Sustainable Life – Dr. Plastic Picker

Category: Sustainable Life

Just screen shots of a virtual tour of a big property somewhere on a big Island somewhere.

May 8, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I’m just having random fun. I told Dr. MM in clinic yesterday, that sometimes that dream you had of something you always wanted to do – it can be easy to get. The trip to Paris was just sitting there and staring her in the face. I said, “GO!!!” Just buy the flight and go with Dr. AF. He’s going anyway. $450 round trip for a flight and you guys split a hotel room, and go to Europe. Sometimes attaining your dreams doesn’t have to be hard, it can be easy. I told them I’d cover both their inboxes.

A similar dream, a dream that I never thought I had, was staring me in the face. It was looking at me and kind of danced around and said, “why don’t you grab this opportunity?” As the blog readership well knows, Dr. Plastic Picker is always financially savvy so if the numbers don’t add up – I’ll take a pass. But the dream was looking at me in the face and said, “HELLLLOOOOO, it makes sense financially.” I’m literally looking at the dream and flabergasted that it could happen? If the numbers work out, than it makes sense.

So I’m having just random big dreams and taking steps that financially make sense. I’m selling a rental property that I was meaning to sell for a while. That particular rental property was never a really great buy, but it wasn’t a bad buy. I was going to sell it last year, but it was a blessing in disguise that I didn’t sell it last year. Right now the market is HOT HOT in our area, So I’m pretty sure it will sell for 50K more than the one offer we got last year. And then Mr. Plastic Picker and I since we have a 50% savings rate, have our cash cushion war chest ready. Between the equity on that rental property that I’m going to sell and our war chest, I’m going to buy some land somewhere on some big Island somewhere in the United States of America. This big land somewhere has foster cows, a lava rock bar, sauna, and two all done houses. Its just 25 minutes straight shot from an airport. It has avocado trees and citrus trees and solar panels. And I can buy it outright without a mortgage with a family member. Even if I keep just said land for fun, and just vacation on it – it will make financial sense.

But you know Dr. Plastic Picker! When there is land, there is opportunity. Thinking of earth and planetary and physician wellness. I’m pretty sure I can organize a physician wellness retreat on that land, and charge less and provide a better program than other people. I’m pretty sure I can use the profits to put back into my climate work. I’m pretty sure we can heal physicians and heal the earth at the same time. Because Dr. Plastic Picker just wants everyone to be happy. And my physician wellness institute will be better because I actually really care about my colleagues and I won’t be making money off them. I’ll charge a reasonable rate to cover the cost, and proceeds will go to paying the instructors who will be physicians themselves and everything going back to climate advocacy. But I’ll get to have the physician wellness proceeds pay for the land and I get to keep the land. But I will love the land and not hurt the land, and be a good steward of the land. That’s it. And below is more pictures of the virtual property viewing I had with a family member. It was so much fun and one of the most joyous moments I have had with this family member. Of course I blocked out his face because he is truly anonymous.

OMG I may by partial owner to 8 foster cows. If you come to this physician wellness institute, you will get to adopt a cow for your stay. LOL. Just thinking about crazy dreams and crazy things on the blog. Who knows, right? Shoot for the stars and you’ll hit the moon. I may just land on this Big Island. If I don’t show up at work one day (because I’ve shown up to work every day for over 12 years without fail), you’ll know where I am. I’ll send a postcard and maybe some avocados.

My big brother made it for me.

March 30, 2021

by drplasticpicker

The coach belongs to my sister. The two cushions as well. When she moved out of state, she handed the coach to my mom who then handed the coach to me. It’s one of the most comfortable places to sleep on in the house. The hexagonal shelf, my big brother made for me. He says he may make me more out of solid wood. This one is out of ply wood. It’s beautiful. I’m going to hang it out, and wait for more. Whenever the others may come, tomorrow or in a decade – I will place them next together.


This tree is common in our area. Others remarked how beautiful it is.

March 15, 2021

by drplasticpicker

When we did the film screening of Gather, the New York Times profiled film on indigenous food rights and the connections between environmental destruction and our food systems, the best part was actually virtually meeting Chef Nephi Craig. The film makes a wonderful depiction of his life’s work, but actually hearing him relate his professional journey – one realizes how much more nuanced and profound it is. He has a blog as well that I’m perusing now What resonated with me during the time he spent with us, was when he described coming back from Europe in 2009 and “crash landing on the reservation.” This is exactly the same time Mr. Plastic Picker and I left Boston and the Crimson University System with our two young children in our crisis moment, and came back to where I grew up, which is San Diego California.


March 9, 2021

by drplasticpicker

For some reason this agave plant (I think it’s an agave plant?) fascinates me. It was given to me by my mother in a pot and was beautiful. It slowly was dying over the year at my house due to waves of neglect and then over-watering. I didn’t know how much sun it needed, nor did I care to look it up nor ask questions. I gave it to my mother-in-law, and she wasn’t able to revive it. It was dying on our roofdeck and I did not know why. I had started composting using the hashtag #guerillacomposting at an undisclosed work location. I started some plantings but mostly small succulent leaves that could be explained away as a chance appearance created by a gardening fairy or gnome. But this agave or aloe plant was my biggest planting in this particular location. I figured if it didn’t take, I could always remove it later. So I planted it in a planter that had compost around it. I visit it at least once a week and squirt some water there. I meant to save the plant, but also to regenerate the soil. I think it’s been 3 months, and the plant is happy.


