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In the market for some good carry-out

February 04, 1999

You know the feeling: You've got to stay at work until the project is done, which means putting the phone on that dreaded voicemail and work, work, working until finally, the last piece of paper pops out of the copy machine and you're ready to go home.

Except that you know that when you get there, the chicken you meant to defrost is still roosting, rock-hard, in the freezer. Even using the microwave to thaw that bird out still leaves you an hour away from dinner, at which point your kids won't eat because they've already had two bowls of cereal and every cookie and cracker in the cupboard.

So here's one choice: You go for fast-food, but feel lots of guilt, since there are no vegetables on the menu, unless pickles and french fries qualify. And you, with your out-of-control cholesterol and your Pillsbury Doughboy waistline, you know better than to eat that stuff.

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That's the dilemma presented to me by a mother of two teens whose family is "constantly running from one sports practice or game to another or schools events, etc."

Her problem: "We have trouble getting in meals and we're always on the lookout for the ideal carryout, which I define as reasonably nutritious, reasonably priced and reasonably easy to pick up."

"From everything I read, America is eating out more and more. Can you give Washington County residents any help in getting the family fed on a busy night?"

Yes, ma'am, I can, with the help of some other readers, who might be willing to share news of their favorite family carryout for the grand prize of $20.

This will work something like the "favorite sandwich" contest of previous years, except that this time we'll open it up to every eatery in Washington County. Describe, in 150 words or less, your favorite carryout meal that will feed a family of four. It should also be fairly economical, nutritious and available for takeout most nights (as opposed to a once-a-week special.)

As for the definition of "economical," obviously that will vary depending on your family income, but if you're feeding a couple of teen-agers, you probably don't have a whole lot of spare cash anyway.

Let's give everybody until Thursday, Feb. 18 to get their entries in, either by mailing them to Best Carryout, c/o Bob Maginnis, The Herald-Mail, P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, Md., 21741, or by faxing them to me at (301) 714-0245.

I've just gotten my own e-mail address here, but we're still working out some of the mail-retrieval bugs, so hold off on e-mail entries until we get that straightened out. I'll try to have the winning entry (and other menu descriptions) in by the end of the month.

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This week The Herald-Mail's editors were given a summary of a survey done for the American Society of Newspaper Editors by Urban & Associates. The conclusion, not surprising to me, is that readers don't trust the news media, and believe that reporters need to try harder to be fair.

It's hard to argue with that, but I'd like to share something I've found in more than 20 years of newspapering. Too many people seem to believe that they can't affect the way newspapers operate, or that is somehow out of bounds to ask that changes be made.

My reply to such folks is always to remind them that if they had purchased a car, and the brakes (or the radio, or whatever) didn't work like they should, they'd complain. If you pay for the paper, you have just as much right to complain, or to suggest changes.

Not long ago, readers asked us to bring back columnist George Will. It took us a few weeks, but we did it. If you're got a suggestion, please send it along.

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On a lighter note, on one of the reader-reply cards that people can send back with their subscription payment, a reader recently voiced this complaint:

"Would it be in keeping with the spirit of 'Truth in Advertising' to have a more recent picture of Bob Maginnis on the editorial page? I thought for a long time that the editor was a fuzzy-cheeked 'kid' until I saw another picture of him in a news story."

I agree. After 10 years, it's time to switch photos, although people still come up to me in the supermarket and ask me if I write for the paper, so it's not so far out-of-date that it's ridiculous. But, yes, I will make arrangements to have a more current photo made.

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The temptation to write about the impeachment trial of the president is almost overwhelming, but for a local writer with no special knowledge of what's going on, it wouldn't make much sense. I only know that when I see the president on TV nowadays, I feel like so many viewers must have felt when Cher popped up at the Super Bowl to sing the National Anthem. I don't wish either of them any ill will, but isn't it time for both of them to be going?

Bob Maginnis is editor of The Herald-Mail's Opinion page.

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