Dr Plastic Picker – Dr. Plastic Picker
 

Author: Dr Plastic Picker

Locating the next project that we are working on.

October 15, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Happy Friday morning! I tried a few new things recently. Yesterday I had old mushy bananas again, but there are only so many banana bread muffins and variations on almost vegan banana breads that my family and the clinic can eat! I’ve done banana/mango bread. I’ve done banana coconut bread. I’ve varied that recipe so much, that it was time for something new. So I just Ecosia searched “what to do with mushy bananas” and a banana pancake recipe came up. I’ve heard about banana pancakes before, and I’ve made several variations which were okay. I’m not sure why yesterday worked so well, but yesterday I made 2 batches of banana peanut butter pancakes and varied the recipe yesterday and they were 100% out of this world. My in-laws, the kids, and Dr. Dear Friend were in complete agreement. They didn’t look perfect, but they tasted great. I even used the last remaining bits of my home-made vanilla flavored peanut butter. Maybe that’s why they turned out so well? I checked back at our clinic lunchroom and the banana pancakes were gone. Now that is testiment that they were good. And the interesting thing is that honestly, yesterday was a combination of ingredients and circumstances that those pancakes will never really exist again. I’ll try to replicate but I kind of made them by feel. I ommited the oil. I added more soymilk. I added a bit less flour. I didn’t even take a picture of the pancakes, but the memory of their fluffiness and how it paired so well with the matcha green tea soy latte that Dr. Dear Friend kindly bought for me at Starbucks, will be a memory that I will revist when I revisit this blogpost.

With that, I did want to stay true to the entire purpose of this particular blog and my adventures. The entire point is that I’m supposed to pick up plastic (which I did last month almost 30 bags! – but I do owe you a blogpost update) and also to make secondary environmental changes in my life. We live a pretty sustainable life now after I started this blog several years ago. We compost almost all of our green waste and thanks to the amazing combination of forces that are the bunnies that we love, and their poop – our Aerobin400 churns out this magical organic compost that fuels our garden. We eat mostly plant-based and not that much meat. Although yesterday we had just boxed frozen shrimp and tater-tots, but that is honestly once every 4 months or so! We consume less of earth’s resources. Yesterday was the first time in a long time we went to Target, and we went it to get what we needed and left with what we needed which was hopefully more sustainable gifts for our teen daughter’s friend and our daughter’s first real bathing suit. She looked so cute in the two she picked, and I’m so proud of how I’ve raised her to have a positive body image and to love and appreciate herself. This blog has helped me figure that part of my life out, and helped me be a better mother to my duaghter.

It was a magical day yesterday. I watched an exciting school volleyball match with our kids’ school’s rival. Our team lost, but it was such an exciting and well played game. They forced them into the third set, and it was very close. Our daughter was all over the court and communicating, and playing assertively but together with her team.

We had so many environmental wins last week, and the warm glow of knowing what collectively we did is really amazing. Several friends that I “activated” into climate and health activists, are working on their projects including various writing projects and presentations. I’ve cheerleading them from the sidelines and making small and helpful suggestions. Our big two projects are the Rewild Mission Bay work still with a local advocacy meeting soon in November and a blog piece coming out on the Climate for Helath Blog.

But here is why I started writing today. Just 10 secondary environmental changes I did specifically because I knew I had to be accountable to this blog’s readership.

10 Secondary Environmental Net Positives Due to Being DR PLASTIC PICKER!!!

  • 12 showers averted (that’s on average 240 gallons of water)
  • 1 bag of bad produce from the lunchroom fridge brought home to compost
  • 9 coffee grounds containers from friends that I collected to compost
  • 1 bucket of compost gifted to a friend for his fig tree
  • 1 rug/mat salvaged and cleaned from when we did the Coastal Clean Up at the Chula Vista Boat Launch
  • many many succulents that I’ve propogated planted at the HMO parking structure and at my brother’s office in North Park
  • 1 yearly planner purchased that is all of recycled content. This is one of the most important things I do personally. I like this planner as it’s functional and I can find it at my local staples and its made of recycled paper and plastic. It’s more expensive but its one of the few things I go out of my way to purchase and wait for. All the fancy planners made of virgin paper and fossil fuels? I laugh at you! New I will not buy! I support the circular economy.
  • 5 succulents I gifted to children which kind of inspired our San Diego wide Great Succulent Give Away!
  • 1 car trip averted from my clinic office to the sister clinic office, because I didn’t have time and I didn’t need to rush, instead I gave the plants that needed to be gifted to Dr. Dear Friend. It didn’t make sense to spew the carbon since she was there anyway.
  • 1 climate friend I’m trying to help breastfeed her first child. Its a small but important thing for us to support eachother.

