Dr Plastic Picker – Dr. Plastic Picker

Author: Dr Plastic Picker

Just a snippet from Storyofstuff Instagram Account.

November 25, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It’s been quiet on the blog and on Instagram @drplasticpicker relatively. Still picking up trash. It’s been relatively quiet in my mind too. If I look back at what this blog and eco-avatar adventure has meant to me, that would be one of the most meaningful. I got myself back. Does that make sense? I used to daydream a lot as a child and in high school. I would swing on the hammock in our backyard with my own fluffy white dog named Jingle, and I would just dream. I was an awkward Star Trek loving teenager and I had beautiful dreams.

And now I am dreaming again, and just thinking thoughts on the hammock.

It’s been a wonderful holiday week. We don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving in our house due to the complicated nature of it being a false holiday and the pain of the indigenous people in the Americas, but we do practice gratitude. And yesterday we said our gratitudes and had a festive meal that my brother brought over. It was low key since Mr. Plastic Picker was working triple extra shifts, and I was still recovering from COVID Moderna Bivalent Booster. Wow, this one was a doozy. Not as bad as #2 but worse than #3. I’m still glad I got it, but needed an entire day for my body to kind of deal with the vaccine. I haven’t officially had COVID yet, but I’m sure at some point in the last three years I had it? I follow the rules though and masked when they told me, and washed my hands, and only traveled when public health said it was okay. I think it helps that we are a relatively introverted family. It cuts down on the social contacts you know.

It’s been a quiet and purposefully restful week. Our oldest is almost finished with his University of California applications. He is applying to 5 campuses, and we encouraged him to finish before the last day. We heard the system always crashes as everyone is submitting at once. I am proud of him, as he has been chipping away at his applications diligently. He finished the trimester off strong, equal to his performance in the previous years. We could not have asked more of him. We moved back to California in large part for his education and for him to be able to apply to the University of California system as an instate resident. And now he has, and we are glad.

Thanksgiving was actually warm in San Diego, and there was a light Santa Ana wind. It was unusually windy yesterday as I was sitting on our hammock. I remember buying that hammock maybe 5 years ago, and wanted to make sure that our two children knew how to swing on a hammock. To me, that was very important. Neither knows how to ride a bike well nor swim, but my children – they know how to swing on a hammock. It’s a very important skill in life.

And we’ve been together as a family a lot this week. We’ve had unexpected lunches at local eateries. My daughter and I tried to find donuts at the local Donut Bar (semi-famous) and were disappointed. We saw a movie at our local theatre which was really good, and we built up more memories of minor teenage tantrums and moodiness. Our daughter painted her nails for hours. Our son was in his room half applying to college/half gaming for hours. And I have been just here. Just present. Just enjoying them being 17 and 14 and together as a family.

The reminder that they are growing up and growing away from me is always there. But it’s all been so gloriously slow since I decided to step down from Assistant Boss a year early in late May 2022. I am so grateful I made that decision. It literally again slowed time down to a snail pace compared to the madness that was administrative work. Sometimes I wonder if my former colleagues in that alternate universe I used to inhabit realize how absolutely convoluted that world is? I sent an email to someone and did not receive a reply. I was hurt but mostly annoyed. But honestly when you are a hamster on a wheel, it’s hard to understand the big picture.

But I’m so grateful to be the hamster on the hammock. Let me see if I can find an imagine of it.

Found one.

Honestly how I’m feeling these days. Okay! Still doing climate work! I’m getting a fiery speech ready to try to block the Mitsubishi Cement Plant from running diesel trucks in Barrio Logan! Much love from our clean air family to yours. Wishing you clean air and a hammock to swing on.

The protagonist.

November 20, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It’s been an epic week at our house and family. But come to think of it, I can say that most weekends now when I reflect. Perhaps it’s truly because we are living very mindfully in the present and take joy in the present. I was at our daughter’s first Speech Tournament yesterday which brought back all kinds of memories from my high school days. I judged three rounds (they have parent judges now), and one of the speeches from a Varsity Orator was on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It was a powerful presentation and one that will make me think for a while.

The speaker used this same image in her presentation.

How does someone so young have so much wisdom?

