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.
Mon, 20 Mar 2006
March 20, 2006 Almost goodbye.The Charleston Construction Photographers
Frank Starmer and Sparky Witte
The three muskateers of Charleston
One cold morning in January of 2005,
I was watching some girders being erected on
Line 14 (the East Bay on ramp) and up drives a car and out pops a man, tripod,
camera, hard hat, safety vest - just like me. This was Gary Eaton who had
been tracking the bridge longer than I had. Had I not received an email
request to track the approaches, I would not have met Gary.
During the July transition from
building the Ravnel Bridge to unbuilding the Grace and Pearman Bridges,
I received some photos from Sparky Witte from Mt Pleasant. Another kindred
spirit who was as infected as I was with a passion to understand what
was happening. Suddenly, the
Internet facilitated the opportunity for two new friends that helped to
capture the behind the scenes story of
the building and unbuilding processes. This initiated our small club of
Charleston Construction Photographers (still a figment of our imagination)
- who knows what will happen next?
While Gary is a real photographer (visit his
Studio web site),
Sparky and I were novices and eager to learn. I was very fortunate to
acquire additional Internet-initatied contacts that facilitated my learning.
Vince Streano from Seattle
provided insights about capturing construction photos while Stephen
SetteDucati from Boston and did the
Big Dig at NIght provided some insights for
While the Internet is a useful communication tool, it is also a tool for
social interactions. I would never have found Gary, Sparky, Vince or Stephen
without the Internet's ability to publish my building and unbuilding stories
and for Google to index them and make the links available to the world.
As I enter the last few days of acute loose end overload - preparing to depart
for Singapore and Duke on Thursady, I am confident that our interactions
will continue to develop.
Nugget, one of the ironworker acrobats has some digital images
for our site, Sparky and Gary will continue and I suspect others will
contribute. What a wonderful time Ellen and I have had in Charleston and we
shall certainly miss it. We are keeping our home and we are keeping all the
warm friends that we have made - particularly Tom and Joan Bryce, our neighbors.
posted at: 10:39 | path: | permanent link to this entry
Sun, 05 Mar 2006
March 5, 2006: Frank's next chapter.
My professional life has centered around the fun of learning and my
has always been within universities. Each step of my academic career
has been fun and full of surprises - both scientific and cultural.
For 32 years I was a
faculty member at Duke in the
Departments of Medicine (Cardiology) and Computer Science. During this time
I was fortunate to stumble on the fun of international collaboration - in
France, Germany, Egypt, Spain, the USSR, starting in 1987 in Moscow at the
Center for Experimental and Clinical Cardiology. In 1991, I shifted my
Krinsky's Autowave laboratory
in the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental
Biophysics in Pushchino, about 100 km south of Moscow. In parallel, I
extended my experiments with other cultures and taught for a year (1993-94) in
India (the Indian Institute
of Technology, Madras) and more recently (1997-1998) in
Greece (where I was a
Scholar at the University of Patras and most recently, developed a link
University of Mostar, Bosnia in
2000 and in 2001.
Now I am about to embark on another cultural adventure. The Government of
Singapore and Duke University have signed a memorandom of understanding to
build a new Graduate Medical School in Singapore. I have signed to be
part of the new faculty - led by Pat Casey in Singapore and Sandy
Williams at Duke. For
Ellen and myself, this is a like a trip back home - putting us within a few
hours flight time of our friends in South India, Bangladesh and Thailand. I
have signed a 3 year contract and will be the Associate Dean for Learning
Technologies - a continuation of my career as an engineer in the setting of
Medical Education. In addition, I suspect there will be a new Building
web site, tracking the construction of the Duke - GMS building.
The bridge building and unbuilding web sites will continue. With the members
of my former IT Lab at MUSC, we have established a server -
Butterfat that will act as an Internet
home base for these sites, and those of
web page to butterfat (
mine and my
IT Lab colleagues).
Sparky and the iron workers (Nugget and Speedy) have offered to continue
to photograph the progress with unbuilding the Grace and Pearman Bridges.
They will send me photos and the stories and I shall try to maintain the
continuity of the unbuilding process from Singapore. This will form
the core of another Frank Experiment - can we sustain our momentum
with participants located half way around the world from each
other. In addition, I shall
lean on my unbuilding friends at Jay Cashman and Testa - Ken Canty, Ponch
Billingsley, Mickey Rogers and Ken Tully at Advanced Blasting Services and the
families of Michael Hebb, Richie Bagan and Jack Foley.
You cannot imagine how much
new life and energy these folks have brought into the lives of Frank and
Ellen Starmer in Charleston.
I am certain that there will be building and unbuilding opportunities in
Singapore and the surrounding area. For example, Oliver Forget (Freyssinet)
is now located in Bangkok and is building a new cable stay bridge there.
Marvin Tallent is in Pensacola and Peo Halvarsson is in the process of
moving back to Sweden. I shall continue to poke these friends and tell their
posted at: 15:15 | path: | permanent link to this entry