Keynote Speaker

>“Exploration of the Angeles National Forest leads to discovery of ancient artifacts that support a revision of the land-bridge migration theory and a new look at ocean travelers along the coast and inland.”

Naturalist Nyerges, former editor of LAment, has been teaching self-reliance, and survival skills for 40 years. In this context, he has discovered a site in the Angeles National Forest with two stone engravings of a type that died out in Western Europe no later than 500 CE. This suggests that Europeans made it to the west coast -- obviously by boats -- and inland California long before Columbus arrived on the eastern shores. Could this be true? Could this be a hoax? Why have not academics not embraced Nyerges' discovery and explored and examined it more? Nyerges will share this story along with some amazing urban survival skills

Christopher Nyerges

Nyerges was the editor of LAment (the GLAAM magazine) for 3 1/2 years, from 1986 to 1989. Nyerges is the founder of School of Self-Reliance, and has been teaching and writing about sustainability, self-reliance, and survival since 1974.He is the author of 17 books, including "How to Survive Anywhere," "Extreme simplicity:HOmesteading in the City," "Foraging California," "Squatter in Los Angeles," "Self-sufficient Home," and others. He is also the founder of Initiative 2217, an educational think tank projecting a practical path of sustainability for LA County for the next 200 years.

“The History of the Soda Fountain (through the Art Deco Era)” by Cary Farnsworth

Historic background leading to and including the popularity of ice cream, carbonated water, the Soda Fountain, and the "Soda Jerker" in American popular culture in the 1920s and 1930s.

Cary Farnsworth

Cary Farnsworth is a history buff of the 1920s and 30s with a specialized interest in the history of art deco and soda fountains of that era. He owns and operates an ice cream catering and vending business that specializes in reproducing the experience of attending an art deco soda fountain in the 1930s.

“Life and Death in the Intertidal Zone” by Ed Mastro

The area between the high and low tides along our coastline represents both a rich and harsh habitat for many marine organisms. Those in the upper tidal areas are subjected to the drying rays of the sun and those in the lower tidal zones are smashed by ocean waves. Yet this zone is a rich and diverse area for marine life. How do these organisms survive and how do they succeed?

Ed Mastro

Ed Mastro is the Exhibits Director of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium managing all operations and collections (living and non-living). Ed earned his BA degree from UC Berkeley with a major in marine biology and a MS degree in marine biology from Cal State Univ. Long Beach. He has published and presented many papers in scientific articles, conservation education and general interest topics and is also on the facility of Cerritos College.

“What type are you? Find out at the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Workshop” by Stan Jones

The purpose of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) personality inventory is to make the theory of psychological types described by C. G. Jung understandable and useful in people's lives. The essence of the theory is that much seemingly random variation in the behavior is actually quite orderly and consistent, being due to basic differences in the ways individuals prefer to use their perception and judgment. Your Personality Type: When you decide on your preference in each category, you have your own personality type, which can be expressed as a code with four letters.

H. Stan Jones

Stan was born in Decatur, Illinois and came to California compliments of Uncle Sam. Then on his own dime moved further west to Hawaii in 1999. He is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Association Executive, and Certified Speaking Professional. He was in politics, served as an Army Officer, and was a professor of Taxation & Law at several California State University campuses. Another “hot button” is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. A very popular and quality personality instrument. Stan has a daughter and two sons, six grandchildren and currently, eight great-grandkids and counting!

“Time for Story: A Telling of Hawaiian Myths” by Sandra Smith

Just as the Hawaiian lei is a collection of flowers from many sources, this storytelling offers a collection from many sources of Hawaiian myths. In our winter visit to the islands we will spend time with lovers and tricksters, with gods and goddesses. We will travel from the mountain tops to the bottom of the sea. And, if necessary, we will avoid the ire of Pele, the goddess of the volcanoes

Sandra Smith myths

My first experience in public speaking was in first grade Show and Tell. I still do a lot of Telling, if not as much Showing. I was in school in the height of the space race so there wasn't much focus on frivolous stories. However, we did cover the Greek Myths, because they were classical and we needed a well-rounded education. I fell in love with mythology, and branched out into folklore, and legends, and fairy tales, and,and ...until my knowledge wasn't just well-rounded, but bulging. I always delight in sharing these stories with those who already know them and with those for whom they are new.

“Nukes: Risks, Global Abolition, and Meditation” by David Bezanson, Ph.D.