How I felt yesterday after a few folks sent “helpful suggestions” to some work emails.

March 5, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Wow, 1499 things that I’ve salvaged from the landfill and redeployed into the human circulating economy of things that we use. #1499 single things that had use, that were going to be thrown away. You can always check out my Plastic Picking Totals Page that details it all


Propogating Succulents

March 1, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I spent most of the weekend puttering around the house and gardening this weekend. My friend Dr. Jill Gustafson referred to it as my urban farm, which I guess is a really cool way to think about it. I need to update the blogpost I wrote about her as the picture link does not work anymore. I might just use a picture of the cool hand-made soaps that she has been working on or the 3D Boston Puzzle she leant me! Sharing is caring folks, and Dr. Jill Gustafson cares about the world and everyone!

Back to gardening. I think it is when I read Project Drawdown and the emphasis on the emissions of the agricultural sector, reading about the power of plant-based eating on reducing climate change and looking at myself and my influence as pediatrician that takes care of kids who need to eat better food that made me realize what the gardeners around me had known all along. If we want to save the world, we have to do it by regenerating the soil and eating more locally and plant-based. And what is more local than your own urban garden?

I was updating our financial spreadsheets and remembered it kind of all started when we sold our “extra car” which was a Honda Odyssey Minivan. It actually went to an old high-school friend for a bit below market rate $4500. But not only did we get that money and avoided paying the yearly DMV fee which was about $150 or so, but we gained all this square footage of concrete pad in the back. As I began to transform that area into a container garden, I realized I had room for the Aerobin 400 composter that I had always wanted. And then the success in our backyard pad led to me venturing back up onto our roofdeck and now creating a green space up there. Between walking in the backyard and then up and down the spiral staircase, I’m getting a lot of steps in.

It’s been a beautiful process. I’ve planted beet greens, radishes, onions, and chia microgreens successfully. It might have been just a few plants, but given that I did it on my own with guidance from my mother and mother-in-law – it made those dinners especially meaningful. I’m also working on succulents and I was inspired by a friend’s house and her succulent container front-porch area. I bought hybrid aloe plants that are doing really well, and continuing to collect and propogate succulents gifted to me by people I love or that I’ve found in our own front yard or sometimes a stray succulent that has broken off itself and I will gather on my litter picking walks. I know it sounds silly but at those moments, I feel like a forager – although I’ve never foraged for food and I don’t think I’ll get to that point! Although I admire them whole heartedly.

Got some deals at Costco! Wow 3 succulent large planters were $16. Citrus tress were $25 each!
Lime tree planted in the front by my mother-in-law. They are so happy.
Buddha Hand tree! We used to have one in our old house in Kensington. Now we can have one again. It’s a fascinating tree.

And then there are my adventures in composting! We harvested our first compost this weekend and I’m so happy. I check on my compost everyday and either turn it, or water it. With the Aerobin 400 , you aren’t supposed to need to do anything – but I have fun with it. And the more I harvest our compost, the more the top level sinks and I can add more scraps. I actually don’t have enough scraps so I’ve asked my little brother to save vegetable scraps for me! He lives in a downtown condo so no yard space. I need to buy him a kitchen compost container for under his sink but I need to know how tall. I’ll call him today.

Compost. It is so cool! I made dirt! Made something out of nothing!.
Plants love compost.

And in the end, my family will be eating even more nutritious food all powered by this regenerative process that is the composter, our own urban farm, and a sense of regeneration and wellness in our lives.

I gave my mom that huge funny looking radish that I posted on Instagram, and she was delighted and happy. She said the gardening is good for my mental health. It definitely is. Maybe I would not have gone through that dark period in my professional life when I was so stressed and sad and hypervigilant and irritable if I had been a gardener then? But going through burn out led me to the beach, which led me to declare I was going to save the world, which led me to gardening which led me back to my mom and mother-in-law and back to our own waste in our house now miraculously turned into soil. For each of us, we have our own journey and what I have most learned from all of this is to live in the present and not let worries of the future the “what ifs” destroy the joy of today. This is Dr. Plastic Picker, your pediatrician being present with you fully today and during your clinic visit.

The radish this weekend was so funny!

Radish with the guardian chickens who are named Marilla and Rachel Lynde. Yes I’m an Anne and Green Gables mega-fan.
I don’t think this one is a puffy/airy as the last one?

February 6, 2020

by drplasticpicker

I have nothing TO DO this weekend. I will probably DO a lot, but I have nothing TO DO. I even put my work text messages on BUSY. Not DO NOT DISTURB just BUSY. I will finish Fridays charts this weekend, and probably do a couple of patient follow up calls. But even with the climate work, I don’t have anything TO DO. Last week we gave UCSD Family Practice Grand Rounds and submitted an abstract to the Journal of Applied Research in Children. So a lot happened.

