Do you fly in the U.S.? You might need REAL ID by October 1, 2020


REAL ID 10/1/2020 deadline graphic

Do you fly on commercial airplanes for work or for pleasure in the U.S.? Do you regularly visit military bases or secure federal facilities? If so, this is the year you will need to have either a REAL ID-compliant license or a valid US passport to take commercial flights within the US or gain access to secure federal facilities. The law goes into effect on October 1, 2020 so there is still plenty of time to assess whether this is something you need or not and, if so, time to get the required documents.

Here’s the scoop. After 9/11, federal legislators and security officials established consistent, minimum security standards that would be enforced in all states and territories. Beginning on October 1 of this year, federal agencies, including DHS and TSA, will only accept compliant documentation at TSA airport security checkpoints and some federal facilities, such as military bases and nuclear power plants. The most common forms of documents are REAL ID-compliant licenses or US passports or passport cards. A handful of states (Michigan, Vermont, Minnesota, New York and Washington) issue enhanced driver’s licenses, which are also acceptable.

You do NOT need a REAL ID if:

  • you have a valid U.S. passport or passport card
  • you don’t use commercial airplanes to travel domestically
  • you don’t visit military bases
  • you don’t visit secure federal facilities
  • you are under 18 years of age

You can use a passport if you have one, but you have to remember to bring it with you in instances where it wasn’t required previously.

What is a Real ID and how do you get one?

It’s possible that if you renewed your license in recent years, you have a Real ID-compliant license because states have been phasing them in. Homeland Security says that “REAL ID-compliant cards will have of one of the following markings on the upper top portion of the card. If the card does not have one of these markings, it is not REAL ID-compliant and won’t be accepted as proof of identity in order to board commercial aircraft.”

REAL ID symbols

And here is a sample of a Massachusetts REAL ID-compliant license vs a noncompliant one. The designation in the upper right-hand corner varies by state.

Massachusetts REAl-ID compliant license sample

Homeland Security has many resources to learn more, including

You can also check with your state’s registry of motor vehicles to see if your license is REAL ID compliant. Here are links to REAL ID info for state RMVs in the New England region

 

Favorite blog posts for 2019 and all-time


thumbs in the air for top blog posts

Here are the Top 10 Blog Posts that were reader favorites in 2019

1. Never plug a space heater into a power strip

2. New Massachusetts hands-free driving law to go into effect in February 2020

3. Update your life insurance beneficiaries!

4. Keyless car owner alert: Carbon monoxide poisonings

5. Buying a used car? Don’t get scammed by title washing

6. Home burglars reveal the tricks of the trade

7. Fraud alert: This is (not) the government calling

8. What’s most likely to kill you? Check out your odds for National Safety Month

9. Thinking of a side hustle? Check with your insurance agent

10. Get rid of that junk: where and how to recycle your stuff

Top 20 All-time Favorite Blog Posts

1. Does homeowners insurance cover a flooded basement?
2. Do I Need Condo Insurance?
3. What are the odds? Mortality calculators
4. Car thieves have new tricks: VIN cloning
5. What to do if you have a car breakdown while on the road
6. Does your new car have a spare tire? Don’t count on it!
7. Does my car insurance cover me when I rent a car?
8. New Massachusetts hands-free driving law to go into effect in February 2020
9. Drunk Driving Simulator shows effects of impaired driving
10. Puffback: Avoid This Homeowners’ Nightmare
11. Totaled: Upside-down car loans and when Gap Insurance could be a good idea
12. Is Your Home’s Vinyl Siding Melting?
13. Behind the wheel: when being too polite is dangerous
14. Drowning doesn’t look like what we see in the movies
15. MA commercial truckers take note: New requirement to carry US DOT number in September
16. Preventing frozen pipes: tips from the experts
17. Ten dog breeds that might cause problems with your home insurance
18. Life events that should trigger a call to your insurance agent
19. Water in the basement: What does insurance cover?
20. Ice Dams 101: How to handle winter roof hazards

Get rid of that junk: where and how to recycle your stuff


couch loaded with junk

Maybe you’ve recently jumped on the Marie Kondo bandwagon and decided to get rid of all your stuff. Or maybe your closets, cellars and attics are bursting at the seams and you are afraid you’ll be anonymously reported to your local fire department as a hoarder. Having a build-up of unwanted stuff is not only unsightly, it can also be a fire hazard – particularly with chemicals, cleaners and paints.

Sometimes we hang on to junk for sentimental reasons or because we think we may someday find a use for the article again. News flash: You may never fit in that beloved college sweater again. If you haven’t used it or worn in in the last few years, why not give it a second life somewhere?

