Playground Safety Checklist (By Guest Blogger, Ken Allen)

Most parents will tell you that raising kids is very different today than it was when they were growing up. In many ways, that’s true. Consider how kids spend their free time:

Children today have so much of their time outside of school occupied by structured activities that parents need a separate datebook just to keep up with their kids’ daily schedules.

Even though a lot of aspects about raising kids have changed, a lot of parts are just as parents remember them. One of those aspects is the importance of the playground. Even with competition from video games and streaming video, the playground remains one place kids are sure to congregate.

That’s a good thing, too, because playgrounds offer children the opportunity to get some much-needed exercise as well as kick-start other areas of their intellectual and social development.

Although playgrounds remain as popular with kids today as they did in generations past, playgrounds themselves have changed somewhat over the years, particularly when it comes to safety. Whereas playgrounds of the past featured concrete or asphalt underneath many of them, today’s versions are far more likely to feature soft wood chips or recycled rubber to cushion falls. Metal slides have given way to plastic ones that don’t heat up to dangerous levels under the sun. Swing sets often include special swings that will safely hold toddlers without allowing them to slip off the seat. However, just because playgrounds have become safer over the years doesn’t mean parents don’t have to worry about playground safety at all.

Teaching kids how to use playgrounds safely and inspecting equipment to look for potential hazards are responsibilities parents should take seriously, even as playgrounds become safer, in general. In doing so, parents can help ensure that their kids gain the full benefit of everything playgrounds offer them. Consult the following checklist the next time you take your kids to the playground, and you can make sure they’ll have a fun day with their friends, just the way you did when you were a kid.

“Playground Safety Checklist courtesy of Merrillville Personal Injury Lawyer Keneth J. Allen Law Group”


Entrepreneur Spotlight: Brian Leach (Sponsored Post)


I received compensation for my time. I have not been told what to purchase or what to say about any product mentioned in these posts. Consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. These policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

Passion for efficiency and integrated workflow lead to the creation of Steelray and the Microsoft Project Viewer.

Observing a deficiency in a process lead one man to develop a new software and eventually open his own software development company. Brian Leach, is an entrepreneur, coder, and former Project Manager but above all, he is a man who listens to the needs of his clients and addresses them with a solution to streamline their workflow. Brian once said, “I’ve found that most good new products come from a need and one or two enabling technologies.” Brian was able to identify several software needs and in turn created a solution providing ease of use to users while simultaneously enhancing the deficient software’s original capabilities.

Who: Brian Leach is the Founder and CEO of Steelray and the creator of Steelray’s Microsoft Project Viewer. His resume is impressive, and he has worked as a Project Manager or Consultant for the likes of Harris Computer Systems, Ford Motor Company, IBM, Motorola, Cygnus Solutions, and Red Hat. Brian has a Bachelor’s Degree in Math from Emory University and a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from Georgia Institute of Technology.

Brian developed a software for Project Managers in industries which rely on broad and complex schedules, like construction and national defense.

Brian took his passion for Project Management and created a business. He is now the President and CEO of Steelray.

What: After years of relevant work, Brian personally encountered several issues and limitations while using the most common project management software, Microsoft Project & Portfolio Management (Microsoft PPM). He worked to devise several workarounds which as a result, streamlined his personal workflow, however at the time he used those efficiencies for himself and his team. He would later go on to develop an ever-evolving software enhancement for Microsoft PPM, and under the company he created Steelray, he would launch Microsoft Project Viewer. Microsoft Project Viewer is also compatible with other project management software solutions like Microsoft Project 98 through Project 2016, Excel, Primavera .XER, and UN/CEFACT XML files.

When: In the mists of the dot-com bubble Brian, ventured into independent business ownership and actively pursued the launch of Microsoft Project Viewer. In 2000 he left all the comforts of working for someone else to continue his dream, but success and sales did not take off until the end of 2003 and early 2004. Now Microsoft Project Viewer is a well-known and trusted software solution for Project Managers nationwide.