Well, thank you for reading and helping me stay accountable. Last blog in this series was in July. Click here if you want to see what I did! https://drplasticpicker.com/secondary-environmental-changes-july-2021/

last shot of the succulents that we gave all over San Diego, trying to show children that we cared and to promote a more sustainable life and world.

May be an image of 8 people and people standing
October 14 is Children’s Environmental Health Day. Recognized yesterday by the City of Chula Vista.

October 13, 2021

How does one begin to write a book? WHY write a book? When you walk through the few remaining books stores in San Diego, case in point the Barnes and Nobles in Mission Valley right behind the megalith restaurant chain B.J.s, there is always the section of books that are at bargain prices. $5 for two, with large red stickers plastered on the covers. Even in Harvard Square’s COOP bookstore where tourists and students would mingle among erudite tomes and popular fiction, and crimson university branded spirit-wear just steps away, there were bargain books.  At some point, even great works of literature are sold at rock-bottom prices.

My name is Vi Thuy Nguyen, and I am a Harvard-trained pediatrician.  Having spent the better part of 15 years as an undergraduate, medical student, pediatric resident, chief resident and to cap it off a premedical tutor (fancy Harvard-speak for premedical advisor) in Cambridge and then having a spouse with the same credentials but in a fancy subspecialty – it’s hard not to want to write a book.  There are a lot of books written by Harvard graduates, sometimes even before they’ve graduated from Harvard.  I’m not sure if it’s because we’ve self-selected ourselves by being self-driven and narcissistic enough to believe our life stories are THAT INTERESTING and that’s how we convinced someone to let us into Harvard?  Or that we are so insecure that we need that continual affirmation, which drives us to continually update our resumes?  Maybe that is why almost always a quarter of all Harvard graduates go into medicine, as those same qualities are often the strengths and pitfalls of the best doctors. 

Which leads me to why I am writing this book. I’m in the glorious middle, and indeed turning 44 soon – a wonderful palindrome and even number bespoking a life that starting from the first digit or the last digit, reads the same and makes sense to me.  As my requisite long self-absorbed subtitle explains, I’ve gone “From Harvard, Burn Out, to the Beach and Back Again. I was trying to save San Diego’s environment, but I ended up saving myself.” If you are reading this book, likely you’ve found my blog, Instagram, Facebook page, or heard me speak at various events.  My story is simple.  Two years ago, I found myself completely burned out from my career as a general pediatrician and what I call “middle-management” at a large HMO. I was a hamster on one of these wheels, running to where I had no idea. Rewarded with emails and accolades and bonuses by an invisible “upper-management” hand, doling out pieces of cheese to the hamster on the wheel.  And during that time of poor sleep, constant work-messaging, middle-aged back pain from being a runner for over 20 years, always feeling inadequate as a mother and physician but with “metrics” that looked like success, I had two toddlers in my practice almost simultaneously diagnosed with cancer.  They were both the youngest in their families, and I had been the only pediatrician both families had known.  This book is dedicated to those two little girls (Ashley and Audrey), whose cancer diagnoses were the catalyst for my burnout but more importantly for my climate work.  Their diagnoses and the reverberating pain when they become sick, affected me.  I thought I was made of Teflon.  I wasn’t. I was human, and I settled into a deep sadness that manifested in irritability, tension headaches, and then an irrational plan to leave my middle-management career.

But I can’t give the entire story away in the first chapter?!!! I need you to keep reading.  I’m in the glorious middle.  I’m at bag 560 right now of ocean plastic pollution collected from mostly San Diego’s beaches.  As my fully description subtitle explains, this is “My Journey Through 1000 bags of Ocean Plastic Pollution” and I’m literally at the middle. 

What does the middle of 1000 bags of trash, bag 560 look like? What does the life of a middle-aged Harvard-trained pediatrician in middle-management who is also the infamous “Dr. Plastic Picker” look like? It’s 5:08 AM and it’s pitch dark outside. I’m sitting drinking my matcha green tea soy latte with a teaspoon of sugar, and I’m typing away on my computer.  I was fueled on 2-6 cups of coffee a day for over 13 years, and now I don’t drink coffee anymore.  I only drink what I call my “Green Awakening,” this beautiful cup of matcha green tea soy latte in the morning.  I woke up this morning refreshed and slept well, partly because I know to slow down my body with some yoga at night.  My husband is asleep upstairs curled next to our little black crazy poodle mix, and he’ll go to work also as a “middle-manager” at our HMO.  I’ve labeled him Mr. Plastic Picker, and he is Assistant Chief of Radiology.  He is generally on the road to healing and improved health after back surgery a few years ago, because I am better.  I asked him to take me to dinner this Saturday, as it’s my birthday, and we never used to take time for ourselves to go out to dinner.  My in-laws are up, and they’ll be wandering into the kitchen soon to begin their morning routine.  Much of my story of my climate and health activism, has to do with the lessons learned from my Korean in-laws.  My son is going to take his PSAT this morning, and our daughter just won her first school volleyball game yesterday.  She was former preemie and her medical struggles and my guilt as a working mother in her early years, are intertwined with my burn out story. But the beautiful thing about yesterday, is that I missed her first step and her first words – but I was there at almost 44 for her first volleyball win.      

And what does the middle of 1000 bags of trash, bag 560 look like?  Bag 560 looks like I’m Co-founder of San Diego Pediatricians for Clean, and Co-Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Climate Change and Health Committee.  It looks like October 14 being recognized as Children’s Environmental Health Day by multiple cities in San Diego County, and my pediatrician friends and students fanning all over the region at press events recognizing the importance of environmental health with the AAP banner behind them.  It looks like an upcoming Clairemont town council meeting where I’m co-presenting with one of our advocacy interns and a developmental pediatrician friend on the health reasons why leaded aviation gasoline and it’s pollution is an environmental justice issue.  It looks like I was invited back to the National Institutes of Health Undergraduate Scholarship Program to speak on my climate and health work. And it looks like I’m still in “middle-management” and happy and found my niche in pediatric quality work and head of the HMO “Green/Sustainability Team.”  And it looks like my entire family laughing yesterday around dinner, happy and saying our gratitude and eating a plant-based meal.

The middle looks like happiness. It’s absolutely true what I say during my climate and health speeches. Feel free to page me, “I’m always on call for the earth.” These are the adventures of me as Dr. Plastic Picker, self-proclaimed local-litter picking pediatrician.  And the WHY I am writing this book, is that I’m literally trying to save the planet as climate change is a pediatric public health crisis.  My crazy adventures and social media presence and book tour are about raising the alarm.  It’s all hands-on deck.  But I think you’ll find that if you help me save the earth, you’ll end up saving yourself as well. 

100% cotton scraps from my Mans Greatest Hospital scrubs. Used the round part for the great succulent give away, and composted the rest.

October 11, 2021

by drplasticpicker

As a quadruple graduate of Crimson University (undergraduate, medical school, residency, chief residency and fellowship – we were even premedical tutors for a decade) – it’s hard for me not to think about the same Crimson University since both Mr. Plastic Picker and I went there and our son is now a junior in high school. The annoying thing about the whole Ivy League thing is that people expect your children to go there, even if you don’t want them to go there or they don’t want to go there.

(more…)

Beautiful newsletter for beautiful people.