And it is Saturday morning and even the kids don’t have anywhere to be because it is quarantine still. Last night I came home late from clinic on the later side, but not as late as the Friday night before. Our daughter had a Girl Scout meeting at 630pm and their father picked up sushi with lots of plastic packaging, as the kids requested sushi. I guess the carbon footprint from sushi isn’t that much because at most it’s little bits of fish. So we had sushi while our daughter was listening to her Girl Scout meeting and I went to bed early. Even with a normal full clinic day, work is tiring. Dr. Dear Friend had a very irate parent and multiple child protection issue cases, and she had a harder clinic day than I did. But it’s hard these days at work because of all the saddness when our families come in. COVID-19 has particularly hit the hispanic and southbay communities more, and this is where I practice. This is where I grew up.


I do everything in the stand mixer bowl. Less mess. Ready for dinner tonight.

February 5, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Slowly but surely I’m getting to the 24 hour pizza dough rise. The original recipe was the bobbie flay recipe, but I’ve done it so often now and added my own variations that I feel like it’s my own. Plus I use it as a food waste recipe to use the last remaining bits of flour. Today was 4 cups of flour (2 cups of bread flour, 1 cup of wheat flour and 1 cup of all purpose flour), 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 package of yeast, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and sprinkled rosemary AND thyme (the thyme is new). The sensory experience of kneading the warm dough in the relativeness darkness of the kitchen is very relaxing. It’s set on the kitchen counter covered near the cookbook area, covered with the pretty green beeswax wraps.

I have a full day of clinic today, and I may or may not have to show up at our Girl Scout meeting. Girl Sccouts is a whole other blog topic. But yesterday I wasn’t that helpful after clinic because I was tired still from the emotional elation of the UCSD Family Practice Grand Rounds entitled “Creativity, Wellness and Climate Activism.” I stopped by to thank Dr. AF for his honest and powerful presentation. But I’ve learned to self-care in a fundamental way. So last night I was napping on and off late afternoon, and then our tween daughter wanted me to toss the ball to her while she practiced volleyball. I was feeling tired initially but it was something important to her. So I self-elevated my mid-40s body off the couch, and threw her the volleyball again and again and helped her practice setting and spiking. I’m amazed that she likes volleyball, personally I’m scared of a ball hitting me. I think it’s because I wear glasses.


Rosemary that I asked for, from a friend’s bush. We bartered!

January 25, 2021

by drplasticpicker

It’s 542am and the wind is howling. It’s raining in Southern California, and it’s much needed but unusual for us. Having lived through multiple droughts in our sunny state, I’m always grateful for whatever rain we can get. I spent last night updating our finances and refining our goals. I thought I had neglected things of late, but everything was fine. We are in tip-top shape financially and have some medium sized investments that we will make soon. It’s funny how the hard-work and foundation we laid out fifteen years ago are paying generous dividends. Personal finance is easy now. I had mentioned on the KevinMD podcast that it helps to be financially independent, and I wanted to check if that was true for our numbers. And it actually is. I could stop working now completely, and we would be fine without my income. But that has never been the point of financial independence, it was more freedom from someone else or some other entity being able to control me.


I honestly really grew this all myself, and my family ate it!

January 12, 2021

by drplasticpicker

It wasn’t enough to make an entire dish, but I grew it. I grew it all myself. The shallots were from the store but I saved the ends and just stuck them in some water. I chopped them up, and put the bulbs in my container garden. The radishes and beet greens I planted from seed in my container garden. I did it myself. I sold our Honda Odyssey Minivan, turned our backyard concrete parking pad into a minicontainer garden. This took learning how to sell the Minivan myself and filling out the DMV paperwork. Then after selling the minivan, taking multiple trips with Mr. Plastic Picker to Home Depot to buy the containers and soil. I had to clean the entire area. I moved an old outside rug that had been upstairs on the roofdeck for over a year, and very dusty. I vaccumed the rug and carried the heavy thing downstairs myself. Then I moved the patio furniture around, and a chair over to my mini-container garden area. Suddenly a small wicker end table appeared, my mother-in-law brought it out from their stash. I bought seed packets of radishes and beet greens. I bought them because I want to start eating them more, and I read that they are almost impossible to mess up. And then I started gardening. It’s been a multi-month process. The parsley I tried got riddled with these unknown bugs and I have no idea what they are. But finally, yesterday – it was time to harvest.


It’s so important to plant things. I need to set a good example. I was standing at the local taco shop across from our clinic, and Dr. Dear Friend and Dr. MM and I were buying lunch. Then Jupiter Ascending was playing on the screen. That movie is a closet vampire movie about this god-awful sci-fi fantasy about people harvesting souls. It’s horrible and now a cult classic. I want to be a creator of life and I don’t want to live forever young. I am happy being middle-aged and wise (but with lucious hair from my new HiBar shampoo bar!). So I am trying to plant a garden myself for my children and myself, and to set a good example for my patients and the world. I honestly didn’t know if I could do it. Succulents that people have gifted to me in the past have died in my office.