February 2022 – Dr. Plastic Picker

Month: February 2022

Young Buddha Hands. Got the original tree at Costco.

Feburary 28, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

I have to write a personal finance blogpost at least every 3 months, so that Crispy Doc doesn’t take me off his Physician Personal Finance Blogger Blogroll. https://www.crispydoc.com/physician-finance-bloggers/ Just dropped by his blogroll, and there are some really interesting new physician personal finance bloggers. There are a few new bloggers who are minimalist as well. I hadn’t stopped by this list in a while, so it’s fun to see what’s new on the blogsphere. But I’m still the only litter-picking physician personal finance blogger – YES I AM!

I had been thinking about the hypocrisy of personal finance blogging in general for years. There is so much about personal finance that is out of our control. The reason for debt can be the same as the reason a child is overweight, the systemic forces out there have created the scenarios that increase the chances that someone needs to take on debt or cannot earn enough. I’m changing my approach to childhood weight issues, by acknowledging with families what is out of their control that has pushed their children to gain weight. Skyrocketing housing prices that force families to work multiple jobs, and short change children’s activities. The built environment that has decresed active transport for the entire community. The fossil fuel industry and federal corn subsidies that have flooded our food industrial complex with cheap plastic to encase the food and cheap high-fructose-corn-syrup to make it taste sweet.

Just like it’s still important for me to talk about plant-based diets and evidence based changes families can make to address children’s weight. I will still address pillars of personal financial responsibility, but acknowledge that much is out of people’s control. I guess that is why the personal finance blog part of my writing is specifically aimed at physicians and young pediatricians who do not usually fall into the category of having suffered as many injustices as the rest of the world. Since there are others that read, please take that in mind.

The hypocrisy of my personal finance blogging is that I married a fellow physician who has a high earning potential. The hypocrisy is that I have the cultural upbringing and the demeanor to be able to co-exist harmoniously with my in-laws. The hypocrisy is that other than my own immediate children and myself, I don’t really have to provide for anyone else. All my strengths are still there. I’m financially oriented because my father was an accountant. I work essentailly full time when I could have been a stay-at-home parent (trust me, I tried!). I’m super frugal because for most of the first decade of my life, my parents bought very little extras as they built our family’s financial lives. We didn’t buy many material things, but we had so much wealth in our family’s traditions and affection.

That is it. I wanted to really show you the Buddha Hand fruit collage picture, and just some thoughts today about FIRE hypocrisy. The hypocrisy is true for other personal finance bloggers particularly physicians and those omnipresent male engineers as well. The idea that someone would ask a doctor for financial advice is hilarious. It’s like asking your accountant about your sinuses. Ask your doctor about your sinuses. Ask your accountant about your finances.

Hey, but everything on this blog is free and for entertainment purposes! I’m just trying to help save the earth, and on the side get to interact with some of the FIRE bloggers I had admired for over a decade. They know my name now, which I think has been a great side benefit of all this environmental action blogging with a personal finance twist!

May be an image of strawberry and dessert
9.99 Fruit Tart from Vons. That’s all we needed to make this weekend special for Mr. Plastic Picker.
Blooming succulent, so happy.

February 26, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

I worked last night the staggered shift. 25 patients evenly spaced out in 20minute appointment slots. No longer the triple booked patients at 6pm and leaving at 930pm and overeating at night at 10pm. Pneumonias and bilateral ear infections. I had to order a fair number of antibiotic prescriptions yesterday. It almost felt normal, pre-COVID pandemic like. One of my work colleagues reminded me that I had come up with the idea of the “Happy Hour Shift” and indeed that was what started it all. Fixing a broken scheduling template that would garner so many complaints and predisposed doctors and nurses to make errors. There was no conceivable way to see three patients in the same appointment slot.

But people forget, and as life improves – they often forget what was the catalyst. Indeed, I had forgotten – but then this work friend who is not in our department, reminded me.

This change was good for me as well, and I fought for the sane scheduling system with my own family’s well-being in mind. It was a long day, but I had time to walk up to the #guerillagardening project at my “lunch” hour which was at 2pm. I walked and looked at the plants I had planted there almost 2 years ago.

Blooming now.

It’s all growing and thriving now. I had to put in effort at the beginning. But now, the natural rainfall and once or twice a month watering from saved bathwater from my own house – is enough. It took me courage to fight for those changes in the schedule. It took creativity. It took rationality and a mind that thinks clearly. There are some minds that are so chaotic that threatened to make all of our lives intolerable.

