Past RG Programs

 

 

 

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Schedule

The following is the tentative schedule for SynRG 2016. This will be updated as we finalized and confirm with our speakers. You can find details on the program below.

Friday, May 27

4:00p - Registration Opens

4:00p - Games Room Opens

5:00p - Adult Lounge Opens

5:30p - Hospitality opens for dinner

6:00p - Poolside Mensa Mingle

7:00p - Jammin' with Jim - Jim Stanley

9:00p - Carnelli

10:30p - Fish Bowl

Events

 

Sundown Karaoke

Our Saturday night party will conclude with karaoke and music for your listening and dancing pleasure. Sundown Karaoke's songbook is over 500 pages long. If you want to sing it, the chances are pretty good that they've got it!

Houston native and Gulf Coast Mensa member Jim Morris has been performing Karaoke and DJ shows throughout the Houston area since 1999. He believes that there is music in each of us, and with enough coaxing (and perhaps a dose of alcohol) it can be brought to the surface and shared.

 

 

SynRG Poolside Mixer

Be sure to arrive in time on Friday night to mix it up with your fellow Mensans for a lovely, informal, night time poolside get together. Some light snacks will be available, beverages can be brought from hospitality (no glass please) and bring your swimsuit to take a dip! More details to come!

 

 

Mensa Admission Test

The Mensa Admission Test is offered for the convenience of those individuals interested in joining Mensa who either: 1) do not have a qualifying intelligence test score on a previously-taken exam (see partial list), or 2) prefer to take the admission test.

This test is intended for individuals 14 years of age or older, so if you are between 14 and 17, you must have parental permission to take the test.

The Mensa test has two parts, so you'll have two chances to qualify for Mensa membership! Allow 2 hours total for the two tests. The standard Mensa Admission Test features "fill in the blank," "which item comes next," and "which one doesn't belong" sorts of questions, as well as some math and vocabulary.

As an added bonus, anyone who sits for the test is invited to stay and enjoy Saturday at the RG at no cost..

To sign up, please contact our This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

 

Name That Movie!

John & Geri Neemidge

Name That Movie consists of short clips from about 40 movies. Each movie clip presents one or more themes. We ask that you identify each movie and the themes. Play as individuals or as a team of up to 6 members. We try to make each clip interesting on its own, so even if you don't know movies very well we hope the game will be entertaining. Clips (not the movies themselves) are chosen to be PG or G rated. We'll provide a key with information about each movie and themes at the end.

 

 

Silent Auction & Raffle

Various items donated by GCM members as well as some of the speakers will be auctioned. Smaller items will be raffled off with auction tickets. Auction tickets are given to attendees who exhibit particularly worthy behavior, tell particularly good (or bad) jokes or puns or bribe the Ticket Fairies with cash. Higher value items will be available for the silent auction. The proceeds will be given to the GCM Scholarship Fund.

 


Keynote Speaker

 

Near Earth Asteroids: What they are, where they are, and how we might explore them, and what can we do about them?

Astronaut Stanley Love

Dr. Love served aboard Shuttle Atlantis, and helped invent a device to detect asteroids that may venture close to Earth, which he installed on the International Space Station.

Dr. Love has been an NASA astronaut since 1998 and earned a PhD in Astronomy from the Univ. of Washington Seattle in 1993. Among his many activities with NASA, he served aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis and performed 2 EVAs as part of STS-122 mission. He is an expert on asteroids and their collisions and is the co-inventer of the gravity tractor.

 

 

 

Speakers

 

Self-Awareness Starship to Cross the Great Barrier

Mitra Mostofi (Helia Lasiewicz)

As if developing prenatally inside a stage III breast cancer placenta during a war with Iraq weren’t enough, Mitra Mostofi narrates her journey on what it takes to also survive an identity crisis as a white immigrant raised in a non-affluent black neighborhood, not rich enough to be cool enough with her royal like ex-pat family. She’d had many life-altering events, but it wasn't until she reached a quagmire of life-and-death thoughts through her own journey with breast cancer at the age of 27 that she found the courage to set out on a self-awakening path.

