October 2023 – Dr. Plastic Picker

Month: October 2023

Dr. Dear Friend and I visited up there the other day.

October 28, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

The parking lot rooftop guerrilla gardening planter project is mainstream now. At some point, the official administrative HMO people found out and a gardener comes up and kind of semi-cleans up my succulent gardening. It’s a beautiful place now and more of us walk up there and get some air and take in the view. That there are interesting succulents to look at are a bonus for sure. At some point the HMO I’m sure will be putting up solar panels, but for now I wander up there when I need to get some exercise.

I hadn’t really talked to Dr. Dear Friend for a good week. We had been in the same building and said hi and working in parallel hallways, but we hadn’t really talked. We are good real friends and clinic besties, and it was important to catch up on each other’s lives. I shared my stories, she is always so patient and loving to hear me prattle on about my daughter and son. I am truly listened to her stories and her stressors and what is going on with her beloved families. We swapped hopes about what our weekend plans would be. We thought we might have been able to hang out on Sunday together, but she has concert tickets with another friend and will do that. Caring for friends from work, truly caring, is something I’ve come to late in life. I really care about her, and the other doctors in my clinic. It’s a gift that burnout gave me. I’m not alone, and none of us are – who practice medicine. We just have to reach out to our friends and share. Medicine is not an individual sport, it’s a team endeavor which none of us were adequately taught in medical school nor training (at least when I trained).

So Dr. Dear Friend and I wondered up to the guerilla gardening parking structure planter area, and we gazed at all our plants. She has a cactus that is her baby, and it was overshadows by a few other succulents, but we pushed back some of the plants and saw her cactus. It’s doing fantastic and has become five larger cactus humps? I don’t know another work for them. But they are doing well, and I’ll prune some of the overgrowth later.

But how that garden has grown! It gives me this radical hope when I’m up there. I was there the entire time and documented it on Instagram. I would initially bring bags of compost, and hay and bunny poop and compost tea. I had to revitalize the soil and that took a season or so. When there were just a few plants, and can to try to cool down the soil with rocks and mulch. All the plants are extra cuttings from our garden, and mostly from my parents rooftop succulent planters that were overgrown in La Jolla. It was initially watered by saved shower water I would lug in from home. I made it a game for myself, I wasn’t going to spend any money on it, but just my time and things I found around the world. I was going to get exercise while doing it, and it was going to get me out during lunch to at least take a walk up there.

And now it looks like it looks now, and it makes me happy. It makes me hopeful. It makes no radically optimistic. Because I helped bring life back to these essentially dead planters, and there are insects up there now. I know birds visit once in a while, because they peck away at home of the succulents. I know some humans wander up there to get exercise. I know that some of the water from the rains were absorbed by the roots of those plants. I now some friends have taken some cuttings and propagated some more succulents. If you go to a gardening store, those succulents aren’t cheap! You are welcome to go up there and take a cutting or two!

Just happy and wanted to show you how big this wonderful plant has become! Have a wonderful weekend dear blog readers. I really do care for you. I care for the earth. And I’m going to care for myself this weekend, because my 15-year-old is still blessedly 15 and hanging out with me. We are going to try to catch the Taylor Swift movie Eras at fashion valley, and I heard there are very large Dios De Los Muertos decorations there. So we will go try to get some pictures and maybe have dinner there. It’s just us and I joked around at work that the Koreans left for Berkeley. So the technically full Koreans (Mr. Plastic Picker and the the grandparents) left this morning to visit our son up at Berkeley. The little one is home with me, but this weekend I’ve determined that she will be Vietnamese. She can morph into a kdrama star later. But I’m going to make her be a demure Vietnamese young lady this weekend, and no boys allowed. Just mommy and daughter, and lots of silliness. Sometimes the thought of teenage boys in our life (other than our son) does cramp our style.

One of the webinars.

October 27, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It’s the end of an epic week for me. For some reason after committing to cleaning the beach and trying to address the plastic pollution crisis, I stumbled upon lead pollution advocacy work. Honestly when I started learning more about the pervasive lead pollution in aviation fuel and then in school drinking water, it just was really irritating. It’s such a basic thing that we need to address as a society, and that needs to be done. I’m just doing my part and I have these premedical students anyway that need some straight forward projects to work on. So thus I became one of the main lead pollution advocacy persons in the state of California.

