Things I Wrote This Week: Cycling, Marriage Equality, I Believe, Dream

I’m trying to get in the habit of writing daily to improve my writing and get the creative juices flowing in my brain. In the past when I try to blog daily I end up quitting shortly afterwards. So, this time I’m going to just try to write something relatively quick daily… maybe something that was distracting me while meditating, or maybe a current event, or maybe something else. Regardless, if I keep up the practice I will post them as a blog post every week or so. These aren’t meant to be a completely thought out opinion or well formatted posts, they are just some thoughts going around in my head.

6/24 – Cycling

The most common complaint I see about cyclists is that we “run red lights and stop signs”. It always makes me wonder if people are angry that some cyclists do something they perceive to be dangerous or if they are angry because cyclists seem to get away with breaking the rules. Is it genuine fear for our safety or is it a drive for equality? I actually think it is the latter. It should be noted that rolling through a stop sign and treating a red light like a stop sign instead of a light is actually legal in a few places. Bikes are treated differently because they are different, they are also the only means of transportation without a segregated path in most places to provide safe travel. Pedestrians have sidewalks, automobiles have roads, and cyclists usually have to navigate on one of those two… pissing everyone else off in the process.

Cyclists tend to get grouped together and blamed for an individual’s bad behavior. Yes, some cyclists are assholes and inconsiderate and break laws, but that doesn’t mean all of us do that. I have never heard someone say “ugh, that car just cut me off in traffic, all drivers are terrible and should be banned”, but I hear that about cyclists. Like it or not, bicycles are here to stay. In fact, they are becoming more popular as America slowly shifts away from a car culture. Ideally, cyclists would have their own protected area to operate like other means of transportation, but we aren’t there yet.

6/27 – Marriage Equality

Yesterday was an amazing day. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of marriage equality. I understand that many conservatives are upset, and I kind of understand why, but I think their anger isn’t justified. Certainly, this has altered the definition of marriage in the US on the legal level. But we humans do that all the time. Marriage was redefined when the Supreme Court ruled that people of different races could marry. Marriage was redefined on a cultural level a century ago when it started being about love instead of property. Throughout the thousands of years of human pair bonding marriage has been redefined numerous times across time and cultures. There is no objective definition of marriage that exists outside of time and place, it isn’t some sort of Platonic form. It is a human social construct that we use to arrange our society, and as our society evolves and changes to advancements in science and technology our social constructs will change. I think this will cause a shift in society, and with most societal shifts there will be some institutions that must change or be destroyed. That is the natural cycle of things, that is creative destruction, that is evolution. And that is okay. We don’t get better as a society by staying stagnant as time changes. Jobs, relationships, government, religion… they all will be forced to adjust their place in society as we advance. Those that don’t adjust will become a historical footnote.

Today is a day of celebration. My partner and I wish we could be in Minneapolis this weekend for Twin Cities Pride, but unfortunately we are far away. But, we are happy… almost in tears at times. This is a great decision for equality under the law, human liberty, and strengthening of relationships. The country is a better place now than it was 24 hours ago.

6/29 Random Stuff I Believe

I identify as a libertarian in practice and anarchist in theory. Though, I am pragmatic with many things, including my love of liberty. If it turns out that by sacrificing some of our liberties we would live longer, happier, healthier lives then I would sacrifice those liberties (though I wouldn’t force others to make that decision). It turns out that I think increasing the amount of freedom people have also makes their lives longer and of higher quality. But, as a realist my policy positions don’t always match my theoretical foundation. So, here are random things…