I’m continually amazed and grateful for the young people in my life. And of course as the readership knows, the star of my real-life walking Kdrama – our daughter. She was at her first speech tournament yesterday at Canyon Crest Academy. She won several awards for which I’m inordinately proud of her. But I’m most grateful for the experience she had yesterday and that I was able to share in that experience. She dressed up in a beautiful elegant sheath dress with high heels, and looked like an elegant human rights attorney. Her pony tail was high and smooth. She delivered her oratory with a bit of flair, as she was doing poetry. She won 1st place in the Novice Declamation category. But most importantly she got to spend the entire day with her good friends, and live through the ups and downs. I’m typing a text message that I want to send to a mommy friend, but I think she is tired and it’s more my thoughts so I’ll just share them with you.

I’m just reflecting on yesterday and it was such a beautiful day. The kids got to spend the day together doing something they prepared for, and are passionate about. They got to go through the ups and downs of advancing or not advancing to semi-finals and finals. We got to get a glimpse into their lives and how they process and handle these challenges. Our daughter had a meltdown last night despite winning because her feet hurt so much from the high heels, and I’m sure your son was exhausted after such a long day. We (mommies) got to talk and share stories, and see a new school that we have never seen before. Thank you for spending the day with me.”

The award ceremony.

And in this mass of children who were competing, there were new faces and new interactions. Each time our daughter delivered a speech, she learned something about herself and the other speakers. Every time she met a new person, it made her reflect on the people she already knows and those she has chosen to love.

I had started this blog post with the title a few days ago. I’ve since deleted the content but I’ll keep the title. I don’t think you ever meet the wrong person. For her she met an important person and it didn’t go well, but I honestly think it was meant to be and a learning experience. She’s now found an outlet where she can wear a beautiful dress with high heels, and have plenty of people listen to her. She talked to a good number of cute boys yesterday that were interesting but honestly not that romantically interesting to her right now. She practiced her Korean, and had a fun interaction with another boy competitor at another school and it made her think of another boy that goes to another school – that is not in the speech world for sure. And it’s all safe and truly like a big giant playdate, where kids are learning about themselves and learning about each other.

Watching and judging the speech tournament, reminded me how articulate and smart but also how young high school students are. They are so young. And this activity is the perfect outlet for our high-strung daughter right now. She’ll see these fellow students including some boys here and there, and they will be weaving in and out of each other’s lives. I still have dreams but I realize they are my dreams, and she is having her dreams and dramas in her own head. We’ve just introduced many more characters into her storyline.

But in the end of the day, as her parents she’s our protagonist. And this is the image I’ll remember. Tired and exhausted, and had a temper tantrum because her feet hurt because she felt entitled to it – because she won two important speech awards and is invited to an invitational speech tournament.

using this for a Crimson University presentation!!!

November 9, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

Yes! I’m still picking up plastic, albeit at a slower pace. The goal really is to get to 1000 bags of trash and I’m kind of getting nostalgic the closer I get there. This has been truly a transformative journey. As I tell people openly and honestly. Litter doesn’t lie!!!

So how many bags did I gather of ocean-bound plastic pollution on the shores of Pacific Beach???!!! Drum roll please ………………………… yes 14 bags!!! Not bad Dr. Plastic Picker. And here are the things I picked up.

#732 Lifetime Total!!! 1973 Items Salvaged!!!

Sept and Oct 2022 Totals! – 14 BAGS

Aluminum Cans5Recycled
Plastic Bottles6Recycled
Glass Containers1Recycled
Sand Toys2Reused
Office Supplies7Donated

Yes! And the midterm elections are not as bad as we thought. The world is shifting and there is still much more work to be done in the next 2 years if not really 7 years. I promised a decade of climate action and I think it’s been two years or three years???!!! In addition to picking up plastic, I kind of co-chaired our Public Health Advisory Council meeting for Climate Actions Campaign. I’m excited about the new initiatives we are championing which is Climate Action Plan Implementation and Building Electrification. We are looking at climate resiliency which unfortunately we will have to deal with. But for now, we are trying to get the GHG to plummet as much as we can. I’m speaking at my old training home at Harvard next week to try to inspire and recruit more climate and health advocates. Really working on the slide deck carefully to craft something just for them.

Fun new slide I made!

This week I should hear about the outcome of the Retirement Committee election. I really think this is where I need to be, because getting investments out of fossil fuels and toward ESG investments is the most impactful thing I can do from the place I occupy professionally.

