StaRGazing 2015 Speakers

Keynote Address: Keeping America Secure: Operations of the Los Angeles Air Force Base by Colonel Janet W. Grondin

Colonel Janet W. Grondin

Do you know that the Los Angeles Air Force Base is approximately two miles south of LAX? Our keynote speaker, Colonel Janet W. Grondin, will introduce us to the functions of the LA AFB, some of the programs that she is in charge of, and the future of Space and Missile Systems Center.

Colonel Janet W. Grondin is the chief, Spacelift Range and Network System Division, assigned to the Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles AFB, Calif. She leads more than 1700 government and contractor personnel modernizing and sustaining the world-wide Air Force Satellite Control Network as well as the nation's Launch and Test Range System located at Vandenberg AFB, Calif. and Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla. As chief, she manages execution of the Spacelift Range System Contract, the Satellite Control Network Contract contract, and the LTRS Systems Engineering and Integration contract. She is responsible for developing the LTRS Integrated Support Contract and the Space Acquisition Training Office that facilitates standardized training systems for the space enterprise.

Social Media 101 by Laura Benefiel

Most of us use a variety of Social Media programs to chat with friends, look at cute kittens and puppies, get an inspirational saying for the day, or see what someone is eating. Let's get serious. Social Media can be a powerful tool to break your business into a new level of success and prosperity. Laura will suggest the programs you need and how to use them to make an impact in the business world.

Laura Benefiel is a Social Media Manager for Fox. She manages many shows, among them American Idol, 24, Cosmos, and The Simpsons.

Ask the Sexologist by Robert Berend

Robert Berend

A wildly popular Q & A discussion where anything goes! Adults only! It's your chance to ask (anonymously on paper, OR raise your hand, OR submit them in advance to questions on ANY aspects of sexuality, relationships and related topics.

Robert Berend has a Ph.D. in human sexuality. He is a lifetime Mensa member, and has given more than 80 talks at Mensa Gatherings since the 1970s, including "Fishbowl" and "Ask the Sexologists" at the 2014 Annual Gathering in Boston, MA. His website is

Dorothy Parker — Poet, Writer, Critic and Satirist by Jana Bickel

Jana Bickel

Dorothy Parker, a fixture of the 1920's, was a noted wit and member of the famed roundtable at the Algonquin hotel. Jana will do a half hour presentation and then provide poems for participants to read out loud. She may even present a couple of Dorothy's poems set to music.

She also organized the Mensa Family Feud, to be hosted by Ed You, as noted on our Events page.

Jana Bickel has been a member of Greater Los Angeles Area Mensa for over 25 years. She has represented the San Fernando Valley on the Board, been RG Chairman, hosted parties and RG programs as well as co-led GLAAM's NOVA Toastmasters.

Chairman Chat with Dan Burg

Dan Burg

AML Chairman Dan Burg will lead a discussion of the upcoming national and international Mensa elections — there are 13 bylaws amendments on the national ballot! — and will answer questions about Mensa.

Dan Burg is the chairman of American Mensa. He and his family live in Springville, California, a very small town on the eastern side of California's Central Valley near Sequoia National Park.

Philosophers' Circle with Dr. Marshall Burns

Marshall Burns

Philosophy means, literally, a love of knowledge, learning, and wisdom. This event is an informal discussion of philosophy for a small group of young people. It is not a lecture about philosophy and will not get into the formal, academic disciplines of philosophical study. The discussion will mainly be about asking questions and thinking about answers. Such as:
How do we know what we know?
Does reality depend upon language?
Is justice possible?
Is human survival compatible with democracy?

Marshall Burns dropped out of high school to attend MIT and later earned his PhD in physics for studies of quantum chaos. He has been a salesman, a writer, a radio engineer, a ditch digger, a business consultant, and a homeless wanderer before establishing a professional career in development of new technology, from personal computers to 3D Printers, about which he taught at USC and Caltech. In 2007, he turned his focus to issues of social justice, particularly global poverty and sex laws. An amateur philosopher, he says, Thinking about the world around me – and often writing about it – has always been a hobby for me. That hobby included studying ancient Greek in high school and college and reading the philosophical writings of physicists he studied in graduate school. Burns asks that each participant prepare for this discussion in two ways:
Go to and click on at least one of the links that looks interesting.
Come with a question that you wonder about

Baseball Trivia by Seth Cohen

Seth Cohen

How well do you know the world of baseball? Seth challenges the audience to match wits with him on the history of baseball as he tries to stump them with his trivia challenge of major records and obscure baseball trivia.

Seth Cohen is the head of the Theatre Arts department and Broadcast Journalism program at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School in Rolling Hills Estates. A lifelong Southern Californian, he was brought up going to Dodger games with his family and hearing stories of the great ballplayers his father used to watch in old Tiger Stadium in Detroit. Seth holds a BFA in Film/TV from Chapman University and an MTS in Production/Design from Southern Oregon University. He has been teaching at Peninsula High for seven years, trying to give his students not only the tools necessary to excel in his theatre, stage design, pubic speaking and broadcast journalism classes, but also teach them some of the finer points of American sports, especially our National Pastime.

Introduction to Chess by Bryan Dahl

Bryan Dahl

Bryan Dahl will be teaching beginning chess to young people attending the Kids' Track.

Bryan grew up playing chess with his father, a chess enthusiast who is spending his retirement between tournaments in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Diego. As a child, Bryan was fortunate to be surrounded by a family of teachers. Not surprisingly, he has developed a lifelong appreciation for the incomparable truth that education in any subject should begin and end with inspiration.

