Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ninja Watercooler

Ninja Watercooler by Dowbiggin
Ninja Watercooler a photo by Dowbiggin on Flickr.
Via Flickr:
Tragic recent events meant my building at work was without a working water cooler for about a week. But oh, was it ever worth the wait. This new, shiny, black and silver NINJA watercooler even smelled like "new car" for the first few days. (The water tasted just fine though.)

I hesitate to turn my back on this sleek devil.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

King Eggroll

King Eggroll by Dowbiggin
King Eggroll a photo by Dowbiggin on Flickr.
Via Flickr:
Cameron had teriyaki chicken skewers with white rice, but I had to get me some chow mein and the Famous King Eggrolls. If you live in San Jose, you know what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ta Ti-Ti Ta

Ta Ti-Ti Ta by Dowbiggin
Ta Ti-Ti Ta a photo by Dowbiggin on Flickr.
Via Flickr:
We were in the Business Office at school at my son spotted the t-shirts for the Summer School and Summer Daycare program. Showing off his musical education, he pointed to the music notes and declared "ta, ti-ti, ta." I didn't have the heart to tell him they're really ALL TIs, because they're all eighth notes.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Did Somebody Call For a Rockstar?

Via Flickr:
I was at le-Tarzhay when I saw these and, given my Rockstar status in the California EdTech community, I had to snap a shot. Jon Corippo later said I should buy them. I almost did. But . . . . really, now.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Outside Old Spaghetti Factory (San Jose)

We met friends for dinner downtown tonight. I liked the composition of these features on the outside of the building, and it just took getting a little bit below them to really get a nice balance for this shot.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Getting Dressed

Getting Dressed by Dowbiggin
Getting Dressed a photo by Dowbiggin on Flickr.
I was getting dressed, sitting on my bed, and looked down and saw my first tattoo looking up at me. People generally don't get to see this, as I need to be in just a swimsuit for this to be visible.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hills Near Work

Hills Near Work by Dowbiggin
Hills Near Work a photo by Dowbiggin on Flickr.
The iPhone camera, with me zooming in, really doesn't do this view justice. I was walking in to work and the sunlight on the nearby hills was really beautiful -- too lovely to not at least try to capture it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


LadyBeer by Dowbiggin
LadyBeer a photo by Dowbiggin on Flickr.
If you ever see me refer to LadyBeer, this is what I mean. The new Fresh and Easy a mile from my house carries this. It smells and tastes a bit like FrankenBerry cereal, and somehow that's not really a bad thing.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

LaughCry in Fish Island

LaughCry in Fish Island by Dowbiggin
LaughCry in Fish Island a photo by Dowbiggin on Flickr.
This is actually one of my son's worksheets from school. But he decided this was a map of Fish Island. In the butt area of the fish is a country named LaughCry (pronounced LAYF-cree) where they speak LaughCrinese, which my son is inventing both as a spoken and written language. I later declared the capital of LaughCry to be GiggleSob. It's pronounced (GEEG-luh-sohb) of course.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Smile! (What, here? Now?)

Smile! (What, here? Now?) by Dowbiggin
Smile! (What, here? Now?) a photo by Dowbiggin on Flickr.
Spotted in the staff restroom at work. At eye level, if you know what I mean. So MANY thoughts raced through my head.

1. Really? This is what you do in the can, Mystery Colleague?
2. I know He does. But I'd really rather He not watch me in here.
3. Even with my pants around my ankles? Now, that's my kind of God!
4. If I smile, will He see it? If not, will He be sad?
5. Smiling all alone in the restroom is creepy, even if no one other than The Big Guy ever finds out.

And so on.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Do We Really Need a Poster?

M'colleague Sarah "Curfew" Glossop is our vocal music teacher, my co-teacher on Thursdays, and the Queen of the Honor Choir. They got new uniforms/costumes/outfits this year, and now they're working to pay for them. Chocolate Sale! But do we really need an instructional poster to guide us in the getting excited? I know, a sales tactic. But you had me at "chocolate." Really.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hey Mom, did you know there are 37 countries in Europe?

I kept hearing people talk about Instagram, and then some more this week at CUE in Palm Springs. So when I saw some fun pics my friend Sean took using it, I got the app, and started messing around with it when my son approached.

