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August 14
The Family Manager's Guide for Working Moms Almost every working mom has had the out-of-body experience of watching herself accomplish more than she ever would have thought humanly possible during her single years. Unfortunately, most lawyer/driver/bottle-washer/fanny-wiper/counselor/tutor/cooks also have the gnawing feeling that everything they do is done com-pletely half-assed, because, like it or not, moms are in actuality only human, and there are only so many hours in one day. Kathy Peel's latest book, The Family Manager's Guide for Working Moms, attempts to address the woes of the work force mother with sympathy, and with guidance about organizing, prioritizing and restructuring a busy life so more can get done, and done well. Meet the organization queen and find out whether or not she's discovered anything better than what you've come up with on your own. 7 p.m. Hastings Books, Music, Video and Software, 1105 North Loop (take I-45 North, exit at 335 West, turn right, bookstore is on the right), (409) 788-2667. Free.

Miss Hawaiian Tropic If you think you have "the bod" (as the contest flyer so distressingly puts it), you might want to see if it'll win you a trip to Hawaii. Tonight, the Miss Hawaiian Tropic Contest will choose a Houstonian to advance to the state finals. Contestants are asked to bring a cocktail dress and a bikini -- one with a full back, of course. This contest is much too tasteful for a thong. 10 p.m. Cafe Elysee, 5055 Woodway, 914-9700. Free.

August 15
Justin World Bull Riding Championship One of the most heart-stopping events of the rodeo has to be bull riding: eight long seconds atop one enormous ton of mad-as-all-get-out bull. The only thing keeping you from dying is the rope clenched in your fist and a couple of clowns. To outlast that beast, you've got to be strong, determined and pretty ornery yourself. This weekend you can see just how ornery the rodeo circuit's most famous bull riders can get. Jerome Davis, Tammy Kelly, David Fournier, Stacy Megenity and four-time World Champion Bull Rider Tuff Hedeman will compete for points and money, and most important, try to stay alive. 8 p.m. The Summit, 10 Greenway Plaza, 629-3700. $15-$28.50.

Chinese Medical Practices American doctors have a long history of pooh-poohing many Eastern approaches to medicine. But interestingly, as Western medical researchers become more sophisticated, ancient Chinese practices become more interesting to them. Many Chinese treatments are based on a philosophy of living rather than on the hard science of biology, and today you can learn a bit of that philosophy as well as some of the remedies that derive from ancient Asian ways of thinking. Victor Chen, herbalist and owner of Vitamax Health Store, will be the one doing his best to open up closed Western minds. 10-11:30 a.m. Spring Branch Community Center, 1721 Pech Road, 932-9573 to preregister. Free.

August 16
Velvet Elvis Third Anniversary Blue Hawaiian Luau It was only last year that Velvet Elvis owner Barry Capece was embroiled in a lawsuit with Presley Enterprises over whether or not he could use the name "Elvis" as part of his bar's appellation. Capece won the suit, and having prevailed, he's ready to party. In addition to his victory over Presley Enterprises, Capece is celebrating the Velvet Elvis's third year in operation. And what better way to do so than to go out and find a band called the Red Elvises and have them play wild and crazy music? The Red Elvises create a strange but appealing synthesis of Russian folk and good old American rock and roll; their first CD was called Grooving to the Moscow Beat, while their latest has the California-meets-Cossack title Surfing in Siberia. The Red Elvises will be downstairs in the lounge, while on the roof, Mojo Nixon and Elvis Herselvis and the Straight White Males will hold sway. 6 p.m., luau starts; 9:30 p.m., show. Velvet Elvis, 3303 Richmond, 520-0434. $10, advance; $12, door.

The Barbacoa Experience Most would call it disgusting, but fie on the culinary dolts who've never tasted barbacoa, that meat that's been carved from the face of a steer, then sizzled long and slow in a deep, hot hole in the ground. The process -- finding the cow's head, digging around for a good fine hole -- of making this traditional Southwestern food is arduous, but Houstonians Jake Dyer and Devon Fletcher have gone to the trouble of making it happen, and then filming the whole thing for posterity. Tonight they'll share their feat by showing their 50-minute documentary Barbacoa and serving barbacoa tacos. Music will accompany the evening's festivities, and beverages will be available to wash everything down. 8 p.m. Zocalo Theater, 5223 Feagan, 222-1860. $5 per person, $10 per carload.

Rain Forest Expedition Tour By the droopy days of August it's impossible to find even one tiny good thing to say about Houston summers -- that is, until you gather your heat-sapped energy enough to open your eyes and look around to see what these steaming summers produce in the way of foliage. The names alone conjure images of exotic loveliness: bromeliad, plumeria, hibiscus. And they all produce large, magnificent, color-rich blooms unlike anything seen in milder, more "comfortable" climates. Chris McDonald, Mercer Arboretum's tropical collection curator, will lead a tour of the center's exotic tropicals today. Wander through the gardens and grow some appreciation for our hot summer days before those days have passed. 9 a.m. Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, 22306 Aldine-Westfield Road, (281) 443-8731. Free.  