This session will include an intro to her story and a parallel reflection on how to get to our existential Sha-Ka- Ree. It will be an interactive session of examples on how self awareness is vital in our final frontier. “Let us explore it together. Each man hides a secret pain. It must be exposed and reckoned with. It must be dragged from the darkness and forced into the light.”

Using the pen name Mitra Mostofi (her mother's maiden name), Helia Lasiewicz wrote the book “This Was No Coincidence”; a story detailing her search for meaning and love, her battle with cancer, her awakening to the importance of a healthy life style for both the mind and body. Recently, February of this year, she spoke at the Iranian Women's Leadership Summit in San Diego, California. As an inspirational and educational speaker, Helia ensures her audiences walk away aware and  

 

The Roman Empire

Dr. Fred Pearl

Archaeologist Dr. Fred Pearl will give us insights into the history of the Roman Empire.

Dr. Pearl is the Director of the Maritime Studies Program and Associate Professor of Maritime Studies, and holds graduate faculty appointments with the Department of Marine Sciences in Galveston and the Department of Anthropology, Texas A&M University in College Station. He received his Ph.D. in Anthropology in 2001 from Texas A&M University, and joined the faculty of Texas A&M Galveston in 2001. He is currently leading summer field projects studying Viking archaeological sites in Gotland, Sweden, and is writing a book on the Christianization of the Roman Empire.

 

Victorian Fan Language

Meredith Spies

The delicate and complex use of fans to convey information was a high art in the Victorian era, especially in England and parts of America. Like any language, coding mattered and could change the meaning of a simple gesture from something innocent to something far more scandalous! Body posture, facial expressions, the fan itself, all played important roles in the language of fans. Attendees will learn some of the history of the social use of fans as well as some of the basic "phrases" and gestures in Victorian fan language that were used most widely.

Meredith Spies is a writer and performer in the Houston area. She has a background in anthropology and French literature from LSU-Baton Rouge and a Master's in cultural studies from the University of St Thomas-Houston. Her interest in coded communications in history has greatly influenced her writing and her academic studies. She can be found online on Facebook or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Speed of Light

Louise Riofrio

400 years ago scholars doubted that light had a speed at all. Galileo suggested placing lanterns on distant hilltops, but lacked a good clock. Ole Roemer in 1676 first measured c using Jupiter's Galilean moons. New theories of the Big Bang predict that light could be slowing down and possible evidence comes from the accelerating redshifts of Type Ia supernovae. The Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment left by Apollo astronauts gives striking evidence about light. The Atomic Clock Ensemble in Space aboard ISS will search for anisotropies, or "c change" in physics. Light is one of the most important parts of our lives, through which we perceive the universe around us.

L. Riofrio worked as a scientist at NASA in Houston. While studying the Moon at Johnson Space Center, Riofrio found evidence that light is slowing down. She also enjoys movies and theatre.

 

What Evolution Teaches Us About Morality

Jerry Friedman

Anatomical and physiological evolution through natural selection has not been controversial for a century. How natural selection caused the human mind to evolve is however a slowly emerging field largely limited by absent physical evidence and long-held prejudices in human culture. This presentation takes a philosophical approach to moral rights that is grounded in evolutionary biology and endeavors to explain natural and positive rights in a way that Darwin would approve.

Jerold D. Friedman is a social justice and civil rights attorney who immigrated to Texas from California. He is an officer of the Proactivist Charitable Project, and a former officer of several nonprofits including the National Lawyers Guild-Los Angeles, In Defense of Animals, and the Cannon River STEM School. He is an international speaker on moral, legal, and science topics, and has been published in the American Journal of Bioethics (2003), Cultural Encyclopedia of Vegetarianism (2010), and Critical Animal and Media Studies (2015).

 

The Challenge of Orbital Debris

Dr. Mark Matney

Since the beginning of the Space Age in 1957, humans have launched thousands of satellites into orbit around the Earth. Many of them, however, no longer function, and now litter near-Earth space with debris that can destroy an operational satellite or a crewed spacecraft. NASA has taken the lead for many decades to understand the orbital debris environment, and to propose mitigation and remediation methods. However, debris in space is a multinational problem, and the solutions will require international cooperation. This talk will outline what is up there, what we know about it, how dangerous is it, and what we can do about it.