I did let myself feel sad yesterday. I know this is buried amongst 800 blog post so I feel free to express myself. I’m not sure if our family’s pseudo kdrama is going to end with the two protagonists together. I’m not sure. And I’m letting myself be sad. You can’t force people to love a certain type of person, and maybe I was completely wrong. I’ll allow everyone their privacy but I was so sad.

But I’m going to be an adult and find joy where I can. I’ll treat some patients today, continue to try to save the earth, and I’ll go for a quick jog right now and plog and be happy the midterms weren’t as bad as we expected.

Much love to the readership.

Bought the premium limit login attempt apps a few months ago.

November 6, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

Begone you hackers!!! Not sure why you are trying to hack my site. This site is free entertainment for my patients and friends, and curious internet denizens, to try to save the earth! I’ve been offered money for my site but I REFUSED. I could advertise on this site, but I REFUSED. And I now REFUSE your attempts to hack my site because what I do here is important to me personally and to the world. I’m sure you need oxygen to breathe and trees to shade you. You likely don’t want to live on a Vulcan-like world!!! So if you are actually a thinking person you should back off!

But I know you are likely just an algorithm. So I bought the limited login attempt upgraded version almost 5 months ago but I’ve been so busy, I didn’t have the mental space to try to get it onto the blog. But after having to delete at least 20 messages from the site about more hackers, I DID IT!!! I DID IT THIS MORNING. And now I won’t have to see those annoying messages!

And now looking at the site there were over sometimes a million hacking attempts a day! Geez! They should just try to pick up trash instead!!!

Origin of the hacks

And that is it. Just proud of myself for taking time to protect something that means a lot to me. I protected the site!

Wow. This one was game changer!

November 5, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It’s true the best things in life are simple. And this biscuit recipe was so simple and easy. We had run out of yeast at our house. So I couldn’t make pizza dough. My home-made pizza dough is honestly really good these days. We ran out of pasta. We ran out of bread. We ran out tortillas. We weren’t in the mood for rice. We had 4 chicken sausages we wanted to eat, and needed to use the asparagus up – but needed some kind of carb/bread on the side. I had looked up a few biscuit recipes and had taken a screenshot of this one. I’ve made biscuits in the past. I’ve definitely made the boxed biscuits from Bisquick, Red Lobster and the Pillsbury refrigerated ones in the past. I used to think I loved biscuits, and remember when pregnant with our oldest walking 2 miles in the snow in Cambridge to KFC to get some of their biscuits.

But now, I have found MY BISCUIT RECIPE. It’s so simple and easy, and it’s going to be staple in our house. I just made us that much healthier, because these biscuits are really good and much healthier than the store bought and definitely better than KFC. It just really pulled dinner together, and it’s honestly going to be a great food waste recipe. I’ve realized that if you carb is healthy and homemade (like my pizza dough), I can use the bits and pieces from the fridge to create a healthy and fun meal. So here is the biscuit recipe that is now my go to!


2 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup oil

2/3 cup milk


  1. Sift flour and baking powder. Mix dry ingredients.
  2. Put in oil in measuring cup and add milk (can use plant-based), Do not stir.
  3. Add to dry ingredients.
  4. Mix lightly to moisten ingredients and knead one or two times to form a ball.
  5. Roll out on a flat, clean surface, until about 1/2 inch thick.
  6. Cut into 2″ biscuits (used a cookie cutter for fun!)
  7. Bake on an ungreased pan at 475F for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned.

And that my friends is it! This recipe works for us because we always have oil, and I can sub in plant-based milk. And we paired it with the left-overs in our fridge to have this wonderful dinner. We saved money and it’s healthier. I heated up a biscuit right now with almond butter and had it with my matcha green tea soy latte. We definitely save in plastic as it’s homemade and no packaging. All the prepared biscuit mixes have palm oil in it, so this definitely helps the orangatangs.

dinner last night.

And with dinner last night, although we had the chicken sausage, my daughter sauteed it with canned pinto beans and added some more spice. So that cut the carbon footprint of our “protein/meat.” And the sauteed asparagus was really good.

So we are happy with our new best biscuits ever recipe! Sometimes the best things in life are simple, and this recipe is simple and matches our palate. I’m looking forward to using all our various cookie cutter shapes to make different biscuit shapes!