  • Basic Income Guarantee – I think we need to switch over to a social safety net that provides a minimum basic income for everyone in the country. It doesn’t necessarily need to get people to the poverty level, but would instead eliminate the shitty bureaucracy and allow people to transition jobs, get an education, take care of a family, etc without worrying about an ear infection killing their child or choosing between paying the electricity and feeding your kids. Welfare and stuff is alright but it is inefficient. Besides, as we move to an automated world more and more jobs are going to become obsolete. Even jobs that used to require a college education, just look at how Khan Academy, Coursera, MIT Online, and such are providing an education for free or a fraction of the cost of the university. Everything can be outsourced or automated and if we want to prevent a violent revolution due to a lack of food and jobs we need to transfer some of the wealth to the people. Maybe a percentage of money saved by automation goes into an account that is distributed, or maybe all the wealthy people get together and realize it is in their best interest to provide the Basic Income without a state apparatus… but I think something needs to happen or the US will implode into a blood bath of fragmented nation states. Then again, that might be a good thing.
  • Healthcare – Ideally the state would get out of healthcare, but that ideal isn’t going to happen. As much as many conservatives talk about rolling back The Affordable Care Act they know that isn’t actually possible. Hell, they bitched and moaned about the Department of Education but couldn’t do anything about it. I think a single-payer system is better than the crony hodge-podge insurance shit we deal with now. Other countries with a single-payer system seem to be doing much better than us. People may scream “BUT SOCIALISM!!!!” and I say, “who the hell cares?”. Of course, there is the irony that many conservatives worship the military, which itself has a “socialist” healthcare system.
  • Drugs – Legalize them all. All of them. Yes, even heroin. As bad as some chemicals can be for individuals or society it is made infinitely worse by forcing it onto the black market. The government can’t even keep drugs out of prison, they sure as hell can’t keep them out of the US. And the DARE fear-mongering program is a waste of money and brings about zero benefits.
  • Marriage – Let everyone who wants get married. Plural marriages are different than same-sex marriage, but it is still consenting adults making a legal contract with each other. There is no reason the state should prevent that from happening.

7/2 Dream

I had a dream last night… not an altogether rare occasion but this one I remembered pretty clearly. I’ve heard that you can learn a lot from dreams by putting yourself in the shoes of all the different components. I’m not sure how much objective truth can be gleamed but it seems fun and will be a cool mental exercise. So, here’s the dream:

I’m standing on a cliff overlooking a forest. It is nighttime and I see that quite a few of the trees are on fire. The fire doesn’t seem to be spreading, they are just single trees burning. I walk down to the nearest tree on fire and one of my friends is standing there. This friend of mine is someone that I’ve only met in real life once, though we are strongly connected online. We have a lot of the same friends and share views on drug policy. She is also someone who goes to Burning Man regularly. To be honest, she is someone I admire greatly and wish I knew better. For simplicity let’s call her June.

As I approach she turns around. I see that she is wearing a hoodie with fur trim. Her hair is also on fire a little bit. She doesn’t seem to notice her scalp burning, she is instead looking at the tree with an expression of fear and helplessness. I start patting her head to put the fire out and she joins me until the fire is out.

We decide to go for a walk through the forest. As we walk we talk about a problem she is having. June has an elderly grandmother who does not approve of her partner. The grandmother is angry that June never told her that she was dating anyone. June says that the relationship isn’t serious and they don’t plan on marrying so it isn’t a big deal to not update her grandma about it. Grandma doesn’t buy it and wants to meet June’s boyfriend. June doesn’t want this and is clearly upset about it all, it is causing tension in the family and stress in her life. June starts to cry as we walk.

Okay, so I think there are several themes and casts of characters to analyze. Let’s start at the beginning:

Me: I exist and view this whole scenario. I think this is me as an outside observer in the lives of my friends. As I interact with June I am more than an observer, I am also a shoulder to cry on and to help put out fires. Though, I seem unable or unwilling to put out the fire on the tree.

Forest: The forest is filled with trees, and possibly one person at each tree… though I didn’t see anyone except June. Maybe while helping a friend I fail to notice other friends. Anyway, some of the trees are on fire, some of my friend’s lives are on fire. They are having problems that I can notice if I just open my eyes.

Tree: My guess is the tree represents each of my friend’s lives. They are strong and solid, and as a group they make up a beautiful forest. The fire seems to be their lives in disarray, or maybe a problem that if it isn’t resolved will be terminally destructive. The fire is also a warning sign that something must be done.

June on Fire: The fire from the tree has spread to her as a person. It is now a real danger to her life and wellbeing. Something must be done soon, even if June doesn’t notice the fire it is still there and dangerous. Ignorance to the problem won’t make it go away, it will only make the healing take longer in the future.

June: It seems that June could represent several people. First, it could be me. I certainly have problems that I neglect, and my relationship with my family is far from good. My sexuality, religious views, political views, and lifestyle have been a source of tension between my family and I. I don’t really confront these problems, they haven’t negatively affected my life much and I am very happy right now.

