Linda in Northfield, Mensagenda Editor

About Mensagenda

Minnesota Mensa published Vol. I, No. 1 of our newsletter, then called the Minnesota Mensa, in June of 1965. Approaching six decades later and winning awards along the way, we continue to provide a monthly publication, now called Mensagenda.

As expected in a newsletter, we inform our local membership with organizational updates and provide details about our events. The real benefit is that, just like our events, Mensagenda is for our members, by our members.

The love of learning in Mensa is not just about supporting our scholarship but in enriching your own mind and sharing your knowledge, skills, and interests. Read articles and regular columns ranging from scientific explanations to humor in everyday life. Check out our members’ photography, drawing, painting, knitting and quilting, and crafting skills.

What would you like to share? Do you have expertise in a particular field of study or hobby? Want to express your opinion? Have you traveled recently? Do you write poetry? Can you create word games, numerical puzzles, or trivia questions? What could you say about…well, you get the picture.

Mensagenda is another way that Minnesota Mensa provides “a stimulating intellectual and social environment for its members.” What could you contribute if you joined Mensa?


There’s More to Read

Mensa membership provides access to the publications from other chapters, American Mensa, and Mensa International. Click here to learn more.


Featured Cover Art

Summer Smoke. Photo by Michelle in Saint Cloud.

Last summer, smoke from uncontrolled wildfires burning in Canada brought hazy skies (and air-quality alerts) especially to the northern tier of U.S. states, including Minnesota, but extending as far south as Kansas. Michelle Peterick took this photo from near her home in St. Cloud.

The extraordinary fires burned more than 45 million acres, an area roughly equal to the size of North Dakota. More than 150,000 people were evacuated.

The Eclectic Linda by Linda in Northfield.

I’ve been to Gaza.

In October 2001, I joined a group of journalists on a long-planned trip to Israel organized by the National Conference of Editorial Writers. There were 14 of us (only one person dropped out because of 9/11). The purpose of these NCEW trips abroad was to afford people an opportunity to visit the places they might be writing about but had never been to, and to meet people who were making the news in those places.

Though we did visit the Biblical sites, the journalist who planned the itinerary had invited people of widely different perspectives to meet our group, and much of our time was spent with those who accepted the invitation. We had meetings with former Prime Minister Shimon Peres and the president of Israel, Moshe Katsav. We also met officials of the Palestinian National Authority in Ramallah in the West Bank and, in Hebron, a different group of officials from other West Bank cities.

Those meetings were on our schedule. But midweek, we learned we would be meeting Yasser Arafat at his office in Gaza at 10 o’clock that evening.

We entered through the Erez crossing, at the north end of the Gaza Strip. As we left the Israeli post, there was ahead of us a dimly lit paved area running for perhaps 200 feet between two-story buildings on either side. There were no lights on in the buildings, so it was eerie and rather intimidating. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was thinking that if it was on someone’s agenda that night to eliminate some American journalists, there was nowhere to run.

At the far end, there were two vans waiting for us along with a number of armed men wearing camo. I don’t know whether they were soldiers or police.

During our brief ride to Arafat’s PLO headquarters, we could hear sporadic gunfire, not close by, but still alarming. Less than it might have been, though, since the camo guys in the back of the vans were chatting among themselves, unconcerned.

We must have been near the Mediterranean shore as we disembarked, because we could smell the sea (and the reek of sewage was much diminished).

Arafat was waiting for us in a rather crowded conference room, and began by apologizing that we had been troubled by the violence nearby. That he knew about the gunfire persuaded me that he’d had it laid on for our benefit, but possibly it was real. Our visit was during the Second Intifada, a Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, in which Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Authority played a major role.

Arafat took questions, but didn’t really answer them. He began his answers before the questioner had finished, and said pretty much the same things he always said when he was being interviewed by non-Arab journalists. The Palestinians were not at fault for the ongoing violence. If Israel ended the occupation, all would be peaceful.

I didn’t believe him. But I think some of our group did, because it was what they wanted to hear.

Arafat left the room first, and as we exited one by one, he shook hands with each of us, and his photographer took pictures of each handshake. (I included mine with my Christmas letter that year.)

I believe Arafat was deliberately lying to us, but the elderly officials at the Hebron meeting had said much the same things, although less tactfully, and I think they believed what they were saying. It was if they thought their American visitors had simply never heard their side of the story, and as soon as we heard it we would agree with them immediately that the Israeli occupation was the most oppressive ever. The “occupation” meant not just Gaza and the West Bank, it was “From the river to the sea,” and there was a map on the wall of that council chamber showing Palestine from the Jordan to the Mediterranean.

Israel did end the Gaza occupation in 2005, Hamas won the first and only election, and the rest is not history. It is current events.