How to Form Objects in Plastic by Bill Debney

Bill will get kids involved in the science of how things work, mostly including thermoforming plastics and demonstrating forming toy car bodies as well as other objects. How hot does the plastic need to be? How strong is the plastic? Can anything be formed? Also, he will give a demonstration of vacuum within a chamber. What happens when the air is taken out? Can 100% be removed?

Bill Debney has a background in industrial design and rapid prototyping and is the founder of DB3 Industrial Design, an I.D. consulting firm and CNC prototyping shop. With over 20 years experience in product design he has helped clients like HP, Sega, Harman JBL, Saleen, Gibson, Sunkist, B&M, and Street Surfing bring products to market.

Your 1040 Tour Guide by Linda Dorfmont

Linda Dorfmont

Linda will explain:

What goes on which lines and why
What the IRS computers look for
What IRS auditors look for
Why Adjusted Gross Income is so important
Deductions vs. Credits
Other interesting information about your tax return

Linda has been preparing tax returns for over 40 years and teaches taxes to small business owners and property owners. She does consulting work with the real estate industry and manages the estate and trust department of a large Southern California tax practice.

The Usage of Fear in Film and How It Affects Society by Paul Winfield Ehrlich

This speech will cover the origins of fear in our species and how it is used in communication to both entertain and influence us. We will examine various types of fears, cinematic devices meant to cause fear, and media tropes which exacerbate existing fears. There will be short video examples as well as PowerPoint slides. Afterwards, there will be a Q&A as well as a short discussion as to whether or not we are surrounded by a culture of fear, and what that entails.

Paul Winfield Ehrlich is an independent filmmaker and photographer working out of Los Angeles. He has previously helmed film projects involving the Bureau of Land Management and the National Endowment of the Arts. Recently, Paul has assisted on a number of Hollywood projects, as well as a number of national commercials. On the photography side, Paul has had numerous exhibitions for both his wildlife photography as well as his architectural work.

RVC Rap by Desiree Elliott

Desiree Elliott

This is a huge year for Mensa with the election of officers and 13 Bylaw Amendments on the ballot!! Come on out to discuss and review the key issues raised in the proposals and review some of the current events in Mensa. We will also take a few minutes to review the international election as well.

Southern California native Desiree Elliott joined Mensa in 2004 and it changed her life forever. An active member of the chapter, she has served on the local Board for most of these last 11 years, was instrumental in the last ten RG's, and has served on numerous other committees during this period. She joined the national board July 2013 and continues to serve as the Region 9 RVC.

Through Mensa, she has enjoyed learning from other members and in turn shares her knowledge of artisan or specialty cheeses with others this year.

She recognizes that all of the joy and happiness that is her nephew Gannon, and her own recent nuptials to fellow member Jonathan Elliott, is thanks to Mensa.

Improv and Theater Games hosted by Jay Friedlander

Jay Friedlander

RG Co-Chair and veteran improvisation student Jay Friedlander leads a series of fun exercises from Viola Spolin's Theater Games, which formed the basis for Improv groups like the Compass Players, The Second City, Improv Olympic and the Groundlings.

Sunday Stand-up: an Evening of Comedy hosted by Samantha Hale

Samantha Hale

Samantha has put together a terrific group of stand-up comics for Sunday evening. Due to the adult content in this program, it is only open to attendees 18 years and older. See the Events page for a listing of the talented comics you will see.

Samantha Hale, filmmaker and stand-up comedian, is incredibly grateful to have had her first film premiere on the Documentary Channel, and is currently working on her second feature on the connection between music and love. When not working on her films, she is on the stage, having performed in such venues as The Hollywood Improv, Flappers, The San Francisco Regency Ballroom, and the World Famous Comedy Store among others. She is also proud to be Alan Hale's (The Skipper from Gilligan's Island) granddaughter.

The Cruel Truth about Making Decisions: It is Tough and We Aren't by Mary Hanson

Mary Hanson

Decision-making takes more time and effort than most people want to spend. Making good decisions really requires defining objectives, gathering information, challenging the information, identifying alternatives, and considering how the alternative approaches might be implemented.

The cruel truth is it's too much work for most of us. Mary Hanson will share the lessons she learned from business owners over more than 30 years.

Mary is a business attorney who works with business owners in a variety of industries on legal matters including new businesses and investments, buying and selling businesses, and buying out partners. Much of her work involves difficult business decisions.

She has a degree in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin, a law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School, an MBA from the University of Southern California, and a private pilot license.

A History of Laurel Canyon and the many People Who have Lived There by Skip Haynes

Skip Haynes

The history of Laurel Canyon is quite interesting beyond the stars who live(d) there. From indians to gangsters to movie stars, to the secret underground government laboratory on Wonderland Avenue and, of course, rock n' roll. It was originally called Bungalow land and was a restricted community.

Skip Haynes grew up on the northside of Chicago. He wrote a hit song, Lake Shore Drive, singing it with the Aliotta-Haynes-Jeremiah band to commemorate a drive along what some have called the most beautiful cityscape in the world. The song was a popular regional hit and continues to be a favorite for many Chicago residents. Now living in the Laurel Canyon area of LA, he and his music partner, Dana Walden, who played keyboard with Champaign, started a record label called Laurel Canyon Animal Company – the only label in the world that makes music about, for, and with animals. Their first album, Songs to Make Dogs Happy, came from research by Dr. Kim Ogden about the lyrical content and musical preferences of dogs. Their songs have featured dogs, cats, Coco the gorilla, pink dolphins in the Amazon, and even a parrot. The albums are available at .