Second, it could be the real “June”, the girl who I kind of know but am not that close to. This seems unlikely unless there is an unproven way for people to communicate subconsciously through their dreams. Maybe June is in need of help and calling out through the dreamworld for support. I am open to this possibility but cautious about it. Either way, I sent a message to June letting her know about this dream and offering a listening ear if she needs it.

Third, June represents someone else in my life. Someone else whose life is troubled and needs someone to talk to and help putting out the fire. I’m not sure who this could be, but if any of my friends read this and feel like venting or something please reach out to me. I love you dearly and will do my best to help you. A stranger once saved my life, and I am always here to do the same.

Walking: The last element I can really remember is walking through the forest. My guess is this is a form of healing. Walking and talking, getting the pressure off of you with a dear friend in a peaceful world.

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My Water Bottle Still Tastes Like Gin

Caution: This post contains adult language and discussion. This was originally posted on our bike blog “Barely Functional Adults” on May 27th.

Our time in Arcata staying with Belle and her roommates continued to be awesome. We were able to hit up a Redwood Curtain Brewing company and get kind of shitfaced. They are a new brewery but had some delicious beers. We kept up our normal pattern of getting a flight of beers and then having a full glass of each of our favorites… except this night we got two glasses each. Our metabolism is pretty high so we get drunk pretty quickly.

We left the brewery and drunkenly biked back to Belle’s place, except first we stopped by the local store to get noms. Biking drunk is not smart. Sometimes we are not smart. When we got back to the house we realized we forgot to buy more beer so Anna and Hans went back to the store, which was only a few blocks away. I took this opportunity to drunkenly comment on Facebook and offer to send pictures of my penis to anyone on Snapchat who wanted them… there were several takers. Some people requested it after I sobered up but I didn’t send those, not because I am opposed to it but because I kind of ran out of time and energy. Don’t worry snapchatters, there will be more opportunities. (Sidenote: if for some reason you want a picture of my dick my name is pneiger on Snapchat. I don’t even care if I know you… it is just a penis, no big deal).

While I was getting out some of my exhibitionist tendencies Anna and Hans were having their own little adventure. Their drunken trip to the store involved being hit on by a couple of guys, which Hans loved, and not-so-subtly stealing malt balls from the bulk bin. I’m sure they thought they were stealthy but were probably caught on video camera and a number of customers and avoided a meeting with the police due to the laziness of employees working late night on Saturdays at grocery stores. The cashier was less than amused by the drunk cyclists checking out for a second time in less than 30 minutes. Maybe he was jealous…

Anyway, Anna and Hans got home with the beer, etc but Anna and I decided we wanted to bang. We set up the tent in the backyard to have a little privacy. We actually don’t care about privacy that much (I mean, we went to the Orgy Dome at Burning Man a bunch of times and have no problem just being naked) but even though our hostess was pretty sex positive we didn’t think she would appreciate us going at it on the couch, at least not without a heads up. We were kind of interrupted by her roommate’s, friend’s dog who went outside with the roommate’s friend to use the bathroom. I wish I could say she didn’t know what was going on but the unstaked tent was definitely rocking and we were both too drunk to be quiet or care. Also, interrupting sex should be like interrupting someone while they are eating, maybe not perfect timing but certainly not a big deal. It is just sex. So, we had some vigorous, long, drunken sex and it was wonderful. It made my piercing hurt the next morning but it is still worth it… damn, I hope this piercing heals completely soon, I’m tired of having a sore dick after heavy sex.

The next day we joined Belle, her boyfriend, her roommate, and her roommate’s friend (ugh, I should have given them all fake names) at the Kinetic Sculpture Race. Okay, so Belle, the Beast, Elsa, and Merida (also not sure why I’m using Disney characters) were at the Kinetic Sculpture Race and we joined them. Of course, we got separated about 4 minutes after leaving the house but we move slow so that is expected, we caught up with them eventually at the first check point. The race was a lot of fun and we had a bunch of gin and ginger ale in our water bottles, so we got daydrunk. It has been a while since I have been daydrunk and I remembered too late that it tends to put me in a grumpy mood if I can’t nap. I’m not really sure what is going on with me lately, I’ve been kind of grumpy often. I think it is because I am introverted and haven’t had a lot of alone time, we have all talked about how we need to find a way to recharge alone and pair off occasionally to reconnect with each other. Oh well, just another thing to think about and figure out in this new lifestyle.

