Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Lunch time on the Last Wednesday of the Month

A couple of weeks ago I was thinking that this month seemed to be just dragging along. Now it seems like it must have caught fire and just flew by. It’s the last Wednesday of the month again so today a group of fellow retirees meets for lunch, conversation, and friendship. It’s a ritual we follow on the last Wednesday of every month and have since it all began way back in 1996.

We got the idea for this monthly reunion when several of us left our jobs at the same time. For a few of the following years we invited others who retired from the same workplace to join us. There are no formalities to our group, no dues, no minutes, no business meetings. We each pay for our own meals and I don’t think any two of us choose the same thing. The purpose is very simple: meet, eat, converse mostly about sports, and just plain have a good time.

The number of folks participating has remained relatively stable through the years. We do have people miss a session or two, sometimes more, when someone is on a vacation or spending the winter or part of it in Florida. Two of our group work at Hadlock Field during Sea Dogs games so they will miss a session if the Sea Dogs are playing an afternoon home game. Illness has kept one or two of us away for periods of time, but generally we’re all there.

And today’s the day. I look forward to it.

For the first time my old school stomping ground has been named Party School of the Year. The University of Florida has been in the top 15 for the last 15 years and has a reputation, probably because it’s in Florida, of being a party school ever since I attended the place back in the 1950s and first half of 1960. I honestly don’t recall, but I suppose it’s possible the reputation began even before that. Some of the people have been quoted as saying this year’s rating is a result of the many parties that were held recently as the Gators won national championships in football and basketball and high rankings and finishes in many other sports.

What the party school designation doesn’t emphasize, however, is the reason there are more than 51-thousand students there. It’s also a top academic school. I can’t speak for today, but for several years there were more National Merit Finalists at UofF than were enrolled in any other public university. According to a student at the school who was quoted in the CNN article, the average weighted grade point average is 4.1 (seems a wee high unless they’ve changed the 4.0 scale used when I was there) and the average SAT score is 1300 (which seems right on considering the number of Merit Scholars and the school’s high SAT requirement for admission).

Did you see in the news yesterday that the number of food stamp recipients is almost 178-thousand people? That’s an increase of more than 13-thousand people from just a year ago. That’s an expensive program. From our state government’s point of view, though, it’s probably a blessing. The more that are dependent on government the more powerful government can become. It’s just another reason why our welfare state is the highest taxed state. How much more can we stand?

As I was finishing up this morning’s comments, an e-mail came in from my Fearless Friend. He sent me an article he found written by Jim Mahoney/The Dallas Morning News, via Associated Press. The article was about a national restaurant chain that has closed its doors and goes on to include many, many businesses that are either just closing or entering bankruptcy. The story, incidentally, was also on the WCSH6 Morning News this morning. You may recall a few days ago I did a post about the new minimum wage that just went into effect and the potential it had for raising havoc with businesses causing some to close and many people being put on the unemployment lines.

It’s happening. Here is what one expert quoted in Mahoney’s article had to say about the restaurant closings:

“The closings are ‘something we’re going to see more of over the next 6 to 12 months,’ said Amy Greene, a director at Avondale Partners who tracks the restaurant industry.

“ ‘The companies have been getting squeezed from all directions,’ Ms. Greene said. ‘You have had minimum wage go up again, commodity prices continue to go up.’ “ (Emphasis added.)

Enjoy your Hump Day.


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