Dr. Plastic Picker – A Personal Plastic-Picking Blog: Fighting Ocean Plastic Pollution One Piece At a Time
Yesterdays photos from our families perspective.

March 24, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

The kick off for SB1137 happened yesterday. The two healthcare voices that showed up were me (Dr. Plastic Picker a pediatrician) and a premedical student that is still in high school. He’s shown up to multiple events, and if you show up – Dr. Plastic Picker hands you the opportunities. He’s already given a lecture at the medical school, helped establish the Student Electrification Initiative, and now going to push through a resolution in his city to support SB1137. It’s honestly whoever shows up, because this work needs to be done and it needs to be done now.

It was amazing all those that I saw again and met yesterday. It was a good sized group, about 50 community members, coalition members and youth advocates. My own two teens came, most notably my son who literally just landed back home for spring break from UC Berkeley. My daughter was there, woke up early for me to show up because her mother was speaking. Both of my children have done more than enough climate projects and understand fundamentally the importance of my advocacy, but I push them to do other things – because climate will become a large part of their lives later and for everyone. Now I want them both to grow and learn and have some privacy, from this intense world I’ve entered. But I saw one of my original mentors from Climate Reality! That was the first training I had done, and I had only met her virtually and I’ve been on the email list server for four years! It was really good to finally meet in person. I saw the members from SanDiego350.org and when a certain southbay justice person calls me or emails me, I show up. She texted me about this, and I made sure to show up. I saw Jack Shu! He’s an amazing climate advocate and has been for decades, and is now been joined by more Asian-American leaders like myself. He is amazing and his family is amazing. We’ve hung out and sang karaoke with all the UCSD premedical students!

And this morning, I’m just being a mom because yesterday – even though it was only a 5 minutes speech – I get so emotionally wrung out by it all. I was satisfied with how my comments landed. I was exhausted by the preparation, because I did have to review notes and prepare comments and do an updated premed search. I was energetic during the networking and happy to see everyone. But then afterwards because I’m fundamentally an introvert, I was exhausted and irritable and had to sleep. And then my daughter and I got into an argument, which is unusual for us. But I slept some more and she went running, and we realized it’s because of the nature of climate work and being connected. We laughed at dinner, so very much. We were happy and connected and together.

This morning, our son is upstairs with some high school friends who are all college freshman, and their laughing and chattering while watching some e-gaming finals. Mr. Plastic Picker and I drove over to the local bagel shop, and grabbed them some bagel sandwhiches and a carafe of coffee. That was new for us. They are college students, and I did not know that my son drinks coffee and so does his friends. But they are laughing and we give them space, but the house feels so full and wonderful with the young college students upstairs. Our 15 year old naturally wandered downstairs and making some whip cream for herself for no particular reason, and we’ll head out to the mall to buy a new set of earrings for her. I’m looking through the clear glass doors toward our beautiful backyard, and they are sitting and chatting and trying to fix our automatic gate. My mother sits in a very comfortable DME hospital grade bath chair, the ones that you see in the hospital when you are admitted. I absolutely have no idea how and where they got this chair, but they have one and now I realize why it’s important that we keep it. She looks so comfortable sitting in it.

And that is our life, with a hand-me-down luxury electric car in our garage that barely fits. We are so lucky in our lives. I am so lucky to be in the advocacy space that I’ve happened upon. And I am grateful for every day on this beautiful planet, to be connected with you to have my dreams for a livable planet and to still harbor silly dreams for my children’s future. The emotions are real, and the actions are impactful. Thank you for following along on my emotional journey. This work can get heavy, but this morning we saw rainbow and it seemed lighter because I put the earth at the center of all I do.

The little one. Always pushing me to be better.

March 16, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

Good Saturday morning dear blog readers!!! I know I’ve neglected the blog readership quite a bit. I promise I’ve mostly been working (doing clinical care because I’m still a full time physician) and trying to address the climate crisis. I have to email a lot these days and actually text and Instagram message quite a bit these days, just to pull the disparate parts of our society together to collaborate on projects. I’ve ridden the waves of emotions from elation to annoyance to exhaustion, and thank you to those who actually know me for hearing me chatter on and on about climate and mostly chatter on about my teen daughter.