Unfortunately, we had to leave Arcata the next morning. Our hostess was fucking awesome… such an amazing person, I hope she is in our life forever. I know I say things like that a lot, but the truth is there are so many amazing people in this world. My favorite thing about our trip is getting to meet them and count them among my friends, and thanks to the wonderful technologically advanced society we live in I don’t have to lose them just because we live far apart.

We took off fairly early Sunday morning and headed north again towards Crescent City, which is the next place we planned on having a multi-day break. We got about 10 miles out of Arcata before we stopped for a quick break in McKinleyville. During this break Anna and Hans went into a store to get some stuff while I stood outside and watched the bikes when I was approached by a guy named Paul. He was wearing kind of dirty army pants and carrying a duffle bag and he started asking me about the bikes and such. After a short conversation he asked me if I knew anything about the McKinleyville area. I told him I didn’t and that we were just passing through, that is when he gave me a history of the area.

It turns out that McKinleyville has never been featured on the History channel because there is a secret military base 90 miles underneath the city. The only way to find the base is to look at the small stones scattered across the city that have numbers engraved on them. He showed me a few of the stones he had been collecting that day. When he emptied his pockets there were about a dozen stones, two quarters, and two caps that usually go on the containers that heroin is sold in. He later told me he collects the caps to keep them away from kids.

As I talked to him about government conspiracies, hidden treasure maps on the rocks, Bigfoot’s home at the top of redwood trees, the ancient Mayan engravings on the rocks, and several other things I realized that Paul was harmless, though not completely on the same level as most people. It is easy to laugh or dismiss him as some “crazy homeless guy” but really he is a result of the policies we, as a society, decide to allow. A drug war that would rather criminalize addiction instead of treat it. A country that lacks mental health help for those who need it. I don’t know if Paul could clinically diagnosed with something, I saw nothing more than some paranoia and conspiracies coupled with at least moderate drug use, but that doesn’t mean any of us should ignore the people in our community that need help.

Anna and Hans eventually returned from the store and the three of us got on our way. Paul gave me a stone with a Mayan bird engraved on it by extraterrestrials and waved us off. We knocked out another 15 miles or so before we came to College Cove in Trinidad. College Cove is a clothing-optional beach where we took our first biker butt photo for our GoFundMe donors. We are not really sure if nudity is allowed at the beach or merely tolerated but that didn’t stop us. The cove was absolutely stunning, probably the most beautiful beach I have ever been too, but everyone on it was clothed… it was kind of chilly so that is justified I guess. We waited until we had a little relative privacy before setting up the shot, dropping our pants, and taking the picture. We all really love to be naked and enjoy environments where that is supported or allowed, and we plan on many more similar pictures in the future, even if they are just for us. In fact, we took another booty shot in the middle of the road on a mountain pass just for the hell of it.

That night we camped at Patrick’s Point with a couple other hiker/biker’s travelling the coast. One of the couples was probably in their 50′s and travelling the 1500ish miles from Astoria to San Diego. Man, people like that inspire me. I don’t know if they are lifelong adventurers or just decided not to let age be a factor but seeing people who continue to rock regardless of age is incredible. There are so few legitimate excuses to not live your dreams.

We left Patrick’s Point onto a very misty Highway 101. The weather was wet and kind of cold… almost creepy as we coasted down the hill out of the forest. On the side of the road was an all too familiar site, a bicycle painted ghost white to mark where a cyclist lost his life. It is always sobering. Up in this area it was likely an adventure cyclist like us. There aren’t a lot of daily commuters or weekend warriors riding the misty highways through the mountains. The man who died was likely someone who knew the risks, and died doing what he loves. I guess that is a question we all must ask ourselves, are we willing to risk our lives in order to live? I know I am, though I don’t really fear death. I don’t know what happens afterwards, my best guess is that my time dead will be similar to the billions of years before I was born… but maybe not, maybe one of the religions or spiritual practices is kind of right but I’m comfortable with that too. It is probable that we will all die eventually, though I am still a transhumanist anarchist (neither death, nor taxes)… I think that humans can live without coercive government and will find a way to eliminate the disease of death, maybe even in my lifetime.

