2011: my personal #ACA (Obamacare) story

This is my personal #ACA (Obamacare) story. It happened in 2011. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) saved our family a $5000 out of pocket payment to Montgomery Regional Hospital near Virginia Tech while my son was a student.

Coverage for adult children through age 26

One of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act is (was?) that parents can keep their adult offspring on their employer-sourced health care plan until age 26. In 2011, my 22 year old son was covered by both my insurance plan through my employer and the student health plan provided through Virginia Tech.

As a full time student, my son’s health care was covered at Schiffert Health Center, the on-campus health center which was stated to be a turn key health care facility, providing everything that a student would need. All of that was covered in the student’s health care fee included in their tuition. Having read that statement, I would not have enrolled my son in additional health care insurance.

One problem: the student health plan only covered services rendered at the on-campus health care facility. Luckily, the ACA provided coverage for my son in my employer’s health care program.

An ambulance ride and a visit to the ER

When my son went to the student health center with chest pains in March of 2011, he was informed that the center did not cover treatment for chest pain. They called an ambulance and my son was transported to Montgomery Regional Hospital.

The hospital performed the usual battery of tests for coronary trouble, determined that he was not having a coronary, and released him.

Having chest pain? You’re okay. Now walk home.

I’m going to go off topic here for a minute. The way that the hospital released my son really made me angry. Having determined that my son was not having a life threatening emergency, the hospital released him with no other diagnosis, no treatment plan, and no ride home.

Really? You’re treating a patient for a stressful, painful episode and when you realize that he’s not going to die on you, you boot him out with no ride home? Stressed out young people don’t realize that there are resources for finding a ride, at least not at first when they are scared and in pain. Shame on you, Montgomery Hospital. Eventually, my son did realize he could call a cab and only walked part of the 4 mile trip.

Mama gets the bill some time later

My son did not tell me about this incident at first. He knew that mama would not have been happy.

In April of 2011, I received a letter thanking me for choosing Montgomery Regional Hospital and a bill for $5000 for the ER visit and tests. Surprise!

So I called my son, got the whole story, and sent the bill to our family health insurance. They covered everything but the deductible, saving our family the $5000 out of pocket cost.

Thank you Obamacare!

Thank you Obamacare! Thank you President Obama, Vice President Biden, Senator Tim Kaine, and Senator Mark Warner! You provided my family with a safety net when we needed it most.

And thank you American Woodmark for providing me and my family a health care plan that covered everything we needed in 2011.

To quote Vice President Joe Biden on March 23, 2010, “This is a big f—ing deal.”



Do not feed the monster

Another fine post from a fine writer.

Hire this guy!

James Dill's Public Opinions

Hatred was a game that generated a lot of controversy. Controversial games that put the artistic merit of the entire medium into question are anything but new, this has been happening since the first Mortal Kombat, but what I thought was interesting about the controversy surrounding Hatred was an unusual amount of it came from gamers themselves.

I recently watch Total Buiscutte’s let’s play of Hatred. I have to say that I was underwhelmed about the whole affair. The game is pretty tame compared to comparible AAA M rated titles. There were lots of titles that contained a lot more gore and violence, God of War, Gears of War, Mortal Kombat, Prototype, lots of examples that were bloodier and gorier that didn’t generate nearly as much contraversy as Hatred did, in fact, I’d go so far as to say that the level of violence in Hatred was on par with…

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Legitimization through violence

Check out this thoughtful blog post by my son, Jim Dill.

James Dill's Public Opinions

I remember having a conversation with my mother where we discussed ISIS and what they were doing, specifically, them kidnapping news reporters and holding them for ransom. She asked me “should the government have ransomed those reporters?” I said no. she asked me “but what about the reporter?” I told her “to pay the ransom money would enable ISIS to go out and kidnap more reporters, ISIS wins. On the other hand, to try to break them out would be to acknowledge that ISIS is a threat worth responding to, ISIS wins. To fight them is to legitimize them so the worse thing the government could do to them is ignore them.”