Overcome Procrastination With The Genie Inside You by Sue Hines

Sue Hines

Imagine the success you would achieve if you could get yourself to do the things you are supposed to do when you are supposed to do them!

There is a Genie in each of us that holds the clues to overcoming procrastination and to becoming our best version of ourselves, writing that book, going to the gym, or clearing out that garage. Recognizing our own unique motivational qualities gives us the keys to re-direct the self-talk and choose to move forward as we desire.

We can eliminate the stress and anxiety we create by not doing what we want and by doing what we don't want. Understanding your motivational Genie stops you drifting with the current and gets you moving to where you want to go.

Sue is a motivational speaker, an artist, a published poet and author, a Reiki Master and successful radio show host on CBS NewSky Radio. As a life-long student of the human spirit, she has spent her life delving deeply into what makes human beings tick, and especially in uncovering one's individual purpose and meaning in life.

Drawing on the rich archetypal symbolism embedded in mythology and astrology, Sue uses the Genies to help us make the connection between the types of meaning that inspire us and the actions that follow.

Woman & Molecular Biologist, Do They Go Together? by Laura L Mays Hoopes PhD

Laura L Mays Hoopes PhD

Laura Hoopes was enticed into science by Sputnik-related activities, bonded with molecular biology at Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, went to graduate school at Yale and became a liberal arts college biology professor, choosing independence and family-friendly policies over maximum research advancement. She established a strong research record, receiving NIH and NSF grants and mentoring many students through undergraduate research through the years. Her research into molecular mechanisms of aging revealed how the aging clock works. Advocating for women in science is a major part of her life today, and she will explain why and how some of her focus shifted from science itself to who does science and why it matters.

Laura L. Mays Hoopes is the Halstead-Bent Professor of Molecular Biology at Pomona College, founding member of the Claremont Colleges. She has a Creative Writing Certificate from UCLA Extension and an MFA in Creative Writing from San Diego State University. Hoopes has published a biography about becoming a woman in science after Sputnik, called Breaking Through the Spiral Ceiling: An American Woman Becomes a DNA Scientist. Hoopes received the Jack London Award from the California Writers' Club in 2013. She has published over 20 articles and short stories in magazines, newspapers, and literary journals, and she is the founding and ongoing moderator of Nature magazine's Women in Science Forum online at Scitable.

Cowspiracy, the movie: Why go Vegan? by Mary Hughes

Mary Hughes

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. This film is a humourous and insightful environmental documentary about the impact of the agriculture business on global warming. It includes lots of information and questions about why environmental groups do not talk about this topic. The film will be accompanied by a discussion of the various reasons why people choose to become vegan. A vegan diet includes only plant-based foods. This means not only no meats, poultry, or seafood, but also no food from animals, including milk products, eggs and honey. Some Vegans extend their committment beyond just foods to avoiding the use of all animal products altogether. Why do they choose to do this? Are they healthy? Oh my gosh, WHERE do they get their PROTEIN?! Bring your own questions, and find out how it is to live as a vegetarian in a predominently non-vegetarian country.

Mary Hughes became a member of Mensa in 1979, and a life member shortly after. She is a semi retired attorney and spends most of her time doing volunteer work for various groups, including the LAPD, Animal Rights organizations and on Vegan issues including the health reasons, cruelty issues, and global impacts on food issues. The last talk she gave was at the AG in Las Vegas on Fetishes, with sexual issues being part of her college degree and of personal interest in many areas.

Aristotle to AI and Beyond by Nathan Jaye

Nathan Jaye

As the originator of logic, Aristotle set in motion the gears of modern science, computer programming and artificial intelligence. Few realize, however, that Aristotle actually viewed rational thinking as inferior to another—more intuitive—thinking system. We'll look at one of the great mysteries of Western civilization—the fascinating story of supermind (what the Greeks called nous)—its 2000-year disappearance from history, and why its re-emergence today is personally relevant to us all.

Nathan Jaye is a financial journalist, speaker on intelligence and founder of Ziprz, a new fashion company in San Francisco. A former contributor to Investor's Business Daily, he has interviewed dozens of thought leaders, entrepreneurs, scholars and CEOs. He can be found on twitter @auria and at and

The Three Things You Need to Publish Your Book and How To Get Them by Vickey Kalambakal, aka Vickey Kall

Vickey Kalambakal, aka Vickey Kall

There are only three things you need to publish your book yourself. One can be procured online, the second is multi-choice, and the third may take a lifetime to complete. Since we only have an hour, though, Vickey will run through where to get an ISBN and a book cover, and what to do with a finished manuscript.

Vickey Kalambakal left corporate America to pursue a degree in history and a career in freelance writing at a time when newspapers and magazines were falling like dominoes. Nevertheless, she did manage to place articles in magazines like Arizona Highways and Westways, as well as in anthologies, text books, and encyclopedias. In 2012, she began self-publishing her own books under the name Vickey Kall, simply because it is easier to spell. Those books include Death Speaker: A Novel of Ancient Gaul and The Boomer Book of Christmas Memories.

Why the Healthcare Directive You Wrote Might Not Work in the Hospital: A Bioethical Perspective and Toolkit by Viki Kind, MA

Viki Kind, MA

As a bioethicist, I often get called in when the patient has an advance directive that isn't being honored by the family and/or physician. Learn how to create a personalized quality-of-life statement, to include with the advance directive, to enhance medically appropriate and compassionate healthcare decisions. Discuss how to make meaningful end-of-life decisions while spending money on what really matters.

Viki Kind, a life-time Mensa member, is a clinical bioethicist, professional speaker and award winning author of The Caregiver's Path to Compassionate Decision Making: Making Choices for Those Who Can't which helps families and professionals make the difficult decisions for those who lack capacity. Her most recent claim to fame is being married to Ed You, Mr. Mensa 2014.