I think about leadership a lot. I sometimes wonder why I am in the place and space I am in. I get exhausted sometimes, but mostly I know I am at the right place and where I need to be. I think about the future still, even though I try to be present in most moments. I have written this before, but I will remind myself. The greatest gift climate work has given me, is that is has blessedly slowed down time. In the almost two years since I left middle management, I have been living in a slower time sequence. I have been able to enjoy my daughter being 15.

I’m sitting next to her right now. She’s in a virtual meeting with like-minded girls from Bangladesh and Central Asia, and doing an “Impact Challenge” as part of the Harvard Youth Leadership Summit. It was a virtual conference that I think was competitive that is run by the Harvard College Program for Asia and International Relations (HPAIR). It’s really interesting sitting next to her and watching how these four girls work together. They are so collaborative! Animated! Shared space! Inspiring! This definitely gives me hope and gives me goals on how to better work in groups as well.

Leadership. What does it mean? It mostly means showing up. I was reminding my daughter that the time you invest/spend on something is important. Showing up and committed to something. She was so committed to this conference. She was worried about being late for it virtually yesterday. She was eager to get up this morning to meet with her group. This is a completely optional conference, and I’m so grateful that it ended up being a useful activity for her. She’s learning. She’s connecting.

And this weekend? I’ll continue to lead and learn alongside her. Lots of climate projects in the works. We have the vegetable sticker project which is mostly on indigenous food systems and we have an invested new premedical student. SB1137 kick off and rally is next weekend, and I need to be ready to speak and advertise to our group. Still organizing PHAC OC/LA and recruiting new members for our council. H3SD 2024 planning is going really well. There was some internal change over of some positions, so I need to email a new person and cc an old person to make sure we have funding. In the end, our family can fund it but it’s a big chunk of change and we funded a bit portion last year (which we were happy to do since it needed to be done!). So lots of wonderful things this weekend, and meaningful projects.

I’m honestly mostly happy our teen is home. She was on a school trip to Argentina. I didn’t want to post too much about it because of the carbon emissions, but she went and it was the truth and it was worth it for our family. We try not to fly too much. We are driving up to her state speech tournament which is Fresno. And our son will be home next weekend and I’m going to give him a big hug.

Thank you for letting me type nonsense and detail my thoughts, as I try to be part of this existential fight to address decarbonization and global heating. Hope everyone has a sustainable weekend.

Living her innocent 15 year old life.

March 3, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It’s interesting being at the intersection of generations. Mr. Plastic Picker and I had kids relatively early for those with graduates degrees. I had my two at 27 and 30, which is insanely early if you talk to most doctors. But that makes it interesting being a climate and health doctor now, because I’m at the peak of my professional career and influence with teenagers and thinking about their future. It’s so easy to be distracted by silly departmental politics or having FOMO regarding traveling to exotic locations, when literally the prospect of having grandchildren might elude me because fossil fuel companies continue to destroy this earth.

It’s true. I was with my daughter and celebrating her wonderful wins at the State Qualifying Tournament and she made finals in Impromptu and Original Prose and Poetry. Her accomplishments are remarkable and she’s in the mix to be part of that rarified world of kids at those schools who all know each other, and that can be influential. Especially as a former preemie baby, I don’t take anything about her life for granted.

But seeing her soar and win, begs the question – what about the rest of us? What about all of us in our 40s and 50s who went to those rarified Ivy League+ institutions with money and positions and power? What are we doing? We have already reached where these young high school speech kids are trying to reach, and what have we done with all that we have been given. I always remind my children that common adage, to those that are given much – much is to be expected. If I can guilt anyone of my generation to step up or ramp up their climate work, than that is actually the most impactful thing I can do. And I’ll be honest with the blog readership (and this is talking to the choir), I am vastly disappointed in a majority of physicians, pediatricians and adults out there. Obviously they don’t read this blog. But they listen to me speak. They see me parade myself around the blogsphere, and maybe even like an instagram post or two. But shame on you. I’ll be a big negative today, but absolutely shame on you. You can do more. You can absolutely do more.

When you have teens, you realize that despite the fancy dresses and despite the eloquent words – they are children. They are children organizing, and like Youth Vs. Oil – changing the conversation. And what have most physicians done? They’ve bought themselves a status Tesla and patted themselves on the back. That’s honestly what I think of most of the physicians out there.