Wow. They renamed the place. Not sure if that was a good idea?

November 3, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

This is a big moment for me. I’ve been invited (albeit virtually) back to Harvard to give Grand Rounds at MGH later this month. Just finished filling out the attestation form and seeing Mass General and the partners address was kind of surreal. And was just invited to speak in April at the 2nd annual Mass General Center for the Environment and Health (CEH) symposium as panelist for “Exploring spheres of influence to achieve health and sustainability for planetary health.” As a former resident and chief resident, who left Harvard because we were trying to figure out life with two kids – this is honestly a big moment for me to be recognized at my training home. I wish it were in person because I would 100% fly back, but I’ll take the virtual invite! Just sharing my joy and my journey, and that what we are doing at Kaiser San Diego is important and impactful. “

Just reflecting this morning. I did post this on my actual personal facebook and also my professional social media accounts. I hadn’t had really time to process everything and realize how important these two invitations to speak back at Harvard meant to me. At some point I’ll take down the blog and write the book and maybe I’ll just name it my talk title, “The Power of Joy and Mentorship in Climate and Health Advocacy: A Burn Out Story @drplasticpicker.”

The actual first talk at MGHfC isn’t for another week of so. I have a talk tonight at our Bonita Optimist Club, and that presentation is all done. I’m doing that talk with a student Ashley Teo and it should be a friendly audience. The Bonita Optimist website and the audience were really inspiring, and I think I’ll just use this title for a while. I have so many talks now, as I try to update the talks to focus on what my current climate projects are. Tomorrow I think I’m giving a talk at the Regional Asthma Symposium? I need to check with the organizers as I hadn’t heard confirmation and I don’t have a microsoft teams invite?

Intro slide to the Bonita Optimist Club Talk.

I do have to say for the MGHfC talk I have to wake up at 5am!!!!!!!!!!!!!! For the Bonita Optimist talk tonight I am missing dinner with my kids (but they are feeding us). And tomorrows regional asthma symposium talk which is an internal HMO talk, I had to use 1/2 vacation day. But it’s all worth it and I am master of my own time and finances. No one pays me or gives me time to run this whole operation, except the earth and the universe. The universe pays me back so much in love and positivity, as long as I put our children and the earth in the forefront.

I wonder if MGH and Harvard will allow me to promote myself? I have friends in San Diego who want to hear my talk live. Although I’m not sure if they will wake up at 5am to hear me? You can hear my all over the internet.

Ooohh, here is a pretty slide I’m using. I love this slide.

My premed students and their beautiful faces.

Its 644am and I’m drinking my matcha green tea soy latte. I’m grateful for all of this. It’s still a planetary code, truly a code red for humanity. So I’m going back home to where I trained to let all my residency friends know about the planetary code to see if they can’t lend a hand.

Oh, and our family’s pseudo kdrama? It’s all good. We are all firm friends now and hopefully will be going to dinner at some point. We’ll let the protagonist grow up and decide for themselves. I’m pretty sure they’ll meet on the streets of New York as young adults and realize they are perfect for each other. But until then, we’ll keep them firmly in the friend-zone. Two adorable kids with crazy Crimson University (really Harvard University) neurotic parents. Actually, I’m the only off-kilter one. The rest are absolutely wonderful, beautiful and good hearted people.

Father and daughter.

October 31, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It was such a wondrous and glorious and unexpected weekend. I did get to the beach and picked up two bags of trash. There was an odd buried towel in the sand, and I had fun trying to dig out the bits. I ended up tearing off the pieces that were exposed and discarding them, but there is still plenty of towel buried in the sand for the next litter picker. Some nice middle-aged gentleman-surfer thanked me as I was wielding my litter-picker, and I think another middle-aged academic was trying to chat me up at the posh little bookstore while I was on a mommy date with a friend! I don’t wear my wedding ring because the hand sanitizer these days gets into the nooks and crannies so maybe that is why. I smiled and quickly walked toward my other mommy friend as I don’t want to send mixed signals. But I am looking very happy and glowing these days! Plus I had recently dyed my roots (I detail that also on this blog LOL). That’s what living a sustainable life will do for you.

