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How I made it inside of the Silver ticket area at the 2009 Inauguration
|| 1/20/2009 || 11:45 am || Comments Off on How I made it inside of the Silver ticket area at the 2009 Inauguration || ||

The night before the inauguration, when I was having a good time at the DC Manifest Hope Gallery, an old college friend of mine said, “Do you have tickets for the inauguration tomorrow?” I responded, “No, I wasn’t able to get any.” She opens up her purse and pulls out a Silver ticket and hands it to me and says, “Now you do.” It definitely made my night! A couple hours later I rode my bike over to my friend’s apartment near 21st & E street and went to sleep…

I started the morning off by eating cereal for breakfast and layering myself with clothes because I didn’t want to be cold at the inauguration and I knew I wasn’t able to bring a backpack with me to store extra layers. I ended up wearing three pairs of socks, three pairs of pants, a scarf, a stocking cap, a t-shirt, sweater, fleece jacket, and another fleece-lined jacket. At around 8:00am I hopped on my bicycle and started riding down toward the National Mall.

I was expecting the entire National Mall to have a security perimeter that stretched from the Lincoln Memorial to the U.S. Capitol, however as I rode my bike by Constitutional Gardens, I discovered that there was no security checkpoints, so I kept riding my bike east toward the Capitol by way of the south side of the Washington Monument. My plan was to enter the Silver ticket area from the south side (red circled above) because I figured there would be less people there since the bridges had been closed.

As I made my way on to Independence Ave at 15th street, I could see that the police were having people walk on the sidewalks west, away from the Capitol from the L’Enfant Metro station toward 15th street. As I rode east I had the police tell me multiple times to ride my bicycle on the sidewalk, and I responded “Officer, I cannot walk this bike against the flow of people without causing extra traffic.” They understood, but every 150 feet or so I’d have to repeat myself to another set of police officers.

Eventually, I hit the corner of 3rd & Independence Ave. SE and seeing that there was a huge line at the intersection, I decided to dismount my bicycle and queue up in the line. I locked my bicycle on 3rd street about half a block south of the intersection and started by nearly 3 hour wait…..

This video was taken while I was waiting in line at the intersection of 3rd & Independence Ave. Every once in awhile the officers would tell people to wave the ticket in the air to ensure that they were at the right entrance. Independence Ave was being used as a secure street to shuttle VIPs to the U.S. Capitol, so it had to remain open. What resulted was that people would have to wait at the corner and every few minutes the police would let people cross the street. This caused a tremendous bottleneck that only got worse as the day went on.

After finally crossing the street thousands of us were penned into a somewhat small area where we were to wait and slowly make our way to the screening area. For thousands of people this is as far as they got. I, however, was able to make it in.

Shortly after we crossed the street and started to get pushed together in our makeshift holding area, I recognized an old friend of mine was nearby. I met him at an anti-war demonstration in January of 2007, nearly exactly two years prior. He drove this antique bus that said “ARREST BUSH” on it and he travelled around the country raising awareness for the war crimes committed by the Bush administration. I had last seen him at the demonstration outside the White House the month prior, but I didn’t introduce myself to him (he’s actually in the videos throwing shoes). He was pushing a wheelchair that contained a friend of his and in front of him was another gentleman pushing someone else in a wheelchair.

According to the map on the tickets there were at least 4 different entrances for disabled ticket holders (see map above), yet there were no signs indicating where they were to go and with thousands of people massed together I saw there was going to be some issues. The first problem arose when there was a small surge where everyone had the opportunity to take about two steps forward. This resulted in a woman next to the wheelchair having her foot rolled over. Instead of being polite about the pain she had accidentally received, she made a scene. The poor gal was clearly mentally distraught by being confined together with so many people. The people around were attempted to deescalate the issue by trying to tell the gal that it was a mistake and there was no ill will toward her. Yet she continued to complain and complain.

I decided to step in and offer my services to my friend and the gentleman in front of him. I said, “Hey let me try to clear a way so that you guys can get to entrance for the disabled.” Easier said then done. When I first tried to ask people to move they responded by “Sorry we are packed in here too tight.” And for the next two hours we waited for the line to move forward and it only moved about 5 feet.

