There should be some sort of message here.
There should be some sort of message here.
About 10 or 15 years ago, I looked in the mirror and I looked around at fellow Mensans and decided we may be smart but if being overweight is a sign of intelligence, then we have to redefine something. I weighed maybe 220 and had weighed that most of my adult life. I couldn’t see where weighing 160 or 220 would have made much difference. I had good jobs, nice girlfriends, a nice wife or two, and good health. In fact the only thing where weight was a handicap was windsurfing in light winds against average weight people. This was most of the time of course. The weight was an advantage when the wind picked up and I had better control than many others. The windsurfers didn’t factor in weight the same as Hobie Cat racers have to. A Hobie Cat and crew can carry an low weight handicap (ballast) so that the competition becomes a skill challenge rather than who weighs less. Being a mensan, I, of course, sat down and wrote an article about fat rather than eating less.
Now it’s 10 or 12 years later in Dec 2008 and it’s time to take action. Let’s not rush in to things. Read on about the process. The original article looked at my diet and concluded I was suffering from too much of a good thing. The problem was concentrated calories from food that had been processed. The engineer in me said lower the processing efficiency by eating more vegetables and less pizza, peanut butter, bread, sugary stuff, and cheeses . It also noted in my case at least concentrated sugar and starch were addictive in the sense that I always wanted to eat more after eating some. The food pyramid that was being pushed at the time was clearly the road to overweight. None of this was insightful as it had been said repeatedly for more than a 100 years.
WickedGood! RG report: 2010-11-08 Tom Birchmire – Wendy Birchmire
The Wicked Good! RG was a great success and I want to thank the many who helped make this possible.
Although, I might be the RG Chair, it really was Wendy Birchmire in her role as Committee Chair who recruited most of the volunteers. In order to have variety in the menus and attention to details it was decided to find a person who would be in charge of a meal. This person would be responsible to plan, shop for supplies, and have the meal ready on the day of the RG. This method was a great success and there were numerous praises for the meals. Everyone pitched in and helped all during the RG as was needed.
The min-committee setup worked well. During the hospitality meeting, the emphasis was on attention to those little details – a variety of dressings, table decorations, and making sure the appearance of rationing was not there. The committee members were asked to overbuy slightly so that if someone wanted three somethings and the serving size was two, the servers were to smile and give it to them. In practice this worked out well as few people wanted extras. One reason for this was the appetizers were served frequently and were of a good variety. By the time they got to eat the meal, their appetites had been whetted so they were appreciative of the better quality meal.
Wendy choose to do the Friday Evening meal as she considered that to be the most important meal and it served to set the RG’s overall impression.
Some committees were learning on the job and perhaps overbought or overestimated how much the RGers might eat. It was a good investment though as we trained some individuals on how to buy and how to prepare for 100 to 130. Some leftover food and drink went into storage for the “New Members Party” and for the “Cape Cod Mini”. The small amount of prepared but leftover food was distributed to RGers. Unopened but dated foodstuffs went to the Dedham Food Bank. Lisa Maxwell arranged to take it to the Food Bank on Sunday.
Cleanup is always a problem. The people from New Hampshire suggested a portable wash up sink like they use. It attaches to the shower head and drains into the toilet. I’ll make it a point to investigate when I go to their RG. Another suggestion: use a smaller urn for decaf coffee and have two coffee urns going.
You cannot have too many power strips and extension cords at an RG.
Make sure there is enough help for all meals.
The hospitality committee volunteers and helpers: Wendy Birchmire, Stacie Bray, Ellen Siegel, Steph Schwartz, Angela Johnson, Laura Friedman, Sue Thornburg, Jayne Rossetti, Sonia Verrochi, Louise Meyer, and many others.
Al Beecy did the pre-registration via computer and PayPal. Overall registration went well . We were able to sign on to the hotel’s wi-fi and use the WickedGood! site to keep track of things. Faith Linsky and Diane Gaw provided on site registration. Faith pointed out we needed to have a printout of all the pre-registered, because at times, there were too many people to keep track of on-line. The on-line system was fussy about entering amounts that were not in the pull down list.
I think it would be useful to have a printer available for quick notices, various changes, and a list of people who have registered and paid, along with comments.
The wristbands were provided but few people took advantage of them. Maureen Mullen did Saturday evening video and reported only one instance of no-photo annoyance. The individual was assured that the video segment would be edited out. Lewis Clark did digital photos and reported no difficulties.
Ed Meyer found some very good speakers who were well received and the Mensans were well behaved as well. In previous RGs, some individuals have been a little too argumentative. It would appear that some members run on Mensa time which means coming at 10:20 for the 10:00 meeting. The speakers were not upset and accepted that some latecomers were clueless about other things as well. Blue-dot-singles events were well attended on Friday and Saturday. The Scotch/Irish Whiskey tasting hoisted by Rick Kovalcik (with helpers Lia Olsborg and Wil Howett) proved to be very popular and although it initially had been limited to 30 actually 36-38 were eventually served.
