Friday, March 6, 2015

Sometimes the customer IS wrong

I have been an independent consultant in the web-development world, off and on, for a little over 11 years now. In that time, I’ve realized some really nice successes and gained friends and long-term customers, but I’ve also made my share of mistakes and had some failures along the way.

Quite possibly the biggest mistakes have come from trying to stabilize relationships with customers as they’ve veered off track. In some cases, it resulted from my lack of foresight, but in most cases, it resulted in dealing with impetuous people and trying to appease them, or convince them of the right course of action, when they plainly have no interest in agreeing with anything.

Because I started my company to cater to small businesses, I was, naturally, dealing with small-time entrepreneurs and that often means dealing with people who have small budgets and big wants - along with big egos. Sometimes I’m dealing with small non-profit organizations whose leadership don’t always understand that they have to pay for things.

Here are a couple of missteps I’ve encountered along the way, and how I believe (in hindsight) they could’ve been avoided or fixed. Most of you may look at these and say "well, duh, everyone knows that!" And you're right. But when you're in the thick of a project, and just want to get it finished, it's easy to fall into these before you even realize it.

It needs to Pop more!
What web development or other design professional hasn’t heard that before? In this scenario, I was working with a real estate agent who really didn’t know much about marketing, in general, and the web, specifically. We provided three designs for him to choose from and he ended up choosing a few elements from all three. After making the requested modifications and providing a new mock-up, he approved it and we continued with the development process.

After we built the wireframe and some dummy pages, we presented it to him again, and again, he approved it, with some modifications. So we completed the build. That’s when the wheels came off.

Our client looked at the finished product and said “Hmm. I don’t like it.”
“Well, what don’t you like about it?”
“It needs to POP more. It just doesn’t POP!”
“Hmm. Can you be more specific? What do you mean by that?”
“I don’t know, it just needs more pizazz.”
“Okay. Is it the colors? Is it the images? Is there another site you’ve seen that you like? Can you give us something specific you think might help?”

We spent the next two weeks offering modifications and nothing seemed to suit him. Eventually we told him “We’re done. Unless you can give us something specific you’d like to change, we can’t help you.” Because this was a fixed price contract, we were already losing money on it and decided to cut our losses before they were too far out of hand.

What we should have done:
We should have cut our losses much earlier. Instead of trying to guess what the client wanted and make him happy, we should have told him upon delivery of the original site that he had approved the site at two previous stages and that further development would represent a new contract. Additionally, instead of trying to guess what he wanted, we should have halted all modifications until he could clearly articulate what he meant by “Pop” and “Pizazz.”

But you told me you wouldn’t charge me for this!
Translation - “I don’t want to pay for things.” Because I offer managed hosting to my customers, I have always been rather generous with little support issues. If you ask me to add an image, or make a small text change in your site, I have traditionally not billed for it. It takes longer to generate an invoice than it does to make the change.

Recently that policy blew up in my face. A customer I’ve had for six years has often been the beneficiary of free work - an image here, a changed phone number there. No big deal. Occasionally he’s requested things that took a bit longer and was presented with invoices for 15 or 30 minutes - never anything too complex.

A few weeks ago, this customer requested some substantial revisions to his website. By “substantial” I mean enough to require a few hours’ work. We’re not talking about thousands of dollars here. He went apoplectic when he got a bill for 3 hours. He said “You said you wouldn’t charge for changes.” To which I replied, “No, I told you the same thing I tell all my customers - if it’s a little change and doesn’t really take any time, I won’t invoice it. But anything that takes more than 15 minutes will be billed commensurate. You haven’t had any trouble in the past receiving free work, or even paying for up to half an hour of work. This work was far more substantial.”

What we should have done:
Bill for everything, no matter how small. In giving work away, I broke one of my own philosophies, which is that if you want someone to perceive that something has value, you must assign value to it. By giving away even the smallest amount of work, in the name of “relationship building”, I devalued my time and effort.

I don’t like this, why is it so expensive?
I’m ashamed to admit that this has happened a couple of times. And each time I tell myself “never again” (which is another no-no, as I philosophically object to using the word “never”). Recently, I entered into a time and materials contract to develop a very small website for a non-profit organization. Their current hosting situation is soon to expire, and they have a fundraising event coming up so time was of the essence.

The director of the organization made it clear to me that he placed all the authority for the development of a new site in the hands of an executive who works for their primary sponsor, so I should work with her to execute everything. The first thing I did was meet with her to make an assessment of the project, then I offered her a proposal and contract, which she had the client sign. He chose time and materials, rather than fixed price - and that’s an important distinction.

I worked with my developers and the intermediary to approve information architecture, layout, design, and content. The intermediary provided images and logins for various third party software accounts, such as dynamic calendars and payment portals.

In three weeks, we built the site, integrated all the third party software, and were ready for the punch list. But instead of giving a punch list, the client fired us. Not because of failure to perform, but because he didn’t like it - and this was the first time he had seen it. I explained to him that we had approval for everything but we could certainly go in a different direction, since it was a time and materials project and we were only about halfway through the estimated budget.

The next correspondence from him was that he had found a volunteer who would do it for free and that I should send him or our intermediary a bill for the work we’d done and he would pay it. When I sent the bill, he was incensed and shocked (even though I had already told him what it was up to) and couldn’t believe it would be that much, since he didn’t like it.

What we should have done:
This same scenario played out almost exactly the same way about ten years ago, and I should have learned from that. If you MUST deal with a third party middleman, you MUST insist that the ultimate client sign off on everything. It’s not enough for the intermediary to do it, regardless of what they tell you about that person’s authority. In the end, the only one with real authority is the client himself (or herself) and not the middleman. And even if his motivations are wrong (and in this case, the client is demonstrably wrong) he’s the one who has to like the product. Halt all production if the intermediary refuses to get client approval.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"We Have a Super Collaborative Environment"

I have been working as an independent consultant for almost nine months now. This is my second go-around - the first lasting around seven years. The times have been more good than bad but every once in a while I get the normal anxieties revolving around “Oh no, I finished my project, what if there aren’t any more!!” or “gee, my dogs aren’t really great conversationalists; it sure would be nice if there were people around that I could talk to once in a while” or “man, I’m tired of having to worry about paying vendors and providing 1099s for customers, and dealing with collections…” and “it would be nice to have a regular paycheck, and know what I’m going to make from one month to the next.”

These concerns, along with the 2008 recession, led to my decision to rejoin the regular workforce in 2010. I spent the next four years working in a regular job, in a regular cubicle, for a regular paycheck. Part of the reason I wanted this was so I wouldn’t have to deal with management headaches any more - accounts payable, accounts receivable, HR, etc. But I ended up dealing with them anyway. Additionally, I wanted job security, but I think we all know, there isn’t security in a job - unless you’re a tenured teacher. So what did I really gain?

Along the way, I figured out that toiling in a prairie dog farm isn’t really conducive to the kind of work I do. So much of my work is analysis and writing, and it’s difficult to really get your groove on when your co-workers are chit-chatting around you, or polling everyone to see what’s up with lunch or happy hour, or the boss taps on your desk to ask you to work on something else completely unrelated. Ask any writer, analyst, developer, designer or other creative type how long it takes him/her to get back on task once his/her focus is broken and you’ll get a variety of answers - none less than a half hour. So let’s assume these interruptions happen only twice in a day (which is being generous); that’s a full hour of wasted time, on top of the time actually taken by the interruption itself.

This isn’t really a problem, though, because this is the 21st century. We have myriad tools available that enable us to work remote yet still collaborate and respond in real-time. We don’t need to languish in the whack-a-mole existence of the 20th century office paradigm in order to be at our most efficient. Especially in the new technology fields; I mean, these are the movers and the shakers, the visionaries and provocateurs. The people in charge of these companies know instinctively that to get the best work out of the best people, you need to allow them the flexibility to work in an environment that nourishes their strengths. Some people need and feed off of the chaos of cubie-land. Others (especially those who really need to focus) need isolation.  That’s why all modern companies judge their people by their production, not by their face time. Wait. What? You’re telling me that ain’t so?

Early last year I found myself disillusioned with a job that was feeling more and more like a Terry Gilliam film at every passing minute. I was commuting an hour to work each day, most of the work I was assigned was not what I was hired to do, and not what I wanted to do, and when I was able to work in my area (research / analysis, writing) I was being constantly interrupted with impertinent questions and requests about random things. So while I was deciding whether to make the jump to the independent world, I decided to put the feelers out and see what other full-time opportunities might exist that would jibe with my style of work.

