By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Irma, swales and pancakes
From the editor
Jeff Whitten NEW
Jeff Whitten is editor of the Coastal Courier and Bryan County News. - photo by File photo

Thanks to Irma, I got two days off this week to work on our house, which flooded a bit, and our backyard, which may have been at least partly to blame.

At least, that’s what the experts in my circle of acquaintances think, and they convinced my wife, who convinced me.

The experts said we can prevent more flooding the next big storm with some changes to the way our backyard is sloped and shaped, or maybe it was shaped and sloped. We needed a swale, they figured out, to let the water go swirling out of a gently sloping backyard and off into the right-of-way ditch down to the end of the road, like water is supposed to do.

And since I’m all for anything that will keep me from ever again using a wet-vac at midnight to fight a losing battle against water in the hallway, we duly re-sloped and re-shaped and swaled for all we were worth, though most got done when some folks with a backhoe and dump truck came in for a price Friday to do the heavy lifting.

The world didn’t stop, however. While I was out, I was reminded yet again that we live in an age in which email is a flood of its own sort, and no wet-vac in the world can stop it.

Consider this; I’m not even important, and yet still counted 315 emails Saturday morning that had arrived since Thursday in my work inbox, clutter folder and junk mail — which I have to check from time to time because important messages have wound up in there. And though I say 315 emails, there were still about a dozen or two more I left uncounted, and more coming in as I counted. It’s probably up to 400 by now. Or, look at it this way. I’ve been back at the Courier for 13 months. If I’m counting right, I’ve received more than 23,000 emails since, according to Outlook.

That’s just nuts.

Not all of it is unwelcome. There are important emails in there, from people who help us inform the public to people who write for us, reader submissions, obituaries and so on. But much if not most of it comes from PR firms, which can be maddeningly persistent in emailing on behalf of clients with something they want us to sell you without paying us for the ad. At least they aren’t phoning. Yet.

Want an example? Sure you don’t, but here goes one anyway. This one is to my alter ego, the guy at the Bryan County News.

It’s a copy and paste, no editing, but I did insert random observations. Oh, and it’s from Liz, who went to Stanford.

"Hi Jeff, With National Pancake Day [] coming up on September 26, I’m writing to suggest a story idea for Bryan County News on a survey that proves Americans can’t get enough of the fluffy breakfast treat. Consider this: 1 in 5 Americans eat pancakes every week. (Editor’s note: That means four out five Americans don’t eat pancakes every week.)

"To conduct the Pancake Day Survey, the researchers at National Today []—America’s favorite online destination to commemorate quirky and fun holidays—asked 1,000 Americans how they like to enjoy their pancakes.


"(survey of 1,000 Americans)


"60% love pancakes, while 34% like them, 4% dislike them, and 2% hate them.

"25% OF AMERICANS EAT PANCAKES WEEKLY (That’s not one in five, is it?)

"29% eat them once every couple of weeks, while 12% eat them more than twice a week. Only 34% of Americans eat pancakes less than once a month. (Not to nitpick, but that’s more than a third of Americans)


"7% eat all the pancakes in their short stack separately, while almost twice as many (12%) eat them together instead of separately.


#1: Maple syrup (26%)

#2: Butter (17%)

#3: Chocolate chips (12%)

#4: Strawberries (12%)

#5: Blueberries (9%)

"To learn more about National Pancake Day, you can visit While there, you can also read about other fun holidays, including National Drink Beer Day [] and National Coffee Day [].

"Let me know if you have any follow-up questions or if you’re planning to use the above stats "as is." Happy National Pancake Day!"

(Note to emailer: Thanks Liz, same to you. I used the above stats as is. Please wait to get back to me until it’s National Drink Beer Month.) Thanks, Jeff.)


Sign up for our e-newsletters