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Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Wouldn't getting the finger goad you, too?

The mix of news on this morning’s front print page of The Saratogian made me sad: police officers supporting the Special Olympics were the happy and positive centerpiece to anchor the cover, but that story was dimmed a bit by one about an officer who was goaded into behaving poorly.

I am disgusted by the driver who intentionally gave the officer the finger and then videotaped their encounter, armed with the knowledge that his disrespect was not in and of itself grounds for arrest. Grounds for being a jerk, yeah. But not for being arrested, according to a court decision.

An investigation into the incident, including the officer’s use of pepper spray, will determine whether the officer over-reacted. Whether an officer is being taped and whether a person is being a jerk are, truth be told, beside the point. The police need to do the right thing. But officers have a difficult enough job without being set up and “tested.” To get respect, give respect.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Some days, mothers just need a hug

With Joe outside
Millennial Park in Chicao
View from the Trump Tower, where Chicago River
 meets Lake Michigan.
I want to tell you that I don’t get hung up on Mother’s Day, a commercialized holiday of compulsory affection. But the truth is I had one of my best Mother’s Days ever.

I was extremely happy to have seen both my sons this weekend – Joe, who lives in Chicago, and Dave, who lives only a mile from me. 

I’m lucky to see Dave pretty often, but I hadn’t seen Joe since Thanksgiving and I was aching for a hug; I’d booked this weekend trip to the Windy City in February.

Getting out on Southwest Friday evening had its hairy moments. Despite great weather in Albany, bad weather elsewhere caused an almost three-hour delay, including an hour sitting on the plane and warnings that our non-stop to Chicago may take off but stop somewhere other than Chicago. But it all worked out.

My husband and I splurged with a stay at the Trump Tower on the Chicago River in the heart of downtown. As we checked in, the man at the reception desk placed before us a small tray with a flower and two steaming rolled-up washcloths. I wondered aloud if my face was dirty, revealing my inner Jed Clampett. “Can I use one right here, right now?”  I could, the man assured me, and I did.

Beverages perfectly lined up
in fridge in room at Trump
Tower, just like at home. 
We lucked out with a complimentary upgrade to a suite with a lovely view of the river, Lake Michigan and the Loop, two bathrooms, and our choice of complimentary bottled Trump water, tap water from the sink in our full kitchen, or $25 Bling water. The tap water was delicious. But even better were the mimosas and omelets Joe made for brunch Sunday morning.

Including photo of Dave from
Christmas so he won't feel left out
of this post.
Joe had moved to a new apartment since our last visit so we got to explore a section of the city we hadn’t seen before, the West Loop, which has become a dining destination. My lunchtime vegetarian sub at the understated J.P.  Graziano’s contained long slices of marinated eggplant, roasted red pepper and fresh mozzarella; for dinner, memorable mushrooms in polenta accompanied my rack of lamb at Nellcote. I pulled the Mother’s Day card on Saturday to squeak in a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago for food for the soul, a generous helping of Monet and Rodin.

Coincidentally, like my husband and me, my brother and his wife had traveled for the weekend to see the second of their two children; I got a kick out of our respective first-borns good-naturedly commiserating on Facebook about how their mothers have apparently forgotten who made them mothers in the first place. Get over it. I mean, we love all our children equally.

Going to see Joe on Mother’s Day weekend – two years in a row, truth be told – was not deliberately timed to the holiday. I went to Chicago not because it was Mother’s Day, but because this mother was overdue for a hug.