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As milestone days go, yesterday was a biggie. Certification by the electoral college. 300,000 deaths in this country from COVID-19. The first vaccine administered. Let’s pause for a moment and talk about the latter. Kudos to Pfizer (and its German partner BioNTech), Moderna, and AstraZeneca for moving mountains to get this done so quickly. What I keep flashing on, though, is this story from New York Magazine that points out that, in fact, Moderna made their vaccine in a weekend in January. Yes, a weekend. The rest of the time was spent, as it should have been, in testing. They were able to do this thanks to years of doing the very same thing for the annual flu. If you’re wondering when you’ll be able to get yours, the New York Times has a pretty cool calculator that shows based on your age, location and health risks, where you stand in line. But while you wait, do your best not to fall prey to the vaccine scams that are already happening. As Michelle Singletary writes in The Washington Post: No one will call you asking for your credit card or Social Security number in order to get vaccinated. You can’t pay to get it earlier than you’re eligible. In fact, you likely will not have to pay at all, and you should also watch out for scammers demanding payment for vaccinating at-risk elderly family members. And, if you’re offered an alternate treatment while you wait, run – run! – in the other direction. Report any instances like these or others that smell scam-like at ReportFraud.FTC.gov.
Dr. and Mrs. Charles Sherman
That’s what it said on the invitation to my first wedding. My father – who almost failed out of high school before going into the Army and discovering broadcasting (he was like Robin Williams in Good Morning Vietnam, only in Alaska) and went on earn his PhD in communications – didn’t just earn that degree, he owned it. Proudly. And he used it, as he should have, every time he got the chance.
I was too young to remember when he defended his dissertation, but I remember the graduate students – particularly Amy and Pepper – he shepherded through himself. They basically lived at our house for months on end. They played with my brothers and me. My mother fed them.
Reading the opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal suggesting incoming first lady Dr. Jill Biden drop the Dr. because she is not a medical doctor, I thought about him – and them. Women, reacting to the disrespectful and sexist tone in the column (the writer Joseph Epstein began, “Madame First Lady—Mrs. Biden—Jill—kiddo”) rallied around Dr. Biden suggesting that all women with PhDs start using their Dr. For the record, I wholeheartedly agree. Kiddo? But, let’s take the gender politics out of it for a moment. How about if all PhD holders start using it? The world could use a few more Drs, these days, couldn’t it?
Down The Rabbit Hole
As for that headline, I’ll admit, all this time at home has me falling down more rabbit holes than usual. Recently, I went on a two-week jag to pick tile for a new bathroom. (Emily Henderson, can I just say I have a girl crush on you?) And this weekend, I discovered the online furniture auction. We are, as I think I’ve told you, renovating. Which means I am looking at replacing some furniture. But why buy “new” when you can buy “like new” or “vintage” potentially for much less? Can I just say, it’s compelling, it’s addictive, and it’s fun. If you’re looking for a diversion – or a way to just enjoy the pleasures of window shopping from home – I highly recommend it.
If you’re going to actually buy something, however, can I recommend the one-in, one-out rule? I try to adhere to it for my closet… before I bring in anything new I have to get rid of something else. (You can force yourself to make this work by keeping your stash of hangers stable.) And if you’re looking for new homes for the aforementioned cast-offs, here’s a great story by HerMoney’s Rebecca Cohen about places you can sell or donate them with ease.
Where There’s A Will
Zappos founder Tony Hsieh, who died tragically after a house fire in Connecticut earlier this month didn’t leave a will, joining a long line of celebrities and other notables who have done likewise – James Gandolfini, Prince, Amy Winehouse, to name a few. Yeah, you may be thinking, but what do these millionaires – Hsieh was worth $700 million, reportedly – have to do with me? But it’s not about the money. These days, federal estate taxes are only a thing if you have more than $11.5 million, state estate taxes kick in at $1 million in Oregon and Massachusetts, and slightly more in another dozen states. It’s really about the control. It’s about you making a decision about what you want to happen to your assets should something happen to you. And, more importantly, parents, to your children. A will is the only document that allows you to name guardians for minor children. So, if you’re struggling with a gift for yourself or your spouse this holiday season and you don’t have one, might I suggest getting this done? Hiring an attorney for a package that includes a will, living trust and durable powers of attorney for finance generally costs anywhere from a few hundred dollars to around $1,000. Legal zoom’s will is just $89, and its estate planning bundle is $179.
Have a great week,