Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Memories of Maria von Trapp by a 'Sound of Music' Great-Grandchild

Maria von Trapp, the last surviving member of the seven original Trapp Family Singers, the vocal group made famous by the musical "The sound of music songs of Music," passed away on Tuesday at the age of 99. Speakeasy asked a current member of the Trapp family singers to reflect on Maria's passing.

Our great aunt Maria, sister of my grandfather Werner von Trapp, was the last to pass away of the original seven von Trapp Children on Tuesday Feb 18 th 2014. We will miss her cheerful spirit and infectious laugh. She was portrayed as Louisa from "The Sound Of Music."

Maria was taken from school because she was diagnosed with scarlet fever at a young age. Our great grandfather George von Trapp (a war hero in the Austrian Navy) asked a Salzburg abbey to provide a tutor to take care of the younger Maria. This tutor was none other Maria Kutschera who later became Maria von Trapp, stepmother to the seven children.

Aunt Maria recovered from the fever with a very cheerful disposition, even during troubling times. We remember hearing when her family was no longer able to afford servants, aunt Maria proclaimed "Hurrah! Now we can do our own dishes!"

She toured with her singing family as alto for 20 years all over the world. She was loved dearly by her family was called by the enduring nickname of "Mitzi." I remember my Aunt Agatha say that one of aunt Maria's jobs would be making sandwiches for the family while they were on their bus tours.

The family stopped singing in 1956. Maria's strong faith compelled her to contact a mission in Papua New Guinea, where she served as a missionary for 30 years. When she spoke of those years she would get her signature twinkle in her eye. She then returned to Stowe, Vermont full of joy and with an adopted son named Kikuli Mwanukuzi. Kikuli took great care of her till she passed away.

When the four of us were small Aunt Maria would come visit us in Montana always bringing her accordion. She would teach us Austrian folk songs and how to dance the Landler. In 2008 she translated over 40 Austrian children's songs that she asked us to record for her children's songbook.

Our great aunt Maria influenced everyone she met with such love, joy, and cheerfulness. We can speak for the many who will miss her dearly, especially her humor and her "Mitzi laugh."

Sofia von Trapp is a great-granddaughter of Capt. Georg von Trapp. She performs with her siblings, August, Amanda and Melanie, as the von Trapps. They recently collaborated with the band Pink Martini on "Dream a Little Dream," due March 4.

Disney rolls out discount after recent ticket price increase


Walt Disney World announced Tuesday a new ticket discount just days after its second ticket price increase in less than a year.

Disney's discount offers families and groups who purchase at least six Disney World passes valid for four days or more, an extra day for free tacked onto each ticket.

Currently, Disney charges $294 per person for a basic four-day pass and $304 for five days. The Orlando Sentinel reported that if a party spends $1,764, they would save $60, assuming no children under the age of 10.

Disney- which raised its prices by $4 on Sunday, bringing the total cost for entrance into its popular Magic Kingdom park to $99-said the promotional tickets must be purchased by June 14 and that each ticket must be fully used within 14 days after first use.

Check out these other Disney related links:

Walt Disney World cast members want higher pay, better benefits Disney, Publix among world's top 500 brands Disney extends Star Wars Weekends, tweaks event line-up Richardson is a general assignment reporter for online and print.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Ticket Down Slashes Prices on Ringling Bros. Circus Tickets in Florence, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Knoxville, Raleigh, Brooklyn, Fayetville, Richmond, Long Island & Newark

<Couponp>New York, NY (PRWEB) February 16, 2014

Ticket Down announces that they have reduced prices across the board on all Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus tickets. Tickets for the Ringling Bros. circus are generally quite reasonable. This well known secondary ticket exchange has extended their customer appreciation promo code DISCOUNT for added savings.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is an American based circus company which was formed as a merger between a circus company formed by James Anthony and Barnum and Circus also known as Ringling Brothers Circus. After this merger, one of the Ringling brothers decided that instead of organizing the circus in portable tents, it should be organized in places like sports stadiums that already have sitting capacity and thus can provide better sitting arrangements for spectators.

