Notable News: Maxilla & Mandible Farewell, Hidden Financial Lessons, and Why You Should Never Shoot Rock First

Roundup of News and Links for NYC Kids and Families

Well, needless to say, we have had quite a week here in NYC. First, we were all shaken up (literally) with that earthquake and then Hurricane Irene made some of us leave our homes, many of us buy things (hello, $30 flashlight) and all of us stop and watch the skies. NYCers, NJers, LIers, and CTers are still recovering, figuring out the damage, and, of course, talking about it. We hope you and yours are safe and sound.

While it was storming outside, it was rather calm online, except for all of the Mother Nature-related news. But, never fear, we found a few fun bits during the hours as we hunkered down–if you want to chat about something other than Irene’s awe-inspiring fury.

A Fond Farewell Brings Sadness Upper West Side landmark Maxilla & Mandible has announced it is closing its doors at the end of August. That’s this week, my friends. The natural history and science emporium on Columbus Avenue, just north of the American Museum of Natural History, wasn’t just a store; it was a unique escape from the city. Whenever you stepped inside you were whisked away to another time, whether you were a serious collector looking for museum-quality pieces or a budding scientist searching for that next new thing to make you gasp. Owner Henry Galiano—who also operates a dinosaur quarry in Wyoming that recovers sauropod skeletons and offers prehistoric guidance to museums across the globe—says the downturn in the economy wasn't the only reason his store is closing. He believes that the bike lane along Columbus took away such a large amount of parking, it made it impossible to keep his business going; many collectors from outside of the city told him they did not come to his store as much due to the lack of space. Maxilla & Mandible will truly be missed. The dinosaur-sized hole left when this special store closes will be impossible to fill.

Hidden $$$ Lessons at Bedtime? After this mama has had a long day, I fully admit to selecting bedtime books based solely on which one has the fewest pages. But little did I realize, even some short reads have a hidden lesson about finances. In The New York Times, Motoko Rich breaks down some reads on his child’s bookshelf that give nods to everything from consumerism (think J.K. Rowling’s not-so-subtle judgment of Harry Potter’s Muggle family, The Dursleys, and their fixation on gifts and stuff) to unions rights (Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type with the bovines who hold out milk until they get electric blankets). I’ve never thought about it before, but he's right. Next time you read Bad Kitty or Skippyjon Jones, see what financial lessons you are teaching your kids without realizing it.

Things That Make Me Feel Old. I have been feeling lately that I’m getting old. Or at least older. The Beloit College Mindset List, a compilation of 75 points for professors to keep in mind about their incoming students, made me feel rather ancient. This year's crop of college freshman, mostly born in 1993, have never lived in a world without the Internet. They have never been awed or amazed by what they could find online or the fact that the Internet even exists. And they will never know that anxious feeling of turning on the computer and waiting about five minutes to hopefully hear the dude announce “You’ve Got Mail.” More tidbits about these incoming students: Ferris Bueller and Sloane Peterson could be their parents; there have always been at least two women on the Supreme Court and women have always commanded some U.S. Navy ships during their lifetime; and Sears has never sold anything out of a "Big Book" that could also serve as a doorstop. Even if this makes me think I need a walker, I love reading it. Which ones surprise you?

A Purrrr-fectly Happy Ending Remember back in July when that cuter-than-cute kitten was tossed from a moving car on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge? An Animal Care and Control officer witnessed the shocking scene and rescued the kitty, who was named Verrazano by workers at the shelter she was taken to. Though still no word on who did this unthinkable act, the kitty is handling her new-found fame pretty well and will be heading to a new family soon. About 140 hopefuls applied to bring the Russian Blue kitten home and the winner was announced last week: Oscar winner and co-host of "The View" Whoopi Goldberg. Whoopi has nicknamed the little furball VInny, who will be joining an older cat Oliver in the star’s home. Now that’s one happy ending that makes us all say, "Whoopee!" (sorry, couldn’t resist that one).

New Strategy for Old-School Game Perhaps your kids use it to decide who gets the first turn on the Wii. Maybe you and your husband throw down when figuring out who will change the ninth poop explosion of the day. We’re talking Rock, Paper, Scissors, the playground end-all, be-all, not-to-be-messed-with hand gesturing game turned way-to-decide-anything. Did you know there is an actual strategy to winning a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors? Graham Walker, veteran player and five-time organizer of the Rock, Paper, Scissors World Championships, gives tips on how to manipulate and predict your opponent’s choice. He offers a smorgasbord of helpful hints (players almost never throw the same thing three times in a row, rookies usually start with rock) that you can use to win the next battle to see who takes out the trash. Not sure what I am more surprised by: that there is strategy to this game or that there is an organized championship for it.

Image: NASA Goddard Photo and Video