That’s it! I just wanted to let you know that this last week was a few months of preparation to be part of two webinars we gave on lead pollution. And I’m proud of myself and the team that we assembled to address it.

It’s Friday morning and I mostly think of climate at our house. But it was a busy week and I was pretty awesome in clinic yesterday. And I’m going to just hang out with the teenager this weekend. I figured out how to deep clean out bathroom yesterday and dealt with some fundamental issues, and feel really empowered now. It’s odd, but being able to pick up trash and then clean the bathroom – it gives me strength to help clean the air and the water of lead!

Quick power point I sent my friend.

October 21, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

I actually have the blessed weekend off, and worked the late staggered shift last night. I still was home by 750pm and came home to a beautiful dinner our 15-year-old daughter had prepared. She’s a really good girl, and such a hard-worker and conscientious. She also happens to be absurdly pretty and photogenic. It’s weird actually how pretty she is, which is why I post a lot of pictures of her. But I know she’s definitely mine because she’s bright.

So here to sort out my thoughts. I did so much climate and environmental health work this week, while still working essentially a full time job and made it to all the kid events. I overslept part of both volleyball games but was their for the important parts. Lets see what I did?

  1. International Lead Pollution Week: which is next week! Our team is giving two separate webinars and had to meet and help prep for both. So that was powerpoints and emails between me and the CME/CE folks at our HMO, and also dialoging with outside advocacy groups like Children NOW. I also had to exchange emails with the California Department of Public Health. Having the CDPH emails had it all really legitimate! This also gives presentation opportunities to one premedical student, and also two medical students. So invaluable for their professional development!
  2. San Diego 350.org Event in Chula Vista: Invited for the 2nd year to speak at this San Diego 350.org event on climate change and human health. I sent someone else to speak last year. This year, I’ll show up myself since they asked me and I’m bringing along an amazing high school student and we will speak together. Plus she needs this kind of big presentation on her resume! She’s fantastic and has 100% showed up for our advocacy team.
  3. Sweetwater Union HS Rally and Electrification Proposal: This one is huge! We will try to get Sweetwater Union HS district to electrify and would be only the 2nd school district in the state to do so. It’s in our backyard and we are preparing for the rally and to mount the support. Let me send messages to the kids that I want to be there. Let me send them an email now telling them to save the date. Okay just emailed them all.
  4. WRITING AND PUBLISHING: Started the email chain on writing up the Extreme Heat and Youth Sports Project. There is a small regional conference here in San Diego, that we can prep the abstract for and present. It makes a lot of sense since we won’t have to fly to that conference. So excited about this one!

And lots of other work. But you know what? It’s 655am and I worked the late shift last night and nearly finished all my charts. I finished my taxes (minor miracle) and actually overpaid the federal government (I know! I know! I lost some interest). And I did my part to help stop this existential crisis. And I think I’m actually going to go for a jog and head to the beach to clean up. This weekend I’m just going to try to clean the house, and my really smart and pretty 15-year-old? She actually doesn’t remember how to swim. So we are going to try to find a pool to practice swimming and I have to buy her a rash guard. And getting to do that mommy stuff this weekend. I absolutely love it. Enjoy your teenagers to those who have teenagers. Enjoy every moment with them. At some point we’ll have to share them , but for now – she’s mine!

Carrot from the garden. From Grandma Plastic Picker.

October 19, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

I was thinking of emailing this carrot picture to my H3SD friend group, or really organizing committee. But I still have some work I need to do and I don’t need to clutter up their inboxes right now. So I’m showing it to the group that means so much to me – the blog readership. I’m back! I know I’ve been on Instagram more, but I really need to stop having those earworms in my head. It’s fun, but it’s definitely changing my brain.

But you know what has fundamentally changed me? You. Climate work. Blogging. Writing. And these carrots. I can’t explain it fully. I’m not the same person that started this journey. I’m so wired differently now. My husband gave me flowers for my birthday and the smell of the flowers is so fragrant and they are so lovely. I would never have noticed them that much before. I’m a different doctor. I know that each day we change, but the amount of personal growth and joy – I can’t truly explain. It’s been now four years of this, and I’m looking forward to the next decade of continuing to address the climate crisis.

There are infinite amount of projects we have to do. There are some really big ones especially getting a board resolution done at the Sweetwater Union High School District which would be the only 2nd in that to electrify, and to help Our Children’s Trust with the 2nd federal lawsuit and the AMICUS brief. So I’m going to do that today. Work on those two.

