February 2021 – Dr. Plastic Picker

Month: February 2021

It was a food waste recipe, but was a big hit in clinic!

February 27, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I needed some cooking therapy yesterday morning, and in between blogging and answering work/environmental emails – I made granola. I’ve made granola now many times, but this granola was a big hit in clinic! I had several people ask me for the recipe. My ultimate goal is to have everyone eat more fiber, inspire more plant-based eating and reusing containers we all have at home. And granola can be the entry point for many people!


Granny Flat. I admit, our family is in real estate.

February 26, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I admit it. My family has been involved in the real estate business since the 1970s. But then so have many people in our region. There are a lot of “real estate” families like ours. Just like anyone who has worked and thought about things through many times, real estate is a skill set. And like anything, when you first look at it – it appears daunting, then easy, then really difficult and then in the end simple again.

A really smart HMO resident called me yesterday to ask me real estate advice about buying their first home. They have a small downpayment and are approved for a 30 year fixed at 3.1%. But there is some uncertainty about their lives in terms of where they will be in a year, and where in San Diego they could eventually settle if the graduate gets a job here. No children yet. Smart young doctor that is usually good with money.


Our son’s old superhero cards I’m cutting out into butterflies.

February 25, 2021

by drplasticpicker

It’s 2AM and technically a new day. I had fallen asleep early as I was curled up in a ball, processing some work decisions I had to make. Medicine is hard. I’ve had to make some tough calls morally, and I made the right one. But I had to go to sleep as sleep is restorative. My daughter asked to read something to me, and I just did not have anything left. It had been a long day at clinic as well, supposed to end at 2pm but for me stretched to 5pm after calling local authorities to do a wellfare check. I hardly ever turn away from my children especially the youngest who was born so early, but I had nothing left yesterday. She quietly left and closed the door after I turned her away, and her father followed her to help her with her question. The handsome college junior , my college sweetheart Mr. Plastic Picker came back later and hugged me and told me to go to sleep. We are on the same career track and he has similar situations at work, so he understood my moral fatigue. We are a good team.


No photo description available.
Similar to the cool planter we purchased.

February 24, 2021

by drplasticker

I would usually write a Hopeful Wednesday post, but today in lieu of Hopeful Wednesday – I will just cross-post something from my real-life facebook. Our AAP-CA3 Climate Change and Health Committee is a real group of friends. And one our friends did something amazing. Here is the post.

It’s been a year of efforts, and I wanted to give a big shout out to Patty Pascual Hosking part of our AAP CA3 Climate Change and Health Committee who works on the climate advocacy/legislative side of things with us. She was helped by our colleague Jim Moseman who leads the award from Kaiser. Patty had this dream of establishing a Green Ribbon to be given out by pediatricians in our committee at the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair for research on climate change. Patty is San Diego raised, and Science Fair had been a treasured part of her teenage years and she wanted to give of herself to our community and to the environment through this venue. As with things that are driven by passion, it happened. I can’t tell you how joyous I am. And thanks to Drs. Anne Marie Birkbeck-Garcia, Joe McQuaide, Cindy Fuji and Laurence Ashbacher and our premed intern UCSD student Ashley Teo for jumping on in. “The AAP-CA3 Climate Change and Health Committee has been established as a professional organization at the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair. The committee will judge and award the top 2 high school science projects that are most committed to the improvement in environmental health and most likely to lead to impactful environmental change. The GSDSEF is scheduled to take palce virtually on 3/15-3/18/2021.” Two high school kids will be awarded a “Green Ribbon” with a small monetary award for books, and also we decided to give each a cool concrete planter below with a native succulent. They have been ordered and on their way. These are made locally in Los Angeles by a small business, and hand poured using carbon-capture technology on site from coal and gas plants before they are released into the atmosphere. The carbon is infused with fly-ash and replaces 80% of the concrete compared to traditional methods. It’s lightweight and it’s cool, because Patty Pascual Hosking is cool as is saving the earth, science fair and empowering youth. Oh, women of color in science too since three of the judges are women pediatricians of color. Patty is too modest and I’m telling her awesome story.

