Category: Austin Businesses

Halloween Costumes For Men

Halloween Costumes For Men

Let’s face it; Halloween was much simpler when we were just kids. I mean, you could just dress up as a clown or a ghost, and won’t have to worry about other people laughing at you. Now, it’s a whole different idea. You have to find a costume that would look sexy, scary, or funny enough without making you look stupid, especially when you’re with the ladies.

When Halloween comes around and you need a costume for a party, for the office, or for the kids who will be sure to come trick-or-treating, just follow these great costume ideas for men, and you’ll be sure to get noticed without being laughed at.

Men in Uniform – It’s not a big secret that women can go nuts over a man in uniform. Just ask the several other guys you meet who are wearing firemen, police, and soldier costumes. Dressing up in uniform is a great way to appear attractive and masculine. Uniforms always make great costumes, whether you’re dressing up as a fireman, policeman, soldier, fighter pilot, sailor, etc. But just one caveat, though. If you’re planning on attending a Halloween party with a group of other guys, make sure you’re not going to appear as The Village People.

Pop Culture – Pop culture has recently given us a lot more choices for great costumes. You can opt to go dressed as a Survivor castaway, with some dirt smeared on your face, sandals, and swimming trunks. This is probably one of the easiest costumes you can assemble. You can also go dressed as Austin Powers, who seems never to go out of style. All you need is a velvet suit, ruffled shirt, pointy leather boots or shoes, and lots of colorful accessories to make an appearance as the shaggadelic man of Mystery. The Man of Steel is also back in business as one of the preferred costumes, with the recent return of the latest installment in the series.

Sports – Another good costume idea is to go and dress up as your favorite athlete. Don’t worry if you don’t really know how to play the game; that’s not the point here. Whether it’s baseball, football, basketball, or any other favorite sport, you can choose from lots of favorite sports icons to imitate. It would be a sure-fire hit, especially if some of the women arrive dressed up in one of those sexy tennis outfits or cheerleader uniforms. And don’t forget wrestling. You can have fun dressed up as Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, or any other well-known wrestler. It would be more fun if you can also imitate the way they talk and move.

Construction Worker – believe it or not, a lot of women go for those muscular, sweaty men they walk by everyday in building sites, even if they won’t admit it. Wearing a tight pair of jeans, a white tank top or t-shirt, a construction hat and a tool belt will complete your get-up.

There are lots more of great costume ideas for men. You can either go out and visit costume shops, or you can browse the Internet. The latter is particularly convenient and practical. Lots of great costume shops online have a wide selection of costumes and accessories at very affordable prices.

Ecoupon Shoppers

Ecoupon Shoppers

Coupons have always been a large part of everyday life for various individuals. Over 71 million Americans use coupons, and there is no set age or income level among these “clippers”. Coupons not only help to save money, but they also help market researchers decide what items are bought more frequently, they assist in determining the needs of a demographic area, and they promote and advertise business. So what happens when the coupons are being rejected in stores?

From the first coupon in 1894 to the last one used, coupons help people save billions every year. Now, with the Internet, people don’t have to sift through mounds of catalogues, magazines, and sales papers to find coupons for the items they need. They only have to find the coupons online that they wish to have, print them, and use them in stores.

But what risks are shoppers taking when they print coupons from their computer and go shopping? Surprisingly, it could land innocent shoppers a hurricane of trouble, or maybe just a downpour of disappointment. Recently, more Americans are finding that a number of grocery stores and other retailers refuse coupons printed from Internet websites.

While innocent, debutante Internet surfers print coupons hoping to save a few bucks on groceries, baby diapers, clothes, or other household items, other members of the online community are manipulating the coupons, then releasing them to the unsuspecting public. Shoppers would then attempt to use the coupons on common household brands such as Snuggle and Ball Park, only to find that their coupons were fraudulent. This could cause the shopper embarrassment at the least, and perhaps an investigation if there is reasonable suspicion about the origin of the coupons.

With the Internet being so common in this new millennium, it didn’t take long for people who were experienced with graphics to figure out how to create coupon scams with computer software and imaging tools that are so readily available on the market. With some simple image altering, copying, pasting, and creative web design, one individual could put hundreds, maybe even thousands, of innocent people at risk.

