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!!!
And that is it. Just proud of myself for taking time to protect something that means a lot to me. I protected the site!
I hadn’t realized it was the 20th anniversary of September 11th? It’s 421am and I’m sitting in the quiet and semi-dark of our kitchen. I want to go for a run this morning and try to get some more cardio in. I slept very deeply yesterday in a fundamental way after a wonderful night with my family. My parents are visiting from their island home, and we gathered together in a beautiful house near the beach. I walked in and I told my younger brother, “I’m curious to see what is the ruckus you caused!” And indeed the whole house was in a ruckus because he was moving from one house to another, and the new house held mementos.
I’m still watching a lot of Kdramas lately but I realize for me and for others, it’s fun and silly and addictive because we are not Korean. I’m certainly a Korean daughter-in-law and the wife to a very Korean man, and I speak decent amount of Korean and eat mostly Korean foods these days – but I am not and have never claimed to be Korean. I am fundamentally comfortable with myself, and as I was eating this lovely banh cuon my older brother had brought to the gathering – I leaned over to my daughter and said. “No matter how much I love your father, Vietnamese food is better.” And indeed dear readers to my palate, it is. The banh cuon yesterday was so delicious. I savored each bite. The thin rice noodles were so thin, and soaked up the nuoc mam so well. I will never forget the banh cuon from yesterday. Even Mr. Plastic Picker admitted that the food was pretty amazing.
My children will often times try to correct me when I make pronouncements like that. But in the setting we were at, the food was indeed extraordinary and no one dared argue.
We ate, and for a time my daughter was looking through old photos from Vietnam. Most were of my parents when they were young. It was interesting to see which photos she decided to take digital snapshots. There is the romantic one at the beginning of the blog that she took.
Mr. Plastic Picker’s cousin almost 20 years ago, gifted us a pair of wooden ducks on our wedding trip to South Korea. Twenty years ago my parents-in-law had taken us up and down South Korea to meet relatives and introduce us to family and friends. We were in the midst of our third year of medical school at Harvard as well, and had been married just four months at that time. Now 20 years later, I’m truly realizing the significance of that trip and the love and care my parents-in-law bestowed on me. I had bought special winter clothes at Ann Taylor to wear to the various dinners, and we even went to Jeju Do and stayed at a traditional Korean home of a wealthy friend who owned a plantation.
Back to the wooden ducks. It was after watching Kdramas and then looking at the wooden ducks that were gifted to us twenty years ago, that I kept not knowing the significance as we moved from Boston to DC to San Diego and to various homes in San Diego. The ducks are still with us and seated with some succulents right now in our garden. I think they are happier outside. Aix galericulata, Mandarin ducks, in Chinese and Korean culture symbolize “peace, fidelity, and plentiful offspring. Similar to the Chinese, they believe that these ducks mate for life. For these reasons, pairs of wooden-carved mandarin ducks called wedding ducks are often given as wedding gifts and play a significant role in Korean marriage.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandarin_duck
And I’ve been thinking about monogamy and family, and having the normal worries of a mother of two teenagers. We are very strict with our children, and even our high school senior has not started dating. Certainly my daughter knows to respect herself enough to give herself time to become a full person before entering into any sort of romantic relationship. I’ve been trying to teach my children about monogamy and the word has come up multiple times at dinner. My son will push back and say the world has changed. I’m liberal in most ways, but I still fundamentally believe that a healthy society is one that encourages life-long partners be in whatever gender you prefer. I am certainly progressive and realize that there are many societal reasons (war, genocide, historic injustices) that have prevented some that should have mated for life, to have been ripped apart.
But yesterday I think my campaign to instill in my children the importance of valuing oneself and valuing one’s life-long partner much easier. My daughter chose to remember the picture of my own parents over 50 years ago, when they were young and carefree students gazing at each other. They are a pair of ducks, mated for life. Mr. Plastic Picker and I are the same. And those examples are important to uphold, and I didn’t realize something I take for granted is actually uncommon. Everyone at clinic was amazed that Mr. Plastic Picker and I had been married happily for 20 years. Mr. Plastic Picker’s parents have been married now almost 60 years, and my own parents 50 years. This is through war, immigration, poverty and many adverse life events. It’s easier to go through life with one person. Whoever that one person is for my daughter (and my son), I will love you. Just like my parents-in-law love me, and my parents love Mr. Plastic Picker.
It’s muggy outside and there is a hurricane coming up from Baja California, that has brought much needed rain to us. There might be too much rain though. One of my longtime parents who is also a climate advocate told me the rain is helping put out the 20,000 acre fire in Riverside County. Pakistan is currently 1/3 flooded. We are living through already major weather events and natural disasters that were foretold, but even Dr. Plastic Picker did not listen soon enough. It’s interesting but certainly scary. The world is in mitigation mode, as recent American investments in climate including the Inflation Reduction Act and the recent California legislative wins that brought another $54 billion into climate investments – we are now all doing something.