Mark Matney received his B.S. in Physics and Astronomy from TCU in 1985 and his Ph.D. in Space Physics and Astronomy from Rice University in 1992. Mark has been working at NASA in the Orbital Debris Program Office for more than 23 years: 11 as a contractor, and 12 as a NASA employee.

 

A Passion for Space

Marianne Dyson

The adventures of one of the first NASA female mission controllers during the early Space Shuttle missions.

Marianne Dyson is a children's author, science fiction writer, book reviewer, and former NASA flight controller with a BS in physics from University of. North Carolina at Greensboro. Her newest books are Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet coauthored with Buzz Aldrin for National Geographic; and A Passion for Space: Adventures of a Pioneering Female NASA Flight Controller. She is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and has published her SF in numerous places, including Analog.

 

Texas Shipwrecks

Mark Lardas

The Texas coastline and offshore waters are flat, shallow, featureless, and filled with shoals. Texas waters are subjected to extreme weather, not just hurricanes and tropical storms but also northers and seasonal gales. This, combined with two centuries of naval warfare off Texas waters, produced many shipwrecks of all sorts, from Spanish treasure fleets to simple working boats. The ships of pirates, navies, cotton traders, immigrants, fishermen, and oil shippers line the Texas coast, cover the sea bottom off Texas, and blanket the bottom of Texas rivers. Each wreck has a story, romantic or repellent, prosaic or unusual, but all intriguing.

Mark Lardas is the author of numerous books on maritime and Texas history. A longtime resident of Texas, he has maintained an interest in the Texas maritime history, including shipwrecks. With generous assistance from and in cooperation with the Institute of Nautical Archeology at Texas A&M University, and numerous museums throughout the state of Texas, he has pulled together a fascinating collection of images to illustrate Texas maritime history as seen from its shipwrecks from Cabeza de Vacas first shipwreck in 1528 through the 21st century.

 

The Archaeology of Outer Space

Chris Kilgore

In this presentation, Chris Kilgore will review the evidence of astronomical knowledge in ancient cultures. Topics will include astronomy as myth and ritual, the architecture and engineering of ancient observatories, the quest to create an accurate calendar, and misconceptions and disproven theories. Special attention will be given to the topic of Precession of the Equinoxes and the challenges it presented to the transmission of astronomical knowledge.

Christopher Kilgore is an avocational archaeologist and art historian. In France, he has presented his research at the University of Bordeaux, the Institute for Human Palaeontology, the Museum of Man, and at the National Museum of Natural History. He has also spoken at the Museum of Prehistory and Archaeology of Cantabria in Santander, Spain. In 2014 he was the keynote speaker at SynRG and last year he gave two presentations at the National Mensa Gathering in Louisville, Kentucky. In August he will begin the Master’s program in Art History at the University of Houston.

 

Unconventional Healing Techniques

Dr. Stuart Marmorstein

Very unconventional but effective natural healing techniques including low force cranial adjusting, Pain Neutralization Technique (PNT), advanced homeopathy and some energetic approaches to food and inhalant sensitivies, as well as method called Injury Recall Technique will be briefly described. PNT gets rid of the pain of myofascial trigger points and other tender areas in seconds. All of these methods are gentle and safe.

Dr. Marmorstein's training and license are in Chiropractic, a field he has operated in for over forty years, and he is one of the most senior Applied Kinesiologists in Houston. He authored a chapter of A Healthier You, a compendium of sections on a variety of healing topics, including a chapter by Dr. Deepak Chopra. He lived in India for 2 years and learned about the special requirements for treating people who are actively pursuing yoga, meditation, and spiritual practice. During his stay, he used chiropractic methods to help some of the country's poorest rural villagers on a charitable basis under the auspices of the Prasad Project and was part of a multidisciplinary team that traveled from location to location on a mobile hospital bus to provide desperately needed care.

 

Water on Mars

Wendell Mendell

Liquid water may still flow on Mars, but that doesn't mean it's easy to spot. The search for water on the Red Planet has taken more than 15 years to turn up definitive signs that liquid flows on the surface today. In the past, however, rivers and oceans may have covered the land. Where did all of the liquid water go? Why? How much of it still remains?