But I have hope, because in reaching out to hundreds of colleagues, I’ve met a handful who get it. Who 100% get it. And we have big climate wins that I can’t fully announce yet. But I appreciate a certain ophthalmologist, a certain internist, a certain family practice physicians, and many many medical students and premedical students. When we are ready to announce some big climate wins on behalf of climate and health, I’ll announce it. I have to keep these two under wraps for a bit until they go through the proper channels.

Just wanted wanted the blog readership know that our teen did so well at her state qualifying speech tournament, and that Dr. Plastic Picker is still plugging away and organizing and recruiting. Thank you to all (mostly premedical students and medical students sadly) who have linked arms with me to do this vital work. And if I guilted you a bit, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. DM me, text me especially if you have an MD because there is so much for you to do, like I have a lobbying meeting coming up regarding wetlands and honestly it doesn’t have to be me. It could be YOU. I’ve been on the news and done enough public speaking that I’m 100% willing to share.

This is the true feelings of Dr. Plastic Picker. Who started off as a litter picking pediatrician. and now an eco-warrior!

Cool Instagram posting with a shoutout to me!

February 24, 2024

By Dr. Plastic Picker

Good morning dear readers!!! I’ve been so busy emailing that I haven’t had the need (because sometimes my emails are super creative!) or the time to blog. But I’m back this morning and super grateful to the blog readership for following along my journey here in written form which is always more authentic, or on Instagram where I’m really a bit too silly!

But in all seriousness, it continues to be an impactful life – filled with patients, family and climate work. I just came home from early morning walking the dogs (we have my brother’s corgi too this weekend) and going to Starbucks with Mr. Plastic Picker. My husband said that I’m his best friend? He’s always called me that and I’ve never accepted the offer. I’m honestly still thinking about it LOL. Of course I’m his wife and he is the love of my life. But best friend? I’m not sure about that one.

I spoke at Protected Roots Integrative Treatment Center https://pritreatmentcenter.com/. How I happened upon that speaking spot was circuitous and a year ago. I had met one of the psychologist at Love Your Wetlands Day a year ago, and we kept in contact via Instagram. And I finally agreed and we found a time for me to physically come. But then I realized that on a Friday and missing clinic was going to be too much for me. Sometimes I tend to try to give too much. But I ended up being able to do a virtual talk for an hour yesterday during Friday lunch. And honestly knowing that they really wanted to hear me talk, and giving me the freedom to craft whatever talk I thought appropriate – it just made the entire day flow. Does that make sense? I got up early on Friday to prepare an almost new talk. I talked about my climate and health journey, but I felt it was this open forum to discuss some new ideas I had been thinking of. My climate and health journey and this meaningful work has led to better parenting and doctoring for myself, and I approach mental health issues for my patients in a more creative way.

New Agenda for the first time in a long time.
New slide I hadn’t used before

So it was mostly new images, but the thought processes and discussions were really good with this group. I spoke from my place as a front-line pediatrician, as someone who has cared for children over their lifetime. It was really meaningful to me, and I ended the discussion with “if I made you smile and I made you think a bit more, than I’m happy.” And honestly they made me think and they made me smile, so it made me so happy yesterday and it’s still spilling over to this morning.

So I’m up and it’s not too busy of a weekend! I need to write a letter of recommendation, write our SDPCA newsletter, organize a new PHAC Climate Actions Campaign Council for Orange County/Riverside, and send a lot of emails today. But it’s a kind of catch up weekend which is the best kind of weekend! Have a sustainable weekend dear green friends. Remember that it’s systems change so don’t stress over the little stuff.

UCSD Premed AMSA society.

February 17, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and updated the readership. It’s been nice to be able to document this climate and health journey on Instagram, because I can essentially make my own music videos. I think everyone is enjoying it, and I am trying to moderate how much I share and how much I post on that platform. I am writing a lot of emails these days, and doing general writing – so I haven’t needed the blogging outlet as much. But I wanted to be here and let the blog readership know that I’m still here. I’m still plugging away at decarbonization.