Women and Art: Their Passions and Journeys by Simone Kussatz

Simone Kussatz

My talk is about the role of women in the visual arts, the possibilities and limitations of the art critic/art reviewer in the Los Angeles art scene. I will then present my book titled Women and Art: Their Passions and Journeys and talk about my motivation to create it and the writing process itself, followed by an introduction of Susan Morgan Cooper, who is one of my interviewees in the book. She produced several documentaries, including A Legal Weapon that is about war photographer and Pulitzer Prize Winner Eddie Adams.

Simone Kussatz is a Los Angeles-based writer. Since 2001, she's been working as a cultural journalist. Her articles have appeared in art magazines and newspapers in the US and abroad. She was a special to the Los Angeles Times. Aside from the US, she has also lived and worked in China, the UK, and Germany, where she's from. She holds a Master's degree in American Studies, journalism and psychology and was educated in the US and Germany.

It's Show Business not Show Art: The Business Side of Motion Picture Studios and Scientific Evidence for the Existence of God by Perry Lanaro

Perry Lanaro

It's Show Business not Show Art: The Business Side of Motion Picture Studios: This presentation will give you an understanding of movie studios and the entertainment industry from a business perspective. If creative people understand the business aspect of the entertainment industry, they will be in a much better position to write a script or pursue a project that would be picked up by a studio. Each time Perry has present this talk, writers and producers have told him it was a game changer in how they approach their craft.

Scientific Evidence for the Existence of God: Is there a God? Can science provide insight into this question given that if a God exists it probably lies beyond nature? This talk will look at how science works and it's ability to discover things that cannot be directly seen. Powerful evidence will then be presented showing that an intelligence with creative power lies beyond our universe. A science background is not necessary to attend but an open and inquisitive mind is. A Q&A session will follow. The speaker presented a similar well-attended talk at last year's AG in Boston, followed by a Q&A session that lasted over 2 hours!

Perry is a Mensa member and accomplished speaker who will be presenting twice at the R.G. Regarding Science: he holds a B.S. in physics from UCLA with additional coursework in chemistry and the other sciences. Regarding entertainment: he holds an MBA from UCLA and for a dozen years worked in corporate finance at Universal Studios and Paramount Pictures. Last year he left a VP position at Paramount, formed a corporation and is now consulting at Paramount and Lionsgate.

The Birth of American Popular Music: Songs of the 19th Century and The Birth of Recorded Music: Songs of the 1890s by Craig Lancaster

Craig Lancaster

The Birth of American Popular Music: Songs of the 19th Century: Almost all of us have lived with American popular music since we were born. This music got its start in the 19th century. Its origins will very likely surprise and possibly dismay you. Some of the songs that will be played during the program will be familiar to you, others you probably have never heard before—for good reason.

If you like old music, this is your chance to listen to really old music. If you like the music of Miley Cyrus, find out why her music isn't nearly as controversial as music from more than 100 years ago.

The Birth of Recorded Music: Songs of the 1890s: When Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in the 19th century, he did not anticipate that his invention would be used to record music. Beginning about 1890, music was recorded for the first time. See how music was recorded then. Listen to songs recorded in the 1890s and more recent (and listenable) versions of those songs.

Craig cannot play an instrument, sing or dance. He is certainly not a musicologist. Nevertheless, he has enjoyed music all his life. What kind of music? American popular music. All of American popular music, from songs of the 1800s to the music of Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift. At this RG he will be presenting programs about the beginning of popular music in the 1800s, and the beginning of recorded music in the 1890s.

Plunge into Knitting, Classes 1 and 2 by Rita Law

Rita Law

Class 1 starts very basically with learning the knit stitch and bind off, with the object of making a 2” square or one wrist-warmer.

Class 2 will introduce cable cast-on, the purl stitch, and ribbing.

Rita will bring a dozen pairs of knitting needles and some yarn. If any beginner wants to bring their own, she recommends 5mm (US size 8) knitting needles or thereabouts and slightly chunky (or chunkier, depending on the needle size) yarn. Medium to light colors work best for beginners.

Rita Law has been knitting for sixty years, and has taught how to knit socks, mittens, hats and dolls. In 2010 she won six blue ribbons for her knitting at the Sooke Fall Fair, Victoria, Canada. Maximum 8 people per class.

Stress Reduction and Self-Care for The Modern Day by Sara Lederer

Sara Lederer

Burnout is a significant issue in modern day. Many people are physically or emotionally exhausted, under constant demand and run the risk of adrenal fatigue. Skills learned will be to identify symptoms of burnout, such as emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and loss of feeling personal accomplishment. Burnout can also be marked by increased cynicism, a loss of motivation, and can possibly impact one's overall self-concept and self-efficacy. We will explore ways to find balance via self-care and stress reduction techniques. These may be drawn from the domains of social, cognitive, behavioral, physical, spiritual and/or occupational.

Sara is the director of Clinical Training/ Core Faculty at Antioch University Los Angeles, and ia a practicing psychologist in Santa Monica, specializing in anxiety. She wrote her dissertation on professional burnout and self-care.

Travel To Extreme Latitudes: The North And South Geographic Poles by Ken Levine

Ken Levine

Although tens of thousands of tourists travel to Antarctica each year, few have reached the Geographic South Pole. As of January 2003, the time of Ken's trip, that number was fewer than 500. Ken will show slides and discuss his trip to the South Pole, as well as his subsequent trip to the North Pole. There will be brief discussions of the historic attempts to reach each pole. Learn what it is like to visit the poles as a tourist.