When people surf the net, their computer information, such as the IP address, is submitted to the websites. Sometimes, websites can gather information from the computer with the help of invisible spyware or ad ware. If a scammer is running the website that an individual is printing coupons from, it is possible they may be attacked by these “insects” of the cyber world and their passwords, credit card numbers, and personal information can be gathered by the scammer. Identity theft, unauthorized purchases, accounts drained – it can all happen as a result.

Even though the printing of invalid online coupons is hurting shoppers, it rarely impacts the demographic marketing researchers and statistics. When a valid coupon is printed and used, it still contributes to the analysis of the area that it is redeemed in. For instance, if an individual from Houston, Texas prints a valid coupon from a provider in Kentucky, then uses it in Austin, the item represented by the coupon is considered an item sold in the demographic region of Austin.

So shoppers beware of the Internet for your coupons! You could be one of those whose coupons are rejected at the checkout!

Destination Discount!

Destination Discount!

Fly Discount Airlines And Save Money
In the last decade or two, discount airlines have revolutionized the workings of the airline industry. While their main priority has always been to get customers to their destinations without the conventional features of regular travel, security has never been compromised with. Jet Blue and Southwest, which offer their customers low prices and fly to a large number of important domestic destinations, are good examples of discount airlines.
In the past, discount airlines saved money by skimping on the unneeded details. For instance, instead of receiving a full dinner, you might just get a drink and a small bag of peanuts. Rather than offering movies on long flights, you would have to find ways to entertain yourself, and legroom was much less of a concern than it was for major airlines. However, these days, discount airlines are investing more in entertainment systems, and they are paying more attention to customer comfort.
This change in attitude is because they have to compete with major airlines that often offer discount prices to attract customers. When the major airlines offer comparable rates, the discount airlines have to match the frills to retain their customers. Consequently, customers find cheap tickets on discount and regular flights by searching online discount ticket retailers like Hotwire and Priceline.
If your planned destination is a sunny vacation town, discount airlines are usually still significantly cheaper than traditional companies. Many of the discount airlines focus their flights on destinations with agreeable climates. This gives them the corner on the vacation travel market, and it helps them save money by having to deal less with bad weather and the delays and maintenance costs associated with colder climates.
Many discount airlines specialize in cross-country flights and make most of their profits by flying just a few specific routes. Not wanting to lose the profitable business of cross-country travelers, major airlines have also begun to match discount prices. Needless to say, it’s the customer who is the real gainer.
If you can be flexible in your destination while planning a trip and researching prices, you can save a lot. Since many discount airlines fly to certain cities, you can save hundreds of dollars by slightly modifying your plans. For instance, if your destination is Austin TX, a small airport, it makes more sense to fly a discount airline to San Antonio and drive down to Austin.
Some discount airlines conduct flights only to small airports where fees are comparatively lesser than prominent airports. If may also prove profitable if you fly into a smaller airport using one such flight and then drive to your destination. The added advantage of flying into a smaller hassle-free airport is better than getting a discount. You not only get a good parking, you also get a good ticket price.
Whatever your destination, discount airlines can save you money. So, do some comparison shopping before you book your next flight. You’ll save hundreds of dollars by simply checking a few different airlines and some different airports. A little bit of research can go a long way in saving money on reaching your destination and you’ll have more cash in hand once you are there.

2006 Cincinnati Reds Preview

2006 Cincinnati Reds Preview

2005 Overview:

The biggest news for Cincinnati Reds fans in 2005 was the fact that Ken Griffey Jr.(.301 35 92) was able to play an entire season injury free for the first time in over 5 full seasons. What was so impressive about Griffey’s 2005 performance was his ability to completely return to form, hitting for both power and average. Griffey grabbed the Comeback Player of the Year Award for his outstanding efforts.