Oh the title!!! It’s really funny isn’t it? It sounds like a curse word but it’s the medical term for “fake lens” for a patient that has cataract surgery. Pediatric cataracts are rare, but can happen and after someone has surgery this is what is placed in their chart to describe the presence of the artificial lens. Pseudophakia. Again, sounds like a curse word. I was having fun playing with the term yesterday and used it in dinnertime conversation. I find life interesting and stimulating, even having the mental space to learn something with each patient encounter. It’s the curiosity that I had when I was a child and in high school. I feel like a child again with that curiosity, and that’s a beautiful thing.
I’m still trying to process it all. It was such a beautiful day yesterday. Michael Tran who was our leader back in our undergraduate days was the Co-President of the Harvard Vietnamese Association and Director of RYSE, Refugee Youth Summer Enrichment. Mr. Plastic Picker and I had been involved with BRYE, Boston Refugee Youth Enrichment. Both had largely served the Boston Vietnamese refugee community back then. Dr. Michael Tran organized a reunion for Harvard Vietnamese Association alumni in California. A lot of people came. I mean A LOT!
The best blog posts come when I’ve working through emotions and I’m working through a lot of emotions this early morning at 5am. My body is getting back to a regular schedule, as the toll of binge-watching Kdramas has taken. I’ve honestly watched most of the really good ones, and I’m going through Kdrama withdrawal. Even good things can be bad for you, when they are consumed in great quantities. But I’m sleeping more on schedule and the earth is pulling me back into my normal circadian rhythm. I haven’t done an early morning plog to the beach in months, and I think I may head out this morning to get some quiet time for myself.
But yes I’m working through a lot of emotions this morning. I’m royally peeved because I bought this Matcha Green Tea Mix at Trader Joe’s and I realize I bought some sort of latte mix that is mostly just sugar, and only some tea. I usually buy the matcha green tea at Costco, but we’ve been trying to vary our routine and buy a larger variety of food. I shouldn’t be surprised because honestly Trader Joe’s is a lot of packaging and plastic wrapping. My latte doesn’t have the quality of matcha that I’m used to, and when you mess with Dr. Plastic Picker’s matcha- you better matcha watcha out! It’s certainly could be blamed on me for buying the latte mix but I just had high expectations of actually more matcha in the matcha green tea mix. My morning cup doesn’t look the pretty green that I’m used to. It’s a poor imitation.
This goes for unknown groups/persons that I’ve tried to pull into climate work. I’m not going to go into more details because I don’t want to be hurtful, and the climate movement needs everyone whatever they can give. Let’s just say there are groups or persons that want the accolades and as I dive into climate work, don’t put in the work. They want the pats on the head, and what I can give them – but I’m unimpressed with the work. And then there are others that I’m in awe of the care and consideration that they place on their projects. I think this is a reminder to me that I need to focus on the local, and ones I can meet in person.
That’s it. I realize some of it is that I am in general feeling like many women leaders underappreciated. Subtle phrases and emails, folks don’t mean anything by it – but we’ve been preprogrammed as women to be people pleasers. We all are. I’ve talked to some friends who are the most green of the green heroes that I know, and they are also feeling underappreciated and feel the imposter syndrome. And if they feel that, what chance do the rest of us mere mortals have?
I honestly just need to take time for myself. I’m going to start building my endurance a bit more and exercise. I felt like I was being criticized for how I was cleaning the rug in the kitchen by my mother-in-law, and that was just a ridiculous thought. And this is a ridiculous post but it’s the honest ramblings of an pediatrician trying to save the earth. I’m working on big important projects and everyone of those projects is more than anything else anyone else has done, yet I feel underappreciated? Isn’t that ridiculous?!!! And I realize that all of us need to learn how to appreciate ourselves and it makes it less exhausting and more sustainable for everyone. In the end the earth appreciates me, and I am part of the earth and I need to appreciate myself.
I never knew Mr. Plastic Picker’s surname has a Chinese and Vietnamese equivalent. Per Wikipedia “It derives from the Chinese character 尹 also used for the Chinese surname Yǐn and Doãn in Vietnam.” My surname is the most common surname in Vietnam. I’m attached to it and did not change it. But it doesn’t carry the gravitas and responsibility that my husband has for his surname. My husband is the only son of the only son. Therefore our eldest son is the only son of the only son of the only son – in a family and culture that is still patriarchal.
It happened. I had been asked to contribute a short article to Sketches, San Diego Audubon’s quarterly magazine https://www.sandiegoaudubon.org/news-events/sketches-magazine.html. It was a short piece, and I was writing another piece with one of our students for a popular science magazine in the Yucatan. But during that time, I wrote from my heart. I’m writing and publishing more now than I ever imagined possible. I’m mostly just documenting my evolving thoughts as a pediatrician awakened to the climate and health crisis – and how I’m trying to help stop this existential crisis. Meeting so many interesting people with different ideas and training backgrounds, and then it percolates in my brain with my experiences as a litter picker – and something happens. And this article happened. Thank you San Diego Audubon. This article is a spring board to further bend the arc of history toward a livable planet for birds and kids.
