Thursday, March 13, 2008

Saving the Planet, One Celebrity at a Time

No, the book still isn't done, but I am on the last chapter, and I'm going to discipline myself to make it the last chapter, maybe with an epilogue, because I know I'm bad about dragging out the part after the climax and lingering too much on all the loose ends being tied up. I knew what needed to happen in the big, climactic scene, but I wasn't sure how to get everyone there. I have about four groups of people who will have to converge, and both viewpoint characters are in one group. Even though we won't be seeing what the other groups are doing, I still need to know what they're doing before our heroes arrive. I ended up having to draw out a complex timeline showing what each group was doing at any particular point in time, and then had to decide who should be where at certain crucial points and where the various groups would meet up. And that was where I started to see potential branches. There were a couple of different ways things could go, and I wasn't sure which was best. From there, I found myself looking at new ways the big, climactic scene that I thought I had planned out could go.

It was like playing "Choose Your Own Adventure" in my head. I'd hit one of those branches and have to sit and daydream for a while about what would happen if I took that option, and then I'd go back and play out what would happen if I took the other so I could decide which was best. I think I know which way I'm going with it, but I may do that list of 20 thing and see if I can come up with something even better. I have library books to pick up/return, so maybe I'll do some cafe time for brainstorming.

And, of course, all that thinking made it very hard to get to sleep. I read until I couldn't keep my eyes open, but then I couldn't sleep. I decided that it's more of a relative thing than me truly waking up the moment I hit the pillow. The same state that seems very drowsy when I'm sitting up with the light on and trying to read feels too awake for lying down with the lights out and my eyes closed. When I did get to sleep, I thought I'd solved the highway congestion and air pollution issues with a fabulous innovation I dreamed. They were running these trains of cars down the HOV lanes. I was thinking of them as roller coaster cars, but they were more like really long dune buggies. They stopped at scheduled stops for people to get on and off, but there were people who rode them for fun because they were like a roller coaster. And then I woke up and realized that this isn't a new concept -- when you have a vehicle that carries lots of people on a scheduled route and it runs on rails, it's called a train (or tram or streetcar), and when it's on wheels, it's called a bus, and an open-air vehicle probably wouldn't be practical for public transportation. But maybe public transportation would be more popular if you treated it like a thrill ride.

Speaking of environmental issues, I saw something recently that had me going "huh?" so maybe y'all can help me understand this. The April issue of Glamour contains a "save the planet" feature (because that's the entertainment industry's cause du jour). It includes various green tips from experts and celebrities. Jennifer Anniston's big water-saving tip is that she brushes her teeth in the shower.

I don't get that, unless maybe I'm both showering and brushing my teeth the wrong way. Brushing your teeth isn't a very water-intensive activity. You turn on the water to wet your toothbrush, turn it off while you brush, then turn it on to rinse your toothbrush, then turn it off, repeat as needed, then do a final rinse of brush and sink. Plus, it's cold water that doesn't use energy to heat it. On the other hand, unless you're a really talented multitasker, if you're brushing your teeth in the shower, you aren't actively washing your hair or body, so that's extra time in the shower that you didn't need to spend standing under running hot water.

So, how is it better for the planet to brush your teeth in the shower than it would be to wash your hair and/or body in the shower, then brush your teeth at the sink, only turning on the water when you need it?

It's this kind of celebrity "advice" that makes me roll my eyes at the current "EEek! We're all going to die from global warming!" environmental awareness. I won't bore you with my green cred, but suffice it to say that I'm notoriously practical and frugal, and the thought of waste makes me break out in a cold sweat. (I suspect people with Scottish blood, even those of us with Norwegian last names, are really good at being green. And "green" sounds so much nicer than "cheap.") This is just the way I've always lived, long before it became cool, so I rather resent the fact that celebrities have taken this on as a cause and feel like they're doing their part by telling me how to live my life -- and they have the right to do so simply because they're famous. Never mind that the typical celebrity lifestyle, by virtue of being a high-income lifestyle, probably has a greater carbon footprint than the people they're lecturing (and no, buying carbon offsets doesn't count). They live in bigger houses that have to be heated and cooled, they travel more (often by private jet), and they generally consume more stuff. I'm still giggling about the great environmental bus tour last year, in which Sheryl Crow traveled the country in a luxury motor coach (which you know is a gas guzzler and spews emissions) to tell college students to use less toilet paper. Yeah, that saved the planet, I'm sure.

Unless you've got some expertise in the field, or at least, you know, THINK about what you're saying and make sure it makes sense, then stick to acting, singing, or whatever. Acting in a popular sitcom and having a brief marriage to a golden boy actor does not qualify you to give environmental advice, especially when that advice is counter-intuitive. I guess that's who a lot of people are willing to listen to, and some environmental engineer giving suggestions would be ignored, but isn't that a shame, in and of itself? Isn't there something weird about a society where we'd rather listen to what a famous person who has no expertise says than to a non-famous person who's done extensive study in the relevant field? I am soooo ready for the cult of celebrity and all this celebrity worship to just go away.

Wow, I'm really ranty this week. I think it's book brain.

No comments: