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An interview on a bicycle conducted while riding through Amsterdam
|| 7/31/2008 || 5:56 pm || 3 Comments Rendered || ||


Amsterdamize Bicycle TV : Riding With Marie from Amsterdamize on Vimeo.

Yesterday I watched the video above and smiled. It was the first time I’d seen an interview conducted whilst riding down the street. Have you ever seen one conducted in this fashion?

The 9 minute video above features the author of the Dutch bicycle advocacy blog Amsterdamize as he rides side-by-side & interviews the co-author of Copenhagen’s bicycle advocacy blog Copenhagenzine. They discuss the differences in bicycle riding in their respective cities while showing the beautiful scenery of Amsterdam. It truly made me want to go back to Amsterdam just to ride around the city and take in the city’s car-free culture & rich history.

Anyways, this year I’ve added bicycle advocacy to the disparate topics this website covers. It makes sense as well because my main transportation method is a bicycle and the 120-year-old house I live in is on the site of a former bicycle racetrack.

Since I recently purchased a digital camera I’ve been running through a bunch of ideas as to how I can creatively use this simple technology to make new content for this blog. Expect some more bicycle related entries in the coming days….

In case the video above didn’t satiate your appetite for urban bicycling, here are few of my favorite bicycling videos from Amsterdamize, Copenhagenzine and it’s sister site Copenhagen Cycle Chic for you to enjoy:

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Quart Bag: A Community Art Show at the Civilian Art Projects
|| 7/30/2008 || 10:42 pm || Comments Off on Quart Bag: A Community Art Show at the Civilian Art Projects || ||

Screen grab of the front page of Civilian Art Projects website
Features a piece I created called “Without You I am Lost”

On July 21st, 2008 I received an invitation e-mail from the owner of Civilian Art Projects, a Washington, DC-based fine art gallery. The e-mail outlined the concept behind their upcoming group show called “Quart Bag,” which invited local artists to submit a Ziploc® that has been decorated, converted, or redesigned. The uniqueness behind the concept, one that I’ve always enjoyed since I was a kid, is everyone is essentially given a prop and its up to the artist to get creative with it and transform it into something new & unique.

After reading the e-mail a few times over I immediately thought of using some of the maps that I had saved from my Artomatic exhibit. The map scraps were originally a bunch of cut up maps that I used for my Base Map Installation (see below). These maps were originally purchased using DC government grant money that was given to me in conjunction with the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities 2008 Young Emerging Artist Award and I realized that I wasn’t about to throw all those maps away when Artomatic finished. So when I was dismantling the exhibit I saved as many of the maps as I could so that I could recycle them (like last night’s leftovers!) in a to-be-identified project.

With the recycling theme running through my head, I went downstairs to my kitchen, found an unused Ziploc® bag in my pantry (gallon-sized not quart!), and proceeded to my basement to create this unique piece of art. The original idea was to fill the bag up with scraps of maps but after filling it up, I realized that there was something missing. Essentially, there was no message being conveyed and frankly I wouldn’t say a bag filled with scraps of maps means much to anyone, or worth $50/$100 unless of course, you were a collector of discarded maps and/or the maps were really old.

Upon further contemplation, I decided to empty out the bag and add a bit of text to the inside of the bag to give it some depth of meaning through an abstract message. I chose a phrase that combines the unique nature of maps with a subtle, but concise, message of longing: Without You I am Lost. This simple message speaks volumes (about a gallon) about who I am, where I am going, and how I’ve been feeling as of late. There were a few other phrases that I bounced around in my head like show me the way, you are not here, and get lost, but I felt that Without You I am Lost really captured the essence of how I was feeling at the time of it’s creation.

I went back upstairs to my room and printed out the text using the same font that I used in the bloody self-portrait taken after my recent mugging and had the text printed archival matte photographic paper. I then cut the paper down to size and found some clear packing tape to affix the printed text to. To give the clear tape some subtle flair, I used my lighter to burn the edges of the tape and then affixed it to the inside of the bag and filled it back up again with the maps.

This time around I was more precise in how I arranged the maps and placed on one side of the text a detail of the National Mall explicitly featuring the United States Capitol. I chose this location to add a secondary depth of meaning because as a resident of Washington, DC I’m denied representation in Congress. Thus the You could be implied to mean congressional representation and the I implied to mean the residents of Washington, DC and so it could then indirectly be read as “Without congressional representation the people of Washington, DC are Lost.”

