Watch the demolition (unbuilding) of the Grace and Pearman Bridges
(old Cooper River Bridges)
The Bridge Blog A dialog about our new bridge and these web pages
Schools and universities are all about learning - and learning is mostlly
brain training. Learning is expedited by repetition and forgetting
is expedited by infrequent use of learned skills or information.
Tracking the building of the Ravenel Bridge and now tracking the
demolition of the Grace and Pearman Bridges bring
many questions to me and help me better understand the role Google
and the Internet play in
just-in-time learning. I enjoy chasing my curiosity and
want to identify ways to encourage younger learners to also enjoy curiosity
chasing and learning.
Many young learners do not understand the importance of repetition. More
important, while experienced learners understand the learning process
they often do not realize the destructive effects of the forgetting
process. Over the course of the
bridge project, I have access to only a few experts.
Rather than a liability, this has become an asset and pushed me to improve
my search skills with Google. Soon, I realized that answers
to questions encountered during my photo adventures were often
only a Google-search away. Gene Stead,
my first boss and I put these ideas together in a small essay:
Restoring the Joy in Learning).
Google + Internet have become dependable extensions of my memory.
Insights I gain from you and this project will find their way into the
learning centers in our schools and universities.
It is Thanksgiving and most of the Cashman / Testa team has made its way back
to Boston while local members have returned to their nearby homes. It is
quiet here. Josh (our youngest) and his girlfriend came for Thanksgiving.
Ellen departed from tradition, and deboned a huge chicken (10 lbs) for dinner
yesterday. Our small family enjoyed a quiet afternoon, wonderful dinner
topped by one of Ellen's impossible blackberry pies (the secret is the
crust which was passed down from her mother). Last night we visited the
top of the new MUSC parking garage and found the new Ravenel Bridge quietly
inviting us over.
To the right was the shadow of the remaining Pearman cantilever section. Just
visible, but somehow it fit my mood.
Today I took Josh and Bibi for a survey of the bridge work. Bibi is an
Art History expert and the interplay of the bridge structures
and early morning or late afternoon sun makes for very interesting images.
Earlier Bibi looked (probably after being forced by me) to look at a few
of the videos I made of our mostly Boston surgeons - and her immediate
impression was the care and slow and deliberate way the operators move
material from A to B. It was my impression from many months ago. For
her to catch it immediately gave me a bit of satisfaction that the
photos and videos are, indeed, capturing some of the skillful approach
the unbuilding team takes with their work.
University life restarted in late August. This makes my double
life rather hectic - trying to capture the bridge unbuilding
during the early morning, late afternoon and evenings.
Unbuilding has a rapid pace while building (the Ravenel
Bridge) was slower and a bit more predictable. The fast-paced unbuilding,
though, has opened new doors for me and brought new friendships. But to
track all that is going on - well, its impossible at least for me.
But there has been a big surprise for me. With the unbuilding project
has come lots of email from wifes, kids and relatives of the Testa and
Cashman teams. While I had a little email from the Ravenel families,
the Testa / Cashman families have brought a new dimension to these pages. I
have to thank Tina Hebb, Maura Bickford (Jack Foley's sister), Donna
(Jack's aunt) and Kathy Billingsley for adding this new dimension to
our web pages. Kathy is faced with the empty
nest syndrome back in Boston with her husband and her 2 "boys" working on the
project. From time to time, she reminds me that I missed an update. So the
Internet has really flattened our world - and geographic separation
does not seem to get in the way of developing friendships between people
I have never geographically met.
Meanwhile back on the work site,
work is mostly 24 hours/day - a 12 hour morning shift and a 12 hour
night shift. The teams are dynamic - and some members of the day shifts are
moved to the evening shift and that makes identifying teams and meeting
them and learning something of their work and life a challenge. I have
managed to meet most of the team leaders - Bob McCabe, Neil Myers, Pio
Monsini and Paul Leary. Ponch Billingsley seems to have his fingers
everywhere and is moving from site to site, along with Steve Testa - sort
of roaming symphony conductors who refuse to remain standing on a single
platform. Moreover, Joe Duffey and Ken Canty are into everything. One
afternoon I was watching Mike Hebb hammer away at a Pearman column (at the
Port) and Joe walks up and we talk about what is happening. Later that night I
found Jack Foley and Roy Delpriete segmenting concrete girders. Joe was
Early one morning (about 4am)
I caught some of the cleanup from removing roadway over the East Bay ramp
to the Ravenel bridge. Then about 10 that night I was watching Neil's team
pick up the concrete girders over the East Bay ramp. Each time I ran into
Joe. And Ponch was multi-tasking - directing traffic, running a front
loader (to set up for the 7550) - you name it, these guys are all over it.
They truly reflect a highly skilled surgical team that is continuously
fascinates me. No boring jobs here - there are always surprises. But
my memory is a problem. Recently I renamed Chris Vocci as Cecil - who
runs the 7550 giant crane. Earlier I mixed Jack Foley and Michael Hebb.
These guys and/or their families quickly point out my errors and so,
help improve the accuracy of this story.
Recently I met Mickey Rogers whose Advanced Blasting Services is responsible
for the concrete explosive work. Mickey has become another of my professors
and helped me to understand the preparation of the columns for explosive
removal. As the project moves into its explosive stage, I shall bring more
of the insights from these teams - as they teach me something of their