My first Instagram attempt. Cameron comes up to me with this map card thing. Then attempted to read me all 37 country names. He's seven. It bordered on comical.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

During Ken's session

During Ken's session by Dowbiggin
During Ken's session a photo by Dowbiggin on Flickr.
I credit my friend Ken Shelton with getting me motivated to take more pictures and do the 365 Project.

Speaking of my photography mentor, here's something Ken showed us as a great source of images for fantastic presentations that are primarily visual. This would be where Ken gets most of his slide fodder.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Carpet in my session room. OUCH.

While I was restarting my laptop to get ready for my presentation on Google Earth, I looked down and couldn't let this memory slip away.

In case you're wondering, my session went VERY well. Bigger and better than I had expected, and I was really pleased. I just avoided fixing my gaze on this floor.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lobby at Riviera

Lobby at Riviera by Dowbiggin
Lobby at Riviera a photo by Dowbiggin on Flickr.
It's what Palm Springs is all about, baby.

We had a lot of laughs about some of the decor. Took this while waiting for a cab to go down to Street Fair. The Riviera wasn't bad, it's just 2 miles from everything we needed to get to. Won't stay there again if I can help it for just that reason.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

On the way to Palm Springs, from the air

Couldn't resist snapping some pictures of the snowy mountains on my way down to Palm Springs by air.

When I needed to get an earlier flight, I ended up paying to upgrade to first class so I could switch the flight for free. (Also saved $20 on my checked luggage, I later realized.) Would have cost the same amount to change flights. First time flying first class. 85 whole minutes.

But that meant enough room to dig out my camera and snap a bunch of shots of the mountains from the air. Cameron helped me pick this one for the 365 project because it had a lot of snow.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tejas Tulip

Tejas Tulip by Dowbiggin
Tejas Tulip a photo by Dowbiggin on Flickr.
I just love the tulips that have popped up at work lately. And the new Tejas lens in Hipstamatic.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Messin' With Tejas

Messin' With Tejas by Dowbiggin
Messin' With Tejas a photo by Dowbiggin on Flickr.
Yesterday, my good friend Ken Shelton turned me on to the limited-time free download of a special SXSW lens and case for Hipstamatic. The lens is called Tejas, and I like how this sample shot turned out.

This was at the end of a meeting of my school's technology committee, of which I am 25%. The cup is from an event I worked last month and I love it as a way to make me remember to drink more water.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Daddy's Boy (Underpainting 2)

This is in a covered bridge in Felton, California (in the Santa Cruz Mountains), taken a year or two ago.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Old Time Garage (Underpainting 1)

This is at History San Jose at Kelley Park. I took it a while back, but I only just tried applying this BeFunky effect to it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Exploring (Underpainting 1)

This is a couple of years old, but I just applied the effect using BeFunky now. I love how the grass and tree trunk get all swirly.

This was originally taken during a geocaching outing when my niece was visiting from New Jersey. Cameron was convinced there was a geocache hidden here (there wasn't) and wanted to explore.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tulips Gone Wild 2011

Tulips Gone Wild 2011 by Dowbiggin
Tulips Gone Wild 2011 a photo by Dowbiggin on Flickr.

I took a picture (with my iPhone) of some tulips growing at my school today.

Then I used to apply underpainting, watercolor, and pointillism effects.

Then I used picnik to make a collage of the four shots.

Because I could.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Finished Tide Pool Poster

Finished Tide Pool Poster by Dowbiggin
Finished Tide Pool Poster a photo by Dowbiggin on Flickr.

My son has to create a poster for Ocean Week. It's due Monday. The habitat for first grade is the Rocky Seashore, and they usually study tide pools. The theme for this year is "Rescue at Sea."

This is MY prototype poster for him to use as a guide. Alec or I will make some of the pieces for him (since I could not get any tide pool animal stickers) and he can put it all together. I don't know how to get the "Rescue at Sea" theme worked into it, so I am just not going to worry about that.

We've actually had Cameron visit tide pools a number of times. He's been there and seen what lives there, at more than one location. We'll have to see how his poster comes out.

There's a set showing how I created this, step-by-step, at

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Haven't the Foggiest

Haven't the Foggiest by Dowbiggin
Haven't the Foggiest a photo by Dowbiggin on Flickr.