Adding to this inferential geographic juxtaposition motif, the other side of the text features an upside-down portion of the Middle East and Africa to imply concept of being lost in the global context. Or more specifically, I am implying that American democracy has lost its way and the world has become lost. After all, the opposite of progress is congress, right? By placing the two locations on opposing sides of the central text, my message expands from a sincere message of longing to a subtle critique on American foreign policy and the disenfranchisement of Americans living in the capital city of the world’s most powerful nation.


A couple days ago I e-mailed the gallery director back indicating that I was interested in participating in the exhibition and attached the photograph of the bag. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to participate because I was using a gallon-sized bag instead of a quart bag. Her response was that she thought it was perfect :-) Earlier this afternoon, about 30 minutes before I was going to leave my house and drop off the bag at the gallery, I received an e-mail notifying me that the photograph I had sent was currently on the front page of the gallery’s website. Grinning, I checked it out and took the screen grab above. I’m really looking forward to seeing the variety of submissions that will be on display. If you are in the Washington, DC area, you should come & check out the exhibition:

The Quart Bag Exhibition opens on Friday, August 6th from 7pm to 9pm @ the Civilian Art Projects, which is located on the 3rd floor of 406 7th Street NW, Washington, DC



In case you are interested in seeing what the maps were used for before they ended up in the bag in the photo above, in April of this year I produced the YouTube video below for promotion of my Artomatic 2008 exhibit:



Related Art Gallery Entries:

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Geospatial RSS Art & the RSS Monster
|| 7/29/2008 || 8:00 pm || Comments Off on Geospatial RSS Art & the RSS Monster || ||

Image above links to this blog’s main RSS feed

About a year ago I came up with the idea of making a large scale rendering that uses the iconic RSS logo as a texture on a very large and creepy monster. He’d be a cross between overt information consumption and the plant from Little Shop of Horrors. Below him would be the caption “FEED ME!!!.”

Instead of going that route, I’ve simply modified a large RSS graphic I found on-line and replaced the white space with one of my previously made maps. I’ve been debating on whether I should expand this concept and make a string of these graphics like I did for the randomly selected banner graphics (see banner above and/or hit reload). For now I’m going to stick with the first design I created, which uses imagery from Boston Financial District Quilt.

In homage of the to-be-created RSS Monster, here’s a YouTube clip from Little Shop of Horrors where Audrey II falls over with hunger pains and says “FEED ME SEYMOUR!”



Hipster : The Dead End of Western Civilization By Douglas Haddow
|| 7/28/2008 || 2:48 pm || 8 Comments Rendered || ||

This entry has depreciated, please click here to read the official article on the Adbusters website.

Below is the feature article of Adbuster’s Magazine Issue #79, which should hit newsstands either today or tomorrow. As a subscriber to the magazine, I received my copy in the mail last Thursday and after reading the entire issue I decided to spend an hour Friday afternoon transcribing the feature article for this blog entry.

Normally I don’t waste my time transcribing articles, but I have a strong feeling that this article will not be published on their website in its entirety and I feel that by sharing it here I’m able to direct more people to the magazine’s website than would otherwise visit. I don’t think Adbusters will take too much issue to my reprinting of their article, but if they do I’ll remove it from my website. I’ve already been their anti-advertisement lackey before and probably helped sell dozens of their corporate flags when I was featured in the Sunday Style section of the Washington Post on the 4th of July, 2004.

What I enjoyed most about this article is that it hits close to home. Depending on what clothes I might be wearing I could easily be considered a hipster under the definition outlined in the article below. However, what’s lacking in the demographic the author outlines are those that bridge the gap between socially aware and unaware. As in, can someone stand for something, but not have it thrown in the face of the unaware? On my behalf, I can say that I’m fully aware of what style I am supporting just as I am aware of what corporations I am not supporting in my clothing, music, and transportation choices (I have two bicycles; neither of which are fixed-gear). Aren’t culture jammers supposed to be wolves in sheep’s clothing that can blend in, but stand out when the time arises?