October 9, 2021

by drplasticpicker

General Comments

It is indeed October 2021. HALLOWEEN!!! There are many scary things in the world, but we all know that the Climate Crisis is the scariest!!! But not to worry, by receiving this newsletter and working together we are boots on the grounds, #fightfor1point5. Hope is earned through action. This group is all about ACTION. Here is what the AAP/SCPCA pediatricians and premed interns are up to. We are earth agents, literally cleaning up this earth!   October 14: Children’s Environmental Health Day! Dan Spencer Knocks It Out of the Park and The Great Succulent Give-Away October 14 is Children’s Environmental Health Day, which is an effort of the Children’s Environmental Health Network (which AAP and Eco-America are a part of). Dan successfully applied to have the following recognize and issue proclamations recognizing CEH Day. City of San Diego, County of San Diego, La Mesa, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Chula Vista, and Lemon Grove. There are 3 proclamation press events (Encinitas, Solana Beach and Chula Vista), and we are dividing and conquering. Thank you to Dan and those that volunteered to show up and hold the AAP-CA3 banner, and smile for the photos!  In honor of that day, we are also doing a succulent give-away.  I received an honorarium for speaking at the AAP California Chapter Chat, since that money really belongs to all of us – Laisha Felix and I purchased 120 succulents (there is a great farm in Vista for $1 a piece) and will be dropping off 5 succulents per committee member. It will have a paper explaining CEH Day, and it serves as a moment of connection when you as an MD give to a child. You are making a commitment to that child and the earth, to be on the side of good. To #fightfor1point5.  Let me know at or text me if you want 5 succulents! We will give a succulent to each of the politicians as well!  

SDAFP Members Move to Join SDPCA/AAP in Rewild Mission Bay Coalition

Ben Schleifer has been hard at work being our Wetlands Liaison.  Ben met up with Andrew Meyer, from Rewild Mission Bay and the San Diego Audubon Society. Rachel Abbott, from Family Practice and UCSD rep were also there.  Our amazing AAP-CA3 Executive Board officially approved AAP-CA3 to join. Rachel Abbott is working with Family Practice doctors at UCSD FP and Sharp to lobby San Diego Academy of Family Physicians to also join Rewild Mission Bay.  Rachel and I both live in Jen Campbell’s city council district, and her support is crucial in making this happen. We wrote a joint advocacy letter and have initiated a meeting with her.  Thank you to the 30 folks out there that cosigned.  Ben is writing an op-ed for Climate and Health Blog, regarding wetlands restoration and plans to submit it to SD Union-Tribune as well.

Peony Liu Joins as our Anti-Tobacco and Anti-Vaping Liaison

Only great things come out of UCLA, including Peony Liu! Peony Liu is a pediatric hospitalist and well known to many of us. She has agreed to lead SDPCA’s partnership with an effort led by the American Lung Association and American Cancer Society, San Diegans vs Big Tobacco.  Peony will work closely with Nancy Graff, AAP. We have a team that includes Alice Nguyen, a high school senior, and Riley Gilbertson, our advocacy intern.

Intern Updates!

Our premed intern group is 8. We are trying to keep it at that but did interview and accept Nicole Escamarilla (UCLA) and Ashley Calderon (UC Berkeley). They are San Diegans and passionate about climate and health. Ashley Calderon completed the Eco-America training. Nicole will join Hakim in the Youth Arts Project, as Ashley Teo is transitioning to an HPV vaccine advocacy project with me at Kaiser. Riley has been hard at work on a project with Rachel Ireland, on reducing lead pollution from aviation gas around the Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport. It’s an urgent issue from a developmental pediatric lens.  This will be a separate update later, as it’s a stellar effort and we will have more news. Stay tuned! Welcome to Ashley Calderon and Nicole Escarmarilla! Vivian Nguyen our phenomenal student Co-Founder is presenting a poster at AAP NCE this weekend on our work. Please stop by her virtual poster entitled “Blueprint for a Volunteer Climate Health Advocacy Group: San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air. “ Congrats Vivian.    

YOUTH ARTS CONTEST!