I bring this up because something mildly interesting has recently been brought to my attention. Yet another cartoonist has been violently attacked by Islamic extremists. the extremists attacked newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing 10 of the staff and…

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Letter to myself in 1997

December 19, 1996

Hi honey, it’s yourself, 18 years in the future.

I’m writing you this letter on your son’s 9th birthday to let you know that everything is going to be all right and to show you a picture.

Graduation 2014

Look what happens 18 years from today. Your baby boy is a Virginia Tech grad. Can you believe it?

I know right now, you can’t believe it. Things are not going well on the motherhood front.

Your biggest fear right now is that the grad in the photo is headed for trouble, real trouble. Your days are busy chasing interventions, therapies, special diets, and programs that may turn things around. You have no dreams of graduation. You have dreams of avoiding jail. Life is scary right now.

But look at how far you’ve come already. Since the first diagnosis of autism at age three, your baby has learned to talk, read, write, and tolerate new situations. He’s going to move on and make the honor roll soon. He will eventually break out of that fight-or-flight reaction and learn to manage his stress well enough to really enjoy high school. His college entrance essay will make you cry.

And as you can see in the photo, he’s going to be a Virginia Tech graduate, just like the grandfather for whom he is named.

So hang in there, mama. Trust your gut. You have the stuff, girlfriend.

Love you,


Hot Flash: Rock n Roll Mama

The very first video from my mamaband, Hot Flash.

Many thanks to Steve Pendlebury for his mad production skills. Props to Brian Johnson for the audio. Applause to Patrice Moerman for creating this awesome song. And hats off to Katy Johnson for her rhythm, vocals, and set decoration.

See it on youTube at http://youtu.be/Fq9Zu5KiJ8A

The secret recipe for Turkey Hash

If you know me very well, you know that I’m famous for not cooking. Sometimes I refuse to cook. Sometimes I cook and it turns out so badly that I never get asked to cook again. But I do have one good recipe, one that until now had been a family secret. So tonight I’m going to share it with all of you. Here is our secret recipe for . . .

Turkey Hash


Ingredients: Leftover mashed potatoes, olive oil, 3 large onions, celery, leftover turkey

Begin with fresh ingredients and leftovers: Leftover mashed potatoes, olive oil, 3 large onions, celery, leftover turkey.

Pictured here are mashed potatoes made from seven russet potatoes and one stick of butter.

The turkey is about half of a breast, cold.

The olive oil is extra virgin. Before you get too excited about the healthiness of the EVO, remember that we have like a stick and a half of butter in the recipe.

Brown the onions and then add the celery

Brown the onions and then add the celery

Chop the onions, crying a few tears and then throw them in the pan with the extra virgin olive oil.

Brown the onions first.

While the onions are cooking, chop the celery, and then add the celery to the pan.

You can never have too many onions.

Cook at high heat

Cook at high heat

The onions can never be too caramelized.

I turn the heat up high and stir it constantly.

Keep an eye on the frying onions and celery, and chop up the turkey.

Chop the turkey

Chop the turkey

Heat the turkey nice and hot

Heat the turkey nice and hot

Chop up the turkey. You don’t have to chop it up completely because the turkey should break apart in the frying pan as you stir up the hash.

Dump in mashed potatoes

Dump in mashed potatoes

Throw the chopped up turkey into the pan.

Heat the turkey nice and hot. I have the germ phobia about salmonella and I recommend killing it with heat.

Next dump in the mashed potatoes. Just dump them in.

 Chop the hash with your spatula

Chop the hash with your spatula

Then get out your aggression by hashing the hash.

Use a chopping motion and chop it up so that the mashed potatoes and turkey and vegetables are evenly distributed and broken up.

Turn down the heat

Turn down the heat

Once everything is broken up and cooked, turn down the heat so you can brown the hash.