Ken has been a Mensa member for almost 30 years, including Chicago Mensa, Boulder/Front Range Mensa and currently Metropolitan Washington Mensa. He is currently employed as a computer programmer for an agency of the U.S. Government. Ken developed an interest in polar travel and the history of polar exploration during his first trip to Antarctica in 2001. He traveled south of the Antarctic Cirle twice and north of the Arctic circle on four occasions. In addition to traveling to both geographic poles, he has been to a few places in between. Ken has made a hobby of studying polar history, traveling to areas of historic polar interest and visiting polar museums.

Surviving Technology In Our Lives by Jeff Levy

Jeff Levy

Jeff Levy calls things as he sees them and pulls no punches when it comes to how tech is changing the way we live and communicate. He'll fill you in on the latest tech available and how to make the best choices. He easily translates the complexities of technology into simple, easy to understand English and he does it with wit and humor.

Jeff spent 16 years hosting a technology call-in radio show on Los Angeles stations KFI, KNX, KFWB and KABC. He lectures to professional groups about technology and how it applies to their professions. Over the years local Channel 4 News has used Jeff as their go-to expert when it comes to tech.

The Joy of Anxiety by Linda Lichtman

Linda Lichtman

See the 800 lb. gorilla sitting comfortably in the room? He represents the anxiety we feel from our toes up to our noggins. Never felt anxiety? Tell that to the gorilla.

How do we deal with those fears that sometimes dominate people's lives and prevent us from being the best we really can be? Celebrate them! Feeling anxiety means knowing we're alive – more alive than feeling nothing…dull. Anxiety led me to panic attacks – fierce emotional lightning inside my body – throughout the streets of NYC, in buses, subways – and worst of all – the NBC radio studio where I was a talk show host. Any place outside of my apartment was a danger zone – which eventually forced me to stay hidden under the covers of my almost safe bed..

Despite my history – I'm telling you there's JOY in anxiety and I'll prove it! Loving your – Inner Giggler®

Entertainment and mental health are the inspirational factors in the life of Linda Lichtman. Retired stand-up comic, actor, writer, blogger (The Inner Giggler) playwright and memoirist – she spent over four years hosting talk shows for WNBC radio in New York where she was the first female in the country with her own talk radio comedy show. Linda wrote, directed and performed her solo show The Bride Can't Stop Coughing, playing to sold-out audiences. Her memoirs, I Can't Leave My Block about life as an agoraphobic and How I Buried My Mom While Still Attached to Her Umbilical Cord will be out in 2015.

Religion: A Group Discussion by Stratton Lindenmeyer

Stratton Lindenmeyer

People have different thoughts about the meaning and importance of religion in our lives. Let's have an open discussion about the topic. Keep it polite: there will be no proselytizing or pounding on the table!

Stratton Lindenmeyer is a life member and has been a member of GLAAM since 1965. He led the Urban Hike and First Friday Happy Hour for twenty years and has made numerous contributions to past RG's as a committee member and as the leader of such events as: Dr. IQ, the Discussion Group, Spelling Bee, garage sale, etc.

Performing at our Sunday Champagne Brunch, Madeline Mann

Madeline Mann

Madeline Mann is a young singer-songwriter hailing from Santa Monica, CA. Her music is a light-hearted mix of folk and pop, with catchy melodies and playful lyrics. Her most notable song, Hot Guys with Four Eyes, has appeared on more than two dozen geek and gamer websites — landing her a geeky following. By day, Madeline is a graduate student at USC earning her Master's in Applied Psychology who plays ukulele between classes.

ShowDown (A Word Game) hosted by Art and Angie Mattson

Art and Angie Mattson

Compete or be part of the audience for this fun and exciting one-on-one word game. Two players receive clues for each of five words. The players take turns asking that a letter in a specific position be revealed. The first to guess three of the five words advances to the next round, and the loser is eliminated. But, be forewarned! The clues are cleverly cryptic and an incorrect guess gives the point to the opponent. Not sure you want to compete? Then come and share in the fun as a member of the audience — you'll be able to view everything the contestants see.

Art and Angie Mattson are members of Orange County Mensa. Over the years they each have held a number of leadership positions in OCM, including President (LocSec) and RG Chair. They also have presented a variety of different games at RGs throughout Region 9, including last year's Who Wants to Be a Mensa Millionaire?

Werewolves Games (Kids' Track, Sunday) hosted by Aaron Mertzel

Aaron Mertzel

Who are you? Werewolf? Villager? Triumphant games player? There's only one way to find out … let the games begin!

Aaron Mertzel became a Mensan at the age of 7. Now 11, he enjoys reading, playing on team sports, and playing with his siblings, Bridgette and Trevor. Aaron participates in student council, green team and the birthday club at his school, Sierra Canyon. Aaron has been taking guitar lessons for two years and just recently performed in his school performance. When not in school, you'll find Aaron on the baseball field in the springtime or on the soccer field in the Fall. To learn more about Aaron, visit

History and development of LAX by Christopher Moody

Christopher Moody

From a modest private airport in 1928, LAX has morphed into an Air City. Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) is a collection of four City-owned facilities. Current budgeted income revenue is $987 million. LAX is undergoing a major upgrade of facilities with over $4.5 billion spent with additional $4.7 billion planned projects. LAX has over 65,000 security badged workers including 3,500 City employees.

A 44 year veteran of the travel industry, former travel agent, airline executive, Mr. Moody is an Airport Operations Superintendent of 19 yrs. He was a participant in the Incident Command Center during the November 1st shooting.