The rest of the Reds 2005 offense was provided by Adam Dunn (.247 40 101), veteran 2nd baseman Rich Aurilia (.282 14 68) and outfielder Austin Kearns (.240 18 67). Unfortunately, the Reds starting pitching didn’t offer many wins in 2005. Starters Aaron Harang (11 13 3.83), Brandon Claussen (10-11 4.21) and Ramon Ortiz (9 11 5.36) joined Eric Milton (8 15 6.47) and closer David Weathers (7-4 3.94 15 saves) to handle the majority of the pitching duties during the season. Weathers’ was picked up from the Mets and was converted into a full-time closer we he nailed down 15 out of 19 save opportunities. No real staff Ace emerged in 2005 with Harang leading the rotation with 11 wins. The Reds ended the season with a less then impressive final 73-89 record, finishing 27 games behind the NL Central Champion St. Louis Cardinals.

Off Season Moves:

The Reds recognized pitching as their main priority during the off season so they traded away popular first baseman Sean Casey to the Pittsburgh Pirates for left handed starter Dave Williams (10–11 4.41). Unfortunately the Reds did little else to address their starting pitching needs. Veteran Infielder Rich Aurilia re-signed, and Cincinnati also traded for utility man Tony Womack (.249 in 2005), which was designed to give the team some options off the bench in 2006. Lefthander reliever Chris Hammond (5-1 3.84) also signed on from the defending NL West Champion Padres.

2006 Analysis:

Expect Adam Dunn now to move over to first base, leaving the outfield responsibilities to Austin Kearns, Ken Griffey Jr. and Wily Mo Pena. The Reds really didn’t significantly address the starting pitching in the off season and the one new starting pitcher they acquired (Williams) will hardly make a difference for the team in 2006. With Harang leading the group with only 11 wins there is a bunch of work to be done before the Reds can hope to contend. Williams was only a 10 game winner in 2005 so fans shouldn’t expect much from him either.

Like many major league teams, the Reds are relying heavily on their youngsters which include Kearns, Pena, Dunn, shortstop Felipe Lopez, and Ryan Freel. Fans were happy to get the old Griffey back in 2005 and are hopeful he will pick up where he left off when he starts the 2006 season. Dave Weathers is simply not a strong closer although the team managed to squeeze 15 saves out of him last season. Hammond was a nice pick up and should help out a struggling bullpen – but even more help is needed. Cincinnati Reds fans should expect more of the same in 2006.

Travel Off the Beaten Path for a Great American Adventure

Travel Off the Beaten Path for a Great American Adventure

When it comes to travel, most people opt for the vacation standards: a cruise, a Disney vacation, or booking a hotel in New York or another major city. Yet there are many American vacation destinations that are often overlooked – cities that offer wonderful sights and sounds, and even better value. When you book travel to one of these destinations, you’re sure to be delighted and surprised – and all the more appreciative of what our great country has to offer.

Think about it. When was the last time you visited Cleveland? Unless you’re from the Midwest, chances are you’ve never been there. That’s means that you’ve never experienced the gorgeous architecture of I.M. Pei’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, nor have you seen Jimi Hendrix’s handwritten lyrics to “Purple Haze.” While you’re in Cleveland, you can catch a Cleveland Indians baseball game, attend a performance of the Cleveland Orchestra, and visit the Cleveland Museum of Art. If you’re into thrills and chills, you can rent a car and drive about an hour and a half to go to the “Rollercoaster Capital of the World” in Sandusky, Ohio.

If you’ve never been to the American Southwest, you’re missing both rich history and fantastic fun. A vacation to Austin, Texas, gives you the best of both worlds: the features of a big city with the atmosphere of a small town. Home to the University of Texas and, of course, the Texas State Capitol building, Austin is known as the “Live Music Capital of the World.” If an evening listening to music isn’t your thing, perhaps hanging out with one and a half million bats under the Congress Avenue Bridge will do the trick. During the day, you can visit the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library or visit one of the city’s 20 museums.

If you love outdoor adventures, Bangor, Maine, should definitely be on your travel itinerary. Home to author Stephen King, Bangor is the perfect place from which to explore the Maine Highlands, Acadia National Park, and quaint fishing villages. With nearby mountains, coastlines, lakes, rivers, and some of the best fall foliage to be found, Bangor is the perfect travel destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

In case you haven’t heard, there’s more to Florida than a Disney vacation. Sarasota, Fla., located on the state’s Gulf Coast, offers spectacular white sand beaches and numerous small islands. It was also the resting spot for the Ringling Brothers, so when you’re not clowning around, you can visit the Ringling Estate, two Circus museums, and an art museum.