I am ever the devoted spouse and I have my one and only, which is Mr. Plastic Picker. I love him very much. At first when we were young it was in large part because he was good-looking! Hence why my daughter is so pretty. But now thank goodness middle-age has come, and he’s not as pretty anymore. Still handsome. It was sometimes annoying having such a pretty boyfriend in college. But good-looking husband and pretty daughter are pictured above in the initial picture. It was an unexpected weekend all around, and that impromptu dinner at The Tofu house on Convoy street was part of it. We had fried tofu, and bulgogi. Both were pretty good, and Mr. Plastic Picker said the side dishes were decent. In the midst of Asian restaurants, community members of Asian descent, and eating Asian food – we told our daughter that she didn’t have to marry someone who is Asian. That was a big moment for us. We asked her not to discriminate someone from her own culture, because there is a comfort in being with someone who knows that part of you so well. But we freed her this weekend. We freed our beautiful daughter from all those generations of expectations that weighed her down. I think this is partly why she reacted so strongly to our family pseudo-kdrama. She and the other protagonist may well find each other later, but it will because they are compatible as people and not because of made-up expectations of ethnic loyalty that I never meant to place on her.

And I saw the beautiful whimbrels this weekend.

Birds of the same species do often flock together. We are all the same species.

And this weekend was unexpected in the friends that reached out to myself and my family. We shared movies, coffee, sweet deserts, walks and wanderings with those that we love. I veered toward Bay Park (a local neighborhood) unknowingly and we had breakfast together at the Farm Table, and I realized that I had no business being in Bay Park. That morning we had finally finished our daughter’s passport renewal.

In all this, our son also finished his early decision application to his top school that is not Crimson University. Going through his application that he mostly worked on by himself, Mr. Plastic Picker and I are so proud of him. He is his own person. Really 8 months left of him being with us as a high school student, and I am savoring each and every day. And our daughter, really three and half years left of having her to myself because I have to share this life-force with the world.

I was walking and chatting with a fellow mommy-friend, and we realized that when our mutual daughters grow up – they well may not come home. Their life course may take them somewhere else. I’m planning on being there for both of them, to travel often where they live. I’m already making financial moves to buy a small place in New York City if I have too, if the little one decides she really dose want to do human rights work which will likely be in NYC. We already have a rental property in the DC area. I’ve covered my bases. And I forget that part of my pseudo kdrama psychosis was really wanting her to be with me in San Diego. And what better draw than a cute boy who is also from our area.

But I’ve released her from those expectations. I’ll be there and help you, I promised her. You go and wander and don’t be afraid. Mommy and daddy will visit often, and I’ll help you however you need me. Having a pediatrician for a mother is a pretty awesome thing. And she said as we walked home after our evening walk, “by then you would have saved the world from climate change, right mommy? You can help me when I have a family, so I can work?” I said “yes, by then we will have known if we were able to save the earth or not. I’m hopeful because I want to take care of grandbabies.” Not sure what those grandbabies will look like, but I intend to love them so much and love their father as well. Mr. Plastic Picker will do all the driving, and I will clean the house!

The teenager when she was 7, reading.

October 28, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

News of our family Kdrama made it’s way around the private school Korean parent circles. The story is simple really and very innocent, but still private for us. But the ending ending, is really something absolutely beautiful. I want to write a novella to the other protagonist family, but I realize that it’s time to let that family go. They got swept up in it too, but have better things to do than read my long emails. But thank goodness I’m a blogger!!! I can blog into the ether and live in my own world!

Our children have been studying Korean at Korean School and then with a private instructor since they were both 3 years of age. We live with their paternal grandparents who only speak Korean, and so our teen girl is particularly good with her Korean. It’s a point of pride for her, and hence what led into the Kdrama as she values those that share her heritage. It’s hard to be a blended family, and we are what I now understand as an Asian blended family. The children demand that they are equally Korean and equally Vietnamese.

