January 2024 – Dr. Plastic Picker

Month: January 2024

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.