TAMPA — Trivia question: what does car racing, radical physics, puzzles and Oak Ridge, Tennessee have in common?
One word: Mensa.
What do zombies, the apocalypse and golf have in common?
Once again, the answer is Mensa.
Mensa is, of course, the largest and oldest high-IQ society in the world, for people who score at the 98th percentile or higher on Mensa’s intelligence admissions test. Mensa has its own admissions exam, and Mensa International consists of more than 110,000 members in 50 national groups.
There are regional chapters of Mensa, including the Tampa Bay chapter, which hosts an annual gathering over Memorial Day Weekend. This past weekend’s event was known as the “HavAnArrr-Regional Gathering,” and was held at the Hampton Inn in Ybor City. It was a weekend of socializing, balloon-making, ghost tours in Ybor City, a discussion on high speed rail and an orchid show — a reminder that Mensan’s enjoy a relaxing break as much as the next person.
“I’m getting feedback that everybody had a good time,” said Thomas G. Thomas, one of the organizers of the Tampa Bay event. “It you didn’t, let us know.”
Mensa’s Region 10 — which covers Florida, Puerto Rico, and south Georgia — host plenty of regional gatherings throughout the year, including several upcoming ones. One is the Broward Mensa “FLoRanGe 2011: The ‘Working Title’ RG,” which will be held in Fort Lauderdale on Labor Day Weekend from Sept. 2-5 at the Sheraton Suites Cypress Creek hotel.
Jason Knight, a member of Broward Mensa from Pomano Beach and organizer of that event, said it will be a weekend of speakers, contests, demonstrations, tournaments, an auction, 24-hour games, meals, and more –all designed to keep those with high IQs irresistably entertained.
“Broward Mensa is known for three things — hospitality, our scholarship auction, and our programs,” Knight said.
This year, there will be speaking programs on radical physics, car racing, puzzles, and what Knight called “Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the secret city. It’s a three-night, four-day RG.”
Closer to Orlando, the Central Florida Mensa Regional Gathering is hosting “2012: The Year of the Apocalypse” in Lake Mary, which aims to have some fun with the concept of 2012 being the year that the world ends.
Rob Goldsmith, head of the Central Florida Mensa’s RG committee, promised a good time would be had by all who attend the event at the Lake Mary Mariott from Jan. 27-29 next year.
“We’ve always had great regional gatherings,” he said. “We’re known for our great hospitality.”
End of days prophesies, he added, were simply too tempting to resist as a main theme.
“A few things are seen as the end of the world, so we’re going to have some fun with that, with zombies and things,” Goldsmith said, adding that the hotel would providing Mensa with “a lot of free conference room space. We’re going to have a large game room, we’re going to have a large speakers room.”
The three day gathering would also host an optional golf outing, Goldsmith added.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said.
To show that high ID people enjoy a good laugh as much as the next person, the Tampa Bay chapter gave out awards on Memorial Day for such things as “Best Pretentious Drink” (toffee liquor).
And at the end of the awards ceremony, everyone who attended was encouraged to take home as much leftover food as they wanted, since there was still a lot more fried chicken, sweets, soda and bottles or beer ordered than consumed over the three-day event — not necessarily a bad sign, Thomas noted.
“If you need anything for the road, we have sodas and bread — lots of bread,” Thomas told the departing members. “Of all the RGs I’ve attended, this one ate the least, bucking the American trend — which shows we’re smarter than most.”
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