Quotable Nerdy Chick: Joanna Cole

When W. H. Beck agreed to be interviewed for Monday’s post, I knew I’d just have to find a quotable librarian. I found several famous female librarians who are also writers including Ann Tyler and Beverly Cleary! But I loved that first quote from Joanna Cole so much that I decided to feature this famous creator of the Magic School Bus Series. There is a very nice biography about Joanna Cole HERE at Teen Ink.

Joanna Cole Quotes

  • People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.
  • Take chances! Get messy! Make mistakes!
  • Children’s view of the world and their capacity to understand keep expanding as they mature, and they need to ask the same questions over and over, fitting the information into their new level of understanding.

I love the fact that Joanna Cole used her gift of explaining things and storytelling to enrich my children’s childhoods through her Magic School Bus books and the cartoons they spawned. I hope to add to this quote bank someday too.

To see a compiled list of nerdy chick quotes, click HERE.

The Quotable Nerdy Chick: Juliette Gordon Low

I was led to Juliette Gordon Low when trying to highlight someone famous who had something in common with this week’s interviewee, Lisa Day Long. When Juliette Gordon Low’s name came up in a Google search of famous women from Georgia, I had a classic head-smack moment. Not only do we have we had three generations of Girl Scouts in my family, but have I visited her beautiful and fascinating home in Savannah, Georgia. Additionally,  this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts! You can find out much more about this leader and champion of girls at the Girl Scout website HERE.

Juliette Gordon Low Quotes

  • The work of today is the history of tomorrow, and we are its makers.
  • My purpose… to go on with my heart and soul, devoting all my energies to Girl Scouts, and heart and hand with them, we will make our lives and the lives of the future girls happy.
  • Right is right, even if no one else does it.
  • Scouting rises within you and inspires you to put forth your best.
  • To put yourself in another’s place requires real imagination, but by doing so each Girl Scout will be able to love among others happily.
  • We must accept the fact that transport and communications will bring the world in close relations and the youth of the world should have standards and ideals in common.
  • Ours is a circle of friendships united by ideals.
If you ever make it down to Savannah, I highly recommend a visit to Juliette Gordon  Low’s home, especially if you’re a bit of a history buff. I came away from the tour inspired!
The portrait of Low above was painted by Edward Hughes. It hangs in the National Portrait Gallery and is in the public domain because the copyright has expired.

Lisa Day Long: Pharmacist, Teacher, World Traveler

I met Lisa Long at the University of Georgia back in the eighties. We shared an apartment our senior year. I was 22 and she was something like 19. Yep. 19. That’s because she’s a genius who skipped a bunch of grades in school and still managed to blow the rest of us out of the water. She got so much scholarship money that she stayed around an extra year, taking elective classes and learning more before she decided to graduate. Back then, Lisa was a percussionist. She graduated with a degree in education, then after teaching music for a short time, she went on to get her Doctorate in Pharmacy. Lisa is currently a Clinical Pharmacist and Pharmacy Director of Home Health and Hospice at WellStar in Marietta, Ga. When she isn’t working, she loves traveling with her family. So far, she’s visited fifty one countries, and has set her sights on two new ones (Iceland and Croatia) for this summer. 

Thanks so much for joining us Lisa. Can you describe how brain power is an asset to your career?  As a clinical pharmacist, I use a lot of chemistry and math when calculating doses, creating formulas, and predicting a patient’s response to drug regimens.  I also have to figure out the best way to convey information, depending on whether it is a physician, a nurse, or the patient.  I recognize that attention to detail is critical in my career because one decimal point can be the difference between a patient getting well and actually harming the patient.

What make you interested in becoming a pharmacist?  I was actually a music/pre-med double major in undergrad school, so I followed the BMus curriculum and took “fun” classes like physics and organic chemistry as my electives.  After completing a Master of Education degree and teaching music for a few years, I knew it wasn’t for me and started reconsidering med school.  At that point in my life, I knew I wanted a career which would allow me a lot of flexibility so that I could be at home when we started our family, and medicine wasn’t really the right direction.  I discovered that the Doctor of Pharmacy degree would open doors to many different careers aside from retail pharmacy.  One thing that I do as a side job is consult and speak for a medical continuing education company; I love it because it combines my clinical knowledge with my passion for sharing that knowledge with others.

 Do you have a favorite way to flaunt your brain power? I love a “sneak attack”…When I’m in a conversation with someone who is patronizing or condescending, I love to let them prattle on for a little bit, and then when I’ve had enough, I will unleash data, theories, quotations, etc. to completely stop them in their tracks.  I suppose because I am short and blonde, this tends to happen more often than I want.

That makes me smile. 🙂 What do you think is cool about being nerdy? I think for nerdy people who are comfortable with their “nerdiness”, they don’t feel that they have to prove anything.  They are okay with who they are and who their friends are.  There is something very liberating about that.

Tell us about a well-known nerdy chick you admire and why you admire her. Best nerdy chick EVER is fictional character Lisbeth Salander from Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series.

