Sustainable Life – Page 2 – Dr. Plastic Picker

Category: Sustainable Life

A dear patient family gave me the wooden calendar blocks, to help me remember the day.

August 24, 2021

by drplasticpicker

This beautiful wooden date blocks was lovingly given to me by a patient’s family. This is to help me remember what day it is. It pictures very well on Instagram too! It was so kind of them. It really was. Yesterday was the first clinical care day after 1.5 weeks of vacation. Most of that vacation was home, but I we did have that wonderful trip to San Francisco. It was so nice to see my patients again, and I reconnected with a few families I had not seen in a while. I met a nice new family as they are embarking on this adventure called parenthood. I missed a call from another parent, who I will try to call again today. I was able to stop by the HMO coffee shop to get the coffee grounds. It was 7.6 kg of coffee grounds. Our HMO patients were drinking a lot of coffee yesterday! It’s all in the composter now.

Our aerobin400 hard at work.

It’s 645AM and it’s a work at home day. I have our middle management meeting today. I need to actually listen to the COVID lectures really carefully now, and review all the American College of Immunization Practice updates well. I’m responsible for signing all the immunization orders in our entire organization now. I need to pivot and be more detail oriented, but I don’t mind relearning that skillset. I was an endocrine fellow at some point, and we were if anything but detail oriented. The devils is in the details.

And this week on my OFF time it’s all Green Team for the HMO (which is actual real HMO work that I’m doing for free) and meetings for practice runs on two big presentations. I don’t mind though and actually excited about those tasks because vaccines and climate work and healthcare sustainability practice is now my focus. Thank you for following along. I truly appreciate it. Just blogging and writing a bit every morning clears my mind and helps me figure out what I need to do with life. I have time these days because we just decided not to buy things we did not need. It frees a lot of mental space and time. For exampled, the used uniform sale at school ws 45 minutes and done. The entire process of buying uniforms for our kids was usually $700 (versus $70) and take weeks of agonizing.

Our daughter found everything she wanted without hurting the earth.

And that is it!

Our compost is really good. Filled with worms that came from, I don’t know where?

August 9, 2021

by drplasticpicker

If you have the opportunity to stop by our front and back garden, you will see proof that our family lives a regenerative life. The cherry tomatos in front are sweet and spilling over their cages. The tomatos in the back are perfectly shaped and ripening on their vine, and are sweeter than any medium size tomato I promise you’ve ever eaten. We have little eggplants the size of your palm, because that’s the size they are supposed to be. The squash that we grow, their leaves that spill over from the planters fuel those beautiful gourds. Every last bit is used to make a savory plant-based dish. Peppers are growing. We have fennel for the first time. The bounty that is our life is beautiful and I am grateful for each piece of edible fruit and vegetable that comes from our garden.

And the bounty that is this year is due to compost. Above is the picture of our compost yesterday that I helped my mother-in-law harvest. We spent the weekend on and off replanting fruits trees, blueberry bushes and succulents from the rooftop garden. The rooftop garden is too harsh. Nothing lives up there. Those plants needed to be rescued. To me it’s somewhat a metaphor for my career. The HMO parking lot structure is also a too harsh climate. It’s been hard to get anything to grow up there. There are other HMO denizens trying. I have a couple of succulents still alive. But I’m about to give up on the HMO parking structure planters. I’m about to give up on the roofdeck garden.

But in trying to plant on the HMO parking structure harsh rooftop planters and my own windy roofdeck, I’ve learned a lot about plants and myself. I did grow something and I did sequester some carbon into the soil. But I’m shifting gears and going to try to grow plants in my family’s balcony North Park office. There is a balcony that is somewhat neglected that I think could use some plants and some love. It will bring happiness to people who I actually know, and hopefully bring them some wellness.

Replanted succulents.
Gifted cuttings from my sister-in-law. Replanted in pretty vases.
Excited to see them grow.
It looks unkempt, but things are growing.

