Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Stand Out

January 26, 2011

So here I sit, one week after Walter's birthday, having not even mentioned it.  We celebrated quietly, but effectively, and will probably go on celebrating for several more weeks.  We have managed to get the year and the semester started, and no doubt it will all be a mad rush to Christmas and New Years, but we will gladly take you along for the ride for another year in the life of the Buengers.

Every semester I gather some information from my students on the first day of class.  Some of it is pretty prosaic (what telephone number can I use if I really need to contact you?).  Other information helps me gear my courses more specifically to their interests.  I also ask some questions just to take the temperature of the class and to get to know them a bit better.  I have done this for years, and the answers give me both a generalized view of the students and also an angle on their peculiarities.

One question I always ask is for them to tell me "Something Distinctive" about themselves.  Here is this semester's answers (one student per distinctive thing), with the more entertaining ones highlighted:

I don’t eat anything green.  ANYTHING.
Identical twin brother
High school in Rhode Island
I only have 24 teeth
Love to sail
Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia
Sing and play keyboard
Love salt water fishing
Switched majors twice
RE License
I have a scar from a pencil sharpener accident
Heart surgery. Plus waterfall repelling
Hate math, love statistics
9th generation named Virginia in my family
Can sing Disney songs in Spanish
From New Jersey
Africana Studies/Philosophy
Youngest of 7 kids
1st generation born in US
365 Project
Extremely messy yet organized
Can make a pretty awesome chocolate cake
I can clap my 100% flat feet like hands
Born in Mexico
Lived in Africa
From an emerging country
Grew up on a farm
Always look at the pros and cons before deciding anything
Single dad
Love cricket
Love ribeye steak
Play water polo
Huge fan of Family Guy and American Dad
Play in a band in Houston
Bad cook
Remembers silly things and forgets important things
Good cook/green thumb
11 siblings
I value practicality and hate tradition
Never broken a bone
I have both dimples and freckles (NOTE:  I didn't realize this was rare, but apparently it is)
I am reclusive
I play lacrosse and trumpet
I can crack the knuckles of my toes without touching them with my hand
I smile a lot and wear purple
Likes to learn many topics
Obsessed with productivity and time management
Proud Armenian
I have studied in France, New York, and Beijing
Every man in my family is named James
I go to Hawaii at least once a year
I have a twin sister
I speak Chinese, English, and Japanese
I can remember lyrics to Thai songs
Deployed to Iraq
Studied abroad
Eagle Scout

Aren't they diverse?  I tell them some distinctive things about myself:

I play trombone.
I will not watch online videos that are supposed to be funny because someone accidentally gets hurt.  EVER. 
I am completely in the dark about reality television.
I like Cream of Wheat (not instant) much better than oatmeal. 
I can consistently fall asleep within two minutes of lying down.

There are many more things that I could mention, but I won't reveal any more until I hear how you stand out. 


  1. I noticed that you say "I play trombone." in the present tense. I am impressed if you are still able to do that! And I am even more impressed by the fact that you can consistently fall asleep within two minutes. What a blessing!!!

  2. I have read your blog for several years but have never posted but today I just wanted to let you know you are also entertaining..another distinction to add to your list. I am a mother of two (16 and 13) from outside of Pittsburgh (yes..a diehard Steeler fan..and Penn State too). My son is now in the phase of looking into colleges..I hope he has a professor like you! Debi Goyke-Bowden

  3. So do you eat the "quick" cream of wheat from the red box or do you know where to get the regular cream of wheat in the yellow box? (I'm not a fan of COW, but my SIL is.)

  4. umm...
    + i tried out for the olympics in whitewater slalom kayaking in 1992.

    + i've lived in 5 states and 4 towns, one major city and 3 minor cities. 2 of the towns and 1 of the minor cities were college towns or "college minor city".

    + i am an academic kid. (my parents were academics, their friends were academics, their partners were academics, etc..). i don't think there was a key adult in my life who didn't have a phd or who wasn't getting one.

    + i am 4'8" tall.

    +i can knit without looking.

    + i've been blogging since election day of 2000..

    + i am a life long democrat. yes, i even campaigned for mondale & ferarro when i was 11. doesn't mean i'm a big fan of the party these days though :(

  5. Oh I like this post!

    Here are some things that might make me stand out:

    * I lived in Belfast, Northern Ireland for a year. Belfast is my favorite city.

    * I think wearing Dora band aids is much better than the standard of band aid and I am convinced using them makes your injuries heal more quickly.

    * I am 27. Most people I meet think I am 10 years least.

    * I adore sarcasm.

    * I read history books for fun.

    * I am left-handed.

    * I looooove cleaning!

  6. I discovered yesterday that I can only whistle by sucking in air instead of blowing out, which apparently isn't nearly as effective and very funny to watch. All these years I had no idea you are supposed to blow out.

    kim from NY

  7. I am so behind on blog reading!
    -I can crack my toes too without touching them - I do it constantly! I guess maybe that's a bit weird.
    -I play a bit of harmonica, a bit more piano,better ukulele, and most of all guitar. I taught myself all of it and usually play by ear - I can't read music. But I used to play trumpet in our school band and was in 2 chime choirs.
    -I run barefoot! And stay barefoot except when I have to go out in public.
    -I google completely random topics for fun. Always something new to learn about.