I use Lisbeth as an example of a great character when I teach writing classes! She definitely flouts social norms and flaunts brain power. Great example. Now can you share a favorite song, quote, or movie that speaks to your inner nerdiness? Best nerd song is a tie between Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science”–an 80s classic, and The Dead Milkmen’s “Punk Rock Girl”–not necessarily nerdy, but celebrates individualism.

I so remember that Blinded Me With Science MTV Video! What about a favorite nerdy quote? What was previously perceived as nerdy is now viewed as original. What I like about nerdiness, geekiness, is it doesn’t really matter what you’re into – it just means you’re not a follower.  Kristen Bell 

Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.
— Bill Gates

Both excellent! Thanks.  Can you tell us something about your love of travel, and what you and your family learn from your experiences? We take one big trip every year, and when we can squeeze in a cruise or a small get-away, we like to do those as well.  I love travelling because every day is a new experience and (in my case) adventure.  I love stepping a little bit outside of my comfort zone because it challenges me to think on my feet and adapt to unfamiliar surroundings.  For example, when we were renting a car in Rome, we didn’t speak Italian, and the woman helping us didn’t speak English, so we found a common language (French) and completed the transaction in French.  I love seeing places I learned about in school; it somehow makes everything “real”.  For my children, I think travelling teaches tolerance, patience, and adaptability; the reality of travel today is that flights will be delayed, there are countries that have a very different belief system than we do in the USA, and if you’re hungry enough, you’ll eat just about anything.  The adventures we share and the memories we create as a family (hiking in the Andes when our train derailed, hanging upside down with my foot caught in cargo netting while ziplining in New Hampshire, attending a Burt Bacharach concert at the Sydney Opera House) are better than any material gift I could ever receive!

Lisa and her family in Peru.

So how does nerdiness help you with your planning and your globetrotting?  I do a lot of research when planning a trip.  I love finding unusual things to do in the places we visit, e.g. ZORBing in New Zealand, and it does take quite a bit of digging to find those types of activities.  I also love saving money, so figuring out ways to manipulate loyalty program points and decrease airfare by considering various connection options occupies a lot of my time.  One summer, I managed to save over $1800/person on an airfare using only a few thousand points.

What’s something you like to do that might be considered a little bit nerdy, but is actually really fun? I love doing logic problems before I go to bed.  They make sense of the senseless, and the order and logic calms my mind so I can sleep.

Oh man. I listen to M*A*S*H every night before I go to bed. Alan Alda calms my mind so I can sleep. I’m thinking you’re out-nerding me on this one…  

Thanks again Lisa, for sharing your time with us!













The Quotable Nerdy Chick: Sandra Day O’Connor

Before I pick the each Quotable Nerdy Chick to highlight, I usually research a couple of different amazing women. Then I look at what each had to say. Are their words timeless?  Do they contain a message that speaks to success? This week I picked someone whose hard work has garnered her impressive recognition. In 2001 she was ranked the second most powerful woman in America by Ladies’ Home Journal. She was listed as 36th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes in 2004 and 2005. And she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 by President Barak Obama.

Everyone knows that Sandra Day O’Connor was the first female member of the United States Supreme Court, but do we really know how she landed such a prestigious position? After reading more about her, I think I do. She became the first female justice not only because she was intelligent, but also because she had an outstanding work ethic. I’m a firm believer in the idea that the path to success is paved with a lot of hard work. When you read the quotes below, you’ll know that Sandra Day O’Conner believes this too.

Sandra Day O’Connor Quotes

  • Do the best you can in every task, no matter how unimportant it may seem at the time. No one learns more about a problem than the person at the bottom.
  • We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone… and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one’s life and all the weavings of individual threads form one to another that creates something.
  • Each of us brings to our job, whatever it is, our lifetime of experience and our values.
  • I don’t know that there are any short cuts to doing a good job.
  • The power I exert on the court depends on the power of my arguments, not on my gender.


This week, I think my favorite quote is the second one.  How nice to see that someone who has risen so far, acknowledges that we all need help. To see a compiled list of nerdy chick quotes, click HERE.


Lisa Rentz: Innovative Writer

One of the hardest things about moving to Beaufort SC a few years ago was leaving all of my nerdy friends behind. Knowing I was lonely for brainy conversation, a friend from Greenville suggested that I get in touch with a freelance writer and teaching artist down here named Lisa Rentz. I contacted her out of the blue that same day. Lisa was nice enough to not only meet me for coffee, but to listen to me talk her ears off for over an hour. She also helped me on my way to becoming a teaching artist.  I’m just as impressed with this many-hat-wearing nerdy chick now as I was when I met her. In addition to her teaching and writing, Lisa is the transmedia publicity leader at Artworks, which means she promotes the arts in Beaufort County and helps other artists do the same, using all platforms from the newspaper to Twitter. Her writing has been published in various genres including short stories, articles, and essays. Ever on the cutting edge, she’s recently added writing apps to this list. Thanks so much Lisa for joining us today!

What is your favorite way to flaunt your brain power?

