Patience and Perspective in Zone 3

Benjamin Obler
6 min readMay 16, 2023

Fiction writers, celebrate your success and accept the failures.

A resistor with a story to tell.

What you see here is a transformer. It’s made to convert electrical current — in this case, from 120 volts to 24 volts. I can’t explain how it works; I only know what it does and that I needed one. Well — apparently I needed one.

I mean, I thought I did. I thought I would put it to use cleverly, solve my problem, accomplish something, and move on with my life. The transformer had other plans, and by hearing about them it’s possible that some of your suffering around your writing may be relieved.

See, it all started when my son was born. (If you’ve been paying attention to my Instagram for the past 9 months, this is not news to you.) My son’s arrival at my house led to a number of upgrades, taken on by me, also known, occasionally, as Mr. Fix-It. (It is primarily in my mind that I am “known” by this moniker. OK, to be honest it is exclusively in my mind that I am known by this moniker.) One of the jobs I took on was to upgrade the thermostats in our house. They worked OK, but we wanted Wi-Fi enabled thermostats so we could adjust the temperature in rooms with our smartphones. We thought this would be handy for when our boy was napping, and also when we were away, we could save energy by turning the heat down, and things like that. And, yes, we Airbnb our place at the holidays, so we could monitor the heat then as well. We’d only gotten the broadband connection to make this possible about two years ago, it was time, and I was excited in that dumb way that people like me get excited by technological upgrades.

Well, so I researched different models and bought one by Honeywell, and set about installing it. If you’ve ever tried to suspend an atom in mid-air using electromagnetic energy fields, you have an idea of how simple a job this is.

To my surprise, within a short time it booted up, and I was able to run the configuration thing and get it connected to Wi-Fi. Then I installed the mobile app and tested it out. I jacked up the heat to make the boiler run, hit Submit, and boom, the thermostat screen went blank. It would not restart.

Two weeks, seven calls to Honeywell customer support, and three trips to the hardware store later, and I had a new thermostat, the same model, and it…



Benjamin Obler

Instructor at @GothamWriters, NYC. Ed.-in-Chief of, where fiction is the focus and inspiration is the goal. #Javascotia @PenguinBooks