And that’s when it occurred to me. While the world has changed dramatically, HR has remained stuck in the mid-20th century. They’ve updated some of their jargon, but it’s like there’s a script and every one of them has to say essentially the same things and ask essentially the same questions. Questions like “where do you want to be in five years?” I was shocked people still ask that. And “tell me about your greatest strengths and weaknesses.”  “Well, I have really good night-vision. But chicken wings give me gas.”

Although I’m content with my current situation as an independent consultant, I still don’t dismiss anything, out of hand. I see opportunities from time to time that pique my interest so I follow up on them. I’ve had a handful of interviews in the last year and the process and question / answer portion of every interview has been so similar, I’ve started cutting to the chase early on.

The most important thing to me, even over money, is the flexibility to work when, how, and where I am the most effective. That will lead to much better results for my employer, and much better job satisfaction for myself. And if I’m satisfied, I will work even harder, and provide even better results, providing more satisfaction for myself, and better results for my employer. Which will lead to my working harder - you get the picture.

Since I’m happy doing what I’m doing, and really don’t have anything to lose, I am very honest with the interviewers and tell them “I work better when I have the flexibility that allows me to sequester myself when I need to really focus. Additionally, I have zero desire to spend 2 hours in a car every day to get to a cube farm and sit for 8 hours for the sole purpose of being present. What is your company’s policy toward telecommuting?” Now, I completely understand that sometimes it’s necessary to be present. Staff meetings, client meetings, focus groups, user testing, etc. - all require presence. Sometimes it’s also nice just to have a place to go where there are other people around. Maybe I need to bounce ideas off someone in person. It’s great to have that available. But to be there just to be there, especially when there are things like Skype, email, cellphones, Webex, and so on, is an anachronistic holdover to the days of the Cleaver clan.

The answers I get when I ask this have all been eerily identical - “Well, we have a very collaborative environment and it’s important that everyone be here.” I even said to one “Oh, so the company values face time” and she interrupted with “Oh yes, management really likes to see people in the office!” and then I finished my sentence “...over productivity.” She was speechless. That one, in particular told me that they try to be flexible so that if you have some kind of family obligation they’ll let you work from home one day. But if you could be in the office, they expect you to be in the office. AND, if you can’t make it in, for instance if there’s a weather event, it’s okay to work from home. How generous.

Look, I understand that some people need to be in the office. But the kind of work I do requires a certain amount of isolation sometimes. Sometimes I work better at 10:00 at night. Also, I’m expected to be on call after hours and on weekends - and I’m completely fine with that. I want to do the work when it needs to be done. But that’s a two way street. If I’m going to be on call, and working after hours, then I need to have the flexibility to NOT be in the office every day from 9 to 5, if the only reason I’m there is just so someone gets to gaze upon me. If you expect me to be in the office, every day, for the sole purpose of ticking a “present” box, then you shouldn’t expect me to be on call after hours, or on weekends. And if it snows, forget working. However, if you provide the flexibility for me to be an adult, and get my work done when I do it best, and collaborate as much as necessary, then I’ll work after hours, on weekends, in the snow, and even on vacation. And I think most responsible grownups will behave exactly the same way.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Another Boring Post About Climate Change

When a compelling argument is made and supported by a preponderance of evidence and a majority of experts, that argument should speak for itself, without the help of inflammatory, disingenuous, or misleading language. If there is a compelling argument from the other side, that's also worth hearing, if it is based on good information and has the support of experts.

What could I be talking about? The environment, of course. I think most people would agree that the climate is changing, just based on what we see and hear in our news sources and on the internet. I can't tell you that I've noticed anything anecdotal that would indicate to me the climate is changing, but if 97% of the experts tell me it is, give me examples, and show me data, then I will concede that, yes, the climate is probably changing.

Now we come to the "however." If the 3% of dissenters are offering evidence that counters the claim, and they make good, reasoned, compelling arguments, I'm going to listen to them, as well. Like I said, I can't tell that the summers are hotter, or the winters are warmer, or the storms are more fierce - they haven't affected me directly. I MUST listen to people who claim to have recorded these, and then make my own decisions.

I understand that "climate" and "weather" are different things - I'm not stupid. However, if you tell me that the world is consistently warmer year after year after year, and all I can see is that the last two summers where I am have been incredibly mild - and you tell me that the winters are far warmer, but all I can see is more snow than I've ever seen, a polar vortex that froze my tushy off, and incredible photos from the Great Lakes as they were more covered in ice than in years, you're going to have to give me some evidence. And tweaking the words you use is not going to fool me.

The climate is an amazingly complex thing. Plants and animals expire gases, the earth has lava at its core, the sun can be more or less active seemingly on a whim, weather patterns change, and man creates pollution. These all have an effect. I get that. So when I see a quote like this: "May 2014 was the warmest May globally since records began in 1880. The average global temperature this May was 59.9 degrees, 1.3 degrees hotter than the May average for the whole of the 20th century. (Vox.com)," it kind of irritates me.

Either the first sentence is a lie, or the second is a typo. In order for the average temperature of all Mays since 1880 to be 58.6 degrees, there had to be many of those 134 Mays that were much cooler, and many that were much warmer. I just plain don't believe that they all hovered right around the 58.6 mark. Some had to have averaged 60 degrees, and some 50 degrees. Some may have been even warmer - or cooler.

So I decided to look it up on the NOAA site and I found some peculiar things. One is that the global average temperatures are exactly that - global. BUT, not all the places reporting temperatures have been doing so for the entire 134 years. South Korea, for instance, only dates back to 1973. Spain to 1971, but Australia dates all the way back to 1910. And what about the sites WITHIN Australia? I suspect there's a huge difference between the temperature in Melbourne and the temperature in Cairns. Have they both been reporting for the whole time? What about Perth and Alice Springs?

Look, I'm not denying that climate change is real. I'm saying this kind of research gives credence to the deniers by throwing disparate data into one big pot and calling what comes out an average. It's either lazy, or dishonest. I'd be interested in seeing averages that compare apples to apples to see what they reveal.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Warning: Bicycles Ahead!

A couple of weeks ago I was riding my bicycle down Connecticut Avenue near Adams Morgan in DC. As I approached a three way intersection, I noticed the light was changing. I opted to continue through the light.

There were a couple of pedestrians waiting to cross the street and one yelled at me as I sailed through the now red light “You ran that light buddy!” Yes I did. He was right and, technically speaking, I could have stopped so I should have stopped. However, everyone who ever drives a car on roads frequented by cyclists should be thankful I ran that light.

Let me explain… You see, not only did I not hold up the pedestrians - even in that man’s wildest dreams, he couldn’t possibly RUN fast enough to have been far enough into the crosswalk for me to have hindered his progress - I also didn’t hold up any cars. The light was red right before I got to it, which means the cars coming the other direction didn’t yet have a green light.

But none of that really matters when talking about why you should be glad I ran the light. You should be glad because if you’re going the same way I am, it means that when your light turns green again, I’ll be long gone and out of your way. As a cyclist, I have every right to the lane as you do. I’ll do my best to stay as far to the right as I can, but sometimes that isn’t enough, so it’s better that I just keep moving.

I’m not advocating completely flouting traffic laws and riding willy-nilly all over the roads any way I damn well please. I’m advocating a practice of getting, and staying out of the way of traffic whenever possible. Sometimes that means jumping red lights. Sometimes it means going the wrong direction on one-way streets. Sometimes it means getting off the bike and using the crosswalk.

One thing I always try to avoid, if I can, is riding on the sidewalk. Most sidewalks aren’t big enough to accommodate bicycles. When I do have to use the sidewalk, I ride REALLY slow because pedestrians are notoriously self-absorbed and oblivious to their surroundings. For the record, I can’t stand the jackass cyclists that fly down the sidewalks like they own them. For that matter, as a driver, I can’t stand the jackass cyclists who fly down the roads and through intersections without slowing a little bit to check their surroundings.

Pay attention the next time you see a cyclist run a red light. If he slows down and looks around before sailing through, and he doesn’t hinder anyone’s progress, he just did someone a favor; it may not have been you this time around, but he saved someone a little bit of time. You should thank him.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Goodbye My Friend

Goodbye my friend
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Today the world lost a tremendous talent, and I lost a dear friend. Lao Tzu said “The flame that burns twice as bright, burns half as long.” He had men like Frank Cummings in mind.

You won’t see Frank memorialized in the national media, although he was easily as talented as any singer, dancer, actor, or artist you’ve heard of. If you asked him, he’d say “nah, I’m just a silly cartoonist.” A silly cartoonist with a rapier wit, and a self-deprecating humor that showed true humility.

