Buzzworm news briefs

Hey, where can I get my Mountain Xpress?

Readers who are used to picking up a copy of Mountain Xpress at an Ingles supermarket may have discovered recently that the paper is no longer available at some of the chain’s stores. Mountain Xpress can still be found at some Ingles locations (Oteen, Long Shoals Road and Merrimon Avenue, for example) but not at others (Weaverville, Black Mountain, Skyland, Swannanoa, West Asheville, Brevard Road and Leicester.)

Fortunately, notes Xpress Assistant Distribution Manager Jesse Shepherd, “There are at least 700 locations to find your Mountain Xpress — and we’re always adding more.”

If readers need help finding an alternative pickup spot, “they can feel free to call us here at the office,” he adds.

In Leicester, where Ingles has been one of the main pickup spots, two new locations — Fastrac and Leicester General Store — have been added, and the newspaper’s still available at the Leicester Library and Leicester Post Office.

To find out where you can get a copy of the Mountain Xpress, call 251-1333.

— Lisa Watters

Where neotropical songbirds stay awhile

“These birds are really tropical birds that come and spend the summers with us,” says Merrill Lynch of the Nature Conservancy. He’s talking about the dozens of species of neotropical songbirds that stop off in Hickory Nut Gorge either to breed or for some R&R before continuing north on their migratory journeys.

“We tend to think of things with a sort of North American bias — that they’re our birds and they go to the tropics for the winter,” adds Lynch, who is director for protection in the nonprofit’s North Carolina office. “But almost all of them are representatives of neotropical bird families — so their roots are in the tropics.”

Neotropical songbirds spend the winter months in Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean islands, migrating to the United States and even as far north as Canada in the summer to breed.

Hickory Nut Gorge, says Lynch, is a great place to see a lot of different species — many of which boast plumage as beautiful as their songs. Wednesdays and Saturdays through Aug. 6, interns from Warren Wilson College will be leading naturalist hikes to the Conservancy’s Bat Cave Preserve from 10 a.m. to noon.

Among the more common neotropical songbirds that visitors might see are the wood thrush, red-eyed vireo, ovenbird, Acadian flycatcher and Eastern wood pewee. These species, notes Lynch, actually breed in the gorge. Others, such as the rose-breasted grosbeak and black-throated blue warbler, are merely taking a breather.

“A lot of these birds are experiencing long-term population declines,” he reports.

Migrating flocks of neotropical songbirds have declined by 50 percent over the past 30 years, according to the National Audubon Society. This decline, says Lynch, is due largely to habitat loss — both the destruction of rain forests in Central and South America and the clear-cutting and fragmentation of North American forests.

“Most of these birds come back to the vicinity where they were reared,” Lynch explains. “They may fly to Mexico and then, over the winter, their nesting ground is clear-cut. And they come back to wherever it was they were hatched … and they will find the habitat gone.”

The decreasing number of rest stops en route and close encounters with such human-made obstacles as communications towers and brightly lit office buildings, he adds, also threaten these birds.

To sign up for a hike to the Bat Cave Preserve, contact the Nature Conservancy office at 749-1700 (e-mail: dshetterly@tnc.org).

— Lisa Watters

New way to office

“Ephemeralization,” opined the great futurist Buckminster Fuller back in the day, “changes everything.”

The subject of Bucky’s discourse was the nature of technology, which continually does more and more with less and less. Compare a stone urn to an aluminum can and you get his drift. Or consider the fact that the laptop computer I am writing on is thousands of times more powerful than the building-size computers of my youth.

This process has proceeded to the point where information can substitute for physical objects — making a bird in the bush worth more than two in the hand. This happens when a factory or retail store does business based on availability of materials instead of possession of them. You don’t need to have all the parts to build a car as long as you know that each part will arrive when you need it — in fact, extra parts can just get in the way.

But some elements of doing business might seem non-negotiable. What if you need an office where employees and customers or collaborators can interact, a conference room, a fax machine/copier and other physical tools of your trade? It’s hard to imagine having an office only when you need it.

Or, it was hard to imagine. A WNC-based company, Global Workspace Solutions, now offers “virtual office technology” in Asheville and Hendersonville. The firm says it offers “21st century solutions to small business problems.”

Co-founders Rob Burbank and Jim Diaz provide their clients with specifically tailored packages of physical and electronic office space. If a small business routinely needs an office or two but only occasionally requires a conference room, it only pays for the large room when it is actually using it. Too small to hire a receptionist? GWS provides one on a “time-share” basis. Is your business seasonal, with a workforce that expands and contracts? (An income-tax-preparation company is one example.) GWS can provide a shifting suite of offices to suit client needs.