But the Korean identity is blossoming today! Because of the news of our family’s pseudo Kdrama made it’s way round-about the parent circles, and then we were contacting to talk about our school’s Korean community. We were actually helpful in starting the lower school private school Korean enrichment language program! It’s actually our instructor that we’ve had for years that will be teaching. And our daughter and she is going to recruit all her Korean friends (who by the way are all super-cute boys that she has been friends since 4!) to be the high-school contacts for the younger children! It’s going to be so much fun. Our daughter is looking forward to mentoring these super-cute little children who are both interested in learning Korean and some will be Korean-Americans! She is tickled at the possibility of being called

  • noona (누나) = older sister and unnie (언니) = older sister

She has been wanting to work and mentor younger children anyway, and had mentioned something about that a few weeks ago. We’ll have a forum to share with the community the Korean holidays that mean so much to my children, as they have that connection with their grandparents. And it’s going to look fantastic on her resume!

She’s feeling truly beautiful these days for the best reasons. She realizes that she doesn’t need a boy to reinforce that reality. She has us and her friends, and most importantly she has herself. And Mr. Plastic Picker said yesterday as we were reflecting again about the drama that occurred, “you know, she doesn’t ever have to get married and she can choose who she loves.” We were absolutely not doing an arranged marriage but the drama had echoes of those issues. And I having been raised in a very traditional household and having played mostly a traditional role as wife to Mr. Plastic Picker, I now whole-heartedly agree! My daughter is so awesome and so beautiful. And her light will shine forth in whatever way she chooses. I do think she’ll date (after SATs) and get married (after law school) and have children (hopefully somewhere between 27-35 because I don’t want to be a super old grandmother). But it’s her journey and her life, and I’m so lucky to be here to see the twists and turns.

Our family is so excited about this new development and this new opportunity to create empowerment for our Korean/Vietnamese/Asian daughter.

My daughter wrote this as we were processing recent things.

October 27, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

I’m sitting here at 539am and I’m on drop-off duty this morning!!! I’m not usually asked to do drop-off because we have three adult drivers in our family. It’s kind of a competition in terms of who gets to drop off the two teenage children at their little bubble of a private school high school. Mr. Plastic Picker loves to drop-off when he can, and the next is my father-in-law, and I’m last. I think it’s mostly they want to share in the child-rearing tasks and they don’t necessarily trust my driving. But I haven’t gotten into a car accident since at least 20, and I drove all the way to LA for the first time in my middle-aged life last weekend! But old habits die hard, and they remember the Medical Student me who refused to drive in Boston/Cambridge.

So here I am in the morning excited about driving the kids to school, and trying to time things so I can dye my roots in the morning and do some important tasks and send some emails. I am reminded that the whole world needs to prioritize. I think this is one of the most underrated skills in the universe, and a skill I am very good at.

We have to prioritize! And that’s the problem with poor leadership. Leadership needs to prioritize or they start confusing everyone who is not in leadership and does not have the access to to the information leadership is given nor the time to process the information. When poor leaders fail to prioritize, then they need to own up to their complicity in causing the problems for whatever they are leading. That’s a whole other world I’ll leave to fester in it’s stink. This can be applied to many parts of our world right now.

As for my life where I am leading myself, my family, my finances, and my budget of $0 volunteer advocacy group that is trying to save the earth – I am prioritizing this morning. I am prioritizing by drinking matcha green tea soy latte, which makes me so happy and gives me a steady amount of caffeine without the highs and lows of coffee. I am paying my quarterly taxes in an orderly manner. I invested some money in a cool education start-up in a country that means a lot to me. We have a new possible renter to our downtown condo, and it will start cash-flowing again. I spent an extra three hours yesterday off the clock taking care of my own patients and my own results, because the patients right in front of me are really important and that is why I get my paycheck.

And I was trying to figure out love. I’m still confused and delighted and at times sad and happy about our recent family pseudo kdrama. I know this will be at least a decade in unfolding. But I realized something last night as I was tossing and turning and thinking about events, in that it’s okay to think about who your children will eventually love. It’s okay to talk to them about values and traits, and share stories. Guiding them is okay. In the end my daughter felt absolutely loved. I hope that the other protagonist felt that too. I honestly felt the universe guiding me to my actions. I could not explain it. I would not usually do what I did, and draw that much attention and be so persistent. But what is done is done and it’s now the 20th text message stream on my daughter’s phone. Pumpkins have been exchanged. Impressions have been made. And two children are moving on with their lives. And I’m honestly left with a sense of peace. In the end of the day, its true what everyone says. People always remember how you made them feel. And feeling loved and opening yourself up to another family that mirrors one’s values, I hope reaffirmed how important those values are.