Most of my flaunting is done in my writing, which is my preferred method of communication (email before phones for me.) I consider writing to be a form of self-defense, so I have to get in some impressive high kicks, if you know what I mean. My writing skills are what got me through high school, college, and many jobs. I’ve written book reports about books I didn’t read and about books I made up.

What social norms are you fond of flouting?

My husband does the dishes and the shopping, and I do all the yardwork— those are still norms to challenge, right? We split the taking out of garbage pretty well. I’m a feminist, which is still a fun way to flout, despite all the progress. Stereotyping is a big part of the social norm, and I’ve learned to not judge a book by its cover (or its mousy brown hair) because of all of the people who’ve mistaken me for a shop girl or an office assistant. I’m always getting asked where the bathroom is. The only retail I’ve ever worked was my husband’s artisan bakery. I’ve had only one regular 9 to 5 job, and that was working at my dad’s business for a couple of years  in my 20s. I’ve definitely flouted that get-a-real-job norm too.

Great examples of flouting, Lisa! How is brain power an asset to your career?

As a working writer, I am a content provider, which means I generate stories, articles, photographs, illustrations, and connections for other people like journalists. So I spend a lot of time focusing, and problem-solving, and info-organizing, and meeting deadlines. That process is brain-power intensive— I rarely get to read novels anymore, thank goodness for short stories and magazines like Harper’s Monthly.

Visualization is a component of brain power that I use a lot. It’s a great way to slow down and find clarity, so that my work—an email or a short story—will be effective and enjoyable. Doodling and drawing work great as visualization.

Tell us a story about a time when nerdiness turned out to be an advantage for you.

All the time I’ve spent reading has been a huge advantage- reading is the foundation of writing, and I’m pretty good at trivia. I have a lot of memories of reading while walking home from school, reading in bed late at night, reading in class. The Thomas Cooper Library at USC in Columbia was fantastic when I attended there. And if being uptight about deadlines is nerdy, then I’ve got an advantage there, my deadlines are literally every other day.

If you could give your middle school or high school self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Oh that would have to be a good stock tip. Apple, Microsoft, etc.

Hmm. That might be the best advice yet. It’s certainly the most fiscally responsible! Now can you tell us what’s cool about being nerdy?

Having knowledge and the ability to use it.

Right on! You already write across several genres, and now you’ve added writing downloadable apps. I couldn’t begin to write an app. What are some skills needed to do this? Particular challenges?

Writing an app is like writing a novella— one specific subject and just the right length. I determined the concept and content of my apps, and my publisher, Sutro Media in San Francisco, took care of the programming, thank goodness. My two apps, an arts & travel guide to Beaufort SC and ‘Pencils, Words & Kids’ could both be published in paper-book form. But smartphones are the new desktops, and one of the new ways to read, so I wanted my work to be there too.

The challenge of filling an app is organizing all the content. In a book or a magazine, the writer knows the reader is going to start at page 1. In an app, all the contents are sortable and searchable and cross-linked and filterable, so I had to make sure that each entry is both stand-alone and harmonizing with the rest of the app. In ‘Pencils, Words & Kids’ I wanted to relay the whole writing process, but also make it a la carte, so people could just pick and choose a creative step for themselves— write what you enjoy, not just what you know. My apps include hundreds of photos, which was a lot of work but also a lot of fun.

How can your creative writing app help other nerdy chicks improve their writing skills? 

Lots of ways! The premise is that creative writing is like weight lifting, every repetition makes you stronger. So I emphasize writing-writing-writing, in the Just Do It sense.

All the prompts and techniques were developed in the trenches, while I was working in the schools in Beaufort SC, so other nerdy chicks and geeky boys and all sorts of other types helped me develop my ideas about learning the creative writing process. I’ve included their opinions in the app too. One 7th grader told me something beautiful that I quote whenever I get a chance- “Writing long & adventurous stories calms me.”

The app is really informative, about the big How Tos and Whys of writing, and I also included information (like vocabulary and definitions) because that’s what writers need for describing and explaining— that’s why science works so well with the arts, right? I also emphasize writing by hand. I heard recently that pencils can write for 35 miles. That’s a long line and a lot of potential.

What’s something you like to do that might be considered a tad bit nerdy, but is actually really fun?

Being a homebody as much as possible and doing a sewing project about once a year. For the past few years I’ve been making purses from thriftshop blazers— the pockets are built-in better than I could make them.

I saw Lisa toting one of her cool blazer purses the other day. She said it takes a whole blazer to make one purse! Do you have a favorite hobby? Details please!

I take lots of frisbee breaks and walks with my dogs. It’s great for stretching, taking my eyes off the computer screen and, since I’m always looking for ways to get three things done at once, also takes care of the dogs’ need to get outside the fence.

Believe me, we’ve just scratched the surface of the many ways Lisa creates. To find out more about her, visit her website: www.eatgoodbread.com. You can take a look at her writing app HERE, and her Beaufort guide app HERE.  Lisa’s short story, The Chimney, recently won a Liars League competition. Click below to hear it read in beautiful British English.