Some things in life are just self-evident. This is one of them.

(Credit this one goes to my girlfriend Amy - she came up with the idea the other day when my greek salad came inexplicably full of quartered tomato chunks.)

It's true that projects like Habitat for Humanity's eco-friendly retrofit home that is nearing completion in Ottawa's west end would not have been possible without generous gifts of time and money from large corporations like Home Depot. But that doesn't mean that local companies shouldn't play their part as well, says one local contractor.

Daniel Smith, owner of Strokes of Genius Painting company, has partnered up with Bank Street Decorating Centre Benjamin Moore and this weekend they will be helping Habitat put the finishing touches on the revamped home that will soon house a family in need.

The home, situated in the Bayshore area of Ottawa at 14 Kevin Avenue, was one of the first local houses built by Habitat National Capital Region in the late 1990s. It recently came available to the organization again because the previous occupant's children grew up and moved out, and their mother downsized to a smaller home.

With an old property on their hands and a long list of families who needed help, Habitat decided to partner up with local volunteers, companies and trades to do give the place a completely Green overhaul.

"We’ve put in brand-new flooring, a brand-new kitchen, an energy efficient furnace and water heater and energy efficient windows," says one of the build's volunteers Bill Blampied. "All of these things reduce heat loss in the house.” They have also made changes to insulation and foundation sealing to further increase the home's energy efficiency.

As the team begins to put the finishing touches on the renovation, working towards a January dedication, local company Strokes of Genius Painting has decided to donate one of their crews to help Habitat volunteers with repairs and paint work in the home.

Strokes Owner Daniel Smith and south end Benjamin Moore store owner Dino Bentivoglio have agreed to supply top of the line, environmentally-friendly paint for the project as well.

"At this time of year, we need to be helping each other out in any way we can and when it comes to finding people who are in need, you don't have to look any further than right here," says Smith. "I think that large companies like Home Depot helping to make these homes a reality is great, but that doesn't let the rest of us local businesses off the hook!"

While Habitat has a great group of local volunteers who help out with everything from foundations to framing to finishing, they always appreciate when Ottawa-based skilled trades step forward to help provide guidance as well as hours of professional labour to help move things along.

"When we go in to the build, we will do whatever we can to provide volunteers with tips and tricks for professional patching and painting that they can use both now and in the future," says Smith. "And of course, since we're providing only low-VOC planet-friendly paint from Benjamin Moore for the job, we will effectively be helping to put a nice Green cherry on top of this eco-friendly Sundae of a reno as well."

A Strokes of Genius crew will be at the Kevin Avenue location on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, December 11 through 13th.

For more information or interview opportunities, you may contact:
  • Dino Bentivoglio
  • Owner, Bank Street Decorating Centre Benjamin Moore Paint Store (2446 Bank St, Unit 133, Ottawa)
  • Contact: 613 733 9220
  • Donna Hicks
  • CEO, Habitat for Humanity NCR
  • Contact: 613 749-9950 ext 222. donna AT


The preceding is the text of a release I have sent out to local media about a charity project we're working on with Habitat for Humanity this weekend. Habitat is a great organization and one I really believe does good work at a local level, so I am glad Strokes of Genius could help them get another home ready for a new family this year. A special thanks to Dino at the Bank and Hunt Club Benjamin Moore, who came through on the paint front and helped us make a greater contribution to the cause.

If you came here via our website and you would like to get back there, click here.

What they never look like emerging from the bag.

Wondering today: Why do bagels always seem to come cut just most of the way through? It's a pretty all-or-nothing scenario if you ask me. That's all for today, write your congressman.

Inspired by the wonderful (for procrastinating) site, this is my own first foray into using the powerful at-a-glance medium of the chart or graph to make a (possibly) humourous observation about life. You decide.

UPDATE: Cross posted this over on graphjam as well, we'll see if I meet their exacting standards.

A (Final) Change of Scenery

Posted by Daniel Smith | 12:36 AM | , , | 0 comments »

Well you probably noticed that the blog's name has changed. Again. For the second time in a week, it's true.

But I'm ok with it and I hope you will be too. To be honest, Colourful Language came to me today and it just stuck. Compared to Cutting In, it describes so much more aptly what I want this blog to be: a raw peek into my personality and my observations on the lighter, more humours side of life.

And, as a bonus, it still ties in to the painting theme too (which was important to me because I have connected the blog to the website for my Ottawa house painting business, Strokes of Genius Painting to give potential clients a glimpse into the personality behind the paintbrush, so to speak.)

In any case, don't stick around for the name of the gum, stick around for the flavour. (But I promise neither will change again any time soon.)

Why do gas stations bother to put the price per litre on their signs at all?

I mean let's be honest folks: Gasoline is, for better or worse (hint: it's for worse), the most inelastic of goods - we will buy it until we literally cannot afford to put another drop in our gas tank without losing our homes. Otherwise we would have to walk or bike or something.

