Three tips for 2020

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Opinion - John Stos­sel

Ilearned three new things this year that made my life bet­ter!

share them with you here, hop­ing they make your 2020 eas­ier.

My “life hacks” are about pop­corn, iPhones and but­ter.

Weird? Maybe. Now I re­port on how politi­cians wreck just about ev­ery­thing, but at ABC’s show “20/20,” I was a con­sumer re­porter. My lat­est video re­turns to that beat.

None of these ideas re­quires buy­ing stuff or spend­ing more money. The first will save you some. The tips:

1. Pop­corn: For years, I bought pack­ages of mi­crowav­able pop­corn. They were an im­prove­ment over pour­ing raw ker­nels into a pot, adding the right amount of oil, wait­ing for it to pop, shak­ing the pot and so forth. Then you have to clean the pot and grease splat­ter.

Mi­crowave bags make pop­ping corn eas­ier, but the pack­ages cost about $6, and some­times the pop­corn smells bad.

I’ve also tried spe­cial pop­corn-mak­ing de­vices, but they cost money, too, and you still have to clean the de­vice.

It turns out we don’t have to do any of that! Just put raw ker­nels (about a quar­ter cup) into a pa­per bag (a lunch bag is fine), put the bag in the mi­crowave, set it to full power and wait for the corn to pop.

When the pop­ping slows, take the bag out.

That’s it! It works. You can eat the pop­corn right out of the bag — noth­ing to clean! Add but­ter to taste. Try it.

2. Faster tex­ting: Do you have an iPhone? (I’ve found this trick works on most iPhones and some An­droids.)

Writ­ing emails and texts, I get frus­trated when I can’t get the cur­sor to go ex­actly where I want it to be. It jumps to the start or end of a word or sen­tence when I want to change some­thing in the mid­dle.

In­stead, just hold down the space bar. (It works with other keys, too, but some do dif­fer­ent things when held down — space bar is sim­plest.) Do that, and you can put the cur­sor ex­actly where you want it. When I show peo­ple this, they smile and laugh! The space bar is a big time-saver and frus­tra­tion-avoider.

3. But­ter: I hate hard but­ter from the re­frig­er­a­tor. Try to spread it and it tears the bread. In the past, I’ve put it in the mi­crowave to soften it. Then some of it turns to liq­uid.

But now I know we can leave but­ter out! The USDA says that “but­ter and mar­garine are safe at room temp.”

How can this be? But­ter is dairy and we don’t leave milk out.

But be­cause of the way but­ter is made, and the salt in­side, but­ter is safe to leave on the counter for sev­eral days. Re­ally. Google it, if you don’t be­lieve me.

There are lim­its. It’s best to keep but­ter cov­ered, and if you leave it out too long, it will get ran­cid.

But with those caveats, it’s fine to leave a stick on the counter. You get great, easyto-spread but­ter. The only down­side is that you’ll prob­a­bly eat much more of it.

Soft but­ter, eas­ier tex­ting and sim­pler pop­corn — my gifts to you for 2020.

Happy New Year.

John Stos­sel is au­thor of “No They Can’t! Why Gov­ern­ment Fails — But In­di­vid­u­als Suc­ceed.”

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