Bhutanese visitor sees home in unique Texas university architecture

EL PASO –Sweating from a three-hour rehearsal of George Fredric Handel’s opera Acis and Galatea, Bhutanese performer Tshering Goen, dressed in blues, yellows, and deep reds began to prepare for a second round of practice. Goen, a director of the Bhutan Royal Academy of Performing Arts, came here to perform at the University of Texas at El Paso, a campus filled with buildings inspired by Bhutanese architecture. The Kingdom of Bhutan is at the eastern end of the Himalayas in South Asia. “I feel as if I am back in Bhutan,” Goen said with calmness in his voice as he donned an animal mask to continue with the rehearsal of a classic Western opera in Bhutanese dress. Related story and video: Love and Death visit Handel’s Acis and Galatea in a Bhutanese cremation field

The Bhutanese interpretation of the classic Handel opera fit perfectly with the architectural history of this campus, nestled in the foothills of the Franklin Mountains in the Chihuahuan desert.

The Lusitania

Resurfacing as a rock band, The Lusitania now sails from El Paso

EL PASO – A plain white-walled room in an everyday suburban house filled with amplifiers and microphone wires is the meeting ground and practice space for the El Paso-based band The Lusitania. The band begins to tune the instruments to start the first practice of the week. Even though they’re nestled in a traditional neighborhood, the vibrations shake the walls of guitarist Will Daugherty’s home. “My neighbors are really cool with what we do,” Daugherty said. “We haven’t gotten complaints about the noise.”

The Lusitania has been shaking walls since 2006 with an eclectic collection of music variously described as “a blend of folk rock and country” and as ranging from “waltz’s to brawling punk-rock anthems.”

The band originally started with brothers Michael and Blake Duncan but has since added members Daugherty, Charles Berry, and Adi Kanlic.

Personal trainer trims down clients and bulks up on education

EL PASO – Hiding in the back room behind the treadmills, elliptical machines, and 50-pound steel weights, Kimberly Rayner carefully underlines important information in her economics textbook to prepare for an exam. She still manages to look up and smile at the sweaty people in T-shirts and spandex lifting weights, doing sit-ups, and running at the gym trying to get their summer bodies in shape. “Come on, you can do it!” she cheers and “reach for it!” as she watches her trainees’ eyes light up at her words of encouragement. Rayner is both a student at The University of Texas at El Paso and personal trainer at New You Fitness and Yoga Studio located in the west side. Like other students on tight schedules who juggle jobs and college life, Rayner rises every Monday through Saturday at 4 a.m. to head to the gym where she works roughly 30 to 40 hours a week, sometimes pulling 12-hour shifts and attending college classes between training sessions.

Bottle caps, movie tickets and model trains bring happiness to collectors

EL PASO – From Budweiser to Red Stripe, bottle caps line the windowsill of Chris Macias’ bedroom, reflecting the sun’s rays, coloring the white walls in greens, blues and yellows. Two years ago, Macias started saving only the bottle caps of Jarritos, a Mexican soda, but after his 21st birthday last year, he began to collect only beer bottle caps. “It doesn’t even have to be something that I drank,” Macias said. “If I see a bottle cap, I might just snatch it.”

With over 100,000 collectors, coins are the most popular collectible in the United States, but others show off their collection of virtually anything — celebrity hair has racked up roughly 2,000 collectors in the last decade. Whatever the item, collecting is a human trait.