I was talking to my mother-in-law yesterday morning and she comforted me with her words. It’s a simple word in Korean, and one she uses all the time. But for me it’s such a powerful word. 괜찮아요 It means it’s going to be okay.


I'm sitting here this morning with tears streaming down my face. For me parenting our youngest has been every day a reminder that there is goodness in the world. However you want to understand it, the hand of God, the hand of Buddha, the universe or the earth. And that Sunday as we were wandering around Balboa Park and she was processing emotions and holding my hand and restoring her sense of self, I questioned my parenting.  I questioned my common sense.  Other parents made me question it again. But my mother-in-law and my husband and my children reassured me, that it was okay and that I had made a good judgement.  

And with that reassurance, I'll go forth today and tuck my daughter back into her bubble. She has speech team competition coming up, and I'm excited to judge. She's helping her older brother weather some academic storms. She reminded me to get her eczema cream and take care of her skin. And I know when she wakes up, I'll get to look at her beautiful face with her profile and her smile. She'll worry about her skin and she'll wear her uniform.  And I'll get to keep her all to myself at least for another few years.  I didn't want to share anyway. But the amount of love and absolute goodness that radiates from this child, I almost can't understand how it's possible.  I know it's because of all the love that has been poured into her by her grandparents, her father, her brother, myself and the entire extended family.  When you're born so early and were so sick, and emerged as a healthy and bright and beautiful child - that is what happens.  And she wants to go forth to help the world. She understand that to those that much is given, much is expected.  And she can do it herself and does not necessarily need someone like her father to protect her.  And that's what I was looking for. Because the world is still scary for a young girl. 

But I'm reminded to live in the present and not to let the worries of tomorrow rob me of the beauty of today. She was asking already about internships for later on in high school, and worried about how safe it would be to be away from me.  I told her and I'll remind myself.  Let's enjoy you being a freshman. We have to figure out all your stuff this year before we worry about next. And how absolutely beautiful and surprising and challenging and memorable has freshman year been already.

Thank you for reading dear readers.  I'm going to dye my roots now and get my two teenagers off to their little bubble of a private school high school and see some patients. I have climate work to do as well, one patient of mine is going to be on a major morning news show regarding air pollution and asthma! Pays to be Dr. Plastic Picker's patient! Green hugs to everyone and I hope you have a sustainable day!
Books from my daughter’s personal reading list.

October 25, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

I haven’t been blogging as much lately. The reason why is that I’ve been exchanging emails with a now family friend about our children, my own family’s pseudo-kdrama. The story has come to a beautiful end/pause/conclusion/season 1. One of my patient families was telling me truly that if we ever published the emails (which I would never do without said other person’s permission) it would make a great teen angst novella. As the ending is something unexpected, friendship.

Which makes me realize that I’m a pretty convincing person that lives in my very active imagination. When I was young and in between English and Vietnamese, the world was very silent. During that time I think I was learning English by immersion as a Vietnamese-speaking child and somehow emerged in 1st grade fully fluent without an accent, I just remember silence. I remember my imaginary friends that I would make up from the paisley swirls of the brown sofa in our Clairemont living room. I remember faces of friends and images, but those memories are strangely silent. I don’t remember any words neither Vietnamese nor English? I’ve always been curious about that. Maybe I should make some more friends with neurologists or speech pathologists or linguists?

But I do realize I have an active imagination, as I’m always imagining that I can literally save the earth. I someone induced myself and another very intelligent family to go along with a kdrama-like series of events that ended up beautiful and innocent, but gosh really took up a lot of time of a very busy academic. I’m not sure if I really feel guilty about it, but more bemused and very child-like – were you binge-watching the same show as I was? But in the end I know the association and the connections between us will help move the world toward equity and justice and hopefully a livable planet. It’s been very nice being the do-gooder Dr. Plastic Picker. I get forgiven many things, and I am hopeful and confident that this family has forgiven me my kdrama shenanigans.

I’m back in the world of occasional daydreaming, but awake now and blogging again rather than daydreaming. But the daydreams were so beautiful dear readers!!! I would sit and smile by myself and giggle in between patients. It was such a beautiful dream that I’ll hold dear in my heart. But when I realized those dreams were not productive for those that are the inspiration for those dreams, the pediatrician adult in me – did put it all to a stop. I’m mature enough to do that.