But I wanted just to tell you hello! And I wanted to show you the carrot that came out all organic from our garden. And it’s really big too!

A year afterwards.

October 14, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

I never would have predicted a year after our daughter’s first homecoming and a year after our son was homecoming king, that this is where life would have ended up. It’s been a gloriously slow year of emails and events and blogging and climate work, and that it’s seemed slow and I have so many specific memories of the in between is wonderful.

It’s 4:47am and I’m up at my normal blogging time and my father-in-law is puttering around the kitchen. I wanted to send an email to a friend, but I am learning boundaries and my children call it a para-social relationships – so I’m up on the blog typing to you rather than someone else. This is better and I’m letting nature takes it’s course in that timeline. But it feels good to be together with our family. My parents-in-law are healthy. Our son is now in his freshman year at Berkeley. We told him most of his life to not play too many video games, but he is up at Berkley playing UC Berkeley sanctioned videogames? Actually socializing and on two e-sports leagues/clubs and on their social media team. He is taking his classes seriously and did well on his midterms thus far. So we are happy.

And the little one? She had a wonderful homecoming. I call it the “low key” and “WHATEVER???!!!” homecoming. I tell her often, you don’t want to peak in high school. You want to peak when you become attorney general, our a federal prosecutor or a supreme court justice. She had a great evening and a much more typical homecoming fun yesterday. She worked the Asian Student Union booth selling ramen cups and eggrolls. She was so adorable with the pretty junior friends, and they did not realize that all the boys were flocking around them (many of them Asian) to buy eggrolls and ramen cups from the pretty girls. I just walked up and down the carnival walkway and would peak in on them. They were so cute. Our family donated the eggrolls to the club. Then she jetted to help her good friend do her makeup for homecoming court, and her friend looked radiant. It was about the friend yesterday, and putting her focus on her friends and not herself is so important for her development. And then she jetted to the Speech Team booth and had so much fun making cotton candy. She said her cotton candy skills were so much better than a particular junior friend, and there was an 8-year-old that was enraptured with her cotton candy making skills. I didn’t actually see much of her, other than glimpses here and there as she was running off with friends. At some point she was walking with two of her tall friends who are boys and blond, and I thought back to another particular boy who is tall and not blond from our past – and I had some thoughts of potential futures. But I tucked those ruminating thoughts away, because I know she was just walking with friends. But I hope that particular character doesn’t wait too long to pop up again in our lives. Who knows? Sometimes I still think of her life as a kdrama. But she was so happy yesterday.

I had an odd interaction with a person who called me her ex-niece, and I had to text my parents and family about that one. That one was really weird, but there is a long history behind that story that has to do with money, divorce, and a lot of bitterness that has nothing to do with my generation. I told my daughter to absolutely stay away from that particular person and family, even though we are related technically. I mentioned it to some mommy friends and they said “that sounds like crazy rich Asians!” And I didn’t say details but in all honestly it is. Our money is hard earned from our doctoring, but some other people – hmmmmm. Let’s just say money and wealth definitely in this case does not equal morality. But I was mostly happy seeing and chatting and catching up with mommy friends. I heard snippets of people having gotten divorced that I had not known, and I didn’t pry and I was just sad for those families that are more complicated now.

But me? Dr. Plastic Picker? I try to keep my life simple. It was just fun being a parent at homecoming of a happy and content and less self-centered but still very pretty 15-year-old at her second homecoming. She had fun and she wanted to hear about my homecoming experience as well. And tonight we will take out the dress that she loved and put on the heels that she bought a year ago, and she’ll curl her hair with her new curtain bangs. It makes sense to wear the same dress, because she loves that dress and we already have it. We are trying to be low key this year. And this 15-year-old is really sassy, the one I have. She’s in her “WHATEVER???!!!” stage which I honestly absolutely love more than the super sweet and wide-eyed 14-year-old that was waiting for her prince charming to come.

To the unknown other protagonist in our storyline, the longer you wait to show up – the prettier and more awesome she gets. But I’m sure whoever you are , you are becoming even more awesome. Some of these kdramas are 200 episodes! And honestly those of the family-oriented happy ending ones are worth it.