In that time I got to know some of the people around me a little better. I learned that the African American gentleman in the wheelchair ahead of my friend was a former Tuskegee Airman and his son was helping him that day. Every once in awhile, they’d let me stand on side of the wheelchair and look above the crowd to see if there was any progress happening ahead of us. Each time I had to report back that there was no movement.

After the swearing in ceremonies started people began to realize that they were probably not going to be able to make inside of the secure area and started to get rather feisty. It was also around this time that both of the disabled men needed to use the bathroom. Unlike the rest of the able-bodied men & women standing in the crowd who could walk over to the fence and urinate, they needed special help to relieve themselves.

It was at this time I spotted a lone police officer struggling to make his way through the crowd. When he was about 15 feet from us, I yelled “Officer, I need your assistance. I have two disabled men here that need help.” The officer struggles through the crowd and makes his way over to us. He asked what help he could offer and I reiterated my previous plan of making a path to help the wheelchairs make their way through the crowd.

He consented and started to blow his whistle and I made my way to the front of the two wheelchairs and started politely tapping people on the shoulders asking them to step to the side to help the wheelchairs pass through. With the police officer holding up the tail end, and I working the front, we started to make progress. Then something special happened.

We started to encounter other disabled men & women also waiting in line and we politely asked them to join the caravan. Some people were rather pissed that the disabled people were receiving special treatment, including the gal who had her foot rolled over, and grumbled at my polite requests to step aside. However, we continued moving this way through the crowd until we reached the gates where the police officer allowed us to pass through.

As a member of the caravan, I was able to make it through the gate and when I turned around to wait for my friends who helped me at the beginning, I counted the number of people who I had assisted. In total, there were over 20 disabled people and over 50 of their friends & relatives. It made me quite proud to see that my good faith effort rewarded so many others.

A moment later, when I was about 25 feet from the gate, I turned around saw that a bunch of people were also breaching the gate!

When we made it to the security checkpoint I was asked to lift up my jacket to show I was not wearing any bombs or had any hidden weapons. I was not asked to show my coveted Silver ticket.

From there I walked with my new friends toward the reflecting pool and watched the swearing in from a large Jumbotron…..



Geoeye satellite image showing where I was located at the 2009 Inauguration of Barack Obama
|| || 11:09 am || Comments Off on Geoeye satellite image showing where I was located at the 2009 Inauguration of Barack Obama || ||

At around 11:19AM on January 20th, 2009, GeoEye‘s newest satellite, GeoEye-1, took this picture of the inauguration of president Barack Obama in Washington, DC. Since it was taken before the start of the swearing-in ceremonies, you can see that crowds were still making their way into the viewing areas. In the next hour after this satellite image was taken, I was able to make my way to the ticketed viewing area, but only after a lot of hard work! I will write about how I made it in, while thousands of others did not, in an upcoming entry.



Two photos from the We Are One concert on the National Mall
|| 1/18/2009 || 11:16 pm || Comments Off on Two photos from the We Are One concert on the National Mall || ||

Today I went down to the National Mall to check out the opening ceremonies of the Inauguration of Barack Obama. I twittered that I had never seen the Mall so full! While I didn’t really catch much of the concert it was quite cool seeing so many people on the Mall.



The National Archives Cross
|| 10/24/2008 || 1:38 pm || Comments Off on The National Archives Cross || ||

: rendered at 18,000 X 12,000 :

So far I’ve made two other crosses: Mount Pleasant Cross and Memphis Cross. I am pretty sure how to make these now and future maps of this type will be added to it’s own special category on the sidebar. The cross above was chosen out of about 8 different tessellations and within this map is the National Archives at the center of the cross (hence the name), the Federal Trade Commission, the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Navy Memorial– which features a map of the western hemisphere (below), the Winfield Scott Hancock statue, the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial, and portions of the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden and the west building of the National Gallery of Art, which make the vertical and horizontal stripe.

For reference, click here to view the outdated Google Map of downtown Washington, DC.