Where: Brian and the Steelray team is based out of Atlanta, Georgia, but they have clients located all over the United States.

Why: As a Project Manager Brian encountered several issues with Microsoft PPM including unnecessary complexities involving printing and viewing project details, schedule maintenance, and exorbitant overhead costs.

First, Brian noticed that the printing functionality offered by Microsoft PPM was limited when you were working with compounding schedules. He observed the tediousness required to print out and tape together large calendars, for the simple purpose of getting a holistic overview of a plan and even then, the schedule lacked many of the essential details which could only be accessed on screen and within the software. In response, Brian developed new printing standards for Microsoft Project Viewer. Users can preview all pages, on page, or the actual page size before printing. This seemingly simple feature gives users the ability to condense the overall size of the printout and number of pages required for each schedule. Microsoft Project Viewer also provides users with the option to control the page size, orientation, and header data.

When companies opt to utilize Microsoft PPM every stakeholder in the project needs to have a license for the software to efficiently view and alter the ever-changing schedule and task lists. Considering this type of software is utilized by companies in industries with numerous stakeholders, like construction or National defense, the cost to procure a license for everyone is expensive. Essentially, this process made each member of the task force a pseudo Project Manager because they were required to update their progress within the software regularly. Microsoft Project Viewer eliminates some of the overhead cost because only the Project Manager needs a license for Microsoft PPM software as long as the other members have access to the less expensive Microsoft Project Viewer.

Plus, Brian developed a web-based script which allows all users with Microsoft Project Viewer to send updates to the Project Manager who then inputs the information into the schedule on Microsoft PPM. Amazingly, Microsoft Project Viewer presents all the information in a similar manner as Microsoft PPM. So Gantt charts and schedules appear almost identical in both software solutions. Once the Project Manager makes the update, the other team members can see what tasks are complete, what is left to do, who is assigned to each job, and when things are forecasted for completion.

Brian and the entire Steelray team has made it easier than ever to streamline your team’s schedules without incurring unnecessary overhead. If you are interested in learning more about Microsoft Project Viewer, consider trying the free 10-day trial.

How to Select Glasses that Compliment Your Face Shape: Infographic

How to Select Glasses that Complement Your Face Shape

I came across this handy infographic this morning and I liked it so much that I decided to do a quick blog post on it; for selfish reasons more than anything else.

The next time I need to get new frames, I’m going to pull up this blog post with this infographic on it, at the bottom. Then I’ll show it to the optometrist to help me pick the best frames for my face shape.

It can be difficult to self-diagnosis yourself on something like this, but I believe I have a heart-shaped face.

(I could be wrong, though!)

When I snapped this Instagram today to use as a reference, as well as going back and watching my newest webisodes of my new web series, Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest, I see a guy with a prominent forehead, high cheekbones, and a pointed chin.

While I’m not fully confident my current frames are the best for my face shape, I do know they’re my most favorite ever: I’ve had them for 2 years now and I have zero interest in getting new ones.

Granted, I only need my prescription eyeglasses to (legally) drive and whenever I’m in front of a computer screen. But considering I’m a commuter (nearly 2 hours round trip, daily) who is front of a computer all day long; plus, I am a blogger with my own YouTube channel, that means my glasses on my face most of my waking hours.

Hopefully, by me (selfishly) posting this infographic today, my readers and subscribers can personally benefit from it as well.

This, to me, is the perfect kind of infographic I can appreciate. It covers the kind of obscure yet relevant material that I don’t consciously spend time thinking about, but once I see it, makes me think, “Oh yeah! I’ve always wondered about that!”

Well, here it is. Enjoy.

[via Visualistan, image via]





Happify’s New Infographic: What You Watch This Summer Can Make You Happier

When it comes to TV time, our family is very deliberate when it comes to setting boundaries.

For example, when we first moved into our new house nearly 6 months ago, I made sure we set aside our downstairs living room as a sanctuary free from a TV set; that we established our main common room void of that infamous conversation killer. We have to deliberately go upstairs if we want to watch something.