In this respect, the author makes little room for someone like myself to exist within the rubric of hipsterdom. Can one be stylish, but not hipster? Or can one be socially conscious while maintaining the decorum of that which the author loathes? The inherent irony is that many of the clothes the author points out are also clothing items that were not made in a sweatshop.

As a mashup of all demographics before it, how then will the future be defined by the absence of this mashup? Essentially, if hipsterdom is to die, then how can a new demographic be born anew without stealing some its tenets, much like all previous generations did before it? In that respect, the author attempts to answer this by stating we are at the end of the Western Civilization because we have no where to grow, move, or redefine ourselves. Yet the author doesn’t give much direction as to how we are to accomplish this.

I ask those rhetorical questions above because I generally agree with the author’s conclusions, yet as someone that straddles the demographic at hand, I don’t see the how the demographic will end or morph without some cataclysmic event that forces the delineation between those who have both substance and style and those that are simply posing for the camera blissfully unaware of their choices. Only time will tell…I hope you enjoy the read and if you do, go out and purchase the magazine yourself.





Hipster : The Dead End of Western Civilization
By Douglas Haddow for Adbusters Magazine, Issue #79


I’m sipping a scummy pint of cloudy beer in the back of a trendy dive bar turned nightclub in the heart of the city’s heroin district. In front of me stand a gang of hippiesh grunge-punk types, who crowd around each other and collectively scoff at the smoking laws by sneaking puffs of “fuck-you,” reveling in their perceived rebellion as the haggard, staggering staff look on without the slightest concern.

The “DJ” is keystroking a selection of MP3s off his MacBook, making a mix that sounds like he took a hatchet to a collection of yesteryear billboard hits, from DMX to Dolly Parton, but mashed up with a jittery techno backbeat.

“So… is this a hipster party?” I ask the girl sitting next to me. She’s wearing big dangling earrings, an American Apparel V-neck tee, non-prescription glasses and an inappropriately warm wool coat.

“Yeah, just look around you, 99 percent of the people here are total hipsters!”

“Are you a hipster?”

“Fuck no,” she says laughing back the last of her glass before she hops off to the dance floor.

Continue reading:

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Taco Bell Overcharges Vegetarians
|| 7/27/2008 || 11:48 am || Comments Off on Taco Bell Overcharges Vegetarians || ||

My second official job when I was in high school was at my neighborhood Taco Bell in Ballwin, Missouri. Starting when I was 17, my friends and I would work evenings & weekends and, generally speaking, had a great time at “Taco Smell.” I’m not going overshare the details of why we had so much fun, but it was the first and only time since that I’ve worked side by side with my best friends.

My specialty was customer service, which was really my rationale for not having to make the food. Instead of being a slave to the food assembly line, I worked the front counter and the drive-through and was able to bypass having to learn how to prepare the food and getting dirty. In our heyday, our Taco Bell was the fastest in the region because we were treated fairly, paid decently, and everyone was friends. We also had a clock above the drive through that showed our average time so we could work against the morning shift to prove that evening shift did their orders faster.

In many respects it was kind of like a Utopian factory in which we diligently did our job at just above minimum wage (I was making $6.40 an hour) and in the process generated some very fond memories while in high school. From climbing up to the rooftop and throwing hot sauce packets on the busy street & watching them pop to giving the police officers free food, in essence, our Taco Bell was composed of a small army of teenagers who worked hard and played harder.

As the customer service specialist, I knew my way around the menu forwards & backwards and could blindly take someone’s order using the touch-screen register. Every once in awhile we’d get an Indian family who’d request their food to be completely vegetarian and we’d adjust their order accordingly.

There was a specific button on the register that we’d use to reflect this dietary adjustment and we could always tell the new employees apart from the older employees based on whether they’d use this button or not. The cryptic text on the button was simply SBBN and it stood for Substitute Beans, which meant that for any food item that was ordered, the meat would be substituted with beans. The new employees would always type in “-MEAT +BEANS” and we’d always have to correct them because the “+BEANS” would mean that the customer would be charged extra because they would be getting extra beans added to their order and not a substitution. This simple button is the why I am writing this entry today.