: detail of the National Archives :
: detail of the Navy Memorial :

View the rest of the details:

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Hallway view of the first edition of the New & Arabesque Map of the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden
|| 10/14/2008 || 7:43 pm || Comments Off on Hallway view of the first edition of the New & Arabesque Map of the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden || ||

The other day I realized that posting maps here in digital format doesn’t show perspective well. For the image above I decided to switch it up and show the newly framed map from the perspective of looking down my hallway. Click here to read the original entry on New & Arabesque Map of the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden

Below is the original photograph of the new map:

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A New & Arabesque Map of the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden
|| 5/23/2008 || 10:43 am || Comments Off on A New & Arabesque Map of the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden || ||


:: saved at 6,480 x 5,040 ::

To celebrate the new procedure I decided to get around to editing the Library of Congress‘ copy of Willem Janszoon Blaeu‘s Nova totius terrarum orbis geographica ac hydrographica tabula, which was published in Amsterdam in 1606. I removed the original map from the center and kept the decorative border similar to Nova et Accvratissima Totivs Terrarvm Orbis Tabvla, A New Map of the Terraqueous Globe : according to the the Ancient discoveries and most general Divisions of Geospatial Art, America as a Cloverleaf, and A New And Accurate Map of the World by John Speed. However, unlike the previous antique map mash-ups, which usually feature the earth laid out in two hemispheres, this map uses a rectangular space (Mercator?). The beauty of this open layout is that I can place any of my previously made maps inside of this 402-year-old template.

A common naming practice I’ve noticed in old map is the use of “New & Accurate” and since I like to play around with words, I changed Accurate to Arabesque to create a visual pun. The source map was about 6,500 pixels wide, I underlaid a rotated 9,000 x 6,000 copy of Hirshhorn Quilt to fit perfectly in the center of the new map. I think it would be fun to actually hand-color the engravings on this map to match other copies of this map which have the various figures colored in. The LOC’s copy is uncolored which means that its actually easier to add color to it than if it were already colored because pigment matching is not needed.



: detail of the planet Goddess Venus :

Across the top (left to right) you have the planet gods:

Drawn within each of these engravings are the signs of the Zodiac that the planets rule:

Below I dissect the rest of the border of the map:

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Hirshhorn Quilt
|| 5/21/2008 || 10:22 am || Comments Off on Hirshhorn Quilt || ||

: rendered at 18,000 X 12,000 :
Hirshhorn Quilt

Following up on my new procedural idea from last week, I made this derivative map without publishing the intermediate maps. The unseen steps involve the rendering of a pre-Hirshhorn Quilt, sampling a portion of that quilt, and projecting the imagery again to create the map above. The result, as with all derivative maps, is a more symmetrical, arabesque map. This technique will be used again.

View the Google Map of the Hirshhorn Museum on the National Mall in Ward 2 of Washington, DC.

: detail :

View the rest of the details:

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Libertarians make a misguided political statement at the Jefferson Memorial
|| 4/17/2008 || 4:50 pm || 2 Comments Rendered || ||

I’ve been reading some of the coverage about a group of DC Libertarians who tried to stage a flash mob at the Jefferson Memorial last weekend.

The plan was simple: show up at the Jefferson Memorial at a set time and dance with their iPods for 10 minutes to celebrate Thomas Jefferson’s birthday and leave. But all did not go as planned:

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Geovisual QR Code
|| 4/12/2008 || 5:42 pm || Comments Off on Geovisual QR Code || ||

: saved at 6,000 x 6,000 :
Geovisual QR Code by Nikolas Schiller

QR Code is a two-dimensional bar code created by Japanese corporation Denso-Wave in 1994. The “QR” is stands for “Quick Response,” and it operates very similar to traditional bar codes, but allows for more customization. QR Codes are common in Japan where they are currently the most popular type of two dimensional code. In recent weeks I’ve read about some very interesting uses of the code and decided to make something with it.

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National MSM of the American Indian on Google Maps; Why truncate the word Museum?
|| 3/31/2008 || 1:55 pm || 1 Comment Rendered || ||

Last night I was using Google Maps and discovered that the label for the National Museum of the American Indian has been truncated to be “National MSM of the American Indian.” This raised alarm because the shorthand for MSM is more recognized as “MainStream Media” not museum. Native Americans have been shortchanged for hundreds of years by the American government, and I found it downright rude that the museum’s name has been cartographically shortchanged as well. So why shorten the name?

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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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  • thank you,
    come again!