Sunday, May 9, 2021

Welcome to New Orleans (Make That Philly)

"So guess what?" I asked Deb about a month ago ... after planning a trip to New Orleans as our first big outing. "I bought us NBA tickets to the Philly/New Orleans game on Friday."

"That's great," Deb said. "I've never been to an NBA game. Are the seats good?"

"The seats are great!"I said, "... except we would be sitting in Philly."

"On the Philly side of the stadium? That's okay."

"No. IN PHILLY. I screwed up and brought tickets for a game that is in Philly, not New Orleans."

Thus began our whirlwind trip to New Orleans AND Philly (the tickets were non refundable and we decided against reselling them online)

I'll start with Philly. It was the last stop ... but the craziest. We did it in one day. Rushing to the airport at the last minute as is the case with most of our planning, finding our seats on Frontier Airlines (truly no frills, no food, no leg room and seats that were carved out of a forest somewhere) we got there an hour before game time. 

Wells Fargo Arena is in the Navy Yard section of Philly amid the other sports complexes (Baseball and Football) and a short walk from the Marriott Courtside. We hadn't eaten anything all day so we were starving by the time we got to the stadium. As luck would have it, Deb found a salad place and I bought a chicken sandwich that I managed to take one bite of and had to throw the rest out. It was bad ... I mean really bad. Soft served ice cream was my dinner that night.

The game turned out to be pretty great (for us). Philly blew a 16 point lead and fought back in the last few minutes to barely beat the Pelicans. We spent the night in our little Marriott bed and visited old friends, Steve and Colleen Klasko, the next day ... hustling back to St. Pete in the afternoon.

By the way, we ate our way through New Orleans, days earlier. 

There were the crawfish beignets at Grand Isle Restaurant, shrimp and corn risotto and flourless volcano dessert at Superior Seafood and a big old shrimp po boy at ACME Oysters.

 It was heaven.

Sometimes the trips that seem to have gone awry turn out to be some of the best trips ever.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Sammy ... Are You Listening?


"You know ... I am VERY proud of me!"

That was one of my dad's favorite things to say. The funniest thing about that line was that he didn't use it to be funny. And ... it was often said when he was talking about his grandkids. If Nikki, my oldest daughter, was given special recognition in the medical community for something that she accomplished as a physician ... he would say, "I showed my friend Stan the article in the paper about Nikki. I am VERY proud of me. I'm her grandfather, you know?" 

I just finished a screenplay adaptation of my second book "SAMMY". Sending it around to people I know in the industry who might give it a read or share it with others. You never know, SAMMY just might find his way to the silver screen (if they exist any more after COVID darkened movie theaters everywhere). 

Audio sales have been doing well for the new audio version of SAMMY as well. It's on Amazon and Audible if you want to check it out (I never pass up a chance to beg). 

I often wonder what Sammy would say about all the attention he has gotten from the fictionalized account of his life. Like all of us, his life was filled with ups and downs. I know there were things left undone that bothered him. 

That's one of the reasons I wrote SAMMY ... to give him virtual closure. 

Maybe if he were alive today, he would give Stan a copy of the book and say "I am VERY proud of me! That's my son, the author, you know?"

Monday, March 8, 2021

Only Keli Would Ask

The other night the siblings went out to dinner on PAG beach (Pass a Grille for the out of towers). We started out at our condo drinking wine and then walked to Grace Restaurant. Sitting there at Grace, my sister in law Keli (who may have consumed the lions share of the wine) looked at the silverware which was wrapped in baggies for all in attendance and asked me a question. I’m sure she didn’t look at her silverware first. 

“Joel ... is that special silverware that you bring with you?” 


“Your silverware  ... it’s wrapped in plastic. Is that Diabetic silverware?”

I wasn’t sure what to answer first. I thought about saying “duh! Everyone has wrapped silverware and what the heck is diabetic silverware?” But the fact that she even asked left me speechless. 

Without having to answer she finally laughed and said. “Oh sorry. Never mind. I thought you had diabetes.”

Friday, February 26, 2021

IPhone, uPhone, We all Phone

There is one word that has been banned from our household: iPhone. 