Often, it’s simply because we don’t know how to get rid of it. We hang on to old phones and computers because we don’t know where to get rid of them or how to clean them of our personal data.

Consumer Reports to the rescue: They have a very useful article about How to Get Rid of Practically Anything – from bicycles and books to tools and appliances. They offer ideas for how to recycle, sell or donate your goods, along with handy links.

It’s great when you can give something a second life. Here are a few of our favorite “get rid of stuff” links, which might duplicate a few in the above article:

Earth911.com – Learn where to recycle and how to recycle. Look up almost anything, from hazardous waste to electronics, enter your zip code and find out where and how to recycle or dispose at a location near you. Very handy!

call2recycle.com – recycling batteries and cell phones. Also see state battery recycling laws and safety information.

Electronics Donation and Recycling – The EPA lists 17 retailers where you can donate or recycle TVs, mobile devices and PCs.

7 Retailers with impressive recycling programs for consumers

Free recycling programs

It’s a win-win when your old stuff can actually be repurposed for someone in need. Many people need help getting back on their feet and setting up a new home: victims of fires or natural disasters, people fleeing domestic abuse, immigrants, homeless veterans or the disabled, for example. Research to see if there are charities or organizations near you that accept donations. Household Goods (Acton MA) and Habitat for Humanity ReStore (nationwide) are great examples. See charities that will pick up various household goods from your house.

If all else fails and you just need to get rid of your stuff expeditiously, you can always use Bagster – Buy the Bagster bag at your local home improvement retailer. Fill it. Bags are strong enough to hold up to 3,300 lb of debris or waste. Schedule your collection online or by phone, and it’s gone!

An alternative that we haven’t tried yet but intent to is Grunts Move Junk – this service is owned and staffed by vets to haul your junk. They do everything from from removing all unwanted junk – big and small – to loading it on trailers, cleaning your vacant spaces, and disposing of goods. They also offer moving services.

32 ways to explore New England this summer


children looking through nautical glasses

How many ways are there to enjoy New England in the summer? Thousands! From beaches and festivals to museums and parades, there’s absolutely no shortage of places to see and activities to participate in.  We’ve compiled a list of 32 of the best ideas and guides to ensure you don’t miss a thing.

AAA offers many great ideas for exploring New England:

Yankee Magazine and its sister site New England Today consistently offer great ideas for seasonal activities.

Visit New England is a state-by-state guide encompassing places to visit, things to see and do and a calendar of events:

Discover New England is another popular travel guide that offers state-by-state ideas for events, activities, and places to visit.

Here’s a list of some other good guides from various sources:

 

 

Celebrate Random Act of Kindness Week


heart and statement about random kindness

The world’s a mess, the market’s queasy, it’s the depths of February, and everyone has the flu. But cheer up! It’s almost Valentine’s Day! Let’s spread some love and goodwill by celebrating Random Acts of Kindness Week while we look at some of the good stuff, big and small, happening in the world:

  • Amidst all the hoopla of a Super Bowl victory parade, Philadelphia Eagles rookie cornerback Sidney Jones lost his cellphone. Fans found it and returned it to him, after snapping a few celebratory selfies with the Super Bowl champ.
  • In Wilmington, North Carolina, school crossing guard Minnie Galloway isn’t just keeping kids safe: she’s keeping them warm.
  • But not all of the Good Samaritans directing traffic are crossing guards!
  • Meanwhile in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, restaurant owner Elian Elias devotes a couple of hours of his day to providing free meals to the homeless.
  • In good news for the whole planet, France is two years ahead of schedule in switching away from coal-fired power plants to renewable energy. French President Emmanuel Macron announced at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davis, Switzerland that France would shut down all coal-burning plants by 2021.
  • In Hamilton, New Zealand, Senior Constable Neale Williams recognized a car he’d impounded before. Turned out the driver needed assistance getting her driver’s license, so Williams stepped in and offered his time and money to help her get back on the road – legally.
  • Speaking of random acts of kindness, rapper Drake has been on a roll recently, throwing down more than $125,000 on good works in Miami.

Come on, Drake! You’re making the rest of us look bad!

But you don’t have to have rap-superstar status (or a rap-superstar bank balance) to make a difference. There’s all sorts of ways to get involved, starting right at your front door. To help out in your community, try typing “local volunteering near me” into your favorite search engine.

Need more inspiration? Buzzfeed has you covered with 101 ideas for random acts of kindness. Now get out there and commit some Random Kindness!