FOOD 1: A long slice of South Austin by the railroad tracks. Thursday night, we met finance and strategy ace James Bilodeau at the Austin Beer Garden on West Oltorf. This former industrial building along the tracks is hard to read from the street. Yet once you figure out how to enter in the dark, the warm, welcoming effect of the long, communal tables and high ledges is palpable. Beers are brewed right here and we tried a wintery selection. The big surprise for me turned out to be the thick, tasty, full and filling pizza. The place was pretty packed on a weeknight, yet service was prompt. (Old and New Austin meet casually at this relatively new social spot.)

SCHOOL: UT’s Bill Powers keeps his job. From Ralph K.M. Haurwitz’s story in Friday’s Statesman: "University of Texas President Bill Powers didn’t get fired Thursday by the Board of Regents. Nor did he get a vote of confidence. Instead, Powers got a public dressing-down from UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, with instructions to improve trust, respect and communication in his dealings with regents and other system officials. The board took no action, and Powers gets to keep his job. The high-drama moment came after a roughly five-hour, closed-door session in which regents discussed Powers’ employment and other matters concerning the 15-campus system. Whether nearly three years of tension and controversy involving the UT president and his bosses will soon become a distant memory, as board Chairman Paul Foster predicted, remains to be seen." http://shar.es/O2pZL (Let’s hope that’s the last of this chapter.)

FOOD 2: Ruby’s BBQ celebrates 25th annivesary. From Matthew Odam’s story in Friday’s Statesman: "Austin’s barbecue scene has earned breathless praise and national attention over the past several years, from Bon Appetit naming Franklin Barbecue the nation’s best in 2011 to Anthony Bourdain declaring John Mueller’s beef ribs peerless. The spotlight has helped identify Austin as one of the country’s most intriguing food towns and has shaped our evolving cultural identity. The recent additions to the scene may receive the majority of the press, but there existed a small group of barbecue joints that toiled for years before the smoked-meat circus came to town, among them Sam’s BBQ, Bert’s BBQ, Green Mesquite and the former Ben’s Long Branch Bar-B-Que. But it can be argued that no other Austin barbecue restaurant has integrated itself into the community and maintained its staying power as well as Ruby’s BBQ." http://shar.es/O2rXy(Fond memories from campus days.)

HEALTH: If sun salutation has to fit into a cell. From Brandi Grissom’s story in the Texas Tribune: "Quiet is hard to find in prison. But in the Powledge Unit gym on Tuesday afternoon, the silence was interrupted only by the sounds of breathing, toes squishing on sticky yoga mats and the occasional moans from nine men in white uniforms as they sank deeper into pigeon pose. "It hurts in a good way," said Stephen Vinez, who is serving a 20-year sentence for a manslaughter conviction. The class was the fourth that Jim Freeman, a lawyer turned yogi and the founder of Conviction Yoga, has led at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Powledge Unit in East Texas. For the inmates, the weekly two-hour sessions offer a reprieve from their cells and the boredom of prison life, along with physical and mental health benefits. And the Powledge chaplain said corrections officers saw better behavior from inmates who took part in spiritual programs that teach morals and gave them a chance to exercise." http://trib.it/18Fg6Bc(Intriguing story.)

ARTS: At Night We Walk in Circles. From Spencer McAvoy’s story in Harper’s: "Daniel Alarcón’s second novel, At Night We Walk in Circles, published in October by Riverhead Books, is a strange and compelling book, a hybrid of journalistic and novelistic techniques, and an interrogation and dramatization of the process of storytelling. The novel follows an unnamed narrator in an unnamed South American country as he excavates the story of a young actor, Nelson, and his travels with the radical theater troupe Diciembre. Beyond the many accolades he has received for his fiction, Alarcón is an accomplished journalist, and readers of Harper’sMagazine may recognize some features of the prison he describes in the novel (where it is known as the Collectors) from his last article for the magazine, "All Politics is Local." I put six questions to him about the book." http://harp.rs/47qige9(Rare Q&A that actually digs deeper.)