It’s happening! It’s happening! Nicole will join as the new intern and she is strong in social media skills, and organizational skills. Hakim is rounding up our motley crew. Andrei is collating all the entries onto a PDF. We have 50 entries and almost enough prizes, as Rachel Ireland knows the director of the Children’s Museum in Escondido and we will ask for some tickets (crossing our fingers) and Rewild Mission Bay will donate some kids’ hats.  Kalpana and Jamie Rhodes are big environmentalist and donors, and Jamie is a scientist working on climate resiliency now on the Texas coast and formerly on renewable energy.  Their daughter Leela Rhodes is joining our youth arts council, and they have agreed to help us to try to get the Children’s Museum in Downtown San Diego to help host our event or display some of the pieces. Stay tuned! This is going to happen!!! https://sdpediatriciansforcleanair.com/youth-art-contest Air Keepers Program? Our next big effort is trying to deploy this already established EPA program to hopefully all of San Diego, but especially our environmental justice neighborhoods. Also to find funding. We are going to apply for some climate awards and maybe present to the APCD to ask for money?  This program is essentially having kids “take a vital sign for the earth” – the PM2.5 level around their schools.  It would mostly be to purchase the PM2.5 monitors (which I believe are only about 150-200 a piece?) and a set of flags. Local middle school science classes would monitor PM 2.5 exposure, and hopefully act as a catalyst for hyper-local changes.  Students raise different colored flags outside of the school depending on air quality measured. We are in the thinking and building phase, so reach out if you want to help review the materials that AAP montana via Lori Byron (the National AAP Climate Advocate lead) sent over.  More hands make light work.

UPCOMING MEETINGS: General Committee Meeting: Q2MONTH Climate Change & Health Meeting November 9, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. (I think? Sally is going to correct me if I’m wrong)

Carl's Jr Is Coming To Australia Very Soon | Gizmodo Australia
What I got after I bought the condo 5 years ago. LOL. From the internet.

October 8, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I’ll be honest with the blog readership. I’m pretty financially savy, but I’m no savant. Actually most phyisican personal finance bloggers are full of hot air. My personal finance journey has been simple. I’m super frugal (hey, I make trash art for fun!) and we are a dual income physician family, and our savings rate is in the 50% range. And everything we save, we invest back into safe target date mutual funds, retirement accounts, 529 college saving funds, and real estate. I bought fancy Challa bread at the local bakery yesterday, but buying a $8 loaf of bread is a luxury for us. We drive paid off cars. Indeed Mr. Plastic Picker still drives his 2012 Toyota Prius with a small scratch on the side that my father-in-law had a great time coloring in with a special kind of car coloring marker?

I wanted to share with you the funny story of the San Diego downtown condo we just sold in the fancy Fahrenheit building. I love real estate, because each property we buy and sell is a story. And it’s the story of my life. Real estate is in my blood because that is what our family does. Some of why I love the earth so much, is that the earth is all of our real estate. Our collective real estate. So this particular condo was a studio in East Village. It was not particularly a good buy. But I still made money off of it, because in general real estate prices in San Diego are skyrocketing. It makes sense right now to sell my single family house rentals and reinvest in other parts of the country.

This particular condo I bought five years ago. We had already had a larger downtown condo that we still own, and that one was a good buy. I guess I got greedy or overconfident. We had saved a sizeable downpayment about 80K because we just don’t spend money from our take-home pay. So I went shopping, and I found this condo. In retrospect, I think I was just trying to get attention from my older brother as he was my broker back then because he said he’d buy me lunch if we were looking for condos. I’m the younger sister and as the younger sister, I’m always trying to get attention from my brother. This particular condo was modern and concrete, and the building had won the coveted architectural Orchid award. And it was literally within spitting distance to Petco Park. Only a large studio though and one parking spot. But I bought it, and was happy. Didn’t get a particularly good nor bad deal, and I thought my older brother was going to take me to lunch. Instead, he took me to Carls Junior drive through because he had another meeting and got me a burger. I remember being so sad that day, and realized some of my real estate shenanigans were due to trying to get attention from him as he is a REAL real estate investor. He is a much better real estate investor than all the physician supposedly real estate savants masquerading on the blogsphere. They are so annoying.