But I’m continuing to dream about our planet and our children’s future, and realizing I’m pretty good at selling my dream. I hope it’s your dream as well. I was selling this dream of climate and health advocacy and activism as an antidote to physician burnout. I was selling it at the HMO Regional Pediatric Symposium. Gosh this last Saturday was impactful. I’m still floored that it happened. Our climate friend Dr. Elizabeth Friedman from Kansas City was flown out and given posh accommodations to give a talk on climate and health. She was in our HMO space now, and her off-beat and somewhat sarcastic and intelligent take on the climate crisis was honestly pitch perfect for our clinical practice crowd. Then we came in, the three physicians from San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air with our panel discussion and twice really knocked it out of the park with a “Deeper Dive in Climate and Health Advocacy.” I honestly did not know how it would go, and just putting our hearts and our full-selves into this work, it resonated. It absolutely resonated with other physicians in our large regional group.

At the same time I was collaborating again with Dr. Elizabeth Friedman, and she was able to get me involved with a paper that hopefully will be published soon. I’m trying to focus on how I can be most impactful and I’m working on the fossil fuel divestment side. At least I can help try to get us off investments in coal!!!! Pollution from coal mining and the GHG emissions from this are the absolute worst! The edits to the paper were scattered and I tried to help paint the divestment story as more grassroots to tell the real story of how divestment happens. My edits I have sent in but here are some of the notes I had jotted down while thinking of what I could add to this paper.

“Scope 3 Investments, 8% of GHG emissions in from the health care section. Indeed, there was a recent white house event joined by major health care organizations calling for the decarbonization of the health care sector. but of that scope 1, scope 2, scope 3. 28% of healthcare emissions are from investments.

For pediatricians to be involved in addressing GHG from healthcare section investments, we must be familiar with not only the health effects from GHGs but also how we can influence GHG emissions from healthcare sector investments.  We are investors ourselves who choose funds. We are members for healthcare organizations and sometimes physician groups that have retirement committees. We are administrators and managers, who have influence over funds. 

We must become familiar with the nomenclature of healthcare sector investing. Only then, can be understand and advocate and unravel.  For example, for those that are part of retirement committees they have fiduciary responsibilities. (list what is talked about in the slide?). Due diligence and green washing ((slide).”

And then I got to have a wondrous late lunch with my also friend Dr. Elizabeth Friedman now at Balboa Park. We walked and chatted and shared. We shared about our lives, but we mostly talk about the earth. Yes I’m one of those. I’m a crazy environmentalist. That’s all I think about. And as I was updating her on the end/pause/season 1 of my family’s pseudo-kdrama, she told me the ending was because of the patriarchy! I don’t believe it, but having green friends and working together – I listened to her and I considered it. And when I told my daughter about Dr. Friedman’s thoughts on the patriarchy. My daughter truly perked up. “It was the patriarchy mommy!”

I don’t pretend to know the answer to saving our earth, but I do know that it includes environmentalists who are as diverse as myself and Dr. Elizabeth Friedman. We are such an diverse and off-beat group. But we all know it will take all of us, right-wing and left-wing, religious and irreligious, patriarchy and matriarchy, and all those ying and yang terms that balance each other out. As I was leaving my friend after an absolutely lovely late afternoon walk, lunch and brain-storming and dreaming session, we gave each other the tightest green hugs. I also gave the same hugs to that family that dreamed with me in our pseudo-kdrama. After you get past the climate anxiety and climate grief and how bad the state of the environment is, than the only hope we have is to dream together. We can have a group psychosis together, that we can avert this code red for humanity.

And I believe it. I absolutely do. Still doing so much just me a single pediatrician picking up plastic in San Diego. And I just need to convince a few people who will convince a few more, than you can make a difference. It has to be grassroots. Every great endeavor begins with the people. And pediatricians and UC system provosts, we are pretty great people to influence others. Can you sell your dream? I absolutely am. But my dream is 100% free hence the free entertainment on this blog. All you have to do is read and care, and think about helping out one piece of ocean bound plastic at a time.

It’s 6:43 now and I’m going to dream by myself about my daughter’s future, but I hope you’ll dream together with my about our earth’s. Much love from your pediatrician who is going to work soon! My matcha green tea tastes great this morning with a side of macaroons.