One of the best things about vacation destinations that are a bit off the beaten path is that it’s often a bargain to travel there and to stay there. Online travel packages often include both airline and hotel accommodations at steeply discounted rates. The best online travel companies allow you to choose, for example, the hotel room and type as well as flight options. So, the next time you think about packing your bags, consider travel to one of America’s overlooked vacation destinations.

Camera Phone And Police Brutality

Camera Phone And Police Brutality

If in the past year’s camera phones were just use for capturing funny and charming events. Today, it became a powerful community tool in the debate about police conduct and crime resolution.

Some Los Angeles political groups are starting to train citizens to use cameras, video cell phones and Internet sites like YouTube, Metacafe, Myspace and the like to get their voices and pictures heard like never before.

According to Sherman Austin, founder of Cop Watch L.A, they encourage everyone to have a camera on them at all times so if anything happens it can be documented. The concept of patrolling the police is something that they are trying to press on as a form of direct action.

Moreover, three videos shot on cell phones captured Los Angeles police officers using excessive force to hold down black motorist Rodney King. The video images were captured by an Argentine plumber which brings up evidence that Rodney King was indeed beaten by four police officers. All said three videos came out within the same week.

For about 15 years later there are video cameras in tens of millions of cellular phones that people are carrying all day makes the documentation of almost any public event easy to perform. As a result, Black and Latino activists in tough Los Angeles neighborhoods are leaving nothing to risk.

Furthermore, Austin added “We have tried civilian review boards, we have tried going to City Hall and going to the police and all we have seen is more brutality, technology makes it all the easier now”. There are lots of digital cameras available nowadays that is already capable of taking good photos in daylight and then there’s also an Internet that could get your photos out there anytime, anywhere.

L.A. Police Chief William Bratton added that he is investigating officer conduct from the three cell phone videos that is just recently captured, but warned against quick conclusions that he cannot just make judgments based solely on videos or portions of videos.

Moreover, Bratton also stressed that there is no U.S. government agency that has more policies, procedures, guidelines and independent oversight when it comes to use of force than the LAPD. However, Executive director of the Southern California chapter of the ACLU Ramona Ripston stated that these latest incidents underline the case for more citizen oversight.

On the other hand, CNN launch a report regarding 15-year-old boy that used his Sprint cell phone camera to take pictures of a man who allegedly tried to lure him into his car. Such pictures lead to the man’s arrest.

The said boy, who escaped from his alleged captor after a struggle, gave the pictures of the man and his car license plate to police in Clifton, New Jersey, after the incident. Thus, armed with that evidence, police officers arrested the suspect William MacDonald.

Moreover after the incident, a spokeswoman from Sprint, the manufacturer of the phone, says the incident is the first time as far as the company knows. “Someone has used the year-old technology to foil a criminal” she added.

Everything’s Bigger In Texas: San Antonio’s 39th Annual International

Everything’s Bigger In Texas: San Antonio’s 39th Annual International

Got plans for November? Why not head down south to the country’s second largest state (in both land mass – behind Alaska, and population – behind California) and check out some authentic Tex-Mex eats as you peruse the impressive International Auto & Truck Show? Did we mention it’s big???

From November 8 – 11, the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center will sport over 350 new trucks, SUVs, automobiles, and concept cars. It’s been an annual event for 39 years drawing thousands of car and truck enthusiasts from all over the world.

What can you anticipate seeing? Well, starting at the East Hall, you’ll walk past 2008 models from Mercedes-Benz, Scion, and Suzuki. Isuzu will be right there in the mix with its high-performance pickup trucks and SUV model (the Ascender). Audi will display its newest TT and Lexus will show off its future lineup as well. Continue into the West Hall and check out the Lotus display, and those by Cadillac and Hyundai.

If car shows are your thing, Texas is the place to be. The state offers over two hundred truck and auto shows each year, ranging from the San Antonio Autorama at the Autodome to the Texas Heatwave Show at the Travis County Expo Center in Austin.

If speed is what gets your blood pumping, Texas delivers in that area as well. Racing is popular in Texas as proven by the Texas Speedzone, Twin Cities Speedway in Odessa, Thunder Hill Raceway in Kyle, Bad Boyz Speedorama in Austin, and Houston Motorsports Park in… you guessed it – Houston.

