The Architect Teaching Dogs to Surf

6533452_orig

Dog surfing tends to draw a crowd, Noll says.

“The salt water of the ocean is my therapy, my church,” Peter Noll says.

A decade ago, Noll may have scoffed at the idea of his dog accompanying him to that church-slash-therapy, but not anymore. Along with a group of other volunteers, he teaches dog surfing clinics over the summer, but hems and haws at that term: dog surfing. “It’s a misnomer,” he explains. “We teach humans how to surf with their dogs. Owners put their dogs on the board, paddle them out, ease them into a wave, and then grab them afterward.”

Noll, who started the group SoCal Surf Dogs, volunteers with the Helen Woodward Animal Center in California to help raise money and awareness by teaching people how to surf with their dogs. His Bernese mountain dog, Nani, is almost 12, and Noll says surfing has helped extend her life. But his other dog, 10-year-old Kiki, wants nothing to do with the water.

Nani’s kind of a big deal. She’s a world champion and a Surf Dog Hall-of-Famer (yes, that’s a thing) who started surfing nine years ago, but Noll has since retired her. Back in her heydey, she appeared in the movie Marmaduke as one of the dogs in the background; she made more money that week than “any of us did,” Noll laughs.

Continue reading

Advertisements

The Real-Life Willy Wonka Behind Those Classic Candy Hearts

geoff-bloomThe magic happens in a room with a giant tub that looks like Play-Doh, in a 810,000-square-foot factory, in a small city named after Paul Revere.

The New England Candy Company, better known as Necco, produces 100,000 pounds of Sweethearts — those colorful conversation hearts you got from everyone in your third-grade class on Valentine’s Day — each day for nearly the entire year, even though they’re only sold for several weeks in January and February. They’ve been around for decades — 150 years, to be exact — but Geoff Bloom, the creative director at Necco, is tasked with finding ways to keep them fresh. (“On Fleek” is one of the phrases you’ll find on the hearts this year.)

Valentine’s Day, a one-day holiday to you but a six-week one to Necco, is the company’s biggest moneymaker; about 2 billion Sweethearts are eaten each year. But none of that would be possible without Bloom’s careful touch.

Continue reading

The Greeting Card Writer

Some companies that Louden works with send her copies of her published product. "I’m like a kid at Christmas," she says.

Some companies that Miller-Louden works with send her copies of her published product. “I’m like a kid at Christmas,” she says.

Greeting cards have a funny way of making the impersonal feel personal. Someone, somewhere, writes verses for a card without you in mind. Then, by chance, you select that card from a shelf of others — presumably one of thousands just like it — and those words become your own.

For 28 years, Sandra Miller-Louden has been the voice of those looking for words of humor, wryness, or sympathy. She has trained her brain to pick up on sound bytes in everyday life for fodder, just like a journalist or TV producer might do during an interview. There’s no room to mince words.

Now, in addition to writing verses for companies like American Greetings and Hallmark, Miller-Louden teaches greeting card writing courses, speaks at conferences, and has published a book on the subject. And despite the rise of birthday wishes in the form of e-cards and Facebook posts, there’s still a hungry, if niche, market for greeting card writers. After all, you can’t prop up an e-card atop your fireplace.

Continue reading

Underneath it all: a story

Everyone has a story. Whether it’s your local barista or the pizza delivery guy, they all have history. At the core, this is what sparked my passion for journalism and the idea for No Joe Schmo. Hearing about someone’s success story offers inspiration;  it gives us a sort of behind-the-scenes insight, which is like finding out a secret on the playground that none of the other kids know about it. It’s giddy and thrilling and enticing, but we’re not really sure why.

We’d all love glamorous careers and enough money to buy four houses and a small country. But the alternative to movie stardom isn’t necessarily a 9-to-5 office cubicle job. Behind every job are 50 more opportunities. Now-dinosaurs like Myspace and LiveJournal served as building blocks for Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Biz Stone of Twitter.

No Joe Schmo delves into the heart of local communities and finds out the essentials about their careers. Although the job market is brighter than it’s been in years, it’s important to keep your mind open to outside-the-box opportunities. We admit, some jobs we highlight — like dog food tasters — aren’t extraordinarily appealing. But those dog food tasters might offer some of the most valuable career advice.  They’re not necessarily featured in the Forbes 500s, and you probably wouldn’t recognize them on TV. But their stories and career paths are just as worthwhile.