The history of the circus links back to Dan Castello, who was eager to set up his own circus company for which he wanted Barnum to lend not only his name but also financial backing so that the circus could begin without further delay. Barnum agreed with Castello and as a result, P.T. Barnum's "Greatest Show on Earth" was organized. On the other side, Bailey along with James. E. Cooper joined hands to set up a circus business which soon became one of the top rivals of Barnum. This competition was the result of Columbia's birth which was said to be the first birth of an elephant in the United States. This baby elephant was born to Babe and Mandarin and several people were eager to see Columbia and as a result of this, Bailey's sales went up. Barnum, after all this, decided to buy Columbia and eventually agreed to arrange a combined show in the late 1880s. Barnum & Bailey Circus shows, as it was named at that time, turned out to be successful as people liked the idea.

Below is a list of the cities and venues which will host the Barnum & Bailey Circus through March:

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Florence, South Carolina Florence Civic Center

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Wells Fargo Center - PA

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Atlanta, Georgia Philips Arena

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Knoxville, Tennessee Knoxville Civic Coliseum

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Raleigh, North Carolina PNC Arena (Formerly RBC Center)

Ringling Bros And Barnum & Bailey Circus, Brooklyn, New York Barclays Center

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Fayetteville, North Carolina Crown Coliseum - The Crown Center

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Brooklyn, New York Barclays Center

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Richmond, Virginia Richmond Coliseum

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, North Charleston, South Carolina North Charleston Coliseum

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Salisbury, Maryland Wicomico Civic Center

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Uniondale, New York Nassau Coliseum

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Newark, New Jersey Prudential Center

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Chattanooga, Tennessee UTC Mckenzie Arena

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Cincinnati, Ohio US Bank Arena

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, East Rutherford, New Jersey Izod Center (formerly Continental Airlines Arena)

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Jackson, Mississippi Mississippi Coliseum

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Washington, District Of Columbia Verizon Center - DC

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Southaven, Mississippi Landers Center (Formerly Desoto County Civic Center)

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Columbia, South Carolina Colonial Life Arena

About Ticket Down:

Ticket Down delivers tickets to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus along with sold out concerts and events worldwide when no one else can and they do so at discounted prices. As a member of TicketNetworkDirect they can guarantee delivery of tickets on time for sporting events like NASCAR, NBA, NFL AND NHL, and for the hottest theater and concert events too. With Ticket Down, customer service is a priority.

The Best Part of Being the Boss: Offering Balance


Coupon Code-part-of-being-th_b_4847519.html?view=print&comm_ref=false">Print Article


The motivation for came to Jana Francis right after she had a daughter, her third child, when she had to head back to work in the sales management team for a dotcom at the end of her maternity leave. She realized she was a smart, capable woman who could work from home. Once she started thinking along those lines, the ideas started to flow.

Jana was always the one you could count on for online shopping deals -- her friends called her the dotcom princess. But when it came to online shopping in the baby space, she was disappointed. There was no website that would tell you the story of the product, why you would want it, and what problem it would solve for you. She developed a burning fire to create a new kind of website that would launch new steal deals every day -- a steep 40% to 80 % discount on premium baby products.

With a full-time career and three kids, one of which was a newborn, Jana took 18 months to go from concept to creation. She partnered with Rett Clevenger who at that time was an online media manager for a large e-commerce site, to launch the site in April, 2008. was the first site to be launched and as the business became profitable more sites were launched --,, and The revenue in 2012 was $16.4 million.

For five months until the site proved to be a success, Jana continued with her full-time job. She would utilize the breaks and lunchtime to call manufacturers and source products. Post work, she would follow up on emails, place additional purchase orders, check shipments and pack orders.


A month before launching the site, Jana took a two-week vacation to promote the site at a baby expo in Salt Lake City. With just a banner of her logo, a PowerPoint presentation, and some bookmarks she had made, she told every woman who walked by all about the business. She got 160 people to sign up for her email list and just before the launch, she emailed her family and friends as well as everyone on that list to spread the word. Even to this day, Jana says they have very little customer acquisition spending. But today that list has grown to 375,000 emails which are sent every day and the company has shipped 1.7 million orders.

Jana managed to pull all this off without any investor capital. She put in around $5,500 of her own money to get the website built, a logo designed and to pay for the baby expo fees. She covered the first month of product purchase with her credit card and was soon able to pay off the debt.

Jana now has over 70 full-time employees, most of them based out of Salt Lake City. Her webmaster was a former colleague who had left the company after her maternity leave and started freelancing. About 70% of her employees are women and about 25% of them have had a baby in the past two years.

Being a completely bootstrapped company, cannot offer its team the best possible pay, but for most of them the flexibility the company provides means a lot. Most of the customer service staff are able to work from home for 30 hours a week.