I was sitting at San Diego City Council Chambers last Thursday. I’ve testified many times virtually, but I had never been in the actual city council chambers ever before. It was a very interesting day. I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it, since I had a full morning clinic and the City Council Environmental Committee meeting started at 1pm. But I was able to make it, and find parking in ever crowded downtown. I sat next to my good climate friend Andrew Meyer from San Diego Audubon, as Rewild was there as well to make comments about the DeAnza plan. I was really there to support the SanDiego350.org Youth Vs Oil group, as they brought forth a city resolution to defend SB1137. They had asked me to support and I came because the kids asked. This is one of our top legislative priorities from the AAP California anyway. I feel honestly humbled by these youth activists. As I was telling some of my friends, it takes a lot for teenagers to trust adults and to have that trust means a lot and I take that trust seriously. So I made comments, after their presentation and I think they were impactful.

I more importantly need to do my part as an adult. SB1137 is an oil and gas setbacks bill, and indeed I’ve been advocating for this for the last four years. Our group San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air actually formed partially from a former defeat of a similar gas and setbacks bill, back when our state senator was Ben Huesos. Lets just say he was never a good friend of this particular pediatricians especially since he was getting so much fossil fuel money to fund his political career (at least that is what some of my climate friends told me). Well, Ben Huesos is gone and Dr. Plastic Picker is still around! And SB 1137 did pass and was signed by the governor, and now we are part of a statewide coalition to defend this win.

I’m continuing to focus on decarbonization, and have various projects deployed with many students. My good friend Dr. Anne-Marie Birkbeck Garcia and I were at UCSD AMSA speaking. OMG, that night was so fun! We were just talking about random things, and mostly about our lives and motherhood and being young doctors coming up the ranks together. I think our story resonates because we are both mothers with children the same age as many of the students that were sitting in the audience.

So just wanted to let the blog readership know that I’m around. Working on so many different projects, but it all seems to interconnect and make sense. But wanted to share a big one, which is defending SB1137. Thank you to all that have linked virtual and real arms with me, to try to fundamentally address this existential crisis of climate change and global heating.

Will try to turn off most of it this weekend, because my own college freshman is home. We picked him up at the airport yesterday and I’m about to drop him off at a central location so he can join high school friends for an esports tournament in LA. His baby sister made him homemade cinnamon rolls. It’s a sweet life we have, and that sweetness makes me even more desperate to save it from big oil.

My sweet son. Picking him up last night from a short flight from Oakland. He took the BART. Little steps.
Our other home.

January 21, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It continues to be a beautiful life of purpose and advocacy for me. I’m sitting in a hotel room in Palos Verdes that I thought was a reasonable price, and there are other Prep School Speech families here as well. We drove up in our old trusty Prius and they drove in a Tesla. It’s a practical trip, to get our daughter up here for an invitational speech tournament. But it ended up being a small adventure that we are in the midst of enjoying. We had a drive up that took us beyond our home town of San Diego. I’ve never been to this area of Los Angeles, but I’ve heard of it. I’ve had college friends from this area, as it’s a bit of a ritzy area. We had sushi at a place across the street, and with just us three and the proprietor family – we watched BTS and Black Pink on the TV. There are a lot of Korean storefronts here and we drove by a Kumon. My daughter mentioned to me that she was glad we never did Kumon, and I didn’t subject her to that insanity. It was probably appropriate for some children, but for us – I had this blind trust that I needed to keep her body healthy since she was so sick when she was young and to make sure she had a happy and joyful childhood. That she’s done academically well in school, has been a complete bonus.

Indeed this weekend is a bonus. I never thought we’d get to be Prep School Speech Team Parents, and we find every part of it fun. The sushi dinner yesterday – fun. The gossiping about sophomore high school drama (which we are not involved in) – fun. The togetherness of parents and daughter in a smaller hotel space – fun. Wearing her green speech dress again with her new fancy earrings (that I splurged in a once and a lifetime purchase from Tiffanys) – fun. Dropping her off in the rain, and then again dropping two new umbrellas for her and wondering if she will have a kdrama moment with a handsome boy (they always have that umbrella scene where somewhere likes you and offers you an umbrella) – fun. And stopping by a local bagel shop for coffee and to split a bagel sandwhich, my husband and I – fun. And stopping by target to get a jacket for him – fun. I find it all fun, my life and also the activism.

The activism can be exhausting though. My students, former patient and fellow climate and health advocate Laisha Felix – we collectively did a wonderful job yesterday at UC San Diego School of Medicine. The conference and giving two workshops was a big deal! And we prepped and prepared, but more importantly we were sharing a real project that we did together that fundamentally helped with decarbonization and also address environmental racism in Barrio Logan.

