This writer enjoys writing about Alaska’s intriguing past, but because a new year will dawn next Tuesday, he decided to try his hand at prognosticating on the coming year of 2019.
Besides, visions of sugar plums are still dancing in his head, and he’s not through picking up things that were knocked over four weeks ago. On top of that, he’s still trying to decide what to get his bride for Christmas other than the greeting card he plans to place on her pillow.
The year just past was a good one for most of us. Nationally, the big news has been primarily about wildfires and politics. Neither of those topics left much for which to be thankful on Turkey Day. Alaska’s forests were mostly spared from flames this year, allowing the Hot Shots from here to help their counterparts down south. Crime continues to worry everyone, and our new governor and the Legislature will try their hand at coming up with solutions.
From the looks of things, bickering between political parties will continue through 2020—and likely beyond. Beyond that, predictions are impossible. The outlook is depressing, so that subject will be ignored here.
On the brighter side, the following are seen as likely things that might come to pass:
Climate change will continue, with the northland seeing higher than normal temperatures. That holds promise for exploration of the Northwest Passage. It also looks good for agriculture, with a longer growing season. Fresh local veggies are best of all and gardens should flourish!
The price of silver could double, as has been predicted by William Devane, the amiable actor who has been promising that good fortune for the past several years. The commercials plugging stocking up on that commodity make it sound imminent even though the charts still show downward trends. Caution is urged, however, and stronger showings would be advised before cashing in our stock certificates. (Disclaimer: Neither the ECHO nor this writer is to be held accountable should that prediction not bear fruit.)
Gov. Dunleavy, who stands head and shoulders over the average Alaskan, promised to restore the Permanent Fund Dividend. He will follow through with an amount at least as large as the previous formula would have allowed before the account was tapped to meet budgeting deficits. The opening of new oil fields and production from the Moose’s Tooth field should keep money flowing in from oil flowing through the Pipeline.
There will be new discoveries in the field of medicine. More formulas will be found to stop hair loss and promote growth, with baldness to become a thing of the past. (That one is listed here to bolster hopes of this writer and his two sons.)
Families will flourish as young couples take on the challenge of marriage and honor their pledge to love, honor and cherish ’til death do them part.
People will find more about which to smile as the economy improves, the justice system clamps down on law-breakers and we feel safer. Programs to promote compassion will have an effect on the citizenry. More people will join the effort to “pay it forward” and make little-unexpected gestures of kindness throughout the year, not just at holiday time.
Graduation rates at local high schools will increase as students recognize the advantages of learning and the value of a diploma. Performance scores on standardized tests will improve as that emphasis filters down through the middle and elementary schools. Appreciation of teachers’ efforts will also spread, encouraging parents to participate more in helping their children learn at home.
Technological advances will continue at every level. Cell phones will gain more apps that make life simpler and do more thinking for us. Robots will be able to do more chores, leaving us with more leisure time to get outdoors and do fun things.
Unfortunately, disruptions to the Internet and glitches on our computers will continue to be frustrating. Competing systems will attempt to integrate their platforms, but the problem of multitudes of changes will not be easily solved. The challenges will remain, causing tempers to flare when error messages appear on the screen.
Drones will become commonplace. They will bring new privacy concerns, as well as worries about controlling traffic in the air. Their ability to carry more and be more accurate in delivery will increase as the year progresses.
Home security systems will become more sophisticated and will be expanded. Not only will homeowners be able to communicate with people at their door, but messages can be exchanged based on facial recognition capabilities.
DNA testing will continue to be popular as people search for their roots. Many will learn from the results that their grandparents may not have always been forthright in boasting of their family tree. After all, if you shake an oak tree, some nuts may fall out.
New kitchen equipment will reduce the potential for mistakes in food preparation, cooking, and storage of groceries. Research will progress in ways to measure remaining contents of various containers and automating the process of ordering replacements. Computerized records of usage, combined with in-store merchandising and delivery services will allow people to maintain a steady supply and have replacements delivered—all while enjoying the lowest prices.
Self-driving cars will be improved to increase safety and efficiency. Control systems will be developed to allow satellite observations of construction work or accidents and arrange detours designed to prevent delays. Fuel gauges will be able not only to show levels but to display locations of appropriate service stations and calculate time and distance to reach them in order to avoid running out.
Vehicles will also be able to adjust operating features to account for the climate and location. Heating and air conditioning systems will automatically adjust based on ambient temperatures and owner-set preferences. Timers can be set to have the car warmed up and ready, including windshields cleared of snow and ice, in time for the driver to get going to the intended destination.
Of particular interest to Alaskans will be a study to devise earthquake-proofing of homes and buildings. A house might be equipped with helium-filled balloons similar to vehicle airbags that would automatically inflate when a strong tremor is detected, raising the structure so it is not affected by the shaking ground. Larger buildings might have hydraulic systems that would absorb the shocks and allow the building to remain level throughout the shaking.
Our readers might think some of those predictions are far-fetched. Maybe they are, but they just possibly could come to pass. Would it be bad if they did?
Regardless of the reliability of the above, you can count on one thing for sure: We wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.
You are our reason for being here. We look forward to presenting more about Alaska’s wonderful past.
One more prediction: This writer will stick to non-fiction in the coming year. His imagination is too limited. Besides, reality is more interesting.