Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Bird of the day

Posted in Uncategorized on October 23, 2009 by barryshapiro

Nothing more fun to do a quick sketch with than oil sticks. Better than crayons and messier than pastels. I have done many variations on this beautiful bird but I really like this one which I did ‘on the fly!’

Red Wing Blackbird

Red Wing Blackbird


The Call of the Wild

Posted in Uncategorized on October 21, 2009 by barryshapiro

Of the things I will miss when it is time to leave Sebastian is the bird life on the Indian River. Every day we are visited by the beautiful, the graceful and at times the comical winged creatures. There’s Snowflake, the tall white Egret that visits us around dinner time when we are dining on the lanai. And a large Blue Heron that rules the roost around here and likes to position himself on top of the neighbor’s roof. There is an Osprey nest in view and watching them fish is always a thrill. Egrets, Ibises, Green Herons, Kingfishers, Pelicans, Vultures, Cormorants and twice a year the rare White Pelicans. Not to mention the thousands of Black Crows that commute over the river every morning at dawn and evening at sundown.





Can’t beat the scenery.

Hey Moe!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 3, 2009 by barryshapiro

The 3 Stooges Movie with Sean Penn as Larry, Jim Carrey as Curley and Benicio Del Toro as Moe. Why do I think this is a bad idea?
Am I alone in this?

When the rain comes…

Posted in personal, Uncategorized on April 3, 2009 by barryshapiro

I recall my first trip to Seattle. I had always heard about the rain and the high suicide rate but didn’t think too much about it until I arrived. I was there to shoot a big TV commercial package for Pitney Bowes and would be in town for a couple of weeks. When I arrived at SEATAC airport it was raining. Not a downpour or drizzle – rather a constant light stream of wetness that seemed to soak through your clothes and skin and into your muscles and bones.

I was met at the airport by a local assistant who drove me to the hotel downtown. It took about an hour to get to Seattle (the airport is between Seattle and Tacoma, hence the name) and it rained the entire time. It was raining when I checked in and it was raining when I left the hotel a few hours later to go to dinner. It rained that night the entire time and was raining when I went to sleep. When I awoke at 5 AM it was still raining and on and on and on like that for days. Never any big downpours or letup. Just this steady misty rain that never changed. After a few days I began to get it. I was getting really grumpy and feeling sad.
And my clothes were always damp and my hair looked like Larry of the 3 Stooges. I started to see where Grunge came from. I just wanted to warm up. We were working with John Ratzenberger (Cliff the mailman from Cheers) and he and I went out to lunch. He had a home nearby and I asked him how he stood all the rain. He said he spent a lot of time in LA.
On the morning of the 7th day (I swear) I woke up, went to the bathroom and did those things that I do in the bathroom upon waking and then slowly walked over to open the curtains. The morning light hit me like a thunderbolt. I was stunned and frozen in disbelief as the rays of sunshine hit my skin.

I quickly threw on some shorts, a t-shirt and sneakers and hit the streets. I ran up the hill to Pike Street Market, through the market, crossed to the downtown area and to the shopping district, down the hill to the waterfront through Old Town and finally back to the  hotel. I must have run 10 miles (I was in pretty good shape back in those days) and I could have kept going I was so happy. People I saw on the street also seemed to blossom like flowers. They shed their hats and slickers and suddenly sprouted colors! It was glorious.

It lasted till the next morning.

A few days later we had to make fake snow in the rain. It was a nighmare but somehow we made it work. I mention all this because my friends Lynn and Rich are experiencing Noah’s Ark type rain at their home on Big Island, HI. Lynn’s emails always crack me up. She is so funny, I suspect even when she does not intend to be so. It does rain alot on that island paradise but usually on the other side – the Hilo side of the island so I think they were caught unprepared. They are trying to move to a new home and the rain is making life miserable. But how miserable can you be when you live in paradise?

Don’t worry Lynn, it will all work out!

How do you spell moron? Another Congressional hoax.

