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

Overview. 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: (see 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.

Fri, 25 Nov 2005

November 25, 2005: The day after Thanksgiving and a time reflection.

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.

posted at: 14:53 | path: | permanent link to this entry

Sun, 06 Nov 2005

November 6, 2005: Sunday - a day of rest and reflection.

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 there also.

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 art.

posted at: 07:53 | path: | permanent link to this entry

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