Cookie Decorating by Johanna Petree

Johanna repeats her popular course in cookie and muffin decorating for the 2015 RG Kids' Track.

Johanna Petree (aka Wild Jo) is a California girl with a taste for adventure! A musician, comedian, dancer, and writer, Jo is an all-around entertainer willing to see the fun in life! As a Gifted Youth Coordinator, she has made sure several times over the past few years that our young members have fun and at the same time are safe. She repeats her course on Cookie Decorating at the 2015 GLAAM RG.

The Show Must Go On: How I Managed to Put Every Show on the Air at NBC for 25 Years, and Lived to Tell About It! by Ricky Powell

Ricky Powell

From Cheers, Seinfeld and Friends to LA Law, ER and Law & Order, come join NBC veteran Ricky Powell as he shares his network journey with you. You'll hear how he went from a young boy at home, listening to the announcers call out the KNBC station ID, to hiring, directing and recording them perform the NBC movie bumpers. You'll also hear about one of his next projects, "Must Flee TV," and why he is so passionate about it.

Ricky Powell has devoted his entire life to the entertainment industry, first as a child actor working with some of Hollywood's biggest legends, and for the past 25 years as an Associate Director and Program Operations Manager for NBC Universal. Today, upon wrapping his career at NBC, Ricky has become an author, speaker, coach and consultant for both individuals who want to experience happiness on a daily basis and for companies who want to improve their bottom line with employees who are engaged, productive and thrilled to be on the job. He is also launching his Successponential Academy, which is devoted to helping people grow their success exponentially.

Oh, Yes She Did! Women in Greek Mythology by Sandra Smith

Sandra Smith

In many ways, the women of Greek mythology were a lot more interesting than the men. Sandra will present several of the so-called weaker sex, including Circes, Persephone, the Queen of the Amazons, Arachne (with a new interpretation of her story) and more. Maidens and monsters, wisdom and wantonness, all will be revealed.

Sandra Smith, a long-time member of GLAAM and current Board Member, delves into her vast knowledge of Greek mythology and history to present the original feminine mystique. She grew up in the San Fernando Valley in a family of storytellers, so her favorite school activity was Show and Tell. After amassing an eclectic assortment of academic degrees, (BA in Sociology, MA in Library Science, California State Secondary Teaching Credential) she made a career in Civil Service (ornamented by another degree, an MBA). After she retired, she took up travel, enhancing a life-long interest in myths and folklore by visiting sites she only knew from books.

Save the Planet: Eliminate CO2 Emissions, Destroy Nuclear Waste, and Provide All The Energy Humanity Will Need for The Next Million Years by Van Snyder

Van Snyder

We have in hand a single system that can eliminate CO2 emissions from the energy and transportation sectors, destroy nuclear waste, and provide all the energy humanity will need for the next million years. It would cost much less than the alternatives presently proposed, only one of which would actually work. This is the Integral Fast Reactor, or IFR, an end-to-end design for nuclear power that includes an inherently safe reactor, and a complete on-site fuel cycle that is resistant to diversion to nefarious purposes. Unfortunately, the final step of realistic-scale demonstration was canceled in 1994, when it was an inch from completion, at more cost than finishing it.

There are only two technologies that can both provide all the energy we need, and essentially eliminate CO2 emissions from our energy sector: Solar and nuclear. The alternatives can't do the job, even together. A design of nuclear power system, called the Integral Fast Reactor, or IFR, different from current designs, was developed between 1965 and 1994. It was proven to be walk-away safe, and twenty times more fuel efficient than current designs. Perhaps more importantly, IFR can be fueled with "waste" from current reactors, of which we are desperately eager to be rid, thereby effectively destroying it. It's not waste, it's valuable 5%-used fuel! There is no other proven technology that can do this. IFR is described, and compared quantitatively to alternatives.

Van Snyder is a senior software engineer and mathematician who has worked on NASA contracts for several decades. He has an abiding interest in nuclear power, and realistic responses to environmental challenges.

Songs and Games hosted by Alan Stillson

Alan Stillson

Sing-Along: Enjoy group singing from some of the best pages of our folksong SIG songbook. Bring your own acoustical instrument if you have one with you. One of life's few certainties is that this program is always a hoot. Alan Stillson is the leader of the GLAAM Folksong SIG.

Ending Letters - An Original Interactive Word Game: Alan Stillson is author or co-author of ten puzzle books, including seven official American Mensa titles. Here's a chance to enjoy an original interactive word games by finding words from their ending letters. It's fast moving and easy to play – no tiles, no boards. You can find Mr. Stillson's puzzle books and many sample puzzles by clicking onto

Name That Tune: This long-standing RG tradition will be played once more. How quickly can you associate a few notes with the title of a song you haven't heard in xxx years? The host is Alan Stillson, leader of the GLAAM Folksong SIG.

Beatnik Coffeehouse: The Beatnik Coffeehouse is on again this year! It's open mike and everybody is welcome to do their thing. Do a little stand-up comedy, recite your favorite poem, sing your favorite song, etc. No guitar or keyboard? No problem, both instruments will be there and I'll be happy to try to provide live accompaniment to anyone who wants it. Just want to listen? That's fine, too. Relive the memories of Greenwich Village in the 1950s and 1960s.

Alan Stillson has been a Mensa member since 1987. He's the puzzle editor of LAMentary and leads the folksong SIG and the writers group. Alan is an adjunct mathematics professor at four LA-area colleges and an author. He has eleven published puzzle books and has two produced musical shows. His website is and his email address is

The History of Amateur Satellites in the Context of Space Science by Patrick Stoddard

Patrick Stoddard

AMSAT (the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation), founded in 1969, has played a key role in significantly advancing the state of the art in space science, space education, and space technology. Similar organizations now exist in over 20 different countries around the world. AMSAT has launched 3 satellites, contributed to the development of many other satellitesby other groups, and is currently developing a series of satellites that will support experiments provided by universities across the USA as well as communications between radio amateurs.

