September 2021 – Dr. Plastic Picker

Month: September 2021

screen shot from Dr. Aprana Bole’s talk. We reached 60 attendees.

September 30, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I’m usually up later these days since forgoing coffee. My sleep is deeper. I sometimes miss the 4am writing sessions, but overall this is better for my health. I’m still writing a lot, but more advocacy letters and emails regarding climate. Please know that this blog and the writing practice and your support, has meant the world to me. I could not have done it without this virtual audience. You gave me the strength to speak up. You made me realize that people will respond to my writing, my letters, my words, my speaking.

I am sipping my “Green Awakening” right now which is my matcha soy latte. It’s this beautiful green warm cup of plant-based goodness that greats me in the morning. I also hope I caused a “Green Awakening” amongst some of the pediatricians who showed up at the California AAP State-wide Chapter Chat. It was on climate change, and very powerful. A coordinated effort amongst the four california AAP chapters. Primarily the talk was Dr. Aprana Bole who is a national figure in climate advocacy, and the head of the Council on Environmental Health. I was on the panel discussion along with someone I admire so much Dr. Amanda Millstein, founder of Climate Health NOW.

We were wearing the same clothes as the pictures! We all decided that likely all of us are minimalist, which is a good thing. I have two dresses like that, and I call them my zoom dresses.

I received text messages and emails from friends yesterday after the talk. I could tell that my comments paired with those big personalities and figures like Drs. Aparna Bole and Amanda Millstein resonated. I just told them my simple story about burnout and finding meaining in medicine through climate and health advocacy. I shared with them that for me it is a spiritual journey. I notice the butterflies and I notice the snowy egrets. The earth leads me to different projects, and I just grab all my friends and we try to do it together.


What my morning looks like.

September 25, 2021

by drplasticpicker

My back was bothering me on Thursday night. I had been working virtually or doing climate virtual work Tuesday through Thursday, and that relative inactivity and my seating posture really did a number of my back. But I try to listen to my body now. I made sure to sleep on the floor with the thin mattress pad that is really comfortable. I did some yoga stretches on Thursday night and then Friday morning. I wore good solid shoes I got from the Goodwill on Friday, and wore comfortable scrubs. I made sure to walk around and take care of my plants at home and at the HMO parking garage. Walking around and visiting plants, it very good for my mental and physical health. It’s fun to have a destimation to go to, and to visit.

Aloe, so happy!

I named the blogpost this morning the “Green Awakening” because our teen daughter was discussing her history class with us. They are learning about “The Great Awakening” and that term really resonated with me. I truly believe we are all going through “The Green Awakening.” I can’t explain it more than that. For me this entire journey has not been religious but spiritual. I listen to nature and the earth tells me what to do, and where to do. And she is trying to heal me and us at every corner, as long as we allow her and we listen to her.


September 21, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I’m going to find money. Yes I am. Dr. Sabrina Perrino and I are going to find money for our AirKeepers for South County Schools project. A new grant became available from Eco-America and looking at the application – I think we can easily do it. I have all the material from Dr. Lori Byron from AAP Montana as they had deployed the program throughout Montana. I had presented this program at our HMO talk and it went well, but no one offered to give me money to do this program. Therefore I will work the AAP angle, which makes more sense. There is also a grant through the APCD board I believe. I just need to synthesize this information and actually apply for the grant. I am going to pitch this grant as AirKeepers program deployed in EJ middle schools, and a partnership with pediatricians for the AAP Climate Change and Health Committee and the South Bay Middle School teachers and elementary schools in the south bay. I need to work with one of my great parents who is one of the middle school science teachers. Probably the next thing would be to draw up an interest list from the middle school science teachers.

That is all. That is what I am working on. Oh also two other great projects, but I needed to figure out this one in my brain.

And then our student Co-Founder for San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air and I put the finishing touches on her poster. Super proud. We’ll review her audio recording soon. Just proud of these students and what they are able to accomplish.

Passion fruit! Keep your own passion!