Since I switched up my diet about 6 years ago and removed meat from my daily intake, I’ve stopped going to 95% of fast food restaurants. Their combo meals are based on a meat-centric diet and without the desire to consume most of what is for sale, I’ve simply found no reason to go to most fast food restaurants. However, sometimes when I am traveling fast food is the only option, or sometimes when I’m out with a group of friends I get suckered into coming into a fast food restaurant with the group. I’m not one to proselytize my dietary beliefs, so I will just order French fries (which are usually fried with the chicken strips) and whatever is not a product that explicitly contains meat. Over the years I’ve learned how difficult it can be to go through the menus and find a full meal that does not contain meat. However, there is still one fast food chain that a vegetarian can get a full meal with little effort- Taco Bell.

The other week I was hungry, bored, and hadn’t purchased groceries in awhile, so I decided to make a visit to my nearest Taco Bell. Located near the intersection of 14th & U streets in Washington, DC, at the heart of the U Street Corridor, this Taco Bell is a Yum! Brand Inc. dual restaurant franchise, which contains a KFC and a Taco Bell (see photo above). This allows customers the opportunity to purchase chicken wings and a burrito. In other cities Yum! Brand Inc. has paired Taco Bell with Pizza Hut or A&W Root Beer or Long John Silvers (or different combinations therein), all with the notion that more sales can be generated when there are more culinary options available. In fact, Yum! Brands Inc., based in Louisville, Kentucky, is the world’s largest restaurant company in terms of system units, with approximately 33,000 restaurants around the world.

However, the Taco Bell nearest to my residence does not operate like the Taco Bell of my youth. There is no SBBN option on the cash register and when I purchased a burrito sans beef filling, I was charged 30 cents extra for the beans. When I approached the manager about this discrepancy, he simply told me that this Taco Bell doesn’t do free substitutions.

On the surface, I can understand why they’d not want to deal with substitutions because it causes the food preparers to do slightly more work. But below the surface, vegetarians are being charged more for less. The environmental aspects of choosing a burrito without beef is akin to a dietary carbon offset. The amount of water and grain used to feed the cows prior to their slaughter is greatly reduced by lowering the demand for beef. Thus its actually cheaper for Taco Bell to serve their customers beans instead of meat because the beans only require space, sun, water, and probably pesticides to mature & be harvested, while the cows require space, sun, water, grain (which in itself requires the same farming protocols as the beans), antibiotics, and a slaughterhouse before arriving in your burrito. So why charge customers more for something that is better for the environment and costs less to produce?

I called up Taco Bell’s 1800 number (1-800-TACO-BELL) to inquire about the discrepancy between the Taco Bell of my youth and the Taco Bell near my house. The official response is that Taco Bell does not have an authoritative position and its up to the individual franchises to give the substitution option to their customers. Thus you can go to one Taco Bell and get beans instead of meat on all your items free of charge, or go to the Taco Bell nearest to my house and be charged 30 cents for each substitution, and in the eyes of Yum! Brand Inc. there is no problem with that.

Frankly, I wholeheartedly disagree with this concept. If the customers is always right, then being charged extra for less is fundamentally wrong. I will be boycotting this Taco Bell until they’ve changed their position and I urge my neighbors to do the same. For those reading this outside of Washington, DC, I urge you to ask the customer service specialist if you are charged extra for the substitution of meat for beans and if you are, kindly state your issue with the practice and leave the establishment.

At the end of the day, its the profits that Yum! Brand cares about, not the environment or even what an annoyed vegetarian thinks. Yet I strongly believe that it would be in their best interest to make an authoritative position on the matter. Until then, I’ll be making my own burritos, buying burritos from other establishments, and when I happen to visit a Taco Bell that overcharges me for less, I’ll raise my voice within the restaurant and make a scene, so that all customers present will know that Taco Bell is ripping off vegetarians. I urge you to do the same.



Meridian Hill Park Quilt #4
|| 7/26/2008 || 4:08 pm || Comments Off on Meridian Hill Park Quilt #4 || ||

: rendered at 18,000 X 12,000 :

I’ve been doing some research on an old sculpture that used to be in Meridian Hill Park that will be featured in an upcoming posting. In preparation, I decided to make a quilt projection map of the park using the newest available imagery. Unlike the previous three, which were some of the first to use my recursive tessellation technique, the newer imagery captures less of the area surrounding the park and more detail of the park itself. This is simply due to the fact that the newer imagery has a high spatial resolution than the older imagery, which correlates to more detail, but less geographic coverage. Since the aerial photography was taken in the early spring, the fountains were still in their winter slumber and I imagine that if it were taken in the summer the coloration would be vastly different.