While we love the great state of Texas, finding an auto show in your vicinity shouldn’t be too difficult. There are literally hundreds of auto shows every year, in every state and that’s not counting the big international shows overseas. France, Germany, Britain, Japan, even China puts on amazing auto shows – a car lover’s dream.

And car shows aren’t what they used to be. These are major productions with food, entertainment, booths from all kinds of automobile industry reps, and of course, a glimpse into the future of cars (both immediate and long term). Many offer events for the entire family, making it a great destination for a family vacation. For example, San Antonio’s car show takes place near Riverwalk – a hot spot for restaurants, hotels, and theme parks (San Antonio’s Six Flags Fiesta Texas is only a hop, skip, and a jump away). Other local attractions include golf courses, Natural Bridge Caverns, the San Antonio Zoo, and Ripley’s Haunted Adventure.

So the next time you’re down south where bigger is better, check out the San Antonio Annual International Auto and Truck Show. You might just be surprised at what you find – these aren’t your parents’ auto shows. They’re more than that. They’re destinations. And they are truly the only place where so many different vehicle manufacturers come together to give you a glimpse of what the future holds for the auto industry.

The Love Guru

The Love Guru

Forget animated characters, Mike Myers is back in his first original role since Austin Powers and he doesn’t disappoint. The Love Guru is a thinly veiled homage to Deepak Chopra, focusing on the travails of one guru who has to break a curse, reunite a couple and get a hockey team to the Stanley Cup. That’s no small order, but you can expect hilarious hi-jinks to ensue.

Mike Myers doesn’t miss a step in this comedy that centers around the star player of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Darren Roanoake, played to perfection by Romany Malco. Roanoke’s wife is lured away by the star player of the LA Kings, Jacques Grand (Justin Timberlake) and it’s up to the Love Guru to restore domestic harmony to get Malco back on his game.

With a cast that includes Jessica Alba and Ben Kingsley, it’s hard to go wrong. Myers penned the original story with Graham Gordy and co-produces with Michael deLuca. It’s been a tough road for Myers since the success of Austin Powers, and although he’s turned out terrific performances in animated flicks, this marks his return to playing a human, something audiences have been waiting for with baited breath.

The premise behind the Love Guru Movie is not necessarily new, meshing the classic fish out water tale with a boy meets girl scenario, but Myers makes it work. His character, Pitka, is abandoned as a boy outside an ashram in India and is trained in the way of the guru. Coming to America, he finds fame as a self-help guru that caters to the stars.

Known for his unorthodox techniques, Pitka is hired on by the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jane Bullard (Alba). The team has been a victim of the Bullard Curse for forty years and it appears as though it has struck again in the form of disharmony in the marriage between Malco and his estranged wife. Timberlake is perfection in his role as the golden boy of the LA Kings who woos away said wife.

Given Myers love of Chopra and hockey, this is certainly a project made in heaven for the 45 year old star. Known for mixing life and art, Myers hits his stride in this movie, after disappointing audiences in his turn as the Cat and the Hat. He is definitely in his element in this zany comedy that features some of today’s hottest rising stars. It’s a smart career move for Myers and one that audiences will undoubtedly embrace, so long as he keeps himself in check.

The Love Guru is set to premier on June 20th in the United States. Expect a big roll out and a lot of coverage as Hollywood makes book on whether Myers can bring in the audiences. Given the popularity of the Shrek movies and Myers in general, most movie goers should be able to forgive Myers for his few missteps and thoroughly enjoy this fun and lighthearted comedy.

Proposed Policy For Texas Schools May Do More Harm Than Good

Proposed Policy For Texas Schools May Do More Harm Than Good

There is a proposal on the table by Governor Rick Perry and the Texas schools. They share a commitment to provide a high quality education for every child in the state of Texas. A commendable goal to be sure; however, their latest proposal for the Texas schools is drawing some opposition in high places.

The governor and the Texas schools recently proposed a new policy to require all school districts in Texas to spend at least 65 percent of their operating budgets on “direct classroom instruction.” The goal is to limit administrative costs and to spend more of their budgets on actual instruction.