Can you SEE that fog? This is what we were driving toward to go to work/school on Tuesday this week. Love me some Bay Area weather.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Dad Tattoo "Cartoonized"

Dad Tattoo "Cartoonized" by Dowbiggin
Dad Tattoo "Cartoonized" a photo by Dowbiggin on Flickr.

I was playing around with some effects on, and I really like how this picture of one of my tattoos turned out. The tattoo is on my right shoulder, and it's in memory of my father, who passed away on March 28, 2008. He was born in England, and he was a very patriotic American (naturalized) citizen.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

In-N-Out in my SUV

In-N-Out in my SUV by Dowbiggin
In-N-Out in my SUV a photo by Dowbiggin on Flickr.
After church today, Cameron and I went to In-N-Out Burger for lunch. It was packed, but it was overcast and drizzly out, so we got it "to go" and ate it in the back of my 4Runner.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Daffodils at KCI

Daffodils at KCI by Dowbiggin
Daffodils at KCI a photo by Dowbiggin on Flickr.
I took a bunch of shots of these lovely daffodils at KCI (Krause Center for Innovation) at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California today. The building has some lovely features, one of which is captured in this shot. This was my favorite from the set, so I'm using it for my 365 for today.

There's an entire (small) set of shots of these daffodils here:

Friday, March 04, 2011


Daffo-delicious by Dowbiggin
Daffo-delicious a photo by Dowbiggin on Flickr.
This is one of my set of daffodil pictures, with boosted color, then antiqued, and with blurred edges a little bit.

I actually took this on Saturday, but I had NO pictures for Friday, so I used this instead. Shoot me.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Chips n Salsa

Chips n Salsa by Dowbiggin
Chips n Salsa a photo by Dowbiggin on Flickr.
My son and I had a snack while waiting for hubby to get home. We got these last night at the new Fresh and Easy that just opened yesterday a mere mile from our house. This combination of sour on the "hint of lime" chips and spicy/sweet of the peach salsa was a great fit!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


Refreshment by Dowbiggin
Refreshment a photo by Dowbiggin on Flickr.
Been drinking a lot of this lately. This is the view from our dining room table at the front of our living room where it now resides. If there's one of these, I can't be too far away.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Samurai Helmets

Samurai Helmets by Dowbiggin
Samurai Helmets a photo by Dowbiggin on Flickr.
The same teacher who had our seventh graders create African masks also has them make Samurai helmets. Here are just a few on top of the cubby shelves in the hallway near her classroom.

Why I Will Keep Applying to Become an ADE

So after a month of waiting, today was a roller coaster ride of more intense waiting to find out if I had been accepted into the Apple Distinguished Educator program’s USA Class of 2011. Once people started getting their e-mails about it, and we all started discussing it via Twitter, the intensity ramped up exponentially.

My friends Jim Sill, Jon Corippo, Nicole Dalesio, and Mark Hammons – all from California – got accepted. I did not. And I was among thousands who did not, I am sure; and judging by the names of fellow #ADE2011rejects (that was our new Twitter hashtag), I was in excellent company among a host of really amazing folks who also didn’t make it.

A few friends told me I was robbed. I don’t agree. I am sure I didn’t deserve it nearly as much as dozens of others whom I saw rejoicing on Twitter. My video WAS really good. I’m not gonna lie to you. But I just may not be to the point yet of my comrades who made it in. And I really am okay with that. Had I gotten accepted, I would have been dumbstruck with surprise.

A number of today’s winners got in after two previous rejections. I hope that’s what happens to me (though second time applying would be nicer, if you’re asking). Yes, I will keep applying.

To this announcement on Twitter, David Jakes asked me why.

So this is kind of my open letter to David, but also to anyone else wondering what’s all the fuss with this alphabet soup of qualifications people carry around in the world of EdTech.

It all started back in 2006. I was just taking on the position I still hold (teaching technology to grades one through eight), and my school sent me and my then-colleague (our school’s technology specialist) to ISTE’s NECC in San Diego. Back then, they had the money to fly us both to San Diego (from San Jose), put us in a hotel, get us a rental car, and pay for the conference registrations and our ISTE memberships.

The conference was great, and it coincided with my first summer working as the Blogging Peer Coach for IISME. In fact, at the conference I mainly focused on blogging in education to help me be a better peer coach to these educators I would oversee in a blogging experience for the following six to eight weeks.

Then, a couple of months later, I found out about the first ever Google Teacher Academy. Imagine my surprise when I was accepted. This was the start of something truly monumental in my life as an educator.