So then why even bother with the price display at all? Why even put on a charade and make it appear as though gas prices are somehow governed by market forces or competition or really anything other than absolute oligarchy with a dash of outright dependency?

I hereby suggest a revolution in gas signs. I propose that stations should make better use of the space. Ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere, I pray that one day soon, stations will begin to display the current temperature instead of the current temper-inducing-price-per-litre.

At least then, during our frigid Ottawa winters, these signs will actually display something that will help us decide whether to stop and fill up, or not, rather than just making us even more depressed about the orange light glowing in the corner of the dash, reminding us we don't have a choice.

Then, instead of using the other sign space to spell out something unbelievably obvious like "WE SELL CIGARETTES" (which is mildly better that "WE SELL GAS" but only slightly less patronizing than "WE DON'T CARRY FOOD WITH ANY NUTRITIONAL VALUE"), they could instead address the lack of pricing information with a dose of refreshing corporate honesty:

Baba Haidar Natural Ethic Food: For when you want a meal, not a moral dilemma.

Bonus Observation: The business seems to have gone under, judging by the For Lease sign in the window. Hard to believe, given their attention to detail.

Signs of the Times will be a common Cutting In segment dedicated to the many funny, often stupid signs that I come across in my day-to-day rounds and just need to shaden-share. If you have a sign you think I would find funny, feel free to send me an email (sogpainting at that google email service) and I just might post it. (No signs from other sites please, originals only- honour code.)

Dear Self-Righteous Gas Station Owner:
If you should ever "enter upon" me using the washroom, we will have other, more pressing issues to attend to, I can assure you.
-A Patron Who Really Didn't Want to Have To Use Your Facilities in the First Place

Signs of the Times will be a common Cutting In segment dedicated to the many funny, often stupid signs that I come across in my day-to-day rounds and just need to shaden-share. If you have a sign you think I would find funny, feel free to send me an email (sogpainting at that google email service) and I just might post it. (No signs from other sites please, originals only- honour code.)

Today, while driving, I was reminded (once again) of the importance of proofreading vanity plates and the importance of using protection.

All In The Inflection

Posted by Daniel Smith | 4:27 PM | , | 2 comments »

I enjoy these Dummies book ripoffs The Complete Idiot's Guide to Whatever because they leave to the imagination whether they are exhaustive guides for normal idiots, or just regular guides for complete idiots.

If you have visited Smithereens Blog in the past, you know that its posts largely fell under the categories of either productivity (web solutions, life hacks, etc.), persuasion (sales and marketing tips) or prose (the art of the written word.)

I had a lot of fun writing that blog - met a lot of interesting people, attracted a loyal group of readers and even managed to get my fabled fifteen minutes when some mainstream media outlets picked up a post I wrote on the Rogers iPhone launch. But alas, it was not to last.

At the time, I was working for an employer (Mark Buckshon at the Construction News and Report Group) who encouraged us to be active online and build our 'personal brand.' When I left that position, however, I accepted a post with a large corporation with strict rules about online publishing by its employees and, as a result, had to shelve the blog for awhile.

To make a long story slightly shorter, eight months and one offshore-outsourcing-of-the-entire-Ottawa-office incident later, it was time to make another career change, sooner than I'd hoped. After a lot of thinking, I decided to revive the professional house painting company I used to run here in Ottawa six years ago by partnering with an individual who used to work for me and had since started his own gig. This melding of my sales and marketing experience, and industry background with his production capacity and industry knowledge created Strokes of Genius Painting, what has turned out to be a very successful residential painting endeavour so far. (Fingers crossed!)

Throughout this transition, my path also lead me into an agreement I certainly never expected to arrive at - a mutually-beneficial arrangement with the previous employer mentioned above, who now has me doing advertising sales and a bit of writing for his publishing business during the day and leaving my evenings and weekends free to handle my responsibilities as the marketing and sales half of Strokes of Genius. I guess it's true what they say about the benefits of not burning your bridges!

I'm not exactly sure what this blog will be about, to be honest. And yes, I know that breaks all the rules about successful blogging. But I think one of the reasons why Smithereens was never as successful as it might have been is that maybe I wasn't truly passionate about every post. So this time I am just going to write what comes naturally and focus on on thing: being me. Specifically, I know I want to experiment with more frequent short snippets of observation and photos of funny things I come across, supplemented by longer posts from time to time.

If you like it, by all means, stick around (maybe even subscribe... or RE-subscribe.) And if you don't like it, well, you're entitled to your tastes (even if they are questionable ;).

You can expect at least a couple posts a week, starting later this week. I look forward to seeing you then.

You used to know this blog as Smithereens Blog. (Or maybe you didn't.) Either way, even though the blog's style and subject matter has changed, after a yearlong sabbatical and career change, I have kept all the old articles archived here. So if you are interested in productivity, prose and the art of persuasion, be sure to take a look through some of these Smithereens posts, you just might find them readable.