Fast forward five years, I just sold this condo and used the proceeds to pay off my portion of the Oregon Farm. Now that’s a LIFETIME INVESTMENT. I love love love our Oregon farm! But I sold this condo, and I’m reviewing the numbers are trying to figure out if I made money? And indeed, even this “not great investment” – I did make money. These are my back of the envelope calculations.

55 000 (property appreciation after 6 years) – 22 250 (real estate agent commission) – 7500 (cash for keys) = 25 250 (net proceeds but closer to 20K because there were other fees)

20 000 (gain after 5 years in my pocket) / 97 000 (original investment) = 0.206185567 (percent yield I made)

20%/5 years = 5% gain per year?

So in this transaction I made about what you would make just on normal real estate apprecation or a little less than the stock market in a normal year. The real estate brokers always do well. But I did decently. Our renter made out like a bandit, given I had to pay him off to get him out of the condo so I could sell it. I always had a good mortgage, a 30 year fixed at about 4%.

But the reason that this condo ended up being a great buy, is that the 80K that I used as the downpayment is money we had saved from our takehome pay that most other physcians would have spent. The key to financial independence is easy, save a good chunk of your take-home pay and invest it in things that are safe and will grow. And for 5 years, it did grow and I made money even though the property was vacant for a few months. Those were painful months. Real estate is not for the feint of heart and you need a good sized emergency fund. But I now have paid off a family member the rest of our portion of the Oregon farm!!! Yippee!!!! I am so happy. And I still have about 20K extra to do something. And see, with that 20K – I am going to “spend” it. But I’m going to “spend it” improving something on the farm which continues to raise it’s value. We are finally going up sometime in November and we’ll decide as a family whether to build that bridge across the creek or fix up the small guest cottage.

That is it. That is the story of the Fahrenheit condo. You were not a good buy, but because I had equity in Fahrenheit, I got to be a FARMER and buy half of an Oregon Farm!!!!!

May fix up this little cabin.
That’s my girl.

October 6, 2021

by drplasticpicker

That’s my girl. My former preemie, born at 2 lbs and many illnesses during her first few years of life. I’m having too much fun in the mornings trying to save the earth. Posted on several sites about the upcoming October 14, Children’s Environmental Health Day. Hopefully will get a shout out on the AAP newsletter and also twitter and Instagram account. I received $250 from the AAP California as an honorarium for being a part of a panel discussion. It’s such a kind gesture from them and I replied back after being inspired by thinking about October 14 and wandering around my succulent garden,

This is incredibly kind of AAP-California and unexpected and much appreciated.  I will gladly accept on behalf of our san diego committee. my address is xxxx.
I am inspired and since october 14 is children’s environmental health day, which one of my colleages Dr. Dan Spencer applied successfully to have recognized by several cities in the San Diego area – we hadn’t decided on an “event” yet.  So I know this super affordable and family owned place that sells succulents for $1 a piece.  I’m going to use the $250 and buy 250 succulents, and hand them to 25 of our pediatrician members to hand out to 10 kids on that day.  It’s going to be the great pediatric succulent give away!!!!
Thank you for inspiring this event!
Super excited and grateful to have worked with everyone on that impa
ctful day.

Texted one of our premed interns who needs a project to work on, and she can do this easy project. Maybe create a social media ad, and help me distribute some of the succulents. Maybe to Breda Velasquez who is the head of pediatric psychiatry. I really like her.

But in this fun and creative time I have in the morning, I wanted to share something with the blog readership. I know I talk about my children a lot, and you’ve all heard about my teen daughter. She has made me a better pediatrician, as she has helped me understand a bit better how scary it is to have a sick child. She was sick a lot when she was young. Hospitalized several times for pneumonia, surgery for ear tubes, meningitis supposedly in the NICU which ended up being a line infection. White count at some point of 90K. That’s a high white count.