I worked for Frank at “JAB Magazine” in the early 90’s. JAB was a local satire magazine, in the style of “Cracked” or “MAD” that poked fun at the local politicians and celebrities in Birmingham, Alabama. Frank, along with Tim and Andy Spinosi, and Jim “Coyote J. Calhoun” Batten saw an opportunity to express their creativity and that outlet quickly drew a cult following.

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After a couple of years, the guys decided to go national…

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National distribution proved a huge undertaking. Lessons learned, lumps taken, Frank moved on to some other amazing things. Since the mid-90s, he’s produced Richard Simmons’ newsletter, contributed to “Cracked Magazine” and for the last 10 or so years, he’s been one of the artists of the most widely distributed comic in the world - Blondie.

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More than all this though, Frank was a good friend. He was always quick to have a beer, to commiserate in bad times and revel in good times. He had no pretension and despite his insane talent, had no delusions of grandeur. As far as he was concerned, he was just a dumb kid from Kentucky who got paid to draw funny pictures.

I used to hang out with Frank, and a handful of other guys, every Tuesday night in a garage or warehouse in Birmingham. We accomplished nothing of any particular merit. There was no plan and no agenda. Mostly we just sat around in folding chairs drinking beer, smoking cigarettes, and talking shit. I moved away from Birmingham several years ago and obviously couldn’t make the “5 Guys in a Garage” meetings any more, but I still kept up with Frank. We talked often, corresponded through email or Facebook from time to time, and I would try to meet him in New York if I could when he made his semi-annual pilgrimage.

I don’t know any secrets about Frank and I don’t hold any dirty laundry. Maybe he doesn’t have any. I’ve heard funny stories from his past about roommates and friends and bosses and girlfriends and wives and family members and he’s always been an open book. He never hid his true feelings about things and he never tried to be someone he wasn’t.

Frank was always a joy to be around and a good friend. His presence, his talent, his work, his personality - made the world just a little bit better than it would have been without him. And that says a lot.

Goodbye Frank. We’ll miss you.

 












Wednesday, April 2, 2014

It's a Fleeting Life

Last week was emotionally difficult. Over the space of three days I lost two friends. Now, these weren't best friends or particularly close friends, but they were people whose paths crossed mine in a significant way during different points in my life. I knew them well. I liked them. I will miss them. Both were wonderful people who always offered smiles, kind words, and inspiration to others. For those of you who know me, you know I'm not wont to offer treacly platitudes, so for me to give these descriptions, you must know these people made an impact. 

On Wednesday morning, my friend lost a valiant fight to overcome breast cancer. I understood her to be in remission, so either I understood wrong, or the cancer came back with a vengeance. She was 42. This is a devastating illness that takes far too many women at far too young an age. 

If you're one who's taken with politicizing charity groups like The Komen Foundation because "oh, they support abortion" or "oh, they kowtowed to the right and quit supporting Planned Parenthood", do me a favor - shut up. Because you know what else the Komen Foundation does? They spend enormous resources supporting cancer research and prevention; and that's all that matters.

On Friday morning, another friend lost a different kind of battle - this one against personal demons. Here was a man who brightened a room with his mere presence. He was never without a joke, or funny anecdote; personable, bigger than life. But like so many others suffering from depression, the light, avuncular exterior belied a dark and troubled psyche. We no longer live in the same town, so I don't know what might have triggered his deep despair or if there were signals, any kind of cry for help, but I know from personal experience, there are almost always clues, but most of us don't know how to recognize them.

This is the second friend in 8 months to commit suicide. The first was someone I knew less well but for a much longer time. I spoke to him a few weeks before he took his life. He was in a very dark place - business trouble, marital trouble, substance abuse, and the creeping mortality of mid-life all haunted him.

It's common for depressed people to believe they are doing their loved ones a favor, particularly if there are money troubles. Often there will be life insurance policies payable to the survivors and the depressed parties actually believe "They'll be better off without me." If you, dear reader, ever have that thought, let me tell you right now - NO, they WON'T. You see, suicide is a permanent solution to what is almost always a temporary problem, and by your making that ultimate decision, you are leaving people behind who will always have a big hole in their souls. 

And that doesn't even begin to touch the guilt. My two friends both have children. Fortunately (is that even an appropriate word in this context?) their children are grown, and probably understand a bit more about mental illness than they would have as impressionable kids. When it happens to a kid, the first feeling is guilt. "What did I do to cause this?" That's not to say there won't be feelings of guilt by adult survivors. "Why didn't I recognize his depression?" "What was so bad he couldn't deal with it any more?" "What could I have done to prevent this?" Adults are better equipped to handle these questions, given time, but they are by no means immune from the feelings. 