But rather than dwell on the those forces I had to counter, I focus on the growth I see. I focus on what is beautiful and what has worked. And this plant was the first one that proved to me that in the desolate area of the upper parking garage planters that had been abandoned for decades – something beautiful could grow.

It’s os happy and chaotic.
#2 upcypcled reburbished planter stand from a chair I found in the alley

February 23, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

Life is meandering. RG, our premed advocacy intern working on leaded aviation pollution, and I were supposed to make verbal comments at the EPA meeting last night. We both submitted written comments. It was nothing that was asked of us, just somewhere we thought we should be. But RG had to work last minute (all this environmental health work is volunteer) and I logged in once on my phone, and afterwards when I tried to log in again on my computer – the link did not work. Mr. Plastic Picker is a witness that I tried to log into the EPA “EPA’s Draft Strategy to Reduce Lead Exposure and Disparities in US Communities” and the it was unsuccessful. I really really tried. But since RG wasn’t there and part of advocacy is fun for me, if I get to do it with the premed interns, I didn’t really mind that much. Instead of being attached to the EPA meeting until 9pm, I ceased by Zoom logging in efforts at 710PM. And then I watched Kdramas! Well, the current show I just finished is more artsy so not really a drama. But I learned something that was very profound from the close-captioning translations. I love the Kdramas because I actually do have a decent grasp of Korean, and it’s this weird world where I’m learning all this Korean but I get to read too. Anyway, the translation was the best part of this show about a family of three women and the percussions of domestic violence.


Snowy Egret is Mr. Plastic Picker’s Spirit Animal.

February 21, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

Self-awareness is so key. I mean true self-awareness, the deep kind that takes a lot of work and quiet. I was talking to a long-time patient-family that is facing difficult medical futures for their children. It’s the typical story these days, the kids are young and already on the road to severe metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes and fatty liver. We are considering gastric-bypass at the youngest age possible.


A beautiful card from a beautiful family with a heartfelt sentiment I will treasure.

February 19, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It’s 442AM and I am back to a semi-normal rhythm. I did watch Hulu “Descendents of the Son” K-drama, but I did not binge-watch it last night. It’s really good and I’m trying to savor it. Yesterday was a very full Friday at work, and I have almost 30 charts to finish this morning. It used to make me upset to work on my “inbox” on my “off time” but its a wonderful thing perspective. I’ll blog this morning, do climate work, drink my matcha green tea and finish my charts in the next 2-3 hours. I sit at the kitchen table and doing work that is meaningful and I am happy in my quiet world.

I received the above card with a beautiful tulip and package of tea from a family I’ve been taking care of for years. I had done a small thing for them, lend them a book I have to help them on the path to healing, and they returned the book so happy and on the path to being better with a gift for our family.

Beautiful tulip I then handed to my mother-in-law, who is going to plant it.

The gift itself is meaningful but the sentiment is something I’ll never forget. And indeed yesterday with all the busyness of an overbooked Friday and the leftover charts, was filled with real interactions for me and true joy. I’ve had friends and foes ask me what my next career step is. World domination? Further in leadership? Office politics never ends. But the odd thing that for me it has. Office politics is over. I don’t know what the next step in my career path is. I know I will go where the earth needs me, and that I fundamentally love being a pediatrician more than I have ever have in the past. So no matter where my leadership journey takes me, I want to see my patients and take care of those families entrusted to me. And that includes a super adorable 4 month old that I added on yesterday that looked at me with the bluest eyes. She had rolled off the sofa onto the ground, and scared the beejeebers out of her parents. She was okay, and I didn’t mind adding her to my already overful panel of 2500+ weighted families – because she is adorable and her parents are kind.


My iPhone photography is pretty good.

February 16, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

I think my iPhone photography skills are pretty good now. I think it’s just that I’m usually out in the early morning or late evening, and the light is good. And also I take pictures of things I love and that’s just how I see the world. The above is a potted plant from my dad’s office that was essentially looked like on it’s last moments. But I took her home. And after several months, it’s alive and blooming. It truly is beautiful. Neglected somewhere else, and needed to be tended. It wasn’t too much work, but at a place where everyone stopped by to look at it on the way to the garage to say hi. Plants are living beings.