Dr. Mendell, is a retired planetary scientist and was Asst. Director for Exploration, Astromaterials Research & Exploration Science Directorate at NASA Johnson Space Center; he came to JSC in 1963. His education includes The International Space University (France), Rice Univ., Univ. of California, Los Angeles, and Caltech.

 

Genealogy - One Man's 45 Year Journey Chasing a Family Tree

Freeman Mendell

Tips, tricks and dumb luck – all components of the search. Studying family history brings more than just historical knowledge, it builds relationships. Learning the stories behind names and dates teaches a personal history that explains more than just how each person came to be.

Freeman Mendell, MA in History from the U of H. Retired as the Chief of Staff for Galveston County Judge Mark Henry.

 

Financial Advice

Myrna Agris

Myrna Agris focuses on financial management and education and helps to provide guidance in all areas of your financial life. Prior to joining Morgan Stanley, she practiced law in the area of estate planning, preservation of wealth, and elder law. She taught a course at Rice University School of Continuing Studies "Take a Pro-active Approach to Aging: Legal and Financial Issues". As one of the authors of the Elder Law Handbook, published by the Houston Bar Association, she is often asked to speak to groups on estate planning and financial topics.

 

 

Tea 101 Talk and Tasting

Amanda Vermillion

Get ready for a fun and flavorful journey through the world of tea! Learn the basics of tea (origins, health benefits, characteristics, etc.) We'll discuss the difference between black, green, white, oolong and puerh, flavored and blended teas, and herbal teas/tisanes. Attendees will sample three different types of tea using professional tea tasting sets along with fun facts and preparation tips for each tea.

[Professional tea tasting sets will be available for purchase at the beginning of the class for $10 each. If you own one already, bring it with you! If you don't want to purchase one, disposable tasting cups will be available for your use.]

Amanda Vermillion has been a Mensan since 2004. She currently serves as Assistant LocSec and Activities Coordinator of Gulf Coast Mensa. In 2013, she earned her Tea Master certification from the American Tea Masters Association. She also holds a tea blending certification and a New World Tea certification from I-TEI. Amanda is the owner of The Tea Mistress, LLC, a tea sales and event company based in the Houston area. Amanda also serves as Director of Lone Star Houston Tea Festival, Inc.. She organized the first annual Lone Star Iced Tea Festival (held in Houston, Texas on August 9, 2015) and the first annual Houston Tea Festival (held on February 20-21, 2016). For more information, visit her websites: www.theteamistress.com and www.houstonteafestival.com.

 

Meet the RVC

Taz Criss

Q & A about Mensa at the National level with our Regional Vice Chair for Region 6, Taz Criss.

Taz is a second-generation Mensan who joined as a teenager. She has served in various roles in local groups and SIGs. Taz was elected as RVC for Region 6 in 2015. Her leadership style is uniquely honest, upfront, and jovial. If confidence were inches, she would be 10' tall.

 

 

The Invention of Rope and the Roots of Modern Civilization

Chris Kilgore

In this presentation Christopher Kilgore will demonstrate the fundamentals or horsehair rope making and detail the technique's origins in prehistory. By analyzing a number of works of ancient art, we will gain insight into some of the ways in which the invention of rope revolutionized life in the stone age Europe and served as a major catalyst of  the Palaeolithic Cultural Explosion, a seemingly spontaneous flourishing of art, technology, and material culture. This novel interpretation strongly suggests a direct lineal connection between Palaeolithic culture and modern civilizations.

Christopher Kilgore is an avocational archaeologist and art historian. In France, he has presented his research at the University of Bordeaux, the Institute for Human Palaeontology, the Museum of Man, and at the National Museum of Natural History. He has also spoken at the Museum of Prehistory and Archaeology of Cantabria in Santander, Spain. In 2014 he was the keynote speaker at SynRG and last year he gave two presentations at the National Mensa Gathering in Louisville, Kentucky. In August he will begin the Master’s program in Art History at the University of Houston.

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