And that is it. There is a Bright Vibes Feed they had reposted a quote “The Greatest Threat to Our Planet is the Belief that Someone Else Will Save It” along with the caption “We need more than a handful of environmentalists. We need 7.8 billion of them.” This is true on so many levels. We are all influencing eachother. And I know that in my small corner of the real world and virtual blogsphere, it’s not just me as a climate advocate. I have friends who are more modest (I’m the loud out there one) and they are environmentalist as well, and we’ll do this together. Hugs from Dr. Plastic Picker on this Wednesday morning. Amazing what good friends who care, and a solid night of sleep after yoga will do for my wellness.

Blueberry bush done.

February 22, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I’m working on several substantial climate projects. Therefore I’m up at 424AM to take advantage of the quiet and to read and think. Anyone who wanders onto this blogpost, please know that the readership is like this virtual blanket of friendship I feel as I’m typing away in the silence. This blog is really my journaling about the eco-avatar me trying to save the earth.

We are working on an article for the Journal of Applied Research in Children entitled “INFORMING POLICY FOR CHANGING OUR BUILT ENVIRONMENT TO REDUCE CARBON EMISSIONS AND ALSO TO SAFEGUARD THE HEALTH OF CHILDREN IN EJ COMMUNITIES, COMMON SENSE ADVICE FROM FOUR COMMUNITY PEDIATRICIANS.” We were excited to get the article accepted, but now we have to write it. Since our tween daughter was able to almost finish her 7th grade drama project and her History Day Project on Mahatma Ghandi, I thought to myself yesterday – I certainly can try to knock out some work on this writing project. Time moves quickly and I’m the lead author, so I want to really get this moving so we enjoy this experience.


Funny upcycled planter, will go on the other lunch table at the employee patio area at wr work. See his nose ring?

February 21, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I’m kind of all over the place this morning, and this weekend. We had a phenomenal pediatric drive through vaccine event yesterday. That’s already posted and publicized over several facebook pages and Instagram accounts. Then we did some parenting yesterday, and finally bought some underclothes for our daughter and much needed running shoes. Between Dicks Sporting Goods and RoadRunners Store (which I actually don’t recommend), we spent $350. So much for being frugal! We haven’t really purchased any sustaintial clothing for her in months. I don’t remember the last new piece of clothing? She is such a good daughter and okay wearing hand-me-downs and on this sustainability journey with me, but when you need sports-underthings you need sports-underthings. Mr. Plastic Picker and I are both real middle-managers and it doesn’t make sense during the COVID-19 pandemic to spend time exposing our daughter to possible infection and time is money, so we spent 3 hours shopping for things and spent $350 on things she really needed which are quality products that should last her a very long time. I told her honestly yesterday, “Mommy always likes to reuse and/or find a deal. But honestly dear daughter, we have plenty of money and daddy needs to work so let’s just get what you need and get home. It’s okay to get good quality clothes and spend money sometimes.”

I was pleased that we didn’t fall into the Road Runner’s trap of getting the custom orthotics for our daughter who has no foot issues. Sheesh. It was like going to buy a new car, and them trying to sell us all the bells and whistles when you just want to go home with the basic model. Definitely a hard sell. But we walked away and even had a good dinner, and avoided take-out yesterday. We almost ordered pizza and almost got burgers. But knowing that I could whip up dinner really fast, we saved ourselves the unhealthy fats and saved the earth a bit of emissions yesterday.

But I feel so connected with everyone today, even though I am just sitting at home typing away at the computer. I have been on and off typing, but in between communicated with the amazing students at the Sustainable Pharmacy Project who are applying for a grant, posted on my Crimson University Alumni Page about the same grant that all aims to increase the discussion on climate change and health. I made the Bobby Flay’s pizza dough again, as I looked through our fridge and homemade pizza is a great food waste recipe! So lunch will be pizza after about a 6 hour rise. I made one further step in solidfying the judging panel for the Green Ribbon that one of my amazing colleagues is organizing for the Greater San Diego Science Fair. And then I made a trash art piece that is very profound.

Do you see yourself?
6 months that thing was sitting there. 6 months.

February 20, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I usually want to present pretty pictures of nature and trash art for the readership. But yesterday I dragged this plastic large thing (I think it’s the underside of a car) from the corner of the HMO parking lot to the trash can near this hidden back patio where employees eat. I dragged it there and gave myself 3 bag credit. I’m at 13 bags of trash now, and I committ to 20 bags for the month. Honestly, around my neighborhood is pretty clean and I get to the beach about twice a week at most. I have a lot of environmental projects to do, and since I really am trying to save the earth – I’m taking the easy way out and picking up trash around the canyons and the HMO parking lot. And there is a lot of trash.