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Our ride continued over some moderate hills and beautiful environments (we even saw live Elk chilling by the road) into Klamath, a cool little river town with a strong native American presence. We ended up staying at Klamath’s Camper Corral. At first we thought we were getting a good deal, the manager (Roy) lowered the price for us and told us that there really weren’t a lot of options further north. He lied to us. When we left the next morning we saw at least a half dozen camping areas within 5 miles. The thing is, if he had told us the truth we would have stayed with them anyway. People like that, people who will be dishonest to make $25 are part of the image problem business people face, he put making a profit over being a good person… I guess it is possible he didn’t know there were other campgrounds further north, but given his 8 years living in the area it seems doubtful. Fuck you Roy.

We left Camper Corral fairly early today (Tuesday) and hit the road. We knew we only had 20 miles, but one big fucking hill, before arriving at Crescent City. Because of the circumstances Hans faced today (cold weather, fairly windy, sweaty from bike riding, and no bra) she has declared a new weekly holiday, Nipple Tuesday. She encourages everyone to let those nipples and areola’s show every Tuesday (or really any day) in solidarity. No shame in showing the nips.

The hill today was kind of tough but we allotted a lot of time and now are resting easy in the St. John’s Church in Crescent City. This wonderful church is on WarmShowers and they have a full kitchen, sleeping space, bathroom, and wifi for travelers. They’ve had over 50 people come through this year alone and it is a great resource for those passing through. We are actually here with four other people (two groups of two) so we are making friends. Our plans right now are to spend two nights here so Anna can work, we can restock, rest up a bit, and get some bike maintenance done. Then it is just over 110 miles over some mountains to Medford, Oregon to visit my brother-from-another-mother. I can’t wait.

Who’s Been Sleeping in Your Head? The Secret World of Sexual Fantasies

As is often the case on road trips and long flights I was able to get some good reading and writing done… maybe I need to find a way to do this more. Anyway, I finished reading “Who’s Been Sleeping in Your Head?” by Brett Kahr. This 400-page book is the culmination of a multi-year study conducted primarily in the UK (though there are some US participants) about people’s sexual fantasies. These fantasies are what goes through a person’s head during masturbation and sex with a partner. The research was conducted through online surveys completed by over 23,000 people and 122 intensive face-to-face interviews with volunteers. It appears to be the most comprehensive attempt to catalog and interpret human sexual fantasies that anyone has ever done.

While I found the intentions of the study and premise of the book fascinating my feelings towards the book are bitter-sweet. As a Freudian psychotherapist Kahr spent much of his time focusing, analyzing, and, in my opinion, unjustifiably fishing or hoping for childhood trauma to explain sexual fantasies that people had. He mentions alternative approaches like evolutionary psychology only twice and only in passing. I understand that he is a Freudian but if his attempt was to objectively or comprehensively attempt to look into sexual fantasies and their foundation (if one exists) he should have brought in some alternative view points. To him humans seem to be born as a blank slate with no genetic predispositions or tendencies in place from evolution.

Kahr often at times come off as a bit judgemental and sex-negative, and even a bit LGBTphobic. He focuses several times on homosexuality possibly being linked to childhood trauma and child rearing but little acknowledgement of a biological aspect. He also seems to see all cross-dressers as “transvestites”. It also seemed like a negative judgement when he penned the term “intra-marital affair” to describe thinking about someone other than your spouse, as if thinking of another is a form of cheating. Some may agree that fantasies are cheating (but if they really are based in trauma or evolution it is cheating we have little to no control over) not everyone does and I think it weakens the betrayal of true affairs if we attach that phrase to a passing thought during masturbation.

Clearly, I have some problems with Kahr’s approach, but I want to give him some benefit of the doubt, it is possible that there is a generational gap and cultural one between he and I. He is British and a bit older than I, while Americans and our friends across the pond are similar in many ways I can’t help but wonder if the stereotypes about prudish non-sexual Brits might have some truth to it. It has also been almost a decade since this project started and a lot has changed in sexual research and views on fantasies in the last 10 years, particularly with the exponential growth of internet access and the pornography that comes with it.