When constructing this map, I used my new technique hypothesized in May and first rendered a hexagon tile and then took a portion of that tessellation and used it here. The result, which I am seeing for the first time, is that you can see the hexagon shape around the center of this square quilt projection map quite easily. From my understanding, depending on the location of the recursive sampling within the first map, I’ll be able to see it’s respective geometry embedded in the second map. However, I think it’s nearly impossible to fully gage the geometry of the original map after two recursions because each subsequent sampling makes it more difficult to see the geometry present in the previous map.

View the Google Map of Meridian Hill Park in Washington, DC.

: detail :

View the rest of the map’s close-up details:

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Oh busy day…
|| 7/25/2008 || 5:56 pm || Comments Off on Oh busy day… || ||

A photograph of the Schiller-Stevens wedding party

Thanks to this, this, this, and even this, I’ve had over 2000 visitors to this website in the last 24 hours. When I contacted Sommer at DCist about the entry, I wasn’t expecting this kind of feedback, but I guess it it’s all relative.

Since my comment on the City Paper blog has not gone through, after unsuccessfully trying twice, I’m going to post my slightly modified comment below.

Angela Valdez of the Washington City Paper wrote:

Via DCist, blogger Nikolas Schiller says he stood up for himself and fought back when some kids pretending to have a gun told him to empty his pockets on his doorstep. They beat him up but he kept his stuff. So … Nikolas, what exactly was in your pockets to make you take such a stupid risk?

Angela, I had a pocket full of memories that could never have been replaced (see photograph above). And to clarify, it wasn’t a bunch of kids who assaulted me, rather they were young adults old enough to drive a car and old enough to know the difference between right and wrong. Frankly, I always thought I get assaulted by a group of 8th graders first, but I digress.

But truly, it was my mother’s wedding photographs that meant the most to me. Having my extended family (only my immediate family is featured above) who live in 7 different states across the country (California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Michigan, and DC) in one location is something that will never happen again. I waited 13 years for my mom to finally marry my step-father and to let 30 seconds of altercation ruin those memories would have hurt more than the punches to my face.

I think the point of your question was why do something foolish like fight back? Well, a scooter can be replaced and even the camera could be replaced, but the memory card would have been gone forever. Maybe you don’t value your memories as much as I, but that is merely a difference of opinion.

Maybe this extra bit of info would make the story hit closer to the City Paper office: one of my roommates used to work with you. It could have been him instead of me….

But it begs the sincere question of whether people should fight back or give up their personal belongings. I made a choice that could have ended my life, but I lived. Had they been armed, you might have read about it in the obituary instead of my blog. But they weren’t armed and I was lucky to only end up with only a bloody fat lip.

Having been atop the summit of a 13,000 foot mountain on the continental divide and being nearly blown off by gust of wind and falling 1,500 feet to my death teaches one about being fearless in life. Being stopped in your tracks when a thousand pound grizzly bear walks by can make you realize that life can be very precarious as well as dangerous. Being assaulted on your doorstep is downright scary and while I’ve ran through the scenario numerous times in my head, I don’t think I would have changed my decision to fight for what was mine.

I only hope it doesn’t happen again.

Related:
• 24 hours in Rocky Mountain National Park
• Assaulted on my doorstep [2 hours after returning to DC]



Cartographic Clothing from Express
|| 7/24/2008 || 2:22 pm || Comments Off on Cartographic Clothing from Express || ||

At the beginning of this month I noticed a dude at the 18th Street Lounge wearing the t-shirt above and I asked him where he got it. To my dismay he said he purchased it at the Express Clothing Store at his nearby mall. While I liked the shirt (a lot!) I was saddened to know that it was probably made in a sweatshop.

I didn’t ask the dude to take a look at the shirt’s tag, which would have shown the country of origin, but I know from experience that most of the clothing at Express and other clothing shops in the mall tend to be made in sweatshops around the world. A couple years ago I made a pact with myself to not purchase clothing that I knew was manufactured in a sweatshop, so don’t expect me to run out and buy this shirt.