I had time at lunch yesterday to go on a walk with Dr. Dear Friend and we visited the baby succulents. She was tired and feeling sad, because a dear family member is very sick and in hospice. We are all going through life struggles and it’s important to hear our friends. So we walked up the HMO parking structure and I leant her my water bottle and she squirted some water on our succulent babies. We chatted and we were just together as colleagues and friends. The succulent babies are doing well, and you can check out Instagram to see how they are doing. I usually post at least once a week photos. They are succulents so they don’t really need to be watered. We are planning on planting trees up there and some succulent fairy gardens.


I put it on the lunch table outside! Yes I did!

February 19, 2021

by drplasticpicker

It’s totally out. It’s totally out in my HMO and physician group. I gave a podcast interview on physician wellness and I talked about Dr. Plastic Picker. I know it sounds odd since I’ve been out there already all over the blogsphere and Instagram for almost two years, but it was an oddly anticlimatic moment. I guess I’ve gone up the middle-management ladder so far already, that I realize that pretensions are silly and it’s the subtance of the person and their work that is the most important. I have no fear anymore of being ridiculed or looking silly. I’m totally out there now. And the reason I am out there is I need to make real changes from within and green our healthcare sector.

Everything is decomposing in my former “guerilla gardening” project up on the HMO parking lot. It’s not really guerilla gardening anymore since everything has decomposed, and I’m going to actually put real compost into those planters. There is an aloe tree and a bunch of succulents, but I’m just going to plant some bluberry pushes and a lemon tree soon. Why not. I even told the head of engineering (I think he is the head of engineering? It might be an imaginary person). And he was okay with it.


Black Phoebe. My favorite bird.

February 18, 2021

by drplasticpicker

The Black Phoebe is my favorite bird. You could say she is my spirit animal, in a non-religious way. The Black Phoebe belongs to the order of birds Passeriformes, which means in Latin sparrow – like. Can you tell I’m reading Wikipedia? These are usually songbirds and perching birds, that have 3 toes pointing forward and one toe pointing backwads. Half of all birds belong to this family. Most passeri are smaller than other birds.

The Black Phoebe is part of the Tyrant-Flycatcher family. This bird’s range is from southern california to Oregon, and does venture to central and south america. Usually the Black Phoebe stays within it’s range and doesn’t really migrate. She is a songbird, and eats mostly insects. From Wikipedia, “The phoebe can be recognized by a characteristic “tail-wagging” motion, in which the tail is lowered and the tail’s feathers fanned out. It accomplishes almost all locomotion by flight, which is direct, with steady wing beats.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_phoebe

Anyway, I love the Black Phoebe. I see her a lot. She’s a pretty little black bird. Now that we have our composter which is working well in the corner of our backyard, I think the Black Phoebe is visiting more as there are little insects that are the natural part of the decomposition process. One was perched on my mother-in-laws fig tree the other day, sallying forth eating some unknown insect in our new container garden and bird habitat.

I also made this beautiful upcycled succulent planter basket, in between my chores yesterday. Most of the components of the upcycled succulent basket was going into the landfill. But because I always have cactus/succulent potting mix, I created something I think is lovely. I made it myself.

Pretty views of my new planter.

It’s ready in the back of my plug-in hybrid, and I will put it on one of the outside employee lunch tables at work. I need to spruce up our outside work space. Plus, I think it will bring people joy. They’ll look at it and think a little bit. If someone takes it home, that is okay. Maybe they needed a bit of joy. I hope it can stay and grow though, and provide happiness to my fellow co-workers who are sitting outside and eating lunch.

Last view. Plus it is helping sequester carbon, as succulents are great carbon sequesterers. Keeping things out of landfills is important too.
Really funny angry snail! LOL. From fellow Asst Boss friend.

Is that snail distracting? It is such a funny angry snail. Let’s just say we had fun at a very very long middle management meeting with over 50 other middle managers where we did some middle management things. As our team abhors inefficiencies and empty platitudes, we texted eachother to relieve our inner angst. What we were angry about? No one will ever know.

