Goodbye, 2019

Paula LaBrot

As 2019 draws to a close, we bid it farewell and turn to welcome the future, 2020. 

For me, 2019 was a relentless year of loss of treasured animals and people, even trees. Some went gently, some tragically, and some unexpectedly. It was hard. 

Many years ago, when I was 18 and had suddenly lost my father, a friend wrote me, “Paula Dear…. The sunrise has never failed us yet!” It was a lifeline of optimism, thrown into a sea of trauma and chaos. I think of it almost every day of my life. So, all through 2019, I tried to focus on the positive. Starting with the weather.



2019 brought drought-busting rain. The tears of heaven returned life back to our mountains. Flowing creeks scoured their beds clean. G planted bags and bags of a locally specific wildflower mix. Meanwhile, genome-specific medications, custom-made medications specifically designed for a person’s or a tumor’s unique genetics, took off for real and doctors began to use synchrotrons to create intense blasts of light that can pinpoint and eradicate patient brain tumors without surgery. A new data analyzing algorithm called Felix was developed at Johns Hopkins to pick up pancreatic cancer early enough to treat it before it becomes deadly. Mathematical models were used to find vaccines much faster than the old trial-and-error method. So many medical breakthroughs! It was a perfect winter.



We had the most beautiful spring I can ever remember. How life sprang back in 2019! Burned mountains were green again, chaparral was bursting with bees and blooms, creeks were still running. Oh, it was a glorious, glorious renaissance. Every cell in my body screamed out to be planting new life in 2019. I put in a new, young orchard of apples, pomegranates, oranges, kumquats, figs, and grapefruit. 

“Give me healthy, strong plants,” I begged the nurseryman, “because I’m planting for the future, and I don’t know how many chances are left for me to do that.” At the same time, farmers around the world used drones and GPS devices, accumulating data analyses of weather and soil conditions to determine best planting times and efficiently deliver the exact amount of water and fertilizer their plants needed. Vertical farming became commercial, with farmers stacking crops in multiple layers, saving space and water. It was done in buildings, factories, tunnels, you name it. You can use soil or hydroponics, sun or grow lights. Talk about being able to produce food locally.



We had a mild summer in 2019, nothing like the killing heat of the year before. We had fruit off the trees and homegrown wildflowers in vases. We hardly needed air conditioning. Just a few really hot days. This summer we were home. Not so for lots of people enjoying summer traveling. And, boy, did people travel in 2019! According to   that declares itself “America’s largest discount network”:

  • The U.S. travel market grew 5% in 2018, with gains remaining steady in 2019; by 2022, total gross bookings will have increased to $441 billion.
  • 66% of bookings were made through supplier websites/mobile apps.
  • 90% of travelers now have apps to make their life easier when at their destination with maps, airlines, weather, and social media. 

Facial recognition, fingerprinting, retinal scanning, and other biometric identifiers were in full force in the travel industry. These technologies are useful for security and authentication. Your personal data collection allows hotels to know your tastes and accommodate them before you even check in and begin to request things. Chatbots like Alexa and Siri have delivered rapid responses to travelers’ questions or problems. Translation programs made communicating a breeze in foreign lands. Digital currencies were more accepted.



Fall of 2019 was kind of odd. It was warmer than usual through November. Some worried the drought might be coming back. School started early, but there were lots of days off because of high winds and fires. People were edgy. There were a lot of testy posts on Nextdoor. Be kinder, brothers and sisters. We had another year of evacuation threats. Wildworks was harassed by unknown bureaucrats who decreed it must go… without asking any of us! Without a single vote! Mollie…xoxox! 

Animal lovers were thrilled in 2019 when Burger King began advertising and marketing plant-based burgers. Popular Mechanics reported that Water Harvester, Inc. “will soon begin marketing a device about the size of a refrigerator that can churn out 250 liters of water a day” made from air and that technology is getting smaller, faster, and better. In the near future, when the air-to-water tech gets really good, your house can have its own endless, water supply to drink, irrigate and fight fires.



The winter of 2019 is upon us as we wind up the year. We are ending as we began, with blessed rain. We continue to barrel into the future at such a crazy, accelerated pace that we have to learn to adapt to the speed of the changes happening. No getting around that! Be brave! Be flexible!

Many seeds planted in previous years came to fruition in 2019 and many were planted for harvest in the future. But, hey! Some things don’t change. I went to the nursery right after that first, wonderful downpour and got a couple more young fruit trees to plant…always counting on that beautiful, unfailing sunrise.

Happy New Year, Dear Readers!

Vamos a Ver!


Paula LaBrot

Paula LaBrot is a 30-year resident of Topanga, a futurist with a special interest in the uncharted waters of cyberspace.

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