There were also some wonderful things within the book though, and I actually very highly recommend it. Kahr’s analysis later in the book provides a lot of great information and provides some support to his hypothesis in some of the cases. There clearly can be a trauma at the foundation of sexual fantasies, and many of these trauma fantasies are causing great distress and harm to the individuals. In cases where people can’t live the lives they want or have the relationships they desire it is a problem, such as the case of “Julius” who has only been able to masturbate to mental images of a girl who tormented him in his adolescence and he has not had a long-term relationship in nearly 50 years.

I would have loved to see more research and questions about the ramifications of opening up about your fantasies to your significant others. Kahr mentions a few in one chapter but for the most part glosses over any potential benefits and instead focuses on trauma and harm. In my experience being open and honest with your partner about desires and what goes on in your head can have a bonding effect and open the door for new real life experiences. If we decide to enter into a partnership something as intimate and important as sex should not be a taboo subject. Much of the negative aspects seem to come from our social stigmas against sexuality as much as childhood events. As a culture if we can admit that sex is a healthy and enjoyable part of the human experience we can reduce the pain, suffering, and shame that seems to accompany so many fantasies.

Kahr does admit that this is just a beginning, and like a good scientist he hopes others will dive into the data, conduct their own studies, and come up with alternative hypothesis. I would love to see a larger sample size of humans from more diverse backgrounds. What is true for Brits (and in this case a few Americans) may not be true for Australians, Italians, Russians, Kenyans, Colombians, Thai, Egyptians, etc. The more information the better and it looks like this is a field ripe for research and exploration.

I definitely recommend this book for many different people. If you just have an interest in sexuality there is a lot to love about this book, as well if you are interested in seeing how a Freudian interprets things, though I would recommend skipping or skimming Section II if you get bored with it. You can only read poorly written erotica for pages and pages for so long before it becomes a blur. It is also a good resource for people who have anxiety about what goes on in their own heads. It will become quickly clear that “normal” fantasies don’t exist, and because of that there is really nothing that is “weird” or “abnormal”. Some people don’t fantasize at all, some think only about their spouse, some focus more on feelings while others have elaborate situations they play in their head, some people think of college professors, siblings, strangers, movie stars, and inanimate objects. Some people like to be raped, piss on people while they are shitting, or change genders. Some like to be whipped while others like to be bought a nice romantic dinner followed by a massage and some cunnilingus. The limits to human sexual fantasies are only restricted by the combined imagination of billions of people.

Perfect Day

I spent the last weekend in St. Louis for a wedding (read: drunk shitshow of awesome), which meant I had a couple of flights in a short period of time. Usually I sleep on flights but the times didn’t match up that well with my sleep schedule so I was actually able to get some reading done, and my book of choice was the highly recommended “Steering By Starlight”. In this book there are lots of exercises and such to try and help you find your “North Star”. Maybe it is because I am quitting soon, maybe it was the book I was reading, maybe it was my increased reflection and drive to do what makes me happy… whatever the reason, I decided to think about what my “perfect day” would actually be. So, here is what would be my perfect day if I stopped worrying and started living:

  • Groggy, uncoordinated morning sex… mmmmmm
  • 0900hrs – Wake up and a light breakfast
  • Meditate
  • 12-15 mile bike ride – Bike riding serves as a way to motivate my writing, I do some of my best thinking while on the trail
  • Write
  • Lunch with Anna – we don’t get enough meals together.
  • Second workout – Yoga, weights, or more bike riding
  • Write
  • New Skills (Musical instrument, dance, massage, foreign language, art) – I’ve come to realize the thought of living my whole life without learning music, art, language, dance, or touch therapy feels like an incomplete life but I need to actively pursue those things, they aren’t going to magically ingrain themselves in my brain… and I don’t think I would want to go the Neo-upload route even if I could
  • Dinner
  • Study Psychology – I still have a driving passion to help people who have suffered trauma (soldiers, victims of violent crime and natural disasters, etc), as well as help couples and individuals reach their potential (particularly in sex and relationships)
  • Read just for fun
  • Relax, TV shows
  • 2400hrs – Bed time and maybe some banging

So, now I need to find away to move my life closer to this daily ideal (and adjust my ideal if it proves to be better in my mind than reality). One thing is for certain, I can’t be closer to this without leaving my job that takes up 9 hours per day of “work”, 3 hours per day of commuting, and being on-call 24/7. Time to take some damn action.