But in the meantime, the world needs to be saved and I’m honestly keeping that at the center of what I do. I have to discuss with a beloved family who wants to help with the federal lawsuit for Our Children’s Trust and the AMICUS brief that we’ll be helping with. I had to get my $5K back from our HMO for the H3SD summit. Since we won a bunch of prizes, it is a good time to remind them. And then we have to start writing two papers to help our premed students get into medical school. And I still have a few items to send to finish our taxes. Oh! And my friend Dr. F and I need to draw up a business plan for our art studio! I’m really excited about the art studio in North Park!

I’m going to try to get to the beach in an hour or so. It’s been a while since I headed there and it’s always the right place for me to go.

It was actually just a stairwell but one of the coolest stairwells I’ve seen. BAMPFA

October 10, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

How are things going for your family? Are you well? Is everyone loved and being cared for? If I’m your pediatrician, I am back in the large HMO office today and will try to do my best to do my job. You know this historic strike? Do you think it’s manufactured chaos by the powers that be on both sides? It’s kind of like the government shutdowns, I think. The people who are not creative? They have to create this manufactured chaos like war, government shut downs and strikes to make themselves relevant. All those emails that are being sent around the HMO. I know they need to be sent, but I find them all boring. This is a situation that has been created by some people, some forces – and let’s deal with the foundational issues.

Okay. I don’t know where that came from?

But I choose to do my job and show up when I’m supposed to. I know society is this dance, between tugging powers. But the creative class (and that includes a lot of small business folks) I think are the solution. If you create and if you think out of the box, you know that awesomeness and the rewards on this earth aren’t a zero sum game. As my daughter and I often tell each other, there is not just one awesome pie! You can continue to make more awesome pie! And that is what our extended family is doing. We are continuing to make more awesome pie!

Three steps art studio in North Park? In the works. Oregon tree farm and some sort of retreat and wilderness center? In the works! Solar powered tree house with composting toilet that can Air BnB for a lot a night? Started! Meditation retreat somewhere in East County that can be rented as a wilderness event center? 100% it’s going to happen. And empowering a bunch of premeds to do the work that actual attendings should be doing? Hey it’s happening and they are getting into medical school doing the work that needs to be done, and not the manufactured chaos that is happening now.

And our family? We are doing well. A lot of the next generation were gathered together last night in a beautiful setting in a home designed and built by someone brilliant, and I looked at those handsome faces and my daughter’s beautiful profile – and I know we have all done a good job. Our family continues to buck the system, and to realize to not let the powers that be dictate how we think. In the end if you know fundamentally that joy and happiness is family and the food and traditions that go back centuries and togetherness and your ancestors, than the cacophony of emails and the endless chaos of the news cycle seems kind of silly. We each have to play our role in society, and I am doing my part. Just ramblings this morning.

Okay, have to mock up the website with two young people who need a small project for H3SD and hoping that the Scripps Oceanographic Institute agrees to house it on their website or at least a link! I slept last night and turned off my phone. I also did some yoga. Sleep and yoga and a bit of matcha this morning? Yeah. Life is starting off well this morning.

Wow. Can you believe it? I made the SD-UT print edition!

October 9, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It’s hard not to have radical hope when you are me these days. I have so much hope in different domains in our family’s life. I have hope for our planet. I have hope for our society. I have hope for my future grandchildren. Life is so inordinately interesting when you have radical hope, but seek to earn that hope through action.

So today I am doing a lot of action because I’m refreshed mentally after coming back from UC Berkeley with our family. We had such a wonderful time with our son, and seeing glimpses of his life up there. We had some adventures that I detailed on Instagram, and many that are quieter or more private that I left out of Instagram. Fundamentally we got to know ourselves better. We are a close family for sure, but every day we change as people – and honestly we became reacquainted with our new selves. I was telling Mr. Plastic Picker that I had an epiphany about love this weekend. He had some mini-man tantrums (which he is totally allowed!!!) and was going through the process of his feelings of being annoyed at our daughter and myself. It made me slightly annoyed as well. But ultimately everything really evened out and we love each other more when we mend those bonds. My epiphany is that the expression of love for me now, is that I’m infinitely curious about him. I’m curious about why he does certain things. Curious about his emotional, spiritual and physical form. I’m curious about his day. And I’m curious about how his life will turn out, knowing well that I’m integral to that ending. But I’m most curious about his journey.

