September 2021 – Dr. Plastic Picker

Month: September 2021

Passion-fruit from my brother’s family’s suburban garden.

September 17, 2021

by drplasticpicker

This is passion fruit. In Vietnamese it’s called chanh da^y roughly in my Vietnamese translated to lemon of the vine or lemon of the rope/string. I’ve had passion fruit flavored processed food before, and I saw it plentiful in Peru – but I’d never tasted it. I never tasted it until yesterday. The smell of fresh passion fruit is sweet and sticky. It’s color is yellow and beautiful and it looks like there are a hundred little frog eyes looking at you. At least that is what I thought when I was with my mom yesterday. She had been gifted a big bag of passion fruit from my sister-in-law’s garden. She doesn’t like to eat it, but my father loves it. She was taking out the innards of the passion fruit, and this is what it looked like.

Looks like amphibian eyes to me.

My mom asked me if I wanted to taste it. And I told her I had tasted it a thousand of times. I really thought I had. I must have been confused in my modern world go-go know-it-all MD brain. I told her repeatedly. But then I stopped, and after looking at the beautiful sky outside of her house that sits above the ocean that I love – I came back in from the outside second story deck and said to her, “Mommy. Can I try some?” I tried it, and it was so sour! I made a very sour face, and I did finish them all and spit out the seeds and I laughed. I laughed and said, “There is no way I’ve tried it before. It is so sour???!!!” But it’s a wonderful kind of alive kind of sour. Isn’t that funny?


New habit, matcha green tea.

September 14, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I had struggled with trying to find the most sustainable coffee. I used the drink the instant packets that come from the Korean market that had the sugar and creamer in it already. I usually needed to add more creamer and more sugar. Honestly coffee was a liquid caffeinated cookie for me. Then there was buying coffee for clinic, and did I buy the carry-away coffee carafes for the clinic, versus the different kinds of coffee makers that have so much disposable waste involved? Little plastic containers for creamers. Sugar packets and different sugar substitutes and then the different wooden versus plastic stirrers. When I pick up trash on the beach, there is an inordinate amount of coffee trash. Think of how much time and effort the world spends on drinking coffee, and it’s because we are all medicating ourselves from a life that is too rushed.

So rather than finding out which creamer was most sustainable or which coffee beans were rainforest certified and fair trade, I just kind of figured out my life and am trying to live a more sustainable life. And then my body did not need coffee anymore. It was a month that was a bit difficult truly weaning my body. I remember again it was because I was binge watching Dawsons Creek that helped me get off coffee. And now I drink a matcha green tea latte in the morning. I put just a bit of sugar in it, and can use any kind of creamer (right now I’m using soy milk) and I make no waste with my healthier kind of caffeine in the morning. My mood is more even as well.

I don’t think the world is going to stop drinking coffee, but I did. It was the right thing for me. There is so much tea in our house and clinic, that I’m saving a lot of money as well. It’s astronomic how much coffee costs and how much waste it generates. But in my little corner of the world, I’ve stopped drinking coffee. If you drink coffee, that is OK. I’m composting those coffee grounds for you and the earth. I was able to get the coffee grounds from the HMO coffee shop yesterday and they are going into our Aerobin 400 composter!

Got it! It was a good day!
My trashart from yesterday.

September 12, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Part of the wonderful thing about blogging is that it just gets my creative juices flowing in the morning. We had some HUGE climate wins this weekend. To the extent that I could hardly believe it. I had to roll up in a fetal position with happiness that it all got done. I am but a bit player in all of this, but an active bit player. I know I have a ripple effect on it all.

Harvard University has a $42 billion dollar endowment. I will no longer say Crimson University. I went to Harvard University. I am no longer ashamed (I wasn’t really ashamed but it leant an air of mystery to the whole thing when I started this blog). There was a grass-roots alumni movement called Harvard Forward, led mostly by young alumni that worked to displace the old-fogey Board of Directors with younger more climate conscious board members who would vote to divest from fossil fuels. Through alumni networks, we all mobilized to get our alumni friends to do write in votes. I can say for two weeks I worked every connection I had. This was true throughout the country, as we all canvassed our friends. It happened. Even Mr. Plastic Picker voted. Harvard divested it’s $42 billion dollar endowment from fossil fuels. We donate yearly to the University.


Science journal we’ve been invited to write for.

September 10, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Life is so random and wonderful and beautiful. I wasn’t sure where to share this news. My own facebook? Instagram? Work MD facebook group? San Diego Women’s Physician Group Facebook Group? Crimson University alumin facebook group? Residency alumin facebook group? Crimson Asian American Alumin Facebook group? I have shared it with my family. But then I know. I needed to share this with you – readers. The others, I sometimes feel I’m forcing my climate and health advocacy down their throats. Here, I can be honest how serendipitous this entire journey has been.

Above is a journal that I am in contact with the editors through a high school friend. It’s a popoular science magazine and we have been invited to submit a piece. The maximum is two authors and we can write the article in English. I’m just really excited about the article because I will never have written something with this particular friend who I want to co-write this article with. And I’m excited about picking the various parts of our group’s advocacy work that we can include.

The Rewild Mission Bay work is going very well. We’ve officially joined the coalition and Dr. Ben Schleifer is our official contact with the coalition. We are working with our family practice colleages to get the San Diego Academy of Family Physicians to endorse as well. This weekend I will also work on my presentation for work. I’m trying to reengage in some work projects and I’m excited about my 20 minutes in front of our often raucous leadership group. And then I will work on the AAP NCE Poster with one of our premed interns. Lots of beautiful things to do this weekend.

I think I deserve at matcha tea latte?

Front entryway succulent area. All repurposed, nothing new.