This wonderful person named Laisha Felix. Future surgeon and daughter of Barrio Logan.

But the biggest thing this weekend was presenting and networking with the students at UCPRIME, thanks to my good friend Dr. Luis Castellanos. We were able to connect with three important advocates that we need from UC Irvine medical school. They are the missing puzzle piece that I need to continue advocating for the masterplan for climate safe schools, and also addressing leaded water pollution at K12 drinking water.

And the second biggest thing I did, was help Power San Diego establish a temporary auxillary office in North Park to try to bring municipal power to San Diego so that we can maximize rooftop solar. We are not going to be able to decarbonize fast enough with SDGE and SEmpra. End of story. We need municipal power and we need Power San Diego. It’s an uphill battle, and it’s a David and Goliath struggle, but for a litter picker like me – tell me it’s impossible and difficult, and I’ll jump right in to help.

But I’m enjoying the day and this weird life of mine. I’m enjoying my pretty 15-year-old daughter and the little make-believe dramas at school, and seeing her mature and grow up well. And I’m looking forward to every day with her, and every day I have to make small changes in our fight for a livable earth.

Thank you for following along on my journey, and I’m trying to be more mindful to take care of myself and also be more present on the blog. Green hugs to you. And thank you for believing in Dr. Plastic Picker.

Picture of the Physicians for We Power Event.

January 16, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

The Physicians for We Power event went well. My contribution was lending out my house and backyard to be honest. I had to have the house deep-cleaned (we needed it!) and then ordered the food, and used all the connections I had to get about 20 people to our actual house. The event went well, and authentic connections were made. The wheels of activism and natural organic connections that will hopefully avert catastrophic global heating are happening. I am reminded and I remind my friend Prof Adam Aron, that we each are one person. None of us are responsible for this entire thing, but certainly we can do our share to avert the catastrophe.

It’s a busy climate week honestly, and most of it is done virtually. Tomorrow we have an event for New York State and it’s getting a lot of press! My friend Prof. Sandra Jee just let me know that the talk has been advertised in the whole entire state of New York! New York is a big state! Out team is ready to present and it’s serendipitous the team that we have put together. I think it’s honestly that I’m amusing and somewhat interesting. And I’m co-presenting with a UC Berkeley premedical student. There is something powerful about pushing the youth out in front. That I tend to attract more Asian-American premedical voices and opinions is a good thing, because we are still underrepresented in this work. Our presence is sorely needed.

I also have an EPA lead meeting today which is like 8 hours long! It’s crazy! How does the EPA expect busy clinicians to go to an 8 hour meeting? We formed a lead advocacy team but everyone is in class or working, and I also am working. But I’ll register for the webinar and at least make some comments. The lead pollution in school drinking water still drinks me literally bonkers. We are giving the virtual talk tin New York tomorrow, which I need to practice and make sure my friend Dr. Sandra Jee is proud of us! And then on Saturday, Laisha Felix one of our amazing students is co-presenting with me at the UC PRIME Statewide Conference!

And this week, I also need to really organize and push forward the programming for H3SD 2024 with my good friend Dr. Luis Castellanos. I just texted him to confirm we can do August 9 evening and August 10 for the main program for the Heat and Human Health Summit. I heard from Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action that sharing our agenda was very helpful for them during their heat summit that they did in the summer. It’s funny how sharing the work and ideas really helps, and not gate-keeping. My daughter often uses that word. No one is allowed to gate-keep. She’s really wise (and super cute!). I have to confirm budget as well for the summer, and I still haven’t received by money from last summer’s event. I know I’ll get it but $5K is a lot of money! The wheels of the institution that I work at does sometimes move painfully slow. But I know they are good for the money! Is that what I have to do? I know there is more.

I haven’t been as active on the blog, but will try to get back to you more. I’ve been distracted by this 1.5 year long other storyline that has to be private. Mr. Plastic Picker was being annoying yesterday and said I was emailing my penpal too much. But I’ve honestly led such a wholesome life and this is my one bit of fun, and I’m going to keep emailing until my penpal tells me to stop. It makes me happy to share little stories that are innocent and sweet.