That’s it. I have radical hope and I’m so curious about him and the world and certain story lines in my head. But I will do certain things to nudge the storyline to the endings I prefer. Just nudging, with my climate action.

And I know he loves me because he’s always curious what I’m doing. I sometimes baffle him, but he finds me very interesting for sure.

Okay. Here I go. I have a tons of climate and environmental health projects to do. Letting my curiosity translate into some action!

It was so good!

October 6, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

Good morning Dear Readers! My body feels right again. It’s 5:27am and I’m back onto a semi-normal sleeping schedule and I put my phone away last night and wasn’t re-watching my reels on Instagram endlessly. It was so fun though! I think all of us were essentially making our own music videos of our lives. But I had to get my taxes in on time, and it was a rude awakening how inefficient it is to gather your tax paperwork and listen to Instagram reels at the same time. It reminded me that being able to focus my brain is really important. But I was so happy on the Instagram reels honestly. LOL.

But my tax paperwork is all gathered, and Mr. Plastic Picker and I are happy with our savings rate and our general trajectory of our financial lives. Our savings rate dipped but still over the 40% range because we chose to love the earth with some decisions we have been making. But going over the tax paperwork, there is quite a bit of fluff still that we can cut out of our lives. We have in general made very smart financial decisions and life decisions, and many of those decisions now have to do with ensuring a livable planet for all of us. But we’ve tried as much as we can to make contingency plans, and those include investing in property up in Oregon. I’m realizing how much it costs us yearly and it is a chunk of change, but honestly in the grand scheme of the price of timber, the happiness to our family, the value of the land going up, and water rights and salmon and all that – it’s 100% worth it. I only took AP Micro-Macro Economics in high school, but I am also the daughter of an accountant. In the end money and economics, is what you think something is worth. And for me, the 197.5 acres up in Oregon with the forest that we are able to preserve and prevent logging, the farm house , and the mountain and the peace we have found there – it has been well worth it. It keeps me motivated to keep on working, and reminds me why I’m an environmentalist and a climate and health advocate.

Why did I come onto the blog this morning? Oh yes! I wanted to remember the Lentil soup that happened a few days ago. I honestly don’t think the lentil soup can ever be replicated. There are still leftovers that I’ll have at the airport today because we are flying up to UC Berkeley for homecoming and to see our son. (I doubt Prof Adam Aron is reading this, but if he is – yes I know I am flying and the carbon is spewing but it’s systems change and I need to see my son!). But the lentil soup was so wonderful. It was honestly free, because I had to use up the lentils we had bought months ago. The tomatoes were from the leftover cherry tomatoes that were not quite good to eat, and I stewed during the crazy end of summer harvesting time. It’s on Instagram reels if you want to check it out. The rosemary was from the garden, and from a sprig that I propagated from a friend’s plant. The sweet potato and onion were honestly all the veggies we had in the house that day. Next time I’ll put carrots in. The spices were what I could approximate from the recipe. I used chilli powder, probably too much garlic powder and some oregono/basil. And I didn’t have vegetable broth, so just put in hot water and a bit of extra salt. I threw in some quinoa because we had some we again needed to use up. And the result, it was really delicious! Mr. Plastic Picker and my daughter, they thought so too.

So the finances are done for Tax Year 2022. The new inspiring lentil soup adventure was unexpected and will be on the rotation again. And Oregon properties? Worth it, because unfortunately I do think that my children will need to migrate north. And the same kdrama in our lives? Worth it. Buried at the end of this post? I look at the single picture I have of a certain boy, and I smile because for some reason I think I know him. And I really do think he is going to be my son-in-law. It’s uncanny the feeling. But that is not my narrative, but I always smile for some reason when I look at that picture. Just one picture amongst thousands of pictures I have of my daughter and 6 shots of my lentil soup from a few nights ago!

That’s me ! Dr. Plastic Picker. Wearing my mommy heart on my sleeve. I’m open and honest, and I have nothing to hide. But fossil fuel companies????!!! I see you! A bunch of text messages were sent to me by friends, and fossil fuel companies have infiltrated the very core of academia through board positions and “funding” research. In California, in particular Stanford and the UC system. Wow. That’s a fight that some of my very brave friends are fighting. I joined in with them during the recent protest that brought exposure to this fact, and includes other demands that these academics and students have of the UC system. They are so brave and as a friend and the climate and health voice, I was there too.