June 15, 2021

by drplasticpicker

The top of the tall parking structure is this harsh environment. It’s hot up there with all the concrete, and the wind makes in inhospitable. It’s hard to grow anything there. I think the spinklers were turned off over a decade ago during the last drought. I had heard about the empty planters there, but at some point during my wanderings around the HMO clinic building trying to figure out life and getting exercise, I wandered up there.

It’s easy to throw out the idea that trees should be planted there. Likely if there was money and labor, I could have done in quicker. But when I started, I didn’t know what I was doing and getting permission would have taken an act of congress. So I just would exercise and cleaned out some of the lingering plastic and coffee cups and litter folks had tossed into those containers over the years. Instead I brought leftover food scraps, hay and yes bunny poop. We have two bunnies and I always knew that the ubiquitous bunny poop is good for soil. That is before we started composting at home. After the Aerobin400 has been doing it’s magic, I brought the actual compost to the planters too. It’s a good hike from my desk to the parking garage and up the steps. But I’m greeted by a beautiful view of our area, and I go visit the plants. I make it a game to myself and can also mostly use repurposed things. So when there is wilted salad in the fridge or lunchtime orange peels, I bring that up. I did that about a year ago. Now I bring proper compost because I want the entire regenerative process to go faster. I’m getting a little impatient.


New space in the home.

June 14, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I created a little seating area on the 2nd floor balcony off the game room. It’s a balcony that overlooks our backyard and I can see the amazing container garden and outside living area we’ve created on the concrete parking pad that used to house the Honda Odyssey Minivan. Selling the minivan was overall positive for our financial bottom line because it was an extra car we did not need and helped avert some carbon emissions, but it ended up having a cascading effect in our lives that we never imagined.


Slide from the talk of our fearless leader, Dr. Bruce Bekkar.

May 24, 2021

by drplasticpicker

It’s been a world-wind two years, especially the last year. While everyone was holed up and quarantining at home, our department went to the office every single day. We worked the entire time. With more time at home though because the kids were home and the rest of the world shut down, I further dived into climate advocacy work. I am proud of that work. Wrote a paper, spoke at what seemed like a gazillion virtual conferences, picked up almost 500 bags of trash, and kept up the blogging and climate advocacy recruiting, But the world is opening up and I’m resting right now. I still have projects coming up. Next weekend we have a PHAC dinner and need to socialize with the beautiful people in the slide. I’m actually looking forward to it. Going to make Mr. Plastic Picker come as well. It will be good for him. Our fearless leader Dr. Bruce Bekkar gave us a big shout out at the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health Conference, which I attended virtually with an HMO colleage. One of the UCSD medical students and the the two pharmacy student leaders from VCU Sustainable Pharmacay Project also attended. I didn’t check up on the three students, but I did nudge UCSD to pay for one’s registration and the other two students I paid for them to register. Technically we still have a day of meetings tonight. But I’ve lobbied already and there are enough people. At some point, you need to know as a climate advocate when you’ve done enough and let others help. Another pediatrician and the other premed student are going to help, as they’ve essentially planned and done everthing for the journal club on Clean Air that is upcoming. The social media ad that our premed intern made is really beautiful. I’m excited about that. Then there is the Eco-America training early June.


The aroma is wonderful, but there is only so much parsley you can eat in one sitting.

May 18, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I got through the day yesterday. I was definitely dragging during morning clinic. My sleep schedule was off due to blogging at 2am rather than at 4am, and then after finishing a blogpost – I went to sleep on the couch. Obviously I was not able to finish an entire sleep cycle. Therefore I woke up groggy and not in my best form. But I dragged by eco-avatar middle aged body through the morning routine and was able to make it into work. I forgot my phone at home which ended up being a blessing in disguise. An entire day of phone detox is a good thing. I sent an email out to the department to let them know I had no phone, and just to call if there were issues. There were no issues that I was aware of. There are many of us in leadership that were available via instant text, so my being in my office just an actual email away – was okay.


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.