Lettuce growing in the cracks of our front walk-way pavers.

February 15, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

If the above picture is not the personification of environmental-cool, I don’t know what is. Our front yard is this beautiful crazy edible garden powered by our composter and gardening-love mostly from the grandparents. And we have lettuce growing inbetween the cracks of our pavers.

The rouge lettuce in context of the larger garden.

I find gardening metaphors are so powerful. I gave away four succulent plants I had been growing for a while up on our roofdeck. Nothing new, all upcycled but grown with love. Those four small planters were lovingly received by four families yesterday. Two families I knew well, and two that were new to me.

Another shot of the garden.

Trying to live a sustainable and upcycled life, has brought so much growth for me personally and to my entire family. I really don’t worry about the next anymore. For work I have to give another presentation, and it’s in front of an audience that I don’t necessarily enjoy talking in front of. When you truly work together closely, there are scars within departmental relationships. But as I was conceptualizing this talk, I realized not worrying about the next and finding joy in unexpected growth – lifted a dark cloud that used to surround me. I haven’t had tension headaches in years now, and the professional anger and resentment are gone. Knowing that I don’t know the answer, and really just to focus on the present. The current project I’ve been working on. The person who is standing in front of me (whether it be patient, family or collueage). Unexpected growth, rogue lettuce that we’ll eat – brings me so much joy. And realizing we just have to work toward the end we want, and we are all on the same wave and we as a people will land where we land – is so freeing.

PaddleOutPlastic said it looked like an Elizabethian figure.

February 14, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

Maybe I should start signing my blogposts “Dr. Plastic Picker.” I think I had it as a runon name lower case in my attempt to remain semi-anonymous. But really as a women health care leader I need to stand up tall and be recognized. PaddleOutPlastic one of my instagram litter picking friends (she paddles out to LA Harbour to pick up trash) is a constant inspiration. She said one of the pictures I posted on Instagram really did look like an Elizabethian figure. I stopped there and hid inside a sandstone nook on the shore just above the water-line. I had picked up my bag of plastic from the beach, and stood there – just to be there with myself and the earth.

Now that I’m looking back at this figure. This figure is also just standing there, looking out into the ocean.

But most the weekend was spent inside our primary residence, our home. I was up on the roofdeck garden, and outside in our backyard garden and around the composter. Within the property boundaries of our home, I was also surrounded by nature. I made a pizza dough yesterday that turned out particularly well, and our children and I ate it after the halftime Superbowl show. I always use sage and thyme, lefft over seasonings from many thanksgivings ago. I think mixing it in with my flour before I make the actual pizza dough, gives it a special flavor that my family loves. I’ve begun experimenting with putting some cornmeal in it too. The pizza was so delicious yesterday, and I even used bits of leftover vegetables from an unfinished salad as a topping.

Sunday was an epic climate work day for me. I was mostly just typing on the computer, but I had to rest my brain in-between projects. I’m almost due to start the workweek, but I am honestly satisfied with myself. The work this weekend was joyful and something I could do to help bend the arc toward a livable planet for us all. This is what I did. I need to remind myself on this semi-anonymous blog so that I keep at the work. I reflect on this blog, and it makes me know myself better and makes me stronger.

(1) San Diego Union Tribune Letter to the Editor regarding Menthol Amendment: The anti-vaping team did the hard work advocating last Wednesday. But I wrote a blogpost on our advocacy website https://sdpediatriciansforcleanair.com/anti-vaping-team-send-sd-ut-letter-to-the-editor. This is in case the elected officials are looking. Had to compose the 200 word letter with the relevent points requested by our coalition partners and personalize it. Used a sentence provided by our student co-founder. Then had to text everyone to see if they agreed which took a few hours, and then send the actual email to the San Diego Union Tribune. I haven’t heard back and didn’t see it on their website. But the important thing is that we wrote it and our coalition partners know. This is a long battle as the actual state-wide bill will come up in November.

(2) Letter regarding DeAnza Cove from Our Wetlands Team: I had to be in the right mindset as well. I was composing our Feb 2022 Updates for our committee, which is what pushed me to finish this letter. I thought it was well written. I’ll post it on our advocacy site later.