Games and Tournaments
Perhaps 30% of the attendees were gamers and Matt Stone provided a good variety of games. Tournaments were weakly attended but we did not know if that was because they were new games very few had played or if the separate listings (Not in the program) influenced that. In previous years, the tournaments were games people had played and for the most part they attracted more players. It was pointed out that the traditional Saturday night poker game had not made it into the program.
The DJs brought their speakers and lights and provided nice commentary for the costume judging. The DJ had a list of individuals and their costume identity and summoned each in turn to be presented to the court and the judges. This went well.
In the middle of the evening, the audience drifted away to do other things (Blue-dot-single), games, etc, but came back when the dance music style was changed. Ball room dancing/swing proved to be popular.
Suggestions for future RG that have a DJ:
a. Program some dance instruction on Saturday day so there will be an audience of trained people that want to dance. Maria was scheduled to do this but went to Europe instead. She told us far in advance
b. Make the dance effort a yearlong attraction and get those people to come to the RG
c. Schedule another act who might sing, play an instrument, recite, etc.
d. Create a Saturday entertainment committee and have them devote themselves to the event.
The final Time Warp dance went well and might have done better if it had been listed in the program.
Beantown Bucks , Puzzles and Prizes.
The puzzles were really popular and wherever you looked throughout the RG there were people doing puzzles. Claire Natola provided 10 different puzzles which were distributed at hourly intervals. There was always a waiting line for the new puzzle. The drawing for the prizes was held Sunday AM at the wrapup.
Drinks – Open Bar Friday and Saturday
Pete the Bartender proved to be as popular as ever at the Open Bar on Friday and Saturday evening. The committee decided not to have a full service bar but to provide a selection of 7 or 8 popular drinks in an effort to control costs. The coolers provided a good variety of soft drinks at all times. A selection of medium priced beers and wine was available throughout the RG. Ellen Siegel was the designated beverage person and she kept the coolers amply supplied at all times.
Sam Adams Tour
The tour was lightly attended but everyone who went said it was a good tour. Light attendance may have been because the bus left at 9:15am or perhaps once the RGers arrive, they do not want to go offsite. This was strange because when the tour was presented in the publicity, it was one of the things people mentioned that they wanted to do. Gordon DeWerth rounded up the early risers and made sure they were all back on the bus after the tour.
Strong Suggestion: Do not expect people to get up early nor go off-site.
Maskmaking did not go over very well. Louise Meyer was so involved with hospitality that there wasn’t much time for maskmaking on Friday night and Laurie Cocoazzi only had a few takers on Saturday. There were not that many people hanging around Hospitality since they were occupied at other activities throughout the day. The mask making table needed to be in the front of the room. The beantown puzzles may have diverted many potential maskmakers.
The program was limited to 16 front and back printed black and white pages. A page was ½ of a 8 ½” X 11” page. The editing technique was the first enter and proof on the web page. The web pages were a work in process until the last two weeks. Once the webpages were edited and proofed, the content was downloaded to my desktop and entered into Microsoft Publisher. Once the program was completed, it was converted into an Adobe .pdf file and taken over to Kinkos for printing.
The reason I mention this is that the very same technique could be used to produce the Beacon. A new month’s Beacon could be created online and edited by the writers/proofers until it was correct. Once the cooperative process is complete, the now correct content could be copied and pasted into InDesign or some other desktop publisher. At this point, the now edited online Beacon could be transferred to the current issue/archive for viewing by the membership. Perhaps the copy to print cycle could be shortened.
Budget and Expenses
The original budget assumed about 110 to 120 attendees with about $8200 to $9000 income and about $9100 expenses. I cannot be sure but the online registration indicates about 125 paid registrations and about $9200 income.
Expenses real and estimated are:
Wendy receipts $2357 food , beverages,
Tom expenses $581
Other expenses $3252 written on Mensa account
Other food $708
Total $ 9122
As you can see the registrations and income were about as expected and the expenses were about the amount estimated. This RG essentially broke even. Not included in this summary is the expense for the storage.
a. The online program needs to have the badge function split from the payment portion. Not everyone that gets a badge has a payment.
b. Have an online program where expenses could be entered as they occur or are approved.
If Boston Mensa intends to continue the Wicked Good! RG, the ex-com needs to authorize a new contract for 2011.
This hotel setup could reasonably accommodate 175 RGers.
One way for future RGs to increase attendance would be to strongly advertize “Introduce a friend to Wicked Good!” or “Being WickedGood! with your best friend” “Be WickedGood! with Boston Mensa.” A number of people commented that they didn’t know they could bring a friend or that the friend didn’t have to belong to Mensa.
Social Media such as FaceBook can be expected to play a larger part in publicity.