Tag Archives: contrafactual

7/12/16 Thank You, Sponsor!

I would like to thank cb at http://www.contrafactual.com for the kind and generous donation to Jamie’s high school robotics club. cb, you made so many peoples’ day by sponsoring Robotics!

Jamie attends a private, all-boys school in the city for college prep.  It’s a sacrifice, but we manage (somehow)!

The extra-curricular activities get zero funding. It takes 10 young men to make a “club”, and they are responsible for all that goes into said club. Robotics gets to happen because of sponsors. I cannot thank cb enough. His donation is going to have a great impact on Robotics this school year.

If you would like to be a sponsor or make a donation, please send me an email at elizabethtmcmanus@yahoo.com.





6/30/16 A Trip to TX, Pt. 3 “saying goodbye”

With the awards banquet over, the team headed back to the hotel. Most of the group had an early flight out in the morning, but since we booked on our own, were leaving separately in the late afternoon.

We had bid our goodbyes to cb, which was hard to do. We had all “clicked” and it felt odd to know that tomorrow morning, we wouldn’t be having coffee together. I told cb that if we couldn’t get together for Robotics next year, we’d come back to Texas to “haunt” him.

The next morning, we slept in and then went to the Waffle House for breakfast. We looked around for things to do in Uptown Houston to fill the time we needed before going to the airport.

We visited the Galleria (I believe that is it), a very upscale mall which holds an ice skating rink on its lower level. The first floor is chock-full of designer boutiques like Chanel. I for one, felt a little intimidated in this luxury shopping paradise, and soon we were back out in the heat.

We found The Gerald G. Hines Water Wall Park not far away. This multi-story sculptured fountain circulates 11,000 gallons of water per minute. The effect is refreshing and fascinating. When one approaches through the archways, it looks as though the circular bottom piece is moving. The spray coming off the fountain was very refreshing, and we took some pictures there:


(the very top of the Water Wall)


(The bottom of the Water Wall. The round platform they are standing on appeared to move.)

Jamie also took this fantastic picture (no filters or effects added), I believe it is the Williams Tower:


After our sight seeing, we got back on the expressway and hit the airport. Went through the checkpoints with no problems, and soon were seated on Spirit for our return flight home. One of the flight attendants was particularly hilarious, and made the trip very enjoyable with his banter. He reminded us not to tamper with the smoke detectors because it was a $5,000 fine and said, “Face it, if you had that kind of money, you’d be flying United….just sayin'”. The plane roared with laughter.

We rolled in about midnight, and picked Maggie up bright and early the next day. I was so sad to see her bitten up face from where she got in a fight with another dog at the animal hospital. She’s back to her normal self now, but I am worried about how they are going to remove that staple from her snout. I am also looking for another Vet.

Thank you SO MUCH for reading this long, 3 part blog. Congratulations to the Brother Rice Crusader Robotics Team, who placed in the top third their very first time going to Internationals! (If you are interested in sponsoring the team, please send me an email at: elizabethtmcmanus@yahoo.com)

I would also like to thank cb (www.contrafactual.com) for his hospitality while we were on his turf. We love ya, “Uncle Chris”. I would also encourage you to get out and meet your fellow bloggers. It’s a wonderful experience! We’re all “WP family” so get out there and get to know your family! It’s Texas-sized fun.

Also, a link to my son’s sci-fi blog: http://www.tophat17.wordpress.com  If you like sci-fi action and adventure, you will like his stuff.

Again, thanks for reading and I’ll turn this blog back over to Maggie (who is recovering nicely and sleeping a lot!)

Your friend,



6/28/16 A Trip to Texas, part 1

Hi, this is Liz. Before I begin, I’d like to thank everyone for hanging in there while we took a week off for Jamie to compete in the MATE International Robotics competition. I know a lot of people like posting their vacation stuff, hence announcing to the world that they are gone and their houses are unattended, but I’m not like that, being made of more suspicious stuff.

I would secondly like to say that Maggie is sleeping a lot and healing up slowly from her adventures of being boarded. She is due to get the little staple out of her snout on July 5. Maggie was nice enough to lend me her blog so I could tell all of you about our trip.

Where to begin? We flew out a day earlier than the rest of the Robotics team. I personally wasn’t up to the grueling task of awakening at 2 a.m. to be at the airport by 4:15 and then have all of us – teachers, students, family, and fans – trying to get through TSA. So, instead of flying Southwest with the group, we booked our own flight through Spirit and got down there a day early.

