Inperspire motivational fitness towels started as so many things do, as a random inspiration at the gym. Darla Dale, an assistant dean at Washington University who is "approaching 50," was trudging along one day on the treadmill, somewhat less energetically than usual, when she noticed that everyone around her had a towel to cover the screens on their machines.
"The towels should have a mantra written on them so you can stay on," Dale remembers thinking. She wrote the idea down in her idea journal, but the plan didn't come to fruition until January when her husband Jimmy, tired of traveling, quit his job with Southwest Airlines. They joined forces with Dale's sister Dana and her husband Greg, who live in Seattle. Says Dale: "What better time to start a company?"
Unreal: In the middle of a recession?
Darla Dale: That's what my parents said.
It's not the sanest thing, but we love it so much and have had so much fun putting it together.
What in your background has prepared you to design towels?
Nothing! That's so sad, but it's very true. I'm an archaeologist, an assistant dean, I advise, I teach. There's one thing: I organize a freshman program every summer. The first year, I thought, "I know! We need T-shirts!" I love making T-shirts up.
Which towel is selling best so far?
The one that says "Haba na haba hujaza kibaba." It's a saying I picked up in Kenya. It means: "Little by little fills the cup." I get so frantic there, and that's what people say to me. Five people have gotten this one. It's very strange. I don't even know them. Which is even stranger.
Do you have any new ones in the works?
I'm thinking of "Join the Revolution" and making a play on Che Guevara.
You could make a green one to show solidarity with Iran.
That one's going in the future towel file.
And it's never coming out, is it?
No.All Hail the Mini Cow!
Unreal has observed that anything can be made exponentially cuter by shrinking it. Take the miniature horse. At seventeen inches, St. Louis' very own Thumbelina is the world's smallest horse. Don't you just want to squeeze her?
Now it has come to Unreal's attention that there are also miniature cows. And bulls! Miniature cows, however, have a greater purpose in life than merely being cute. These cows work. And then we eat them.
Owing to Unreal's unquenchable thirst for knowledge, we learned that a mini cow weighs less than half of what a regular cow does — 500 to 700 pounds, as opposed to 1,300 — but it can produce 75 percent as much steak. The proprietors at 4R Farms in the town of Republic, near Springfield, estimate that a herd of mini cows yields 154.3 pounds of meat per acre, as opposed to 110 pounds from a herd of Angus. You can also milk a mini cow and get two or three gallons a day, although you have to kneel down pretty far to do it.
More significantly, reports the Los Angeles Times, mini cows occupy less space and consume less feed, which is important these days, what with the price of land falling and the cost of feed rising. There are now 20,000 mini cows in this country.
Mini cows are not some mutant strain of bovine. They are the descendants of cows that came here from Europe in the 1800s. Animal scientists didn't start breeding what we now consider regular-size cows until the '50s, when nobody fretted about the cost of land or feed.
William Saletan recently argued in Slate for a parallel between cows and humans, notably that oversize cows are considered "normal" these days, just as only 15 percent of obese humans actually recognize themselves as obese. He suggested that someday thin people will be considered "mini humans." Unreal thinks he took the film WALL-E a little too seriously.