Adriana Zoder: On education, weather and construction ...

May. 26, 2013 @ 03:11 PM

April gave us gorgeous weather for two weeks and then we started wearing layers again. Some of the events on our schedule had to be rescheduled because of thunderstorms.

Nevertheless, somewhere in there we got to visit all three playgrounds in Gatlinburg and enjoy not only the equipment, but cardinals, robins, butterflies and insects. At Mills Park, my children like throwing pebbles in the creek and running up and down the hill like little lambs. My plan is that when they look back on their childhood, they will see more nature scenes than TV and computer screens. They have plenty of screen time in their future.

The future is all about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and, from my research, the best way to prepare for it is to turn off the TV and let children spend time in nature. When indoors, building toys like wooden blocks and LEGOs will keep them occupied for hours. No batteries required.

In fact, I shun battery-operated toys. Children must reinvent the wheel now and then.

In my quest for LEGO-related activities, I stumbled upon the Junior First LEGO League. Sevier County seems to have no team, so I will start one. It only takes 2-6 children, ages 6-9. I already have two kids signed up.

If anybody else wants to join us, please email me. For more details, see

April showers may bring May flowers, but they also bring power outages. Or, perhaps, it was a squirrel that left us without power for a couple of hours the other day. Sevier County Electric sent a truck over and fixed the problem. How great is that convenience? When you are left without power, you just pick up the phone and report the outage.

A robot picks up the phone, records it and lets the electric system know.

Do you know how blessed we are in this country to have a system for such situations? When I was small in communist Romania, power outages were routine, because factories had priority over private homes. There was nothing you could do about it. You had to wait until the powers that be – no pun intended – decided you could have power again.

Be thankful you don't have to experience the feeling of powerlessness that comes with that situation.

I am thankful for power outages for another reason, too. They force me to get away from the computer and work on filing, dusting, picking up the living room and other activities where electricity is not required.

April also brought a neat event to our neighborhood. The largest crane anybody can rent in East Tennessee came to a condo building nearby to switch a cell tower antenna. We took a field trip to watch.

The operation stretched over several days. It took them hours to set up and only a few minutes to switch antennae. Like anything else in life, preparation requires more time than the actual task.

Several small trailers brought tools and equipment and a crew of workers.

— Adriana Zoder, who was born in Romania, is an American citizen living with her husband and two children in Gatlinburg.Email to