Romeo Cruz ProfileSilver City-Grant County Chamber of Commerce Director Romeo Cruz will provide a weekly column to the Beat, featuring items and announcements of interest to the community.

Behold the Beauty of an Eclipse

On April 8th, a swath of the country was treated to a celestial light show in the form of a total solar eclipse. There was little suspense to it; science and math have enabled us to predict what happened down to the fraction of a second. The whole event was entirely predictable. However, when you're standing in the moon's shadow, gazing up at the corona, blazing away around the black disc of the moon, the calculations and science falls away, and all that's left is a profound sense of awe at the vastness of the universe that surrounds us. Those who had the opportunity to witness the event came away with a newfound appreciation for natural phenomena. Such an event can make a person feel simultaneously small and inextricably connected.

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The Vacant Lot is our Canvas for Progress

I grew up in a time before life was ruled by screens. We had one television but there were only a few channels. Our television set had an analog channel changer that sounded like a bad transmission when you went from channel 4 to channel 7. There were only a few times a day that things came on that kids wanted to watch, which corresponded with the beginning and end of the school day. The rest of the time, we were on our own when it came to entertainment.

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A Little Bit of Customer Service Goes a Long Way

Recently, I've been quite taken with reruns of a show called "Undercover Boss." The show follows CEOs as they go undercover to work in their own companies. They invariably discover shortcomings in their firm's operations, such as computer systems that don't communicate and systemic issues that hinder their company's mission. What they also find is employees that magnify their position, making the most out of their time, and cheerfully create an environment that helps everyone around them excel. At first, I found the show interesting because of my own work in helping Grant County businesses succeed. I've realized, after watching a few episodes, that the real reason I'm watching this show is nostalgia.

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When is a poison not a poison?

In the 1920s, Wisconsin researchers raced to find the source of an epidemic affecting cattle. Cattle were bleeding to death after minor injuries incurred in routine procedures, such as castration. Researchers discovered a link between a certain type of moldy hay and the strange deaths, and eventually extracted a compound they called dicoumarol, which caused a dangerous and potentially lethal thinning of the blood in cows that consumed it.

Further research led to a commercial application. In 1948, Warfarin, named after the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, came onto the market as a rat poison. The poison was very effective on rodents. The pleasant scent attracted them, and because it wasn't immediately lethal, they weren't afraid to eat enough to kill them.

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Tom Sawyer the Marketing Guru

A few days ago, I decided to take my own advice and read a novel. The one I chose was Mark Twain's immortal love-letter to childhood-The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I've only had time to read a couple of chapters, but I've already discovered why the book is considered a classic. The writing is laced with Twain's irrepressible humor as he leads the reader into the world of a clever, adventurous boy growing up in a town by the Mississippi River in the 1840s. I was even more surprised to find that in the second chapter, Tom gives his readers a lesson in marketing.

As a punishment for Tom's numerous offenses, which include fighting, stealing jam, and sneaking out of the house, his Aunt Polly assigns him a job that will require an entire Saturday to complete. Twain describes Tom's predicament:

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