Jana says, "For me it is very rewarding to know that the situation I dreamed of for myself is being provided for so many moms in Utah who would not have a job if they were not working here."

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Amtrak offers discount on midweek NC fares

Feb 4, 2014, 8:12am EST

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Rebecca Troyer, Triangle Business Journal

Amtrak is offering a 15 percent discount on one-way fares for North Carolina passengers traveling on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays through March 27, according to an announcement by the N.C. Department of Transportation.

The discount applies to the Palmetto, Piedmont, Crescent, Silver Meteor, Silver Star and Carolinian routes. The Piedmont route connects Charlotte to Raleigh, while the Carolinian route takes riders from here to New York. Ridership on both routes has been growing.

Reservations must be made at least one day in advance.

To make a reservation, go to

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Lone Survivor - review

Adapted from Marcus Luttrell's first-hand account of a disastrous 2005 US navy Seals mission in Afghanistan (the title tells you how it turns out), this gruelling war picture follows four Americans pinned down near the Pakistan border while seeking out a Taliban militia leader. Shot with visceral intensity by cinematographer Tobias Schliessler, the film makes a strong fist of placing the viewer in an oppressive huddle of random gunfire, broken bones and pierced skin, each gut-wrenching wound dramatised with explosive squibs and fleshy sound effects. As the soldiers scrabble for their lives, they tumble painfully down stony inclines, clinging desperately to rocks and twigs, their mortifying injuries worsening by the moment.

There's no doubting the technical skill of this depiction of battle, but writer-director Peter Berg (stripping it back after the bloated catastrophe of Coupon Codes-liam-neeson-rihanna">Battleship) can't quite decide whether he wants the audience to be excited or appalled. While the violence is horrifying, the encasing narrative is perversely "heroic", with corn-fed dialogue presented as solidly non-ironic, and images of the real-life combatants used to stirring, manipulative ends. The result is uncomfortable: physically brutal, philosophically conflicted.

Growing oatmeal sales

Redmond's Straw Propeller available on Promotional

Published Jan 30, 2014 at 12:01AM

REDMOND - Straw Propeller is turning much faster today than it did when the gourmet oatmeal company lifted off in its founders' kitchen in September 2011.

Now the company, which employs about 20, is poised to climb to higher altitudes online. For about two weeks, its Blueberry Blitz, Peaches & Berry Bramble and Cherry Chia oatmeal flavors, along with its 12 other offerings, have been available through

Until June 2011, the production line began and ended in Patricia Bartelson's kitchen, where her sons, Caleb and Ethan, worked a DeWalt heat gun to seal the see-through tops of 12-ounce portable cups of gourmet oatmeal. Bartelson started off distributing her product to coffee shops around Central Oregon. Company sales grew another 500 percent in 2013 over the previous year, said Julie Leutschaft, vice president of manufacturing operations.

"People are willing to spend more for good nutrition and low calories; something you don't have to take the time to prepare," she said.

Bartelson said Straw Propeller's largest distributor is a Salem company, Spring Valley Dairy, and its products are still available in local coffee shops. Its distinctive single-serving cups are available in grocery stores like Whole Foods and Ray's, at Harry & David gourmet gift stores, and elsewhere. They're also available through the company website, www.strawpropeller

But a move to Amazon bodes well.

"In terms of retail, no doubt about it," said Jim Kress, a business professor at Central Oregon Community College. "Amazon has changed the marketplace. Amazon has made it possible for a small company to sell their products to anybody, anywhere."

Straw Propeller started off with one Amazon distribution center in Chattanooga, Tenn., Bartelson said. If sales take off, Amazon will increase its order. She said she's not sure what to expect in terms of sales, but the company is ready if they escalate quickly. Plans are to install the first automated line within weeks and eventually expand into its entire building.

The company, housed in a three-bay space in a business park on Umatilla Avenue, ships 60,000 to 90,000 12-ounce cups every month, Leutschaft said. Straw Propeller, with input from its employees, also developed new products, like gluten-free oatmeal and muesli, and further variations on its staple, gourmet oatmeal.

"We offer a curry oatmeal. New Yorkers love this," she said.

Kress said small businesses also benefit from improvements in online search engines. Ten years ago, an online search for oatmeal might yield a familiar brand like Quaker Oats. But today, a search engine localizes to the Internet service provider and returns results in the local area. "Combined with Amazon, that allowed people like Straw Propeller to play in the game against some major manufacturers, Kraft Foods, or whatever," he said.

- Reporter: 541-617-7815,