In my recent post about default hash values I was posting something I thought was pretty basic, and embarassingly I missed what should have been obvious. Right there in the documentation for Hash is the best way to initialize Hash keys on-demand:
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Is it better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt? I dunno, but this fool learned the RIGHT answer to the problem as well as a dose of humility. I suppose that's worth something!