And that is it! Lots of environmental health and climate work to do! Our little one is going to the climbing gym today and she was pouting when we got home yesterday after dropping our oldest up at UC Berkeley. Teenagers are honestly like toddlers. They pout for no reason other than trying to get your attention. And isn’t it great that she’s trying to get my attention and not some boy’s? I’m grateful for that mostly. I think it’s because I amuse her as well.

The ad.

January 13, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

To say it’s a bit chaotic in my house this early morning at 7:12am is a bit of an understatement. I worked a full day yesterday (Friday). Dr. Dear Best Friend and Dr. MM and I did stop by Panera for a nice slow lunch. But finishing a busy clinic day, even if it’s pretty much on time – is still tiring. I came home and it was a wonderful evening. My little brother stopped by with our Corgi Cousin, and we had dinner and he and our little one watched Flowers of the Killer Moon. The rest of us we were just milling around the house, but those two were dedicated! Over three hours and it sounds like it was an important movie, but on the sad side. But as I was half laying there watching them watching the movie, I knew the morning would come. I’m so grateful my little brother texted late at night the kind women who owns a company that deep cleans his house. I’ve always tried to keep our house clean myself, but it’s so challenging and we have climate guests coming over. So he was able to get her and her company to come this morning and they’ll arrive at 830am to deep clean the house. It needs to be done periodically to maintain the house. We do this maybe four times a year? I probably should just give in and do it every 2 months. But its’ been ingrained in me to clean myself, and just live it our chaos if we can’t maintain things.

But there are climate folks coming for the Physicians for We Power event at noon, including lots of UC San Diego premedical students. And this morning, my in-laws and I are making a big ruckus about moving stuff and trying to clean before the cleaners come. Do you get me? I think everyone understands. It amuses me now at this stage in my life. My in-laws are always focused on how clean the garden looks. I’m upset about the kitchen and how many pickled vegetable containers and all the stuff they are fermenting on the counter. The kids are asleep, but when they awaken they too will be swept into the chaos. I haven’t even ordered the food yet! I was going to get vegetarian pizza or vegan thai food, but by the time I got my act together last night at 11pm – everything was closed. And they don’t open up until 11am anyway, which is cutting it too close. The Vietnamese sandwhich shops open at 730am, so I’ll just order 30 sandwhiches from there and have our oldest pick those up. I need to run to costco to get fruit and drinks and some snacks.

I’m blogging upstairs instead of usually on the kitchen table to give my inlaws a little bit of a break. When the cleaning starts, people start yelling. My mother-in-law was yelling at my father-in-law that it was time to eat breakfast, and he said he had to finish cleaning something for me. I love them dearly, and I told him he didn’t need to do it. But I had mentioned that I’d prefer that old rug thrown away, and he was determined to get it in the trash before breakfast. But after much old person, normal loving bickering and yelling – he is settled in the kitchen counter eating breakfast and his wife is nagging him, and I know this is very normal when we start cleaning.

It’s a beautiful rhythm to our lives. We’ve had lots of climate friends in and out of our house since I started my climate journey. It was hard for us initially, because it’s hard to let people into your home. But for us now, we come together and do it – because every time the gathering is done, we know we’ve made the world a bit safer with our advocacy and we are grateful to let those people into our lives.

But its 7:23am and we are in the midst of cleaning chaos! It will all work out. Not sure who will come, but those that come will be the right people. The earth has taught me that. To flow with the climate work, to flow with our loving and bickering family, and to flow with where I’m meant to go. And I’m meant to go to Vons to get root color for my hair and also to Costco to get the snacks!!!!

Thank you for following along on this weird climate journey of mine.

some teen pictures

December 28, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

Good morning dear blog readership! It’s 8:50am and its the first time in 20 years that I’ve taken the entire holiday off! I have a few more glorious days and spending it with the kids. Mr. Plastic Picker is off to work this entire week but he’s off next week. Our son will still be home from college, so they will do some father-son bonding. We are relatively senior members of our respective departments, and I’m very much YOLO (you only live once) kind of mindset these days. Looking at the real threat of climate catastrophe will do that to any reasonable person. I used to hoard vacation days and at some point had over 50 days banked. But now I just have the normal reasonable amount, always above 25 but usually closer to 35-38. I realized that I’ll never get this time back with my children, and staying at my current work which is very likely but is not guaranteed. Plus we keep on accruing vacation anyway. So I’ve stayed home this entire week when I thought I might put myself back into work, but I did not! And I’m actually really happy I didn’t.

