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2006 Notebook - July 15

News, Notes and Photos from Chicago

(This story was published in 2006).

TODAY - SATURDAY, JULY 15

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l For those of you not in Chicago, you can catch the opening ceremonies Streaming live on NBC5.

What a treat it was to turn around at the media registration and be met by the late Tom Waddell's wife and daughter, Sarah and Jessica (at right, in green). Jessica, 22, has been working with media registration at the Gay Games since June 1. She graduated from UC-Santa Cruz this past spring and moved to Chicago to help with the Games and live somewhere outside of California, where she has lived all her life.

This is Jessica's fifth Gay Games. The only two she has missed have been 1982, when she wasn't even born yet, and 2002, because she had just started school and the Games were during the school year in November.

She's too busy working the event to compete this year, but she hopes to compete in her first Gay Games in 2010 in Cologne. This is the first Games that her mom is not participating in; she has been a fixture to bowling in the past and an injury is keeping her from the lanes this time around.

After the Games are closed, Jessica is thinking about staying Chicago. "In its essence, it's very home-like," she says.

l My first introduction to Chicago was the pilot on my American Airlines flight telling us that the week ahead will be a "scorcher." Yikes. My next introduction was chasing my bags in baggage claim for 45 minutes, and finding them sitting on the carousel of Baggage Claim 6 instead of Baggage Claim 8, where they were supposed to be.

The third part of the introduction was quite nice. While I was huffing and puffing as I stormed around baggage claim, Benjamin from Ft. Lauderdale, here playing volleyball, struck up a quick hello with me. It was just what I needed, reminding me that I have some incredibly fun times ahead. - CZ

l A warning to those of you driving: Watch out for hidden stop signs and traffic lights. Suburban Chicago, as I found out twice tonight, is decorated with stop signs sitting behind trees and stop lights that are practically around the block. - CZ

l Some of you may remember Chuck Martin from our Games coverage in Sydney four years ago. He's back with this report on his first day in Chicago:

Muggy. Sticky. Practically unbearable. These are just a few of the ways to describe how these Chicago July days hit you when you step off a train or walk out the door. And it's supposed to get even worse.

Four years ago, Sydney was in the midst of a severe drought, and temperatures were similar to Chicago now: the mid to upper 90s. But here, it's also very humid, which means you can be wet before you walk a block.

Add that to the scattered showers and thunderstorms, and I discovered that this combination will affect athletes who are competing outdoors on non-grass surfaces in a interesting--and not good--way.

I went out to the track and field venue today with some of my team to do a little stretching and a bit of a workout. The track surface was wet, thanks to earlier showers. Even though it was mostly cloudy, the sun was evaporating the water on the track, water