This wasn’t always the case. But lately, the word has been linked with criminal acts and  cursed repeatedly by Debbie in ways that I am even shocked to hear. Truth be told, Debbie has never liked her  iPhone (since she traded up from an iPhone 3 ... I think 10 years ago) and was always unhappy with the lack of consistency and multiple glitches she encountered ... hence ... the repeated use of colorful language in its description. It has gotten so bad as of late, that even Debbie promised not to mention it anymore. I’ll admit that I encouraged her silence after she cursed me for inferring that her 250,000 saved emails might be to blame for a sluggish performance. It was not healthy for our marriage  

The other morning, Debbie brought it up once more  this time she seemed really shaken when she shared this, “ Okay ... I am REALLY over it  My phone is gone. I can’t find it. It is in some large room hidden by the Apple people and I spent all night looking for it.”

Bad dreams are a sign that it’s time to get that sucker fixed (or delete at least half of your emails.) But that’s just me and I will say no more. 

Sunday, January 31, 2021

You Feel a Little Warm

A few days ago, I was given the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. My arm was a little sore and I felt a little under the weather.  

That night Deb felt my head and said “You feel a little warm honey. Let me take your temperature.”

She came back with a new thermometer I hadn’t seen before. It was pretty large and bright yellow. “Just bought this,“. she said. “I wanted to try it out”

It was still in the package and the instructions were written in a different language. One thing I was sure of ... it met two of her criteria for a purchase. 

1. It came from WalMart

2. It was cheap or on sale

As she slipped it in my mouth, I told her that the thing was so big that I couldn’t hardly keep it in my mouth  “Just make sure it’s under your tongue.”  

Ten minutes later, it still hadn’t beeped or anything. She took it out and noticed it was 99.5. “Okay looks like you have a fever.” 

I was skeptical but agreed to take a couple of Tylenol. A few minutes later she came back with the old thermometer and asked me to try it again. 


“ Because I looked the new one up on line.”


“ it’s a Meat Thermometer.”

Tuesday, January 12, 2021


Yesterday ... Came across all these pics of the kids when they were little. Nikki, being the first born, posed in most of them for me. I think I ruined her for life. She now takes pictures of her two kids every ten minutes. 

She was a beautiful baby and now is a beautiful woman. By the way... there are pictures of my other two kids Alissa and Josh who are equally beautiful and handsome. 

But Nikki was around for 6 years before they arrived so she got all the attention. 

I found a series of drawings that I did when she was still in diapers (This was 40 years ago).

Note: Anybody old enough to remember Didee Diapers? We used them until disposables were sold.

The plan was to paint these images on her bedroom walls ... things she could be when she grew up ... musician, teacher, painter, zookeeper ... plumber. Good thing I didn’t do that. Nikki is now a successful doctor (one image I didn’t draw) and we had lived in at least five houses by the time she was 13. 

Oh well ...  time marched on. 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

We ALL See Him!


This guy is my new favorite actor in my new favorite commercials. Bill Glass plays Dr. Rick in Progressive Insurance’s series of ads that are brilliantly written and brilliantly portrayed by Glass and others. 

They are hysterical in their simplicity. 

He is a Parents-Life Coach who works with adult children to correct habits they have picked up from their parents. They go on field trips to places like the hardware store where Dr  Rick reminds them to not talk on their speaker phones in public and when they pass a customer with blue hair and the class all stares, Dr  Rick says, “We ALL see him  We ALL See him.”

Look for Dr  Rick. He’s the best. Kudos to Progressive. There are SO MANY dumb commercials out there. 

I am so happy there are still some smart people in advertising. 

Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020 ... The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

We say goodbye to a year that was probably not high on anyone’s top ten list. But one that definitely created introspection. 

The GOOD: We slowed down. We thought long and hard about how we live. We had a new appreciation for our families. We focused less on how we looked and more on what we did. 

The BAD: We lost friends and loved ones. We found hatred and jealousy where we weren’t looking. We lost our way for a period of time. 

The UGLY: We rediscovered politics and watched it play out everyday ... no matter which side we were on  

So welcome 2021! Here’s hoping we can use valuable lessons from 2020 to make each day important in our lives and the lives of others we know and love.

Let’s celebrate the new year with a renewed sense of hope. 

Aw hell ... just grab a beer and hold on!

Have a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Family night with the sibs

Finally went to dinner with our family in a safe secure (I hope) environment at Paul’s Landing last night. It was chilly outside but we had a couple of heaters and alcohol to keep everyone warm and cozy. 

The conversation among the sisters is always interesting and last night didn’t disappoint. You see, to us brothers the sisters speak in tongues. They understand each other but I am not sure anyone else could follow without a translator. 