She made the Wave Volleyball Club 14U-5 team. She had started volleyball about six months ago at a small supportive club in the southbay. She had a great start, and I appreciated mostly the time we had in the car together chatting and this new adventure that I, as her mother, was a part of. Right now she loves volleyball. Her life is volleyball. She is making excellent grades as well. She wanted to go out for this club, where the other girls are much taller and have been playing much longer. She has grit and she is determined. I’m inordinately proud of her. She is now a member of USA Volleyball, and signed a commitment letter with the San Diego Regionaly Volleyball Association. And that is it. Lots of environmental work and projects, but here I wanted to share this moment of mommy happiness. She’s my why. Just like likely your children are your why. We are trying to save the earth for them, so they will have a liveable planet.

Stay tuned! The great pediatric succulent give-away!!!!
Writing it on a word-document

October 3, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I went back to it yesterday. I have always wanted to write a book. I started a word document a few months ago, but the work with Rewild Mission Bay inspired me to go back to it. Andrew Meyer the conservation director for the San Diego Audubon Society had suggested we title our advocacy letter one of the local city councilpersons Paging Dr. XXX. For an advocacy letter, I thought it would not go over as well. Paging a physician who does not want to be paged about what they don’t see as an urgent matter, is not the best way to convince them. But it really did inspire me as I realized for non-medical people – it captures their imagination. Plus, at different presentations for the HMO Green Team, I’ve used the phrase “we are always on call for the earth.” And I do believe that.

But that’s pretty much what I’ve done. I’ve settled on a working title and acknowledgements, and thinking about it. I’m at bag #565 about, and it will probably take me two more years to get to #1000 personal bags. That works out perfectly because that is the summer I am planning on taking my well deserved sabbatical and go on my electric car tour around the country. In the craziness of medical training, I’ve never traveled cross country and that is one of the things I’ve always wanted to do. Since this blog has been about taking risks and trying new things, I figured I could do that while spreading my message about physician wellness and climate and health advocacy. Dr. Plastic Picker has always been the ultimate mulit-tasker. Getting exercise and cleaning the earth at the same time!

I have to have San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air designated as an official non-profit with tax exempt status. I’m not even sure how much a book would make, but I just want to make enough to buy stethoscopes for all our premedical advocacy interns. We have nine interns now! They are really wonderful. I want to be able to buy them each a nice stethoscope when they matriculate to medical school from SDPCA and AAP-CA3. But it is getting expensive as I have more interns now! I figure the book sales can go to buying their stethoscopes and otherwise maybe fund a picnic for the children’s arts council, and maybe some Tshirts.

The book can’t be too long. People have very short attention spans. I think 150 pages is enough? What do you think? I’m going to stop by Barnes and Nobles and browse the Physician Wellness section and see about how long those books are. The blog has been a beautiful endeavor and I’ll try to repurpose some of my blog post, but it’s kind of all over the place. I think a book should have some kind of cohesion. I need to figure out my character arc. And I want to sprinkle in tons of local color. I’m pretty sure I can pull off a national book tour (at small independent book shops OF COURSE!) but I know for sure I can do a local tour of San Diego. The local tour would be the most important, because the entire point is to local climate and health advocacy.

That is it. I just wanted to let the blog readership know that I’m continuing to plug away at the climate work, but I’m not forgetting my dream about writing my book! Every Crimson University grad needs to write a book especially before the 25th class reunion. Especially since the idea for this all came during one of the sessions at our 20th class reunion!

Things I’m reading these days.
Propogated succulents that I gave out yesterday. Most repurposed things. The kids loved them.

October 2, 2021

by drplasticpicker

The San Diego Union-Tribune videographer was looking for me. Well, they were actually looking for San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air. While I’m not SDPCA, and indeed this wonderful thing that has become SDPCA is my brainchild – it really belongs to all of us https://sdpediatriciansforcleanair.com/ . In my heart, I know that. It can’t belong to me, it has to be a group endevaor and no egos/ no show-boating, and that is the only way we grow and we #fightfor1point5 . So when my colleauge asked if I wanted to speak with them or needed to speak with them, I know there is so much to do and we divide and conquer. I told her that I’m good. She speaks for all of us, and just reviewed important developments that the San Diego Union-Tribune may want to know. I know things will go well, and this person in our group is eloquent and passionate and committed to climate and health.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)