Patrick Stoddard is the Director of Field Operations and an Area Coordinator for AMSAT, a not-for-profit educational organization dedicated to fostering the participation of amateur radio operators in space research and communications. Patrick obtained his initial amateur radio license in 1977, and now holds licenses issued by the USA and Canada. Patrick's primary focus in amateur radio is satellite operating, and has experience with other facets of communications via radio through this hobby.

Professionally, Patrick is an I.T. systems administrator for an insurance company in the Phoenix area. Patrick has been in the I.T. industry for 20 years, and considers his experiences in amateur radio a contributing factor for going into I.T.

The Amazing Wizard of Paws: The Magic is inside of you!
See this new movie at the GLAAM RG 2015!
Watch the official theatrical trailer to the film:
by Bryan Michael Stoller

Bryan Michael Stoller

What happens when you find out the family dog is actually six-hundred years old and was once owned by a great and powerful wizard? In this charming and magical adventure, young Bobby Spade and his faithful therapy dog, Ozzy, stumble upon an ancient wizard's mystical book of spells. The once shy boy and loveable canine are unprepared for what comes next as the two find themselves suddenly graced with extraordinary magical powers. Through this amazing miracle, Bobby is now inspired to become the world's most famous magician, accompanied by his enchanted talking dog Ozzy who inherits universal wisdom and is eager to share it.

Bryan Michael Stoller is an international award-winning filmmaker who has produced, written and directed over eighty productions that include short comedy films, half hour television, music videos, commercials and feature films. Bryan and his films have been featured on Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, Dateline NBC and in many newspapers and periodicals including The Los Angeles Times, Premiere Magazine, and People Magazine. His website is Bryan is also the author of Filmmaking for Dummies with foreword by Jerry Lewis and cover endorsement by Dan Aykroyd.

The canine star of this movie, Little Bear, was rescued and fostered by former First Lady Nancy Reagan. Little Bear also starred in the movie, First Dog in 2012, featuring original songs by Dolly Parton. First Dog was one of the top family rentals on REDBOX in summer of 2012, and went on to air on FOX syndication on Easter Sunday 2014.

Real Meaning of Wizard of Oz, Paper Money and You by Greg Tomich

Greg Tomich

Wizard of Oz = central bankers? Yellow brick road = gold standard? Cowardly lion = William Jennings Bryan? All that and much more explained when classic film and novel seen as metaphor of banking system. Learn how today's inflation and boom/bust economy were active in 1890's U.S., and are caused by central banks for their gain, at our expense. Interactive format with videos, questions encouraged.

Mr Tomich is a graduate of UCLA, long-time coin collector and amateur historian/economist. He has worked as a real estate appraiser and broker since the 1990's.

Finding Home by Derek Uskert

Derek Uskert

Through a step by step analysis of the design process, the same journey Derek takes with his clients, he hopes to ignite your passion and help you understand how to create a home that is perfectly and distinctly yours.

Derek Uskert is a licensed Architect in the state of California. He founded Atelier Derek Uskert (ADU) in the Summer of 2010 with the intention of servicing clientele that desire to create their dream home. ADU has established itself as one of the premier home design firms, with projects ranging in style from Balinese to Cape Cod, Each project is a unique expression of the client's ideas. ADU has won national awards in both design and customer service. Derek graduated from the school of Architecture at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and worked in multiple award-winning offices before founding ADU.

More Than Fifty Shades of Grey: Understanding and Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace by Beth K. Whittenbury, Esq.

Beth K. Whittenbury, Esq.

This session will explore the lines between legal and illegal conduct in the workplace. The presenter will provide participants with her special formula for determining whether a given set of facts actually constitutes an example of legally actionable sexual harassment. We'll look at real-life examples as well as hypotheticals to apply and test your understanding of the key principles of the law. Come join our lively discussion and learn how you can still compliment someone without harassing them as well as how to respond to harassment if it happens to you.

Beth K Whittenbury started her law career with San Francisco's largest law firm, litigating employment cases. She founded her own legal practice dedicated to resolving employment issues without litigation. She currently conducts workplace fact-finding investigations, employee mediations, and anti-discrimination/harassment training.

Her book, Investigating the Workplace Harassment Claim, made the American Bar Association best-seller list within 45 days of publication. She also wrote A Manager's Guide to Preventing Liability for Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, and a Teacher's Guide to assist AB 1825 compliant training sessions.

Ms. Whittenbury is a Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, a distinction available to only 1/3 of the top 1% of lawyers practicing in each state. She currently serves as the Chair of the Employment Law and Litigation Committee for the Tort, Trial, and Insurance Practice Section of the ABA, and is an active member of the LA County and California Bar Associations.

"I'm Not Dead Yet!"
Amateur ("Ham") Radio in the 21st Century
by Marty Woll

Marty Woll

The mention of Amateur Radio, for those who have even heard of it, may conjure up images of glowing tubes in racks of equipment in the corner of grandpa's basement. It has even appeared on published lists of things that don't exist anymore. Nonetheless, Amateur Radio is alive and well. The technology and the demographics have changed, but its mission to provide an array of benefits to the public and its ability to encourage learning and discovery remain intact. Come find out why it still draws the interest of scientists and school children, regulators and regular folks. We'll discuss how surprisingly easy it is to get started as a Ham and some of the many aspects you can explore using your FCC-issued license. From providing communications in natural disasters to bouncing signals off the moon, not even the sky is the limit!