ReWild: What’s Good for Birds Is Good for Kids
Wetland conservationists and pediatricians have a lot in common. The conservationists work to preserve habitat for endangered birds. Pediatricians advocate for a built environment that promotes children’s health. We also have in common the northeast corner of Mission Bay, which is critical to the health and well-being of birds and children. The ReWild wetlands site is a literal nursery for juvenile fish and bird species and is the figurative nursery we seek to make available for children to improve their health. This is how the collaboration formed between San Diego Audubon and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) San Diego.
I work through the AAP California Committee on Environmental Health, trying to help move legislation to protect the environment as it relates to children’s health—a pediatrician’s prime responsibility. Climate change is a pediatric public health crisis. The long-term health consequences of climate change have disproportionately affected children, with increasing cases of asthma and higher rates of premature birth. Children are the most vulnerable victims to climate-related natural disasters. Air pollution, heat waves, and water-born pollution affect little bodies more because their organs are still developing. A child’s greater body-to-surface area of epithelium to total body surface area exposes them to more environmental toxins. Children will suffer the most due to climate change, especially those who live in environmental justice areas.
Our communities need to commit to ReWild Mission Bay. The local climate change math does not add up unless we maximize wetland restoration. But when I think of the ReWild work, I also think of the possibilities of how this area can function to improve the physical and mental health of children. AAP San Diego has officially joined the ReWild Mission Bay Coalition to bring healthcare voices to wetland conservation. Pediatricians as a group have spent many hours with wetland conservationists at this site. Working together, pediatricians and wetland conservationists are imagining how we can collaborate and make this wetland part of community healing.
It is well established that reflective time in nature improves mental health. There is now a national call to document adverse childhood events (ACES). Children who have suffered more ACES have higher levels of toxic stress. This has been associated with adverse health outcomes like asthma, heart disease, and poor mental health. Programs that combine nature bathing, mindfulness, and mentoring from caring adults like healthcare professionals and scientists would be a nature-based solution to ACES. Rather than building more concrete clinics, would it be possible to practice medicine on the wetlands? Meandering the wetlands with children, together listening to the sounds of the marsh, noting the anatomical details of our bird friends, and then checking our own vital signs? I think we will all find what studies have shown—our subjective well-being and stress levels are improved. I imagine affordable and accessible primitive camping opportunities for local San Diego children, as camping is shown to be one of the most effective ways to address the sleep problems facing our increasingly digitized young people. AAP San Diego invites you to come and meet us on the wetlands and let your imagination wander. Join us in this important work. For me, the northeast corner of Mission Bay has been a literal nursery—where I’ve brought pediatric patients and my own teenage children to wander and heal. And this is where I realized after meeting wetland conservationists, that what’s good for birds is good for kids. San Diego Audubon and AAP are aligned and working together for the Wildest option for the northeast corner of Mission Bay.
Vi Thuy Nguyen, M.D., is Assistant Chief of Pediatrics at Kaiser San Diego. She is a Fellow of Environmental Health as part of the American Academy of Pediatrics and serves as Co-Chair of San Diego’s AAP Climate Change and Health Committee
Good morning dear readers! I’m back from an epic few days up in Oregon. I don’t fly lightly but it was a combined brief vacation and working trip to try to figure out our Oregon farm. Stay tuned as try to figure out what I’m labeling CPR Cow’s Creek Professional Rescue. I’m forming a board of directors, and working with a friend on curriculum right now. It’s a fun dream and we are making this dream a reality. Mowed a few acres of pastureland. Roamed around the forested lots on the Polaris, and saw how much nature is in these timber forests. Family of deer, temporary wetlands with water fowl. We know there are bears and cougars and foxes. That large predators are on this land is to me heart-warming. So I’m trying to preserve this land but make it cashflow in our capitalistic society. I believe in responsible capitalism and democracy, and I think I can make this work.
It’s 645AM and I’m blogging this morning to process everything that happened yesterday. My mother-in-law is puttering around the kitchen and has another upcycled matt someone gave her. Our house kind of ebbs and flows with the upcycled things that enter into it, and then exit out mostly donated to Goodwill or gifted to someone I know. Choosing to step off the consumerist wheel was one of the ways I have been able to be such an active climate and health advocate. When one stops shopping for fun, you gain so much of your time back.
We still buy things here and there, but choosing to value things and people as precious and non-disposable has been the core of my activism. That has been true for most of us in this work. I’m looking out into our backyard garden, and it’s so gorgeous and worthy of any eco-magazine. You can’t replicate it, because it’s upcycled planters and tomatoes overflowing with hidden sweet cherry tomatoes. It’s our rosemary bush that was propogated from my friend Dr. Jill Gustafson’s cutting several years ago. We don’t have to buy rosemary anymore. It’s the plethora of flowers from rescued plants my mother-in-law picks up from friends and the local Sprouts, whose manager knows her well and is happy to have her take the plants that would otherwise be thrown out. Yellows, reds, and little white flowers that look with baby’s breath from where I sit. Even the vegetables when they are seeding give off flowers, as we save the seeds for next season. It’s tended with a loving hand and appreciated by our sustainable family, knowing that we are a part of nature and the result is this confusing yet sensible mess.