Posted in political, Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 31, 2008 by barryshapiro

I was fascinated this morning to see clips of the Senate debate on a national energy policy, as reported on CNN. It is amazing to me how the major news gathering agencies buy in to all the bullshit that the government spews and report it to the public as if it were real.

Republicans are taking shots at the Democrats, who are refusing to pass a bloated and misguided energy bill before the summer recess. The key to the energy bill is off-shore drilling, which the oil companies (and hence their Republican lackeys) want, and they want it bad. The Democrats, hardly knights in shining armor, are opposed to off-shore drilling and claim it will not have an impact on the price of gasoline, which is really what all the hoopla is about. This time around, for a change, the Dems have it right. Drilling for oil in the Gulf will not affect the price of oil one iota and it certainly would have zero impact on gas prices.

Big Oil is experiencing record windfall profits. Where is the money going? Certainly not toward developing new sources of energy. Exxon-Mobil, one of the ugliest companies in history, has reported all time profit taking. Dutch Shell just today announced an increase in profit of 33% from last year. That’s 11.6 Billion US Dollars if you are counting. All that cash and the cost to fill your tank still keeps creeping up and up. The national average for a gallon of regular is hovering around $4. 12 states report averages higher than $4.

Do I need to repeat myself? It has absolutely nothing to do with anything the wind bags in Congress would like you to believe. It has nothing to do will domestic off-shore drilling, nothing to do with the commodities markets, nothing to do with scarcity or the rising cost of refining crude. And it has nothing to do with the cost of a barrel of Saudi crude. The jerks in Congress, the jerks we elected, do not want to tell us the truth because they know that if they told the truth, not only would they not get reelected but we’d probably tar and feather the lot of them. The price of a gallon of gas was agreed to years ago and what we are caught up in is just the steps being taken to ramp up the price to that average. Barring some colossal disaster or a new development in the Middle East, like a nuclear blast in Tel Aviv, that’s where it’s going. As we get closer to the election, the price of gas will dip and we will hear squeaks and squeals from the oil and gas lobby about how we can’t wean ourselves from foreign oil if we don’t drill in Alaska or off the coast of Louisiana. Then someone will get elected and the price will continue towards the target price point.

What is sad is that these Congressional pinheads are using this information to play politics as usual. They have the audacity to get up in front of the world and point fingers across the aisle and blame the other guys for what they have already agreed to. What a bunch of snake oil salesman they all are.

It matters not if the next president is Obama or McCain, it will have no effect on the price of gas. And it also means that all of those emails circulating on the net telling us to boycott this oil company or that are also meaningless blather. I have no problem if you choose to personally boycott Exxon or Gulf (in fact I have refused to purchase gas at an Exxon station for many years for reasons of my own), just don’t think it tells anyone anything other than you don’t like them. They don’t really care anyway.

Our challenge as citizens is in finding and electing officials who will tell the truth, vote with the big picture in mind, make decisions on what is best for America instead of their war chests, protect our environment, educate our children and take care of the health of our people. They also must protect us from our enemies, to be sure, but they also must do whatever it takes to raise our stature with the rest of the world, and not just by means of shock and awe.

And while we’re at it, let’s get rid of some of these beautiful suckups who disguise themselves as news reporters and find some Edward R. Murrows to get our information from.

Bourbon Street Blues

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 29, 2008 by barryshapiro

A friendly place

A friendly place

Where has all the money gone?
            -sung to the tune of “Where Have All The Flowers Gone”
Where has all the money gone, long time passing…
where has all the money gone, in New Orleans…
where has all the money gone, to politicians pockets, each and every one.
when will we ever learn, when will they fix this town…


Here we are in the Big Easy, my second trip since Katrina and there is good and bad to report. On the surface, in the tourist areas of the French Quarter and the Warehouse District, things look good. Yes, there is a lot of repair and construction still going on and obvious spots where business have gone, never to return. One of my favorite furniture stores has gone out of business. And the Quarter is jumping, even at this traditionally slow time of year. But the areas hit the worst are still suffering.