Learn about the environmental, public health, and political risks of nuclear weaponry. What is the empirical evidence for and against deterrence theory? See the amount of income tax you pay to maintain the USA nuke arsenal. Is M.A.D. still a valid paradigm and what is S.A.D.? We will examine climate research corroborating M.A.D. and S.A.D. Consider the implications of 122 member nations of the U.N. voting in favor a banning nukes (while only 1 opposed the treaty) in July 2017. Investigate the fallacies of safe storage of fissile material; decontamination of failures, test sites, and meltdowns; and "green" electricity. Explore the role of meditation in the transition to a nuke-free world. We will review the research re. meditation's effect on empathy, compassion, and our social life. Which one of the 3 styles of meditation has been proven effective for these dependent variables?

David Bezanson

David Bezanson, Ph.D. is a retired clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist who worked at UCSF and an interdisciplinary clinic in Palo Alto. He volunteers on 4 environmental committees, including 3 in the Sierra Club, and the Security Committee of Physicians for Social Responsibility. The objective of PSR is global nuclear disarmament to improve public health, international security, and environmental resilience. He also administers intelligence testing for Mensa. His current hobbies include blogging: His book, entitled Meditation: Happiness, Wellness, and Self-knowing: Now was published in 2016. Beginning in June 2017, his series entitled "Nuclear Weaponry is Obsolescent" was published in Intelligencer - the monthly newsletter of SF Regional Mensa.

“All About Adolf: Hitler in the 21st Century. ” by Geoffrey L. P. Guenther

A look at Hitler in the 21st Century. Why do we care? What made Hitler Hitler? His family life. Young Hitler. The Times (WWI). The Psychology of Hitler. Why he hated the Jews. Will there be another Hitler? How to detect one. His traits and tactics. Should we worry about "little Hitlers?"

Geoff Guenther

Geoff Guenther is a chemical engineer who writes fiction and non-fiction, including three computer books, seventeen stage plays and four novels. His latest work is a historical novel titled In the Mouth of the Lion, the story of a fictitious* 1942 invitation by the German High Command for Carl Jung to go to Germany and psychoanalyze Adolf Hitler. Six years of research for Mouth of the Lion provided the basis for All About Adolf. * There was a rumor that an invitation WAS actually made by a Dr. Sauerbruch.

“Workshop: Smart People Use Tools: The Pleasure Product Industry Uncovered.” by Kristen Tribby

Did you know that 44% of women have used a sex toy? That 20% of men have tried a vibrator? As sex, sexual health, and kink have become a bigger part of mainstream conversations and technology keeps improving by leaps and bounds, the sexual landscape is shifting. In this workshop, we'll explore how sex toy manufacturers have risen to meet consumers' changing needs and desires and turned a niche market into a $15 billion industry. You'll also learn how to reprogram yourself for increased sexual pleasure, how and why to use toys for better sex, and industry insider tips for increasing your sexual IQ.

Kristen Tribby

Kristen Tribby is the VP of Global Marketing and Education for Fun Factory, an award-winning German pleasure product manufacturer. In her role at this heritage brand, she is responsible for the branding and marketing of Fun Factory's diverse product selection, brand messaging, and product development strategy. With over 15 years of experience in sex education and sex positive retail management, Kristen is passionate about debunking sexual stereotypes and contributing to the adult industry's evolving role in creating more space for positive sexual expression.

“Origin of Life” by Perry Lanaro

Life first appeared on earth 3.6 billion years ago as single cell bacteria and anchors the evolutionary paradigm. We've been taught first life arose naturally from a vast primordial soup. This talk will show compelling reasons why life could not have arisen naturally and must have been designed. The possibility of an extraterrestrial origin to life will also be covered. This eye-opening talk will cover some technical information, but presented in a way non-science people can understand.

Perry Lanaro

Perry Lanaro is a member of Mensa and Intertel, holds a B.S. in physics and an MBA, both degrees from UCLA. He currently works in entertainment industry. He combines a natural understanding of science with the story-telling aspect of the entertainment industry to present sophisticated scientific concepts in an understandable and entertaining manner.

“ Third-Party Reproduction: More Than Just Sperm Meets Egg” by Ronni Peck

As more and more couples are turning to artificial reproductive technologies to conceive children, many are additionally opting to use a third-party in the process: sperm donor, egg donor, and/or surrogate. What leads couples to choose third-party reproduction and what compels a donor or surrogate to participate? Ronni, a previous egg donor, will share about her experiences, where third-party reproductive technologies are headed, and discuss potential ethical considerations.