In the three weeks since I started preparing this entry I noticed that the two other shirts which had cartographic representations on them have already been deaccessioned from the Express website. The link above should bring you to the same graphic t-shirt but in a different color. The two t-shirts shown below the fold are not available anymore on-line but might still be for sale at a nearby store. Thats if you are down with sweatshops and all…

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One year later and Google Maps has still not updated DC
|| 7/23/2008 || 1:41 pm || Comments Off on One year later and Google Maps has still not updated DC || ||

One of the little plugins I installed on this WordPress blog was a link at the bottom of each post which shows what I had posted the year before. The other day I noticed that my research related to censorship of Washington, DC on Google Maps, which culminated into the lead article in the Metro section of the Washington Post had appeared. I decided to check out Google Maps to see if there had been any updates and to my non-surprise, there hadn’t been. All I can say is: “what gives?” DC residents are still looking at downtown Washington, DC from 6 years ago. People visiting the MSM of the American Indian are still seeing it under construction, the newly built dorms on GWU‘s campus are still not being shown, and the list goes on….. So when will the imagery be updated? When will DC residents get to enjoy the benefits of Street View? Google has office in DC to lobby elected officials, but they’ve chosen to keep imagery of their own office outdated. This doesn’t make sense to me.

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FLIK International Movie Festival & Interactive Exhibit
|| 7/22/2008 || 1:23 pm || Comments Off on FLIK International Movie Festival & Interactive Exhibit || ||

Tomorrow I am going to be dropping off some of my artwork at Art Whino for this exhibit.


Art Outlet and Art Whino are proud to announce their partnership in presenting the 2nd annual FLIK International Movie Festival and FLIK Interactive exhibition to be held at Art Whino Gallery at the new National Harbor, July 25th thru July 27th, 2008.

FLIK is a multi faceted event that features not only the best in contemporary animation, experimental films, as well as multi-disciplinary and interactive new media art, but it also reaches out to the public at large with a call out for socially relevant expression and person storytelling thru its I CINEMA and VOX POPULI programs, which will continue beyond the festival itself.

FLIK interactive art will explore or reflect on how new and old technology and technique influence how we hook up and how we view the world. Is change or lack thereof good, bad, sublime, dystopic, utopic or irrelevant? How do these tools matter, if at all?


Curator Joshua Barlow, founder of www.flikfestival.com, selected the following FLIK artists for the FLIK International Film Festival and interactive exhibition:

Emmanuel Blessed Aisabokhae, Rodney Ascher , David Butler, Kim Collmer, Tomoska Constantina, Ben Drewry, Casey Drogin, Shawn Lawson, Rudy Lemcke, Samantha, Leriche-Gionet, Bruce McKraig, Tewodross Melchishua, Rob Parrish, Serena Rodgers, Daniel Rolli, Renee Shaw, Fatouros Thanos, Vidlits (Liz Dubelman & Paca Thomas), Filip Walgraef, Millie Wissar


Curator Andrea Collins, selected the following FLIK interactive artists for the FLIK International Film Festival and interactive exhibition:

Eric Celarier, Guthery Duncan , Rita Elsner, Roman Gershkovich , Michael Gordon, Sean Hennessy, Shawn Lawson, Rob Lindsay, David London, James Mallos, Bono Mitchell, Bill Mould, Chris Peloso, Meek Phelan, Tarik Rafiq, Joe Reinsel, Nikolas Schiller, Pindar Van Arman, Andrew Wodzianski


The exhibit and screenings will be held at Art Whino @ National Harbor, 173 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, MD 20745, July 25th through 27th. Admission will be a suggested donation of $10, which will also get you a free beverage and a bag of popcorn. For directions or the complete program listing, visit www.artoutlet.org , www.artwhino.com or www.flikfestival.com.


Try to come out on Friday or Saturday to check out the videos and artwork!




I was not able to get my artwork driven out there, so it looks like they’ll only feature my QTVR map of National Harbor and no printed maps. [damn!!!]





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Nikolas Schiller is a second-class American citizen living in America's last colony, Washington, DC. This blog is my on-line repository of what I have created or found on-line since May of 2004. If you have any questions or comments, please contact:

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