been there before. When Linda and I left for England and the British Mensa AG a few weeks ago, I had an idea what it would be like there: a green landscape and temperate climate (not unlike the part of Oregon where I live), a country rich in heritage and tradition, quirky differences like driving on the wrong side of the road (through the looking glass?), and the opportunity to connect with a slew of convivial Mensans from the place where it all began for us, 60 years ago.

What I found at the AG in Nottingham, above all, was spirit. All the trappings of the many Mensa events I have attended here in America were there, of course, but each of them had a peculiarly English twist, from my perspective. On the first night was Ye Olde Pub Crawl, which brought us to rival claimants for the title of the oldest pub in the world, and as I walked into one of them I suddenly found myself in the delightful company of Reno Ron Gendrich from Northern Nevada Mensa, and Jenny Rydhstrom from Mensa Sweden. It was easy to meet people throughout the AG, and it was a very cosmopolitan group. I had a wonderful time meeting Mensans from Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Germany, as well as from all over Great Britain, and I counted 34 attendees from the USA, including Linda and myself.

The spirit of the AG was evident throughout, in everything we did together. The chocolate tasting was an incredible sight; I would characterize it as closer to gorging than mere tasting, but there was more than enough for everyone as the chocolate we all brought from our home countries spilled over the tables set around the room. At the same time, a very serious Texas Hold-'Em Poker tournament attracted 54 entrants, about a tenth of everyone who came to the AG, and the top three winners included two Gen-X Mensans from Denmark. Though many other games were being played at the AG, Texas Hold-'Em was the top game of the event, and there were typically two or three tables going at any given time every evening.

There were two dances at the AG, and both attracted large, enthusiatic crowds. The Mensa Birthday Party on Saturday night was especially rowdy, with a laser light show and fireworks, and of course we did the "Time Warp" again. Linda and I had a splendid time, and it once again proved to me that the best way to enjoy Mensa is to be there, in person, with my fellow Mensans.

For those of you who wish to experience the delights found in a gathering of Mensans, I recommend that you make plans to come to the San Francisco Regional Mensa RG, Brilliance by the Bay, on November 24-26. You will find information available at www.sfmensa.org/rg.html. For a different kind of gathering, but once again with a great deal of spirit, I invite you to join us for a Leadership Development Workshop in Portland, OR, on February 9-11, 2007. This is an opportunity for leaders and prospective leaders from around Region 8 to come together for a weekend of intensive Mensa workshop sessions, designed for us to share ideas and experiences to help assure that we can meet the needs of our local groups and individual Mensa members, and to adopt best practices in doing so. There is no registration fee, and a free lunch will be provided on Saturday. For information and registration, you may email me at rvc8@us.mensa.org, or call me at 503-289-7969. I will be pleased to have you join us for both events...hope to see you there!