September 20, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I’m feeling selfish today. I am fundamentally a giving person but I’m a bit tired right now. Some of it was this wonderful weekend, and as an introvert – it took me emotionally most of the weekend to recover from the coastal clean up. I can’t explain it. I love organizing it and it is the right thing to do. I was energized from it, but also drained. I want to create these experiences for friends as this is a way to activate more physicians and it pushes me out of my comfort zone. But honesetly, it was emotionally draining and I can only do these a few times a year. Yesterday morning I walked by myself along the beach and gathered three bags of trash. That actually refreshed me. Even after I literally stepped in doo doo. But that is an entire saga that is detailed on Instagram.

Anyhow. My sister-in-law has a very productive passion fruit vine, and my mother-in-law as well has a beginning vine. I did not realize how wondrous passion fruit is! My mom showed me how to put the passion fruit innards in a blender, and yesterday I made the kids passion fruit and grape fruit juice with a bit of honey. It was wondrous!!!

Let me look up the nutritional content of passion fruit. [PAUSE] It continues to be wondrous!!! And here is some information I found on the internet. So wondrous!!! We’ll be eating all the passion fruit from our vine, thank you very much!

From Healthline

Passion fruit is a good source of nutrients, especially fiver, vitamin C, and provitamin A.

A single purple passion fruit contains:

  • Calories: 17
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Vitamin C: 9% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin A: 8% of the DV
  • Iron: 2% of the DV
  • Potassium: 2% of the DV

Though this may not seem like much, keep in mind that these are the values for a single, small fruit that has only 17 calories. Calorie for calorie, it’s a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin A.

It’s also rich in beneficial plant compounds, including carotenoids and polyphenols.

No squirrel! You will not get my passion fruit!!! I know a lot of people at work like you. Too big from scavenging off other people’s creativity and ideas. The other mamamls will come back as will the shorebirds after we rewild this world!
My father-in-law, his first pick up with me. He had a wonderful day.

September 19, 2021

by drplasticpicker

It’s 558am, and it’s the day after the 2021 Coastal Clean Up Day. It’s a symbolic day where the community is invited to come together to pick up trash and plastic pollution to help the oceans. I organized a work group to clean up on the bayside of the southern part of San Diego Bay at the Chula Vista Boating Launch Ramp. It was a long process that included sending emails to our department, posting on our MD Facebook group. I figured out how to use sign-up genius, and posted during our differerent work presentation reminders. I considered different areas to clean and texted RN Plastic Picker about advice about where to clean. I drove to two different areas to scope out which areas would be the most approrpriate and settled upon an area in the South County where I grew up, that had plenty of plastic pollution at a scenic walkway. I exchanged emails and text messages with various people. Mr. Plastic Picker and I went to the grocery store Friday night late, after a long day of work to get supplies and snacks for the event. My father-in-law happily agreed to come with me to help set up, mostly to put up our tent that we needed. RN Plastic Picker convinced her tween daughter to come, and another nursing manager came. We arrived at 740am right on time, and quickly set up in about 20 minutes. We didn’t leave until about 1130am, so a good four hours of our time. About 15 people of various ages came with their family and I’ve detailed the beauty of the day on different facebook pages and there are plenty of wonderful pictures of the day. This is one I’ll always remember, because I feel like I found this tree and I got to help clean around her roots and tell a child that I love that I found it for her and she should sit on it.

Mighty and beautiful tree.
Looking up into the sky. She and all our children deserve us to try.

The actual amount of trash that we gathered was respectable. Here is what it looked like, and given the wind conditions – I know that it would have all gone into the ocean.

The trash that our team gathered.

Was it worth it? Was it worth all that time? I’m sitting here and it’s 608am now and it’s still dark and I can’t go out by myself to the beach to clean just yet. It’s too dark. But the memories of yesterday and everything that led up to yesterday are washing over me, and every moment was worth it. Every part of the efforts that led to yesterday were worth it. There were so many moments throughout the entire process that I will never forget. I’m closing my eyes again and letting it wash over me. I get kind of choked up when I think about it.


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.