(3) Youth Arts Exhibition: This is happeneing sooner than expected and the interns have done what they can. KPBS is coming and I need to coordinate all the people to be there. And then meet with the gallery owner this Wednesday to talk about ideas. The AAP San Diego is going to do a gallery type post of the winners as well. I really need to get to Staples to get the images all printed on poster board. Maybe I’ll do this Tuesday, a few samples at least. We need to get the audio-loop of the poems and the music made. I’ll be hanging out in Dr. Andrei’s office a lot this week.

(4) Feb 2022 Newsletter: Most of Sunday was composing the newsletter that I sent out to our collective group. I think the reason it took me so long, is that I had to conceptually rethink all the projects we are doing and understand it for myself. Making myself get the newsletter out, also prompted me to finish some other lingering climate projects.

This work is joyful but took a lot of time. I’m not sure why I find it all fun and interesting. But the weekend is done, and those projects are done. I finished a work presentation as well and I was proud of that. I need to make each talk new and fresh for the audience. It’s important when people give of their time, to be considerate and do something new for them. I didn’t talk about climate at all, which is rare. The talk is on HPV Vaccine advocacy. I did put a picture of my daughter. Oh, the mortgage broker is calling! Got to make sure we take care of our financial house. Happy Monday to you all! Hope everyone is able to sneak in some projects for the earth as well.

Showed this to my nephew, and he really liked it!
Beautiful fake animals.

February 13, 2022

by drplasticpicker

Yesterday was a lovely day. It was one of those lovely unexpected days. We had dropped off our teen son at a friend’s house, as the three best friends were hanging out before the winter formal at Sea World. Our son had his father’s wedding suit which was a Ralph Lauren morning coat ala Hugh Grant, and a $35 top hat that came in an amazon package to compliment. Our son actually forgot his top hat, and his father had to drop it off after the boys had gone to dinner. But between dropping off teen son with reused wedding suit and dropping off the new top hat, the remaining three of us (Mr. Plastic Picker, Dr. Plastic Picker and younger teen daughter) stopped by one of the local master planned parks in metro San Diego.


Truffles are expensive, and it’s flavor is part of the key to a sustainable life.

February 10, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Yes. I’ve decided to become a Truffle Farmer/Forager. We have the farm and likely there are truffles on the farm. I cold-emailed the world’s top truffle expert to ask him about starting the truffle industry in our area in Oregon. He emailed back, and now I’ve looped in one of our neighbors who definitely has truffles in his area. We are going to forage for truffles on our parcels hopefully, but forage via satellite. I was precepting one of the UCSD Rady’s pediatric residents and I often mention my crazy doings, and one of her replies was incredulous. To the extent “how is that possible?” and asking non-sensical questions but in somewhat in a non-believer and slightly negatively nuanced way. Most people don’t know that I know these things. I read up. I don’t have time to explain because my brain is racing and thinking, but I was slightly annoyed. I just looked at her and the look of someone who is a non-Dr Plastic Picker believer, and I honestly just delete that person from my mind. No imagination, I’ve decided. Just precept and teach for the time I’m given, and move on.

So yes my dream is become a part-time Truffle farmer/forager. I’ve declared myself that. I am going to drive out the marijuana growers by bringing in an industry that is sustainable and actually good for the world. Using the water of the Cascade mountains to grow marijuana???!!! EVIL. Truffles that really require no water, and are native to the area and will increase LOCAL and SUSTAINABLE travel and cuisinse- GOOD. So for all you illegal marijuana growers in southern oregon, this pediatrician is NOT YOUR FRIEND!!! The children or Oregon are our children too! Marijuana is not good, period.

Come to think of it, it’s the ugliness of the entire marijuana industrial-complex that angers me as a pediatrician. That is part of what is driving me to really look into truffles for our area. I fell in love with the mountains and the trees on our farm. How does one “own” land? I think of myself as a steward. And I definitely don’t think the land was happy with the marijuana growers.

I’m waiting for another email reply from Professor Charles , our Oregon truffle expert. Mr. Plastic Picker and I are going up soon to spend a few days on our farm. We have two sets of friends going now, and I’ve invited the HMO residency program to use the farm for a retreat. I think I’m done mass inviting everyone. If 3-4 of my friends go, then that is enough. They are all climate friends, and I want them to be renewed by the land and the area. Heal them, and they will help heal the earth.

We are thinking of building a tree house as well with my family member! That would be so interesting!

Would You Live In These Treehouse Cabins? | Tree house ...