The company can provide telephone answering, a mailing address, voice mail to e-mail, an online calendar, auto call forwarding, toll-free numbers, multiple extensions or an online fax. Clients are also linked to a network of strategic partners providing such services as accounting, legal, IT, printing, logo creation and Web development and hosting.

John Miles of Integritive, an Asheville Web design firm that leases space from GWS, told Xpress, “They have been terrific. They’ve delivered everything they promised, and the flexible space works very well for our small company.” When a problem arose with one prospective location, says Miles, “they not only found us other space — they paid for the move.” Furthermore, he adds, “We are a growing company, and with GWS we will be able to add space incrementally instead of making a major commitment to a larger facility.”

Temporary but fully equipped office spaces are common in larger cities, according to frequent stories in the Wall Street Journal, with a handful of multinational corporations providing similar services around the globe, but GWS may be unique in Western North Carolina. Phone inquiries to several of the larger real-estate firms in the area didn’t turn up any comparable rentals.

As Burbank tells it, “GWS allows you to do in business what you must: hire to your weakness. We’re here to fill in the gaps.”

For more information, visit www.gwsoffice.com or call 236-3001.

— Cecil Bothwell

When things don’t go according to plan

Like any well-prepared woman, Lara Croft might be expected to have Plan B in her well-appointed arsenal. But this escape option isn’t an inflatable hang glider or remote-control Hummer — it’s two small pills.

Sometimes called the “morning-after pill,” Plan B is said to reduce the risk of pregnancy after unprotected sex by as much as 89 percent, when used correctly. Of course, as with any alternate route, timing is everything. The first tablet must be taken within 72 hours of the sex act (the statistics are based on a single roll in the hay — multiple encounters may reduce the treatment’s effectiveness), and the second dose is administered 12 hours later. The treatment is most effective if begun within 24 hours of unprotected sex.

The drug (manufactured by Duramed Pharmaceuticals) was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1998, explains Liz Boarman, development director of Planned Parenthood in Charlotte. “But there’s not a general awareness in the community.” And that 72-hour window of opportunity looms particularly large for Plan B, because women can’t just walk into a drugstore and grab the pill off the shelf.

Instead, the contraceptive requires a prescription from either a woman’s regular doctor or Planned Parenthood. “Only one in five [gynecologists] are discussing Plan B with their patients,” notes Boarman.

“Some pharmacies are refusing to fill this, because they feel it’s their moral obligation,” she continues, adding, “That’s a heated issue right now.”

Each Plan B tablet contains 0.75 mg of levonorgestrel — a higher dose of the same hormone found in birth-control pills like Alesse, Nordette and Seasonale. “Plan B is believed to act as an emergency contraception principally by preventing ovulation or fertilization,” the manufacturer’s Web site explains. “In addition, it may inhibit implantation by altering the endometrium.”

But the drug company takes pains to distinguish its product from another highly publicized after-the-fact contraceptive. “Plan B is not an abortifacient … and should not be confused with RU486 [commonly known as the abortion pill],” notes the Web site. “Plan B is not effective if a woman is pregnant.”

Studies have shown that pregnant women who inadvertently ingest levonorgestrel show no negative effects to themselves or their fetuses, says Boarman. “It’s absolutely safe,” she maintains. Side effects include nausea, headache and menstrual changes.

Should women consider obtaining Plan B before an emergency arises? “We would love that,” exclaims Boarman. “Just have it in case you need it — then you’ll know it’s available.” In other words, don’t wait for the condom to break.

In Asheville, a phone assessment (call 252-7298) runs $25 and the Plan B prescription can be filled by the Planned Parenthood pharmacy for $15 or by other pharmacies from $23-37. Assessment and prescription for high school students is $30 at Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood of Asheville is at 603 Biltmore Ave. Clinic hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Appointments aren’t necessary; walk-ins are welcome.

— Alli Marshall

Dancing up a sweat

If you’re a dancer or an athlete — or someone who just wants to get in touch with your body’s “movement potential” — then you might be intrigued by an upcoming “dance/sweat retreat.”

Internationally known teacher Amara Pagano will lead the Waves Dance Workshop, sharing a concept called “The Wave” — a sequence of improvised movements (the “Five Rhythms”) developed by author/teacher Gabrielle Roth.

The workshop, organized by the local Sweat Your Prayers Collective, takes place July 15-17 at Fletcher School of Dance (177 Patton Ave., Asheville).

Cost for the three-day workshop is $125; for the Friday, July 15, evening session only, it’s $25. To register, call Stephanie Johnson at 258-1374.

— Tracy Rose

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One thought on “Buzzworm news briefs

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