Most tourists, business people and vacationers hang in their hotel and flood the Quarter at night but never see these other areas or get to meet the people who make this area so special. I decided to take a walk and poke my nose in some places I hadn’t seen before. I spent some time in a local Deli and met a woman I will refer to as Melanie, a native New Orleaner whose family has owned the business for over 30 years. Melanie had another business but the company was forced out of operation by City authorities, or so she claimed, so she came back to the family deli business. Though the store is back to normal, and doing its usual business, her home had only recently gotten back its electricity and renovations were way behind. This is just too hard to believe but it is a common story you hear.

Back in November, on my last trip to the Crescent City, my cab driver told me his neighborhood had not gotten the power back and I hear now that in some areas it is still a problem. They all blame local government, not the Federal government, for the slow progress and all the locals seem to feel that the millions poured into the area have been squandered by their own politicos. If this thinking is due to a history of corruption or to actual facts I couldn’t say, but it seems to be the unanimous consensus.

Is this where the money went?

Is this where the money went?

How is this possible? When earthquakes destroyed the roads around LA and the Army Corps of Engineers declared it would take years to fix, government and the private sector made it happen in months. Why not New Orleans? Why does the most powerful nation on earth plow trillions into a war in a foreign land but ignore the very serious problems of one of its most culturally rich and diverse regions? Is it racism? Is it that the Christian right Administration doesn’t condone the hedonism that New Orleans represents to some?

I don’t know but I do know that it is to our nation’s shame that we have not made this area whole. I have to be honest and say that when I first saw the devastation of Katrina on TV, I was one of those who thought that it might be best to just plow the whole thing over and let it go. But when you are here in this wonderful town you realize quickly that we can never let her go. When you leave the Big Easy you take a little bit of her home with you.

Some of the photos you see here were shot on a walk through the Warehouse District on a rainy Thursday.

Wall Art

Wall Artalley way downtownstreet scene


Posted in personal, Uncategorized with tags , on April 18, 2008 by barryshapiro

Recently I learned of the “Monty Hall Problem.” Not heard of it? It’s a well known theory among psychologists  in the study of what they term ‘cognitive dissonance’ (you can look it up) and it has to do with people’s remarkable ability to rationalize their choices. According to John Tierney in the NY Times, here’s how it works:

Monty shows you 3 doors with a car behind one and a goat behind the other two. If you open the one with the car, you win it. You start by picking a door but before it’s opened Monty will always open another door to reveal a goat. Then he’ll let you open either remaining door. What do you do? Stick with your original choice or choose the other door?

The answer may surprise you. With only two doors left the answer is 50-50 that the car is behind one of them. But when you stick with Door #1, you’ll win only if your original choice was correct, which happens only one in 3 times on average. If you switch, you’ll win whenever your original choice was wrong, which happens 2 out of 3 times! Makes sense right?

So, what does this tell us about the choices we make every day? Maybe nothing… maybe something. It seems to me that we are always second guessing ourselves and in many cases, second guessing our second guesses. I guess that’s third guessing? Then, no matter what the outcome, we rationalize our decision to justify the outcome. (“I picked Door #1 because it had a green stripe and green is my lucky color and it was the day before St. Patrick’s Day).

Of course, the best we can do is make informed decisions based on the facts we have at hand. But facts can change as our perceptions change, situations can change, people change so we make our best educated guesses on what to do and where to go with what we have at hand. Or we can calculate the odds and roll the dice based purely on statistics.  Then we wait to see what really is behind Door #1.

 I have always been one who made a decision based on gut reaction as much as on facts. Then I stick to it no matter what. Then, after the result is in, if it doesn’t work I second guess myself to distraction. If it works out then I gloat! Most of the time, my gut has served me well.  

Lately, however, I have noticed a new approach in my decision making and rationalization process. Stick with the facts. If I just look at what I know at that moment to be true and take the emotion out of the equation, I find myself satisfied no matter the outcome and there is no second guess, or third. So even if I get the goat, I can be satisfied that I made the right decision for me.

And now here’s where the Monty Hall Theory comes in… it’s OK to change your mind!

So, I pick Door #2. And, at the very least, I have goat stew for dinner!