But don’t be distracted by the angry nail! Yes Texas is in a deep freeze as is the rest of the country, eerily reminescent of the Day After Tomorrow movie regarding climate change. But here is Souther California the winter remains pleasant albeit somewhat colder than usual. We did have our wildfires. Maybe the conservative half of our nationa are waking up? Yes climate change means the climate is changing due to fossil fuel use and carbon emissions. But we knew this was happening. Indeed, this is why I declared on the beach a year and a half ago that I would try to save the earth. Actually it’s almost 1.5 years into my environmentalist efforts and I remain hopeful, because what use is despair? Here on this blog I talk about hope that is earned due to concrete actions. So this is why I remain hopeful.

Five Reasons to Be Hopeful 2-17-2021 About the Environment

  1. Seeds of Activism Planted 1.5 years Ago Sprouting. I’ve been everywhere telling my story. Chicken little running around telling everyone in my irreverent manner that the sky is falling, but we can actually do something about it. Yesterday I did my 3rd podcast interview within our physician group, and I agreed to because it’s another avenue for me to talk about the earth. As I sent an update email to our AAP CA3 Climate Change and Health group, I realized that I may have nudged some people to act just a little bit faster. But all around me I see my community banding together. Writing acacemic papers for the first time, attending legislative conferences, advocating for bills, agreeing to mentor students, maintaining websites, and joining in our efforts. I talked to an asthma specialist yesterday at length. He is someone I respect quite a bit, and I told him my odd story. He’s not on social media and is immersed in patient care and research. I asked him to take on an important public health role in the city, and he is thinking about it. I really hope he does it. I asked him, “what do you think? Thank you for hearing my story. He replied, “I need to think about it, but I’m oddly inspired.” He asked me “why me? why not you?” I told him the truth. “I did yoga last night and I ruminated on it. And I listen to ocean deep wave music at night, and I go to the ocean and she tells me what to do. And the ocean told me to ask you. If nature is telling you know, than the ocean will tell me someone else. And I want to activate you!” And in my own mind which I did not articulate, I thought to myself. “I want you to help me save the world. Why won’t you help me save the earth?” I await his reply.
  2. Sticking To My Morals that this is Not For Financial Gain. I received a message from someone looking for a speaker for a global youth leadership program. Initially it sounded like a great forum to activate more people. But then I found out they charge students and a pretty exorbiant amount. If anyone actually KNOWS ME, or has read this blog – they know that is counter to everything I believe in. I replied back, “The only thing is that your academy is for profit?  All my advocacy work is purposefully non monetized? I don’t support any products or paid programs. Do you guys have a non-profit branch or someway I can figure this out.  I apologize. It’s actual a big moral issue for me because all my premed advising and leadership training I’ve given is always pro-bono. ” And I posted on my personal facebook group, “I don’t need to hear the sound of my own voice just to hear it.” This is 100% true. I’m out there to raise awareness and look silly, but to make people think – wow, has this pediatrician gone mad? Or is she truly serious? This made me upset enough that I agreed to another interview with a nonprofit magazine called ShoutOutSoCal. Here Dr. Plastic Picker goes!
  3. Butterflies! 50 Doctors will be Thinking About Butterflies! This happened! This really really really happened. I have been talking about butterflies for so long. I want our organization to sign the Monarch Butterfly pledge but still can’t figure out how to do it. I’m looking into native succulent species that I can propogate myself and maybe plant in a strategic place. They are native and also attract pollinators. But in my ever irreverent obsession over butterflies, someone also had the same idea and loves the earth. So now our physician wellness program is doing a butterfly raising project with our physiciain group. This is so so so wonderful. It captures people’s imagination. As one of the administrators emailed back to me “Happy Metamorphisis” this is all so so so true. Anyway, just really happy that 50 physician familes will be thinking about butterflies. They all take care of likely over 2000 patient families and it will have cascading effects. When they realize they can raise butterflies, than they will realize they too can become eco-warriors like Dr. Plastic Picker. We need all of us to save the earth.
  4. Native West Nursery. I found it! I found a local nursery that has large scale native plants. They mostly do wholesale but have some limited retail. I may buy some of their succulents as gifts to the winners of our Youth Arts Exhibition. Their address just for my further reference is 1755 Saturn Blvd, San Diego, CA 92154. https://nativewest.com and info@nativewest.com Native succulent garden at work! Here I come. Just watch me!
  5. Fifth Reason! The Snail is So Funny. And that is it. Just your pediatrician helping me have hope and laugh a bit before you head into work and brave adult life.
My new art station!