The problem is with the definition of “direct classroom instruction.” The Texas schools define it as “activities associated with interaction of teachers and students.” This includes teaching staff salaries and benefits, as well as classroom supplies, such as textbooks and teaching materials. The broad definition also includes transportation of athletic teams to their events.

What is not covered are teacher professional development and curriculum, student counseling, and some library expenses.

Texas representative Joe Straus (R-San Antonio for District 21), according to the Austin-American Statesman, stated that teacher professional development is essential to delivering a quality education to Texas students. With the proposed policy, he said you can get an athletic team to an event, but the coach will lack the expertise and training to win the game. Straus believes this proposed policy will shortchange the teachers and ultimately shortchange the students, too.

More opposition is coming from former Secretary of Education Rod Paige, who addressed the “65 percent proposal” recently in The New York Times. He believes the policy will limit educators at a time when they need to innovate the most. They need more freedom — not less. He wants the Texas schools to stress teacher professional development, Internet content to supplement lessons, and after-school tutoring opportunities for the students. None of these would be considered related to direct classroom instruction.

Straus further stated that if the teachers are not prepared to do their jobs well, then any other efforts to improve student academic achievement will be a waste of time.

The Austin-American Statesman article of July 21, 2006, noted that one in every two teachers in the United States will quite teaching within five years, and that more than 200,000 teachers will not return to teaching next fall — that is nearly six percent of all teachers across the nation. It was further noted that research has proven that new and effective forms of professional teacher development, along with powerful instructional methods, do improve teacher retention — not just in a particular school, but within the career field as well.

Retention of quality teachers is essential for the Texas schools, as well as for student academic achievement. Retention requires training and development for the Texas schools’ teachers. Without it, the goal of a quality education for every Texas schools student is lost.

The Old West At Its Best: Come Mess With Texas! Texas Travel Information

The Old West At Its Best: Come Mess With Texas! Texas Travel Information

Travel to Texas for one of the most exhilaratingly colorful adventures in North America. From Honkey-Tonks and dude ranches to space science and modern medicine, Texas is an intriguing accumulation of larger than life metropolises and countryside. Snag your airfare to Texas in fewer seconds than a bull ride and you’ll be happy to find a cheap and easy way into the second largest state of the United States of America.

Six Flags Over Texas

Throughout Texan history, the territory has in fact been ruled by six different flags: France, Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America, and the United States of America. As you might have guessed, Arlington, Texas, is home to the first Six Flags theme park in the nation. Even with this many political changes, the state the size of France has maintained a fiercely independent culture and lifestyle, which contributes to the unique charm and humble pride you will encounter when you travel Texas.

Make sure a stop in San Antonio is on your itinerary. There you can visit the Alamo mission, the famous site of the tragic Battle of Alamo where Texas fought for its independence from Mexico. Texas then became an independent republic for nearly 10 whole years until annexing to the United States in 1845.

More than Yellow Roses in Texas

From the annual Chili Cookoff to the world’s largest rodeo, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Texan culture is bigger than life. A trip to Houston offers the Johnson Space Center where Mission Control is based as well as the nation’s largest medical research facility, the Texas Medical Center. A journey to the western Texan border is where you’ll find El Paso, brimming with authentic Hispanic culture and just a short distance from the stately Rio Grande.

Big Bend National Park is a protected stretch of the Rio Grande, abundant with forest, desert, snakes, flora and a wide array of native wildlife. You may also stumble across a political creature in Lajitas, where the town mayor is in fact a real beer-guzzling goat! For more beautiful scenery, make your way through Austin’s surrounding countryside, known as Hill Country. A mosaic of wildflowers along rolling hills stretches for miles around Austin and the German city of Fredericksburg.

When planning your trip, remember the massive quality of the state. The best way to explore all of the urban and rural wonders in Texas is certainly by car. This way you can be certain to make it to the largest Honkey-Tonk in the world, Billy Bob’s, just west of Dallas in Fort Worth or down to the Gulf Coast to witness King Ranch, one of the largest working ranches in the world (the size of Rhode Island!). Buy those boots, find that hat, and get your airfare to Texas today before it gets any bigger.

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