September 9, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I had a mixed day yesterday. I was talking to a colleage about departmental business and an area that I have since left, is going toward a direction I don’t agree with. This is why I left. But that anger that I have about unilateral decisions and injustice bubbles up. But I choose not to cast people as villains in my narrative, I instead choose to cast systems issues and inertia as the villain. Putting these minor departmental isses in the perspective of the climate crisis helps because it puts it in context, and reminds me that the entire world is stressed.

But I was able to put that issue away in the my brain, and it was a big climate day yesterday. Our local AAP chapter really knocked it out of the park. We had approached the executive board about AAP San Diego joining the Rewild Mission Bay Coalition and they agreed. It was a victory that I did not think possible. Now this has led to a cascading series of events and one of my climate and health colleagues and overall earth-hero is going to try to get the local Family Practice chapter to do the same. We are all in this together, and we must all work together. My only contribution was really living near Mission Bay and really caring about this particular wetland because I love birds, and wanting to help. And then I knew a colleage who was wonderful and I told him, why don’t you become our wetlands liason!. And that was it. This victory really belongs to the tide of humanity knowing in our hearts that rewilding these wetlands is part of our way to protect from storm water surges and rising sea levels. It makes sense for real estate prices as well. Your house is not worth as much if it’s wet.


Two bags yesterday

September 7, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I don’t know if people are listening. I don’t know if anyone cares about the planet. Sometimes I get so sad. The news is dire but we knew that. Wildfires throughout the west and the Mediterranean. Catastrophic hurricanes displaced Mr. Plastic Picker’s family on Long Island. It’s here. The future we had predicted. Are people acting? I have to believe they are. I have to believe that I am a very ordinary pediatrician who is trying to do my part in making the planet livable and that I’m not that special and others aren’t that selfish. Knowing how ordinary I am gives me hope, because it’s ordinary people like me who can help stop this climate crisis.


The spices I had all along that I needed last night.

September 6, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Wow. Dinner was a complete and utter and delightful and healthy surprise. We had gone out to dinner on Saturday and had felt very, for the lack of a better word, heavy. We had gone to a nice family style high-end American-fare restaurant and we all had sandwhiches and various burgers and salad. The first bites were good, but afterwards all my daughter could mention was how much butter and oil there was on everything.

When our family moved toward a more plant-based diet and especially when I stopped drinking coffee with all that cream and sugar, my palate fundamentally changed. Without all the processed sugar that comes in pre-packaged foods, real food made at home and in general life became more real and flavorful and sweet.


Wow. That was easy and VEGAN!


  1. can of diced tomatos with water
  2. one more can of water
  3. one zuchinni chopped
  4. left over carrots chopped
  5. 1/4 cup of lentils
  6. 1/2 cup of beans mixed soaked over night
  7. generous spoonful of better than boillon
  8. sprinkle in a grain 1/4 of a cup (quinoa or couscous)
  9. put in a 1/2 tablespoon of whatever seasoning you like
  10. bean function on instapot 20 minutes

Serve with leftover bread or crackers, or whatever you want.

All I have to say is there are a lot of good stuff in this light on the beans “chilli.” A keeper for my house. I’m definitely doing this every week! I made this recipe all by myself!!!!

Trash art person. Happy with itself.

September 5, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I’ve been thinking about eating disorders or disordered eating a lot. After decades of being a pediatrician, I think I’m beginning to understand. I had a dear patient come in last week for likely our final visit and she related to me her experience recently with anorexia, and we talked frankly about treatment and causes and her impression. I learned more from my patient than I’ve had from the textbooks in years.

There is this look that I’ve seen time and time again. It’s this look during the first initial visit when usually the mother brings the teenage girl and we broach the subject the first time. In this case, I’m usually the pediatrician who has cared for said teenage girl since prepuberty and now into this rocky time in adolescence. There is this look that the daughter gives the mother, as the mother is relating to me her concerns. The mother is usually standing rigid and seemingly in control, but I feel like she’s usually a glass statue about to shatter. She gets this gaze that eventhough she is talking to me, the mother is actually not looking at me – but looking at someone else. I’m a stand-in for the entire medical system at that point. The mother relates her concerns usually controlled with undercurrent of repressed emotion. And the daughter. The daughter has the look. The look when the mother has shushed her, and the daughter has stopped talking. She just looks at her mother from a teenaged body but the eyes of a young child, with repressed and unshed tears. And the daughter does not say anything because she’s been shushed. But her eyes say a lot. And I always think to myself the eyes say, “notice me. look at me.” And by me, I mean not the physical form me but whatever the “me” inside who is hurting.


A Few Years Ago

September 4, 2021

by drplasticpicker

It’s 230AM and I’m UP!!! I’m usually not up this early and I’m completely weaned off coffee for the last almost six weeks. I didn’t even drink a diet coke yesterday nor tea. Seeing a full panel of patients on Fridays was meaningful but it’s exhausting – emotionally. I thought I was okay, but after dinner when I was successfully able to have us eat a good several servings of vegetables by whipping up some broccoli and mushroom steamed vegetable side in the Instapot that went along with various leftovers a can of chilli – I fell asleep early. I was laying on the couch and the entire family was settled in the living room including the grandparents to watch some sort of documentary on a Kenyan marathoner breaking the world record. I dozed off pretty early. I just remember by daughter reminding my husband, “Can you make sure mommy gets to bed?” Somehow I ended up in my bed and had a good six hours of sleep. That is not bad. I usually sleep a good 8 hours these days. But I was thirsty and my body told me to wake up, and I had an idea about a climate project to further our collective efforts to Rewild Mission Bay. San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air have joined their coalition.