You'll hear people from time to time talking about suicide being selfish, or how those committing suicide are "taking the easy way out". Let me dispel those for you. For the person who feels those left behind will be better off, "selfish" is the exact opposite of what he's feeling. He truly believes he's doing them a favor. As for "The easy way out", that's just stupid. It takes quite a set to taste the cold steel of a gun barrel and pull the trigger. There's nothing easy about it. These are people who are so tormented, disillusioned and deluded, they don't believe there's any other way. Accusing them of being selfish or taking the easy way out is like calling those who jumped off the Twin Towers on 9/11 cowards for not hanging out in the inferno and waiting for help. 

There was a girl I knew in high school who committed suicide. She threatened suicide and no one took her seriously. They thought it was a joke. When I heard about it, it made me physically ill. By that time I already had some experience with it and knew there was no such thing as a suicide joke. I couldn't believe her parents and her friends hadn't taken her seriously.

I don't know where I'm going with this screed, or what I hope to accomplish. Mostly catharsis I guess. All of us have the capacity for self-absorption and self-pity. If you've ever been in a romantic relationship for any length of time and you haven't had a fleeting thought about suicide or homicide, you're probably not normal. But to ever seriously consider it shows you have a problem and you need help. Don't just assume the feelings will pass. Go get help. Your family and friends depend on you. 

So go now. Be happy. Hug your loved ones. If someone threatens suicide or seems really depressed, get help. If you feel depressed, get help. If you're a woman, check your breasts. And if you're human and you care, make a donation to the Komen Foundation. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Daylight Savings Time - Really?

It's time we end this foolishness called "Daylight Savings Time". I hate it, everyone I know hates it. It's dumb and there is zero benefit to it. Any argument about getting 'an extra hour of daylight' is just silly. You don't actually get an extra hour. There are still the same number of hours. Adjust your schedule if you want more daylight. I'd be okay if we stayed on Daylight Time and never went back to Standard, but whatever the case, we should pick one and be done with it.

But what about the farmers? you say... Farmers farm when it's daylight. I'm guessing they don't care much about what the clock says. I've heard that reason all my life and it's never made sense to me. I think it was just someone trying to placate someone else by just coming up with an answer that couldn't easily be verified and kinda made sense - provided  you don't really think about it.

How about energy savings? It's bunk. There are no data to show that we actually use less energy (in modern times) during the DST portion of the year. Benjamin Franklin is credited with conceiving the idea of daylight saving in 1784 to conserve candles, but the U.S. did not institute it until World War I as a way to preserve resources for the war effort. The first comprehensive study of its effectiveness occurred during the oil crisis of the 1970s, when the U.S. Department of Transportation found that daylight saving trimmed national electricity usage by roughly 1 percent compared with standard time.(1)

In 2006 Indiana instituted daylight saving statewide for the first time. (Before then, daylight time confusingly was in effect in just a handful of Indiana’s counties.) Examining electricity usage and billing since the statewide change, researchers unexpectedly found that daylight time led to a 1 percent overall rise in residential electricity use, costing the state an extra $9 million. Although daylight time reduces demand for household lighting, the researchers suggest that it increased demand for cooling on summer evenings and heating in early spring and late fall mornings. They hope to publish their conclusions this year in the Quarterly Journal of Economics.(1)

So no savings in energy usage but what about the known dangers the switch (particularly in the Spring) poses? I know I'm tired, groggy, grumpy, and don't sleep as well for about a week every Spring. I'm not a unique snowflake in this regard. And there is a stack of research to back it up. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, there's a statistically significant rise in the number of Myocardial Infarctions (heart attacks for the rest of us) in the first week after the Spring change. And it's worse for women than for men.(2)

In another New England Journal of Medicine article, research shows that traffic accidents increase during the week after the Spring time shift and actually DEcrease after the Fall shift.(3)

It's stupid. There's no good reason to keep doing it and there are plenty of good reasons to stop. Politicians have the authority to change the dates around so they surely must have the authority to do away with the obsolete practice. We don't burn candles any more. We should be screaming at them - especially in that first week after the Spring jump, when we're really grumpy - to do away with it.

(1)http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/does-daylight-saving-times-save-energy/
(2)http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMc0807104
(3)http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199604043341416