Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Fall color protocol

In the lower deserts of Arizona, it’s open to reasonable debate as to whether we have a legitimate, four-season climate. Winters are mild, summers are brutal, and spring is wedged somewhere in between, able to swing one way or the other, depending on the year. Autumn, however, is more difficult to grasp, and therefore the one we miss the most. Come mid-October, we know something has changed: the sky is a deeper blue, the nights are longer, the days cooler, and it seems that we’re pulling down the brims of our hats and lowering our cars’ sun visors a little more each day.

But these restrained autumn subtleties aren’t enough to satisfy our collective lust for a meaner and cleaner, seasonal transition. We need the equivalent of a stronger drink. We want to see russets and golds waving from the trees, and feel the crunch of fallen leaves under the soles of our shoes. We want rain and the smell of leaf mold forming from thick layers of decomposing leaves, all moist and sour. And then, we want a stiff, cool breeze to blow away all memories of summer.

We can book a flight in October to see the oaks, basswoods, and maples near Montpelier, Vermont, or drive a few hours to the much closer aspens on Escudilla Mountain above Nutrioso, Arizona. Even better, we can do both and still have plenty of time to take in the late November color of Chinese pistachios, Arizona ash, and willows here at Boyce Thompson Arboretum. But wherever we travel to steep ourselves in the color and transitional power of autumn, the science of why all of these leaves morph from a pastoral green to those of a day-glow Thomas Kinkade painting remains the same.

There are three basic pigments in leaves. Carotenoids produce the yellows, oranges, and browns and are found in all leaves. Anthocyanins produce the reds and the purples but require bright sunlight to be produced. Chlorophyll is the green pigment that is necessary for photosynthesis and effectively masks the other pigments during the growing season.

As days grow shorter in the fall, chlorophyll production begins to slow and eventually stops. It gradually breaks   down and allows the other, more colorful pigments to prevail. Though the calendar remains constant, a recipe of other factors, including cool nights, sunny days, adequate soil moisture, and high leaf sugar content, must also be whipped together for a fall color frappé—even  then, the timing of when the best color will happen can be difficult to predict.

Generally, the peak color at the Arboretum is sometime within a three-week period between mid-November and early December. By celebrating our Fall Foliage Finale Festival on Thanksgiving weekend, we usually get the timing just about right. And though most of our honey locusts have dropped their leaves by then, pomegranates, canyon hackberries, willows, pecans, and our famous grove of scarlet-orange Chinese pistachios will (most likely) be in their full regalia.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Back up your iPhone to your computer

Several weeks ago, I posted a tutorial about using the automatic Backup feature of your iPhone. If you want to review the post on how to set this up, it is located here.

At the same time, I made a lukewarm pledge to follow up with another way to backup your phone that doesn't require the services of the ethereal Apple iCloud. For most of us, this method is familiar--even old-fashioned--and harkens back to the first decade of the twenty-first century when a cloud was this puffy white thing that occasionally yielded rain and a phone was something you flipped open to order pizza. 

All you need is the lightning cable that came with your iPhone, the same white cable that you use to charge your phone each night. But instead of plugging the USB side of the cord into your power block, you plug it into a spare USB port on your computer. From here, the complete contents of your iPhone will be copied to the familiar confines of your own computer's hard drive. 

Safely aboard, your data is accessible at any time to restore your iPhone (or a replacement iPhone) in case you accidentally delete something valuable, drop your phone into the castle moat, or Apple loses your data somewhere in the celestial black hole of its signature iCloud.

But if it was this easy, I wouldn't bother you with the following indispensible details.   

After connecting your phone, the first thing to do is fire up iTunes on your computer. If you don’t already have iTunes installed, you’ll have to download it from Apple. https://www.apple.com/itunes/. It acts as the necessary conduit between your iPhone and your computer’s hard drive, and you'll be dead in the water without it. You’ll also need your Apple ID and password, two things that anyone with an iPhone will certainly have committed to memory—right? 

If this is the first time that you have accessed iTunes with your phone, you will see two windows pop up, one on your phone and the other on iTunes. On your computer, you will be asked if you want to allow your computer to access your iPhone. Your answer should be Continue.


The other window will open on your phone, asking you if you want to trust the computer that you are connected to. The answer should be Trust

When the iTunes window opens, an icon for your iPhone will appear in the upper left of the screen, along with your phone’s model, capacity, phone number, and serial number. If you see all this, then all is good and you are oh-so-close to being ready to backup your iPhone to your computer. 

In the middle of the screen, you’ll see an area titled Backups. iCloud is checked by default, because the automatic backup feature has already been enabled on your iPhone. The important box to check now is the one that says This Computer. After that, in the area below that says Options, be sure to clear all of the boxes of any checks—non are needed for this basic, all-inclusive backup.

Finally, you are ready to click Backup Now to start the backup process to your computer. Depending on the amount of data on your phone, the entire backup can take only five or ten minutes, maybe a little longer, depending on its size. Once completed, you have the peace of mind knowing that the entire contents of your phone are backup locally (on your computer hard drive) and in the iCloud.

One last thing to remember is that the backup file that you just created is meant to restore your iPhone in case of a catastrophe, but NOT to access your iPhone’s data on your computer. There is software than can read the backup file in a pinch (example, Wondershare), but forget about that and keep your life uncomplicated, knowing that all your iPhone’s data is being well taken care of. 

As always, Apple has the official documentation about how to do what I just described. https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203977