Now, let me jump in here to say that there are critics of organizations, especially those run by for-profit companies, who seem to be guaranteeing their future business by staking a claim in the education sector on the backs of teachers. I don’t agree with such critics that this is a problem.

Here’s why:

  1. I teach. Teachers don’t make very much money. I teach in a private Christian school. I make A LOT less money than most teachers. I supplement my income by conducting trainings in the field of educational technology. Being a Google Certified Teacher has opened up opportunities I never would have had otherwise.
  2. I’ve always wanted to get my Masters degree, and I suppose I had a back burner “plan” to always do it . . . someday. Getting involved with a community of like-minded, supportive educators really propelled me to take action and finally do it. I started in the Fall 2008 semester, and I earned my degree in August 2010.
  3. Being the geekiest, most tech-savvy teacher at your school can be very isolating. This is especially true in a school as small as mine is. Becoming a GCT gave me a network of people like me, and then inspired me to bring my colleagues along with me for the ride. As I’ve added tools for our staff and students, I’ve helped everyone on our school’s staff strive to meet their own hidden potential. And I have to say, they had awakenings like mine. It feels good to make positive changes for the benefit of students.
  4. Companies make money. Schools don’t. When schools want to implement change, they often seek sponsorship from companies. Sometimes parent donations are matched by the companies which employ those parents. Everyone wants schools to improve, but no one seems to like the idea of making our students’ future employers invest in education. Companies that care about schools have their motives questioned. If Google wants to make their Apps free for all of K-12 education, I am 100% behind that.

Over the past four and a half years, I have spun a huge web of contacts in my personal learning network (PLN) of educational technology folks. Twitter has helped with that, and it wasn’t around yet when we had the first Google Teacher Academy. I’ve begun working some Google Workshops for Educators, and I qualified as a Google Apps Certified Trainer, which enables me to get even more work helping other schools and districts implement Google Apps. It’s a product I use, and I firmly believe in the value of the tools it offers.

Being a Google Certified Teacher has made me a better teacher and a better person. I really do believe that. It’s not what Google has done. It’s what the power of the PLN has done. And that PLN does include some folks, like David Jakes, who may not agree with me about “badges” and organizations I belong to or seek to join. That’s okay. It’s part of what makes it a great PLN.

So why will I keep trying to get into the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) program?

  1. They didn’t really reject me. They couldn’t take all of us, they spread the wealth around the country, and my state (California) is pretty geek-heavy and hard to compete in. I heard they took 76 new ADEs, when they normally only take around 50. And I also heard that there were thousands of applicants. My not getting in was not personal.
  2. I know several folks who needed to apply three times before they got in. Given that this program comes around about every two years in the US, I’m impressed with their dedication.
  3. What does it say about me if I want something, and then give up the first time I try and don’t get it? I am a teacher and a parent. I am NOT a quitter.
  4. I know many ADEs and many who are in the new Class of 2011. These folks are spectacular, and I have a lot I can learn from them. It’s another great network to be a part of.
  5. Staying active as an ADE requires some commitments that will help me to continue to grow as an educator. Never stagnate.
  6. Other than airfare to the summer event, Apple pays for everything else involved with attending the week-long ADE Orientation and Institute. Will I allow a company I’ve already bought lots of stuff from to put me up for a week? You bet! (See my earlier sharing about being a poor teacher.)
  7. There have been a number of training opportunities I have had to pass up because I am NOT (yet) an ADE. These have mostly been iPad in Education workshops I could have been paid to teach. (Again, I need the dosh!)

As it stands right now, my employer does not pay my expenses when I attend trainings. Given the state of the economy and private school enrollment, this is never going to change. I generally work for pay, or I present to cover the cost of the conference itself, and then I pay for all my travel and lodging myself. I become better at what I do on the job, my students and colleagues benefit, and I continue to grow my network. It’s a win-win situation that just happens to cost me money. I’m all for increasing my qualifications and decreasing what I shell out to do so.

So, David, thank you for asking why I will keep applying until I get accepted. I don’t crave acceptance. I don’t need another set of letters after my name. I want to be a part of something I believe in, and I know it will be good for my career. I have a self-employed husband and an adorable kid depending on me to always strive for more and better. And that kid’s tuition isn’t going to pay itself.