August 17
Baby Expo There are more than enough baby geegaws and doodads in this world, both useless and functional, to fill the Astrohall. And what better way for expectant and new parents to spend a Sunday afternoon than by shuffling through said hall, culling out the good stuff from the ridiculous? This exposition of all items babyish, presented by Babies "R" Us, will offer over 100 vendors who hope to "provide tips" to parents and, of course, market all their baby wares to moms and dads. Tons of free samples will be handed out, and even better (and much sillier), there will be activities such as a Diaper Derby for super-fast crawlers and a Baby Olympics in which parents race against the clock to get through a parent-duty obstacle course. On the stage will be fashion shows, demonstrations of aerobics for pregnant moms and other parent-type things. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Astrohall, 8400 Kirby. Free, event; $4, parking.

Opera Gems The Houston Ebony Opera Guild provides something of an opera sampler for those who find the full-length thing just a bit too challenging. Tonight they'll trot out arias, duets, choruses and scenes from some of the world's best-loved operas, among them Carmen, La Boheme and Der Rosenkavalier. Consider it a warm-up exercise for the opera season that'll kick off in a few months. 4 p.m. Riverside United Methodist Church, 4920 Cullen Blvd., 529-7664. Free.

Women's Waterpark Challenge Here's your chance, all you physically fit females who like showing your stuff in public. Randalls and SplashTown host this fundraising competition, in which those of the fairer sex are invited to have fun and prove their prowess as they race in a wave pool relay, play volleyball, show their strength in the Gladiator Challenge and play hero in the Rescue Tube Tow. The winners of some events will be given awards, but the real satisfaction comes from knowing you're raising money for the Greater Houston Women's Foundation; besides, everyone gets a goody bag. And for the first time, men are invited to play, too. If you buy your ticket to SplashTown directly from GHWF, all the money goes to that organization, and your SplashTown ticket will only cost $10. Buy tickets for yourself, your family and your cheerleaders by calling 623-4493 before Saturday. If you wait till the weekend, you'll spend more, but you can still get a reduced rate and help GHWF. Simply stop by Randalls and pick up a coupon for a reduced-rate SplashTown ticket. The foundation will get $1 per ticket. 1-4 p.m. SplashTown, 21300 I-45, Spring, 623-4493. $10, tickets purchased from GHWF before August 15; $14.99, tickets purchased with a coupon from Randalls.

August 18
Greater Houston Career Fair Whether you're an experienced professional or just got out of the big house (college, that is), this career fair might have the job for you. Local and national companies will be on hand to discuss opportunities in industries such as data processing, finance, government, insurance and telecommunications. Lots of information will be available on all the companies busy glad-handing the job candidates who show up. And participants can also attend professional seminars on several career-related topics. Get informed about who the employers are and what kinds of jobs are out there. 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 1:30-4:30 p.m. JW Marriott, 5150 Westheimer. Point your browser to www.cfg-inc.com for more information. Free.

August 19
The Great Room: Challenges, Arranging, Flow Putting together a "decorated" room can be next to impossible for folks who consider themselves designer dimwits. They get increasingly frustrated, and dog-tired, shoving the couch from wall to wall searching for the right spot so the room looks "done," in an Architectural Digest sort of way. If you like the catalog look, but can't for the life of you figure out how to make your rooms come even close to achieving it, Star Furniture wants to help. Tonight they're offering a class that will present ideas for furniture arrangement and information on home traffic patterns, fabric and color flow and space planning -- all in hopes of sending you home with some decorating savvy. They'd probably like you to buy something, too, but purchasing furniture isn't necessary, and designer Gene Stephens might help alleviate some of your decorating woes. If nothing else, it's always nice to meet others who share your decorating frustrations. 7-8 p.m. Star Furniture, 16515 N. Freeway, (281) 440-3330. Free.  

Professional Secretaries Monthly Dinner Meeting The Internet is a terrific source of information. It can show you people and places you've never seen before, and put gargantuan amounts of information quite literally at your fingertips. However, if you can't figure the darn thing out, it's about as useful as a clod of dirt. Professional Secretaries International hopes to inform the Internet-illiterate tonight at their monthly meeting. In a one-hour program entitled "Unleashing the Power of the Internet," Vince Lott of Internet Services will discuss the history of the Internet and what its future might hold. He'll take you on-line and show you some of the Internet's capabilities. And most of all, he'll try to persuade you to get on-line yourself. 5:15 p.m., networking begins; 6 p.m., dinner; 6:45 p.m., program. Holiday Inn Select, 2712 Southwest Freeway. To make dinner reservations, call 853-4272. Free, Internet program; $18, dinner.

August 20
Samaritan Ministry Workshop Facing another's grief over illness and death can be overwhelming, so much so, in fact, that many of us find ourselves muted by embarrassed ignorance. St. Dominic Diocesan Center is offering a seminar to churches and their members in an effort to teach volunteers how to comfort the grief-stricken. Three different types of grief will be addressed during the six-hour workshop: anticipatory grief that happens during times of illness; shock grief that occurs during the time of a funeral; and finally, lingering grief that hangs on during times of bereavement. The workshop is open to all denominations, and churches can send up to ten volunteers for the day. A lunch is included in the workshop price. 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. St. Dominic Diocesan Center, 2401 Holcombe, (281) 589-8729. $200 for up to ten members of the same church.

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