Paper or Plastic?

Paper or plastic?  Mitt Romney hasn’t heard that question, but everybody else has.

The other day I answered “paper,” much to the surprise of the young man packing my groceries.  He looked so surprised I thought I owed him an explanation.  “We use the bags for popcorn,” I explained.  The surprised look morphed into one of bewilderment.  I persisted.  “Right when the kernels stop popping I pour them into the bag and shake it so the popcorn doesn’t get soggy from the steam.”

No good.  More bewilderment.  I could have been a Martian explaining space travel.  Now both the cashier and the packer were giving me The Look, the one we older folks, veterans of life as I prefer, get when the young’uns have no clue as to what we are talking about.

Upon my repeating my encounter, Karen immediately recognized the subject as one worthy of a post on the blog.  Yet another reason I can’t do without her.  Having been told for many years that my popcorn is the best, no doubt because those telling me that wanted some popcorn, I humbly agreed that my foolproof and superior method must be shared.

Step one.  Purchase some popping corn and popcorn oil.  And hope the kids checking you out don’t ask.  I maintain that white popcorn is the tastiest and crunchiest, but my preparation method does not depend on white vs. yellow kernels.

Step two.  Coat the entire bottom of a large frying pan (the “pan”) with the popcorn oil.  Regular cooking oil works just as well but the taste isn’t quite as good.  Note: has to be a large frying pan, as anything of less capacity is likely to result in an unnecessary and unwanted popcorn shower.

Step three.  Cover the bottom of the pan with the kernels, place the cover on the pan, and heat on low long enough for the kernels to turn slightly brownish.  A few shakes of the pan are in order.  Note: if you have a glass top stove, hold the pan a half-inch or so above the glass please.

Step four.  Soon as you hear 4-5 kernels pop and hit the bottom of the cover, turn the heat up to high and begin shaking.  You don’t have to shake the entire time, but it’s best not to leave the pan on or too close to the burner for more than a few seconds with the heat on high.  You should, in a few seconds, experience a virtual torrent of popping for 45 seconds or so.  As soon as the torrent subsides (no pops for a count of 5 seconds), remove the pan from the heat and pour into the bag.

Step five.  Shake the bag to release the steam so the popcorn doesn’t get soggy.  Salt to taste and serve.

Optional: a bit of melted butter.  I don’t like to spoil my popcorn with butter, but some can’t do without.  My good pal Nick once horrified me by pouring his popcorn into a bowl of milk, but I can’t imagine there is another human being on this planet that does that.

Should you disagree with my method, send your preferred method to www.bozo.ugh.  It may take a while, but someone will respond……


April 4,1968: The Seattle FBI Office

To start, let it be known that Seattle was my first office as a fledgling FBI agent, so the following recollection does not come from on high.

On April 4, 1968, all of the Seattle FBI agents were called in to the office; the first time that had happened in my seven months of working criminal cases.  The buzz was already going around: Dr. Martin Luther King had been shot in Memphis.  He did not survive.

As a new guy, I wondered why all the agents were ordered in, wondered what we could do so many miles from Memphis.  As soon as we were all in the main room the boss, the Special Agent In Charge (SAC), explained that records had already been pulled identifying persons in the Seattle Office area who had in some way threatened Dr. King.  Each agent was given a list of names and ordered to establish whether the persons on those lists could possibly have been in Memphis at the time of the murder.  We were to report our findings within a few hours.

As far as I know the Seattle agents did not discover any suspects that day, but the new guy (me) was impressed.  The SAC told us that every FBI office was going through the same drill.  A few days later we were told that a list of possible suspects was established within  few hours.

I am forever grateful for the dedication and professionalism of the vast majority of the men and women who serve our country in law enforcement, and proud of the few years I was privileged to be counted among them.