Spirit was a cramped flight, but OK.  The pilot had been worried about a storm in Houston, so after we left the gate we actually turned back around, fueled up some more, and then took off. I think the pilot was concerned if we had to circle around the destination airport, so he erred on the side of caution and got more gas. It turned out to be an unnecessary precaution, but I for one was glad he took it. The Spirit staff was really very nice.

We landed and got our gear and rental car, and I texted cb (www.contrafactual.com) to let him know we’d arrived. I was excited to meet cb (Chris) after a two-year friendship on this blog. We agreed to meet at the hotel, and off we went.

BOOM! Into the arms of a pelting down rainstorm. Jamie nervously watched from the back seat as Jim white-knuckled it on the expressway. I was the extra set of eyes. Which was a good thing, because the rain was so hard we could not see 3 inches in front of us. I’m the one who spotted the stopped car with his hazards on, in our lane. We barely avoided an accident, and then suddenly, the rain stopped.

We were all glad for the sudden stoppage in downpour as we then had to ascend a very high, roller-coaster like, bridge. Jim exclaimed that it was the biggest, tallest, longest, bridge he has ever seen. I responded, “Everything’s bigger in Texas,” and, from a driving standpoint, that is true. On an aside, we noticed little differences, like the lack of through streets (at least where we were staying) and how to get from one side of the street to the next, a “U” turn was necessary. The police here in Illinois would absolutely have a field day with that!

We all were starving so we quickly hit up a Sonic and then on to the hotel. cb was waiting for us in the lobby and I recognized him immediately from his blog picture, even though he was missing his “cat beard”. We all headed over to the Hilton Garden Inn to scope out where we would be registering as a team for the competition the next day, figured out the logistics and shuttles, and got something refreshing to drink. Goes without saying, it’s hot in Texas, and humid, too, since we were by the Gulf. Something we Illinois-ans are used to is humidity, but it hadn’t been that hot at home yet, so it did take some getting used to. We hung out for a while, talking, and getting settled in. cb is a really nice person and we had lots to talk about.

cb recommended some places to get good Texas BBQ (“It’s hard to get bad BBQ in Texas”) and we went our separate ways. cb was right; we went to Rudy’s and enjoyed some delicious local flavor.

We all met the next morning and registered for our event. Jamie had a couple of meetings with his team, whom had arrived that morning, and it was discovered that one of the pumps on the ROV (remote operated vehicle) wasn’t working. The mentors of the team (Mr. Mostyn and Mr. Gamboa) made a quick run to the hardware store and the boys were off and tinkering with their ROV, the Edmund Mark 2.5, readying it for the next day.

After that, we had the rest of the day off, and Jamie suggested we head over to the DMC, or DeLorean Motor Company (see cb’s blog, http://www.contrafactual.com/Run-DMC).

The DMC was located on a back road that we first overshot. We got on the right track, and were not sure at first if we could even enter the building. Much to our delight, we were welcomed amongst the beautiful DeLorean autos:


(from left, Jim, Jamie, and Chris)

Of course, no tour would be complete without a pic of the flux capacitor:


Even more surprising, the CEO of DeLorean Motor Company was on hand to give us a personal welcome and took some pictures with Jamie. His name is Stephen Wynne, and he’s very, very, cool. As you can imagine.


This is getting long, so I’ll stop for now. Next blog will be about the competition and the NBL (Neutral Buoyancy Lab) at the Johnson Space Center. Thanks for reading!

Your friend, Liz





1/29/14 The Day After

I’ve had a pretty good Day-After-My-Birthday.  One toy is destroyed and the other has a nice dent in it.  I was able to take a nap in the sunshine at my spot at the top of the stairs.  It got up to a balmy 22 today, so I got to tag along to pick Jamie up from school (but I had to wear my coat).

I was happy to take a ride in Zeus, the little Fiat, and watched the scenery out of the window going by for a couple of blocks.  Then I figured out it was all snow, and more snow, and more snow, so I put my head on the seat and relaxed instead.

Mom didn’t give me wet food today, but she did put some of the juice from the chicken on my dry food.  Delicious!  Mom had cooked the chicken in beer and told me not to get drunk.  I wonder what she meant by that.

I also got to read the next chapter in cb’s book he is writing.  Check out http://www.contrafactual@wordpress.com for a mind-blowing zombie story, and some cool sci-fi chapters, too.  You’ll be hooked in no time!

Aside from one Hairy Bullet blanket-stealer incident, the day has been great.  Hope yours was, too!

Woof!  Love, Maggie