Keli, who has always provided rich material for my blog, told a story about a recent trip to a nail salon. As the story goes ... she was getting her nails painted when she noticed the signs in the shop. 

“So,” she asked. “I see you have Polish (as in belonging to Poland) nail colors. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that.”

The nail tech looked at her and smiled. “Oh no. Not Polish ... that is nail polish!”

Keli laughed. “I can’t believe I said that. I get confused with words that are spelled the same. Like message and massage. You know?”

“Those are spelled differently. “

“They are? Well ... Whatever.”


Families are the best, aren’t they? Deb and I have a Tuesday lunch get together with our kids and the grands. Can’t wait!

Happy holidays to all of you. Coming up on a New Year ... with renewed hope, peace and love!

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

I Thought I Taught You Better Than That

It’s been forty years since I’ve stepped into a classroom. 

Some of my former students are now parents and  grandparents. I know this because they send me messages on Facebook and other social media sites. 
They are almost as old as me! 

Ever since I finished my latest book , FOR THOSE WHO CAN I’ve thought about the huge impact that teachers have on their students. 

Every so often I see one of my former students and they remind me of things that I may or may not remember. For example ... about twelve years ago when I worked at All Children’s Hospital I noticed a physician who was eyeing me as I toured a group of women through the Units. 

She looked familiar but I just couldn’t place her. As we walked through the halls, she approached me. “Mr. Momberg. You might not remember me. I’m Christina ... you taught me in sixth grade.”

It came back to me. “Of course. Christina. How have you been?”

“Fine. I now have a busy surgical practice. And I have two daughters both in college.”

“Wow. That’s terrific. Good for you. “

She paused and looked at her feet for a minute. “I ummm ...”

“Is everything okay?”

She hesitated. “Well. I just wanted to tell you something that’s been on my mind since I was in sixth grade.”

I was a little nervous ... thinking she wanted to tell something awful about her sixth grade experience. “Sure. What’s up?”

“Do you remember when you thought I was cheating and getting answers to the math test from Catherine that day?”

Not a clue ... I thought ... but I just listened. 

“Well. I told you I didn’t cheat but I did that day. I felt SO guilty all these years for lying to you!” She looked at me. “I’m so sorry.“

I smiled. “I forgive you.”

Monday, November 23, 2020

Giving Thanks

In March, I had surgery to remove my gall bladder and half my liver (on which a sizable melanoma resided). I didn't have a history of melanomas. In fact I never had one that I know of. So I was in a 5% category (of course) where there's no known primary origin.  

This all took place right after the COVID crisis began and visitors and the general public were not allowed into the hospital.  I spent many nights without my family. Pain killers were my best friends. They kept my mind off of the tube that was inserted through my nose into my stomach to drain the fluid. 

In April, I started immunotherapy treatments at Moffitt to boost my immune system and help prevent my cancer from coming back. I visit every month for infusions that have numerous side effects that make me feel like I'm on a rollercoaster at times. I'm in my eighth month of infusions and have four more to go. I'll finish in March.

So what am I thankful for?

All of this!

That's right. I'm thankful for all of this.

You see, if the doctors didn't pick up on my melanoma when they did, it would have been too late for surgery. But they did ... they found it and removed all of it.

Secondly, if I had developed this five years ago, I would have had less than a 10% chance of survival even if they could have operated on me. Melanomas are notorious for reappearing and spreading. Immunotherapy has been developed in the last couple of years as a very successful treatment of just what I have ... so much so that I now have very good chance of survival. Moffitt happens to be the leading institution in the world in the treatment of melanomas. 

Third, I happen to have the greatest family and the greatest friends a guy could ever ask for. As my brother in law Tom used to say "Better than I deserve." My wife Debbie is and always has been a saint. She comes to every treatment session, every surgery and every doctors appointment and waits patiently in the car for me because she still is not allowed in the hospital. (I told her to behave!) She actually was able to come in to my last session finally when they lifted the visitor restrictions at Moffitt.

So as 2020 comes to an end and my life is just beginning again, I want to thank everyone ... doctors, nurses, family and friends ... for being there for me. 

I love you all.   

Welcome to New Orleans (Make That Philly)

"So guess what?" I asked Deb about a month ago ... after planning a trip to New Orleans as our first big outing. "I bought us...