Last week began with the funeral of a Troutdale student killed by another young man who carried a weapon into the high school inside a guitar case.

Last week began with the funeral of a Troutdale student killed by another young man who carried a weapon into the high school inside a guitar case.

By midweek we had segued to the Ashland City Council and its decision not to institute a city ban on the open carrying of licensed weaponry — at least in part because of the potential for confrontations during the tourist season, particularly during the town's no-holds-barred Fourth of July Parade.

As the week closed out, we were hit with the news that the city manager of Medford wanted, as part of a planned security-based remodel, bullet-resistant glass installed in the third floor offices of City Hall.

There's a three-letter term for what's going on these days, and it doesn't stand for "Wow! That's Fantastic!"


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Whoa, where was I? Oh, yes, the cats.

The solstice has sunk beneath the great divide, and our hours of sunlight have begun to steadily decrease. This angers the cats — who, rightly, are frustrated that they have to make shifts in their napping regimen, due to the sun's determination to sink faster.

The cats, being cats, blame their tails. Why is that darned wiggling flapper following wherever they go? Why does it always need cleaning? Why won't it sit still? The cats spend so much time chasing their tails, they could be members of Congress.

It's difficult to blame the cats for their lack of self-awareness; difficult, but not impossible. If it were up to them, their tails would do what they want them to. Of course, if it were up to cat owners (as silly a phrase as has ever been constructed), the cats themselves would follow orders.

As it is, it's amazing how they instinctively know how often their cohabitants want to pet them during the day ... particularly under the ceiling fan.

Why the diminishing sunlight should bother the cats this much is a mystery. After all, they can see far better at night than their servants, who spend the evening stumbling about in the dark with no sense of practical direction.

Again, like members of Congress.

To keep them occupied when the non-cats are away fetching kibble, they were provided with a fine box filled with plastic balls, each of which containing a bell. The cats enjoy the box immensely.

The bell-laden plastic balls? Those receive an occasional bat and disappear beneath a bookcase or under the couch, while the cats stay prone on the floor. For this act of defiance on the part of the plastic balls, the cats take out their aggression by biting their tails.

Watching the cats do very little of consequence with the plastic balls is akin to watching the World Cup, only with fewer commercial breaks.

Soccer, or futbal as those in the know would have you believe, is a sport of skill and endurance. A ground war fought at its own rhythm over the pitch in fits and starts — with legs flailing at awkward angles, heads jerking about, with the use of hands being illegal and very little scoring.

In other words, your basic junior high school dance.

No wonder Americans at large have had such a slow, tedious courtship with the sport. And just like in junior high, it's the young women soccer players who have matured at a faster pace — leaving their male counterparts lagging behind, befuddled, gasping for air with their tongues hanging out.

Of course, the World Cup, as is the case with the presidential election or a Bruce Willis movie worth seeing, comes around once every four years. So allowing our soccer-fan friends this moment in the ever-decreasing sun isn't the end of the world.

Particularly when the alternatives in the cultural landscape appear to be preoccupied with just that — the end of humanity ... or, well, what passes for humanity in this day and age.

Zombies, apocalyptic wars, contagions that decimate the Earth's population, vampires, mysterious domes that capture entire cities, people with unearthly powers brought back from the dead, aliens bent on destroying of culture (although, honestly, why would be a fine question), people who remain behind after the Rapture whisks others away ... popular culture is saturated with images and themes of mass destruction and annihilation.

Heck, right now you can watch Tom Cruise in a movie wherein he dies repeatedly, just so he can come back again and again until he saves what's left of the planet from the end times.


The cats couldn't care less about these images than they do about the World Cup or the bells inside their plastic balls. Every day is their summer vacation — and even the incremental loss of sunlight can keep them from enjoying it with a pet and a nap ... tails be damned.

I started this morning to write a column about guns. Correction, another column about guns — because it seemed as though that was the appropriate topic after yet another couple of weeks spent reading and watching and listening to news about guns.

I know I'm tired of reading about guns, so I can only imagine how tired you are. The gun debate is a tail-chasing exercise in stumbling about in the dark — with its "victories" marked bulletproof glass and laws not enacted, and its losses marked on tombstones.

But then I opened a door, and a cat walked into the room, requiring petting. And that was something I knew I could do something about.


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Mail Tribune news editor Robert Galvin can be reached at