Marty Woll, who holds the FCC-issued callsign N6VI, has been an Amateur Radio operator for forty-seven years. Marty is the Vice Director for the Southwestern Division of ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio. He holds leadership positions with the Amateur Radio Emergency Service and with the Los Angeles Fire Department's Auxiliary Communications Service. He is a licensing Volunteer Examiner, an antenna builder and a tower climber. His on-the-air activities run from world-wide competitions to public-service work to long-distance microwave communications. Marty has set up and operated amateur radio stations on six continents. Prior to his retirement, Marty was a CPA with a major international accounting firm. In his community, he was the founding president of his neighborhood council.

Can FOOD Be Addictive? As Addictive as Cocaine? Cigarettes? Alcohol? and Sugar, Flour and You: How What You Eat Is Making You FAT, SICK and Tired by Tiffany Wright, Ph.D., The LA Skinny Coach

Tiffany Wright, Ph.D., The LA Skinny Coach

Can FOOD Be Addictive? As Addictive as Cocaine? Cigarettes? Alcohol?: Food addiction is real. It is as real as cocaine or alcohol addiction. Food, namely sugar and flour, affects the brain and the pleasure centers of the brain in exactly the same way as drugs. But addiction has two components, physical and mental. Sugar and flour are physically addictive at a chemical and cellular level, but you also have a system of neural pathways that represent learned associations, habits and reactions to stress and life. The neural pathways in your brain develop according to what you have done in the past, making breaking a habit difficult. To combat this process, new neural pathways must be created and old pathways eliminated. Part one of The Skinny Coach's two-part workshop will present scientific evidence demonstrating that sugar is an addictive substance affecting the opioid and dopamine pathways and how this leads to addiction.

Sugar, Flour and You: How What You Eat Is Making You FAT, SICK and Tired: Are you insulin resistant? Do you have metabolic syndrome? Find out why you can't seem to lose weight and what to do about it. Learn how you can slim your waistline, lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk for heart disease while increasing your self-esteem, energy levels and mood. In part two of The Skinny Coach workshop, Tiffany will not only teach you what to eat but also what behavioral and cognitive modifications you can make to help you shift your metabolism, lose the cravings and be in control.

With Tiffany Wright it becomes so simple. The way you think about eating snaps into sharp focus and food stops being the issue. As she says, If you could do it on your own, you would have by now.

Tiffany Wright, Ph.D., known as The Skinny Coach, is a behavioral modification expert and weight-loss author. She earned her doctorate in Personality and Psychometrics from the University of California and has presented workshops throughout the world. She has an intuitive understanding of people and believes that personality and cognitive behavioral mechanisms determine what they do to their bodies. Combining her studies of nutrition, personality and compulsive overeating, along with continuing academic research on the addictive affect of refined foods on the body, Tiffany developed the Skinny Coach Solution and founded the Sugar Free Initiative — finally, a relatively simple solution that works for people who have found it impossible to stay on a diet long enough to lose the weight they desire. Tiffany lost 100 pounds and has kept it off nearly 20 years.

Ed You

Ed You

Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You, by Christopher Durang . . . : (Last year, Ed used 3 minutes from this play, dressed as a nun, to help him win the title of Mr. Mensa 2014. Now he's doing the whole play.) Sister gives a class to the audience, explaining the intricacies of Catholic doctrine. This hilarious satire is so brilliantly insightful, so wickedly funny, as it lampoons Catholicism, that it was officially banned by the church. So if you're easily offended, please don't attend. If you're not, get there early for a good seat. Originally, it ran for 2-3 years, simultaneously, in both NYC and LA. Time permitting, it will be followed by a question and answer session. The ideas and opinions of this show are not officially shared or endorsed by American Mensa.

Family Feud: Teams of four Mensans will play StaRGazing 2015's own version of the perennial hit TV game show. Questions were posed to Mensans about subjects near and dear to their hearts. Form your own team prior to the show or find teammates in the audience. Teams will rotate often so teams will have more than one chance to win the tournament. If you don't want to play, enjoy the fun and games from the audience.

Jana Bickel formulated the questions and distributed them to Region 9 Mensa members to get our What did the survey say? answers for this event.

A lifetime member that is also the reigning Mr. Mensa 2014. As an actor, singer, clinical pharmacist, and former game entrepreneur, he also responds to: the Palabra Pimp, when playing Palabra; the Alpha Wolf when running Werewolf gaming; and the overworked, and NOT incompetent, Inspector You, when solving the Mensa Murder Mystery Game series. This year he'll also be performing as the nun in Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You. He shares his incredible life with his incomparable wife, Viki, and their adorable cats, Lovey and Pixie.

The Science of TV's The Big Bang Theory by Dave Zobel

Dave Zobel

What's so hilarious about Schrodinger's cat, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, and glow-in-the-dark jellyfish? The Big Bang Theory, TV's highest-rated sitcom, features an assortment of very smart characters wisecracking about these and other real-life high-IQ concepts — and now you'll be able to, too. Part one-man colloquium, part comedy routine, this talk won't make you the next Einstein Seinfeld, but it just might show you enough of what's fun and funny about science to earn you a spot on Sheldon's couch.

Self-styled science humorist Dave Zobel has appeared on G4 and Discovery and has penned segments for the radio shows StarDate, Day to Day, Says You!, and The Loh Down on Science. For the LA nonprofit Trash for Teaching, he designs STEM teaching kits out of rescued and repurposed manufacturers' discards.