Spread the hash out in the pan

Spread the hash out in the pan

Spread out the hash so it’s evenly distributed in the pan.

Then put the lid on and allow it to brown until it’s nice and crispy on the bottom.

Put on a lid to keep out the cat. At our house, the cat who ignores you most of the time will pretend to be your best friend when there’s turkey in the air. As soon as you turn your back, she’ll hop up on the counter for a snack. So foil her sneaky plan by using a lid.

Put on the lid to keep out the cat

Put on the lid to keep out the cat

Now we walk away for iterations of 5 minutes at a time. Let the hash and heat do their thing. Let it get crispy and fill the house with that great hash smell.

I like to serve it right from the pan but on this occasion, we brought it to a potluck meal and had to put it in a pretty dish.

We have an assortment of pretty dishes. All these dishes are empty, as you might have guessed by now.

Serve it up!

Serve it up!

We put the pretty dish in the oven at 350 for just a while to get the whole thing ready for transport.

Transport in the dish with the matching plastic lid. Cover with a beach towel to keep in the heat.

Serve it up in a variety of ways. Jim likes his with ketchup. I like mine with cranberry sauce. Keith likes his with salt and pepper.

And there you have it. The secret Dill family recipe for Turkey Hash!

Where I’m From

This is my version of the Where I’m From poem by George Ella Lyon.

Some of us are writing our own versions.

I am from years of piano lessons,
from Mel Bay easy guitar method books
and hours of complicated scales and exercises.

I am from the a cassette recorder playing me
playing the piano part to Chicago’s Colour My World
as I play along on the flute.

I am from the smooth feel of the white keys,
the bumpy awkward feel of the black sharps and flats,
the dull but painless pull of nylon strings,
and the satisfying pain of throbbing callouses on the tips of my fingers
as I finally graduated to real steel strings.

I am from mom and dad driving me to lessons
and making sure I practiced, from the sound
of my loud clumsy daily practice
mixing with the smell of dinner cooking in the next room.

I am from mom and dad attending every concert, recital, and show
and mom saving S&H Green Stamps for a real wooden metronome.

From “anything worth having is worth working for”
and “we’re so proud of you”.
From knowing three chords
and sharing each and every one with my Girl Scout troop
on the long bus trip from Houston to San Antonio in the spring of 1972.

I am from Amazing Grace, In The Garden, and Take Me Home Country Roads.

I’m from the valley beneath the Roanoke star,
climbing in and out of ancient railroad cars at the Transportation Museum,
and returning to Roanoke now only for weddings and funerals.

From visiting Virginia Tech with my dad as a child
as he said “This is where you’ll take math”,
from seeing his photograph with the class of 1960
hanging in the building where I got the highest grade in the class
in 5-hour thermo,
and from moving my own son into Eggleston dorm
just like his grandpa of the same name.

I am from sharing the music and passing on the vision.
I stood on the shoulders of some really tall men and women to reach the top shelf.
And I know that the best things are sometimes found buried in the cupboard down below.

I like wearing your clothes when you’re not around

Jim stands outside West Eggleston dorm

Today I dropped my only son off at Virginia Tech for his last year of college. These are the times when I feel so very happy and so very sad all at the same time and I wonder how my heart can hold this much emotion and not burst from the weight.

Before I left town, we did a little shopping. In addition to making the usual Walmart run of microwavable coffee, cleaning products, and a few odds and ends we forgot to pack, we made a stop at the t-shirt store near campus to buy him a new hooded jacket. See, I had a clever plan to buy him a new hoodie so I can have his old one.

And now I’m wearing his old jacket, wrapping myself in it like a hug.

I own hand-me-down clothing from other folks I love: a sweater that once belonged to my father, a shirt from my mom, jeans from my sister, and other bits and pieces of loved ones living and dead. I always feel close to the original owner when I wear them. The clothes even smell better than my regular clothes. These clothes feel like love to me.

And I definitely feel the hug.