EDUCATION: Learning another way. Quick on her feet, Katie Tackett crops her sandy hair closely around open, accessible features. She teaches special education to student teachers at the University of Texas. Tackett was at the Thinkery in the Mueller development on Saturday to toast Growing Roots, a charity that helps empower families of children with special needs. "You should see some of the parents," she says. "They come in with lawyers and advocates. Others don’t have any idea how to navigate the special education system. School districts don’t have money to pay for everything and the teachers, well, they are caught in the middle." The Thinkery, Austin’s spiffy new children’s museum, was the ideal spot for a low-cost benefit that included music, food, drink and testimonials. I met president and founder Maria Hernandez, originally from Bogotá, Colombia, a prime profile candidate. She was recommended to me by a woman whose husband, a doctor, worked the leper colonies in Panama. I, in turn, introduced her to Maria Farahani, an advocate for women’s health in Nicaragua, whose Fara Coffee, grown in Central America and roasted in Austin, supports her foundation’s clinics there. (We live in a great city.)

NATURE: Short research deals reap big tax rewards. From Eric Dexheimer’s superb piece in the Statesman: "By 2010, Austin tech entrepreneur Joseph Liemandt and his company had amassed more than 80 acres of Austin real estate along the Colorado River just west of Loop 360. That year, the properties were valued at about $14 million, according to Travis Central Appraisal District records. The tax bill on the land — which, while wooded and undeveloped, abuts lakeshore mansions — was steep: more than $250,000 in 2010. By the following year, the bill had dropped to about $400. iemandt had taken advantage of an obscure, but valuable tax break. In exchange for the 98 percent reduction in his taxes, he agreed to leave the land undisturbed and permit college student researchers on to the property to conduct biological projects, from studying male cricket frogs and squirrel foraging, to lizards and owlflies. A generous property tax advantage in exchange for making land available for university work, known as ecological laboratories, has been permitted in Texas for decades. Although a small number of property owners historically have taken advantage of the law, appraisers say they are receiving more inquiries as property values in economically vibrant areas such as Travis County have ballooned." http://shar.es/1nw2Od

FOOD: The influx of food delivery options. From Addie Broyles and Omar Gallaga’s story in the Statesman: "Austin has a reputation for being laid-back. Would it change us if we could get anything we want, at any time, almost instantly? That might be too much to think about all at once; let’s focus on food. What if it were easier to have your groceries picked out and delivered for a fee than to go shopping yourself? What if it were cheap and simple to have food from practically any restaurant brought to your door? It soon may be time to weigh your options. Austin is following San Francisco and New York as a burgeoning market for delivery-service startups ranging from nationally known options such as Instacart and Postmates to homegrown companies such as Nimble Foods, Greenling Organic Delivery and BrewDrop. Some are well-funded by a hungry venture capital industry that sees huge potential in the so-called "instant-gratification economy" while others are scrappy competitors looking for attention and new customers with generous promotions and giveaways." http://shar.es/1nwqbO

MOVIES: The shadows of Lauren Bacall. From Richard Brody’s story in the New Yorker: "There’s no better evidence for the idea that watching a great actor means watching a great director at work than the career of Lauren Bacall, who, at the time that she was discovered by the director Howard Hawks, was hardly even an actress. She was a model whom Hawks’s wife, Slim Hawks, had spotted on a magazine cover. Howard Hawks claimed that Bacall, rather than her résumé, ended up in his office as a result of a misunderstanding. When he met her, he hated her high voice and told her to alter it to a throaty purr. She was nineteen; he instructed her (so he said) to sass men, and, when she sassed Clark Gable, Hawks told his screenwriter Jules Furthman, "Do you suppose we could make a girl who is insolent, as insolent as Bogart, who insults people, who grins when she does it, and people like it?" They started writing, and, Hawks said, "I would try out the scenes on Bacall," and here’s the thing—he added, "She was working all the time." http://nyr.kr/1ouFd64