Ronni Peck grew up in Texas and moved to Los Angeles after college. After earning a Bachelors in Digital Media and a Masters in Secondary Education from typical, non-Ivy League colleges, Ronni was shocked to discover that she qualified for Mensa. Ronni has worked in reality tv production, as a studio teacher, high school math teacher, and online teacher before taking on her current -- and most challenging -- role as a stay-at-home-mom to three little ones. In her spare time, Ronni enjoys writing scripts with her husband and over-researching whatever passion she happens to be interested in at the moment.

“Frenchtown Confidential: True Tales from LA's Lost French Community” by C. C. de Vere

Los Angeles once boasted such a large French community that for many years, French was the second most commonly spoken language in the city (after Spanish). Today, the city's oldest ethnic enclave (formerly one of its largest) has been erased. C.C. de Vere shines a light on the birth of Frenchtown, its most important citizens, how French and French-speaking Angelenos shaped Los Angeles, and what happened to their once-thriving community.

C.C. De Vere

C.C. de Vere, an Angeleno of French extraction, never knew Los Angeles had a large and thriving French community until she discovered a Joan of Arc statue in the middle of Chinatown. She blogs about Southern California's forgotten French (and French-speaking) citizens of note at After three years of research, she is turning her findings into a book. C.C. will be repeating her sold-out LAVA Sunday Salon this spring.

“Two Years in the Red-light District of Tijuana: A Photo Ethnography” by Lily J. Noonan

The red-light district of Tijuana, Mexico, has an enforced no-photos policy but photographer Lily J. Noonan has spent the past two years there openly shooting daily life. Her photos document many rarely captured moments in the Zona Norte, including the homes of prostitutes, deportees, the drug culture, in-room sessions and street life. For each person she photographs, she learns their story and will share their lives with the audience. Due to the graphic nature of some photographs, this presentation is for mature audiences.

Lily Noonan

I'm a photographer and a folk artist. I never went to school for art but recently, I spent a year practicing photography under Martin U. Waltz. I document people and environments. I paint saints and visions.

“Hooray for Hollywood: American Popular Music 1930-1939” by Craig Lancaster

Many of the songs in the Great American Songbook were written and recorded in the 1930s. The standards of the 1930s represent perhaps the greatest decade of American popular music. As the title "Hooray for Hollywood" suggests, many of the songs came from movies of the 1930s, including the song voted the best American popular song of the twentieth century.

“Why Don't You Do Right?: American Popular Music 1940-1949 ” by Craig Lancaster

If you're in the mood, why don't you do right and take a sentimental journey through songs that you've heard before. Featured artists include: Harry James, Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, the Andrews Sisters, Doris Day, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. The program includes the very first song that millions of Americans listen to each year.

Craig Lancaster

Craig has no formal music training and cannot play any instrument. As those who have heard him try can attest, he certainly cannot sing. He also cannot dance. Nevertheless, he continues to present his seemingly unending series of programs on American popular music (will he never stop?). This year, his programs present popular music from the 1930s and 1940s. Older Mensans will remember some of these songs, and people under the age of 80 may even recognize some of the songs he will play. He will try to just play the music and limit his comments, so most people should find his programs enjoyable this year.

“Hyperghost - An Interactive Word Game ” by Alan Stillson

This four-team game is high IQ variation of regular Ghost. When your team is up, you will be able to put another letter at the end, the beginning or somewhere in between. It combines strategy, vocabulary and spelling.

“Lyric Snippets, a variation of Name That Tune” by Alan Stillson

This long-standing RG tradition will be tweaked this year. Instead of hearing the notes, you will hear a snippet of lyrics. All songs will be from well-known musicals or movies. For example, the snippet, sometimes the ace, sometimes the deuce, is from "I Am What I Am" from La Cage Aux Folles. The host is Alan Stillson, leader of the GLAAM Folksong SIG.

“War no More” by Alan Stillson

Enjoy a retrospective of peace and anti-war songs. Sing or hum along or BYOG (bring your own guitar) if you'd like. The host is Alan Stillson, leader of the GLAAM Folksong SIG.

Alan Stillson

Alan Stillson has been a Mensa member since 1987. He’s the puzzle editor of L.A. Mentary and leads the folksong SIG and the writers group. Alan is an adjunct mathematics professor and an author. He has eleven published puzzle books and has two produced musical shows. His website is and his e-mail address is

More diverse, thought provoking, and entertaining content is forthcoming as we add more speakers to StaRGazer 2018.