This week I came across this new infographic on Happify, a website and app which is dedicated to building happiness skills through scientifically designed activities and games.

The infographic is called “What You Watch This Summer Can Make You Happier.” I love the way it scientically explains what actually makes us happy.


Happify's New Infographic: What You Watch This Summer Can Make You Happier

Dear Jack: The 2nd Week Of Living In Our New House

4 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack: The 2nd Week Of Living In Our New House

Dear Jack,

This past week was very special because not only did Nonna and Papa (my parents) come back in town to help us move in, but so did Grandma (Mommy’s mother)… she flew in from Sacramento!

Dear Jack: The 2nd Week Of Living In Our New House

You helped Papa and I build a 2 person desk for our office. (I’m sitting on it now as I write this.) Something we are learning about things we bought for our house (like the Roman Shades and your bed we finished last week, as well as this desk) is that they look awesome once you work your way to the finished product…

Dear Jack: The 2nd Week Of Living In Our New House

But getting there is quite a task. That’s what happens when you buy stuff cheap from China. It’s basically the equivalent of a Lego set.

Dear Jack: The 2nd Week Of Living In Our New House

Yes, we bought a desk; in theory. But in reality, we purchased all the pieces necessary to build it completely ourselves. Over two days, it took us a total of about 4 and a half hours.

Dear Jack: The 2nd Week Of Living In Our New House

You celebrated the finished product buy karate chopping the Styrofoam packaging, then “taking a bath” in the aftermath.

Dear Jack: The 2nd Week Of Living In Our New House

We also had a lot of fun seeing you flying a kite for the first time… in our cul-de-sac.

I love it that we live in a cul-de-sac. I know this may sound weird, but I always liked the idea of living in one- and now we do.

Dear Jack: The 2nd Week Of Living In Our New House

And it was awesome being able to play in our very own backyard for the first time as well. I felt so… American.

Dear Jack: The 2nd Week Of Living In Our New House

I helped you find dirt to put in your dump truck, so that you could them “wash the animals in dirt shampoo.”

Dear Jack: The 2nd Week Of Living In Our New House

Our moving in process still continues, but it’s very rewarding to see certain rooms coming together now.

Dear Jack: The 2nd Week Of Living In Our New House

I’m really enjoying our new home and there is no doubt you are too!

Dear Jack: The 2nd Week Of Living In Our New House

We have every reason to celebrate our new home. After all, we’ve earned it. Our family has paid our dues to get where we are.



Dear Jack: The 2nd Week Of Living In Our New House

Understanding The Psychology Behind Gambling: New Infograph Included

Last week I published, Lottery Commercials Don’t Target People Who Are Good Money Managersin which I explained how I ultimately am not a target for those who advertise lottery tickets.

While I’m not personally opposed to a lottery, I feel I’m good enough at math and good enough at responsibly managing my money than to buy a lottery ticket on a regular basis.

I know that my chances of maintaining an overall better cash flow, for a permanent basis, depend on me having paid off my debts, saving and investing my money afterwards, and not playing the game of trying to impress people with faux status symbols, like leased vehicles; as I explained in A True “Status Symbol” Is A Paid Off One, Including Our New House (Which Is Not).

So I couldn’t help but notice that this infographic below, Psychology of Gambling, seems to back up why I avoid that particular mindset in my everyday life.

The infographic points out the illusion of control, the sense of reward, the excitement of chance, and our natural sense on optimism when gambling…

Or in my opinion, choosing to play the “American lifestyle game” in which we try to impress people we don’t care about with that things we bought with money we don’t have. (I sort of style that line from Dave Ramsey!)


Infographic, courtesy of


New Infographic: Is Your Home Safe? Radioactive Radon

With our famly scheduled to move in our new home just 3 weeks from now, I catch myself thinking of new issues to consider as we will be moving in. I suppose radon is something I need to learn more about. So to get started and inspired, I’m sharing this infographic: [Infographic]

Courtesy of