I really need to get our climate newsletter out to our troops, mostly to organize my own thoughts and where we are headed for the rest of the year. I need to update our website as well. I still have a two presentations to work on that I need to send in to climate friends in New York and also to UC San Diego School of Medicine. Those are the two big upcoming talks that I am giving. Since I typed it out today, most likely I will do it. I also need to finish the dishes. Mr. Plastic Picker told me to leave the laundry to him, as he likes doing the laundry. The grandparents are currently not in town, but will be back before the New Year.

Mostly I wanted to show you how proud I am of our sophomore. I snuck in to watch her sleeping this morning and spied her Korean textbook. She has been studying Korean language since she was four years old first at church language school and then with a private instructor. And now she has added Vietnamese language as well. She studies Spanish at school. So the Korean and Vietnamese have always been extra. But she’s reading fairytales now and making little notations in her reading. Her Korean has far surpassed her fathers and mine, and I am so proud. Her Vietnamese is actually really good. I’m practicing speaking with her more now, and I can see her learning and picking it up quickly. In dovetails with the future I envision for her, which is one to advocate for those that will be at high risk due to climate change and climate migration – Vietnamese women. But those thoughts I can leave aside for now and let them naturally evolve.

For now and today, I am just proud of her for continuing her studies through her vacation at a steady pace. I’m happy to be here typing on this blog which I’ve been neglecting of late. I’m proud to have given some feedback on a print interview to a dear climate friend. My comments were constructive and probably difficult for her to take in, but it came from an absolute place of love. She knows it and will digest my comments. And I’ll be seeing her soon. And I’m so happy to be here with you – virtually. I know one day this blog and many other like it from other climate activists, will be historical references to this moment in time when we had to decide – do you do something about the climate crisis or do you just sit this one out? I decided to do something today. And that something is to work on the newsletter!!!

Much love from our climate family.

One of the grandchildren.

December 21, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

My own love is back in San Diego, likely already at work. He’s sitting at his reading station and what I think is mindlessly looking at black and white images of parts of bodies and contrasting shadows of light and dark. I know he makes up stories in his minds about the images, and I’m sometimes still confused about why he went into radiology. He did it because he was from a working class family, and was a smart and bright student. He needed to support his parents. He needed the titles and the prestige. I married him partly because of that. He was the boy who represented so many of the values and strengths that men in my family embody.

I’m sitting at the kitchen table across from my father. I had thought I was going to retell the story of how my parents met. It’s a beautiful story of a 15 year old girl who met a smart and handsome and overly confident 17 year old boy in Vietnam back in the 1970s. I had heard bits and pieces of the story, but yesterday sitting at my parents small square table I heard the entirety of the story with my nephew. He is my oldest brother’s youngest son. We laughed and were enraptured. It was an absolutely beautiful moment that the four of us will never forget. This story will be retold, and I won’t retell it here. It doesn’t feel right. It belongs to the family, and to the two granddaughters who will here the story. At 14 and 15, they were the same age of their grandmother when fate brought two young people together.

My dad told me yesterday that in Vietnamese you often introduce your wife as “Day la nha toi.” I don’t have the Vietnamese language software that can put in the diacritic marks. But essentially the phrase can be translated into “Here is my house” “Here is my home” “Here is my family.” It is a powerful phrase because essentially the wife is the house, the home and the family.

It might be old-fashioned but the proof is in all of us here today to celebrate 50 years of marriage. Here is celebrate the 7 grandchildren that are absolutely loved and cherished, that resulted from each of their children believing in love and fate and destiny. The two son-in-laws are not here, but they have absolutely been loved by my parent’s daughters. We are the girls who have created a house, home and family for our husbands.

And with that, I wanted to remember that phrase, that moment at the kitchen table and that absolute sense of rightness. These are the values I was taught, and it was so ingrained in me – but I had forgotten the source. It’s good to be together again to remind us our roots. And for the 11 of us here in Oahu today it’s because of a sweet love story when a 15 year old girl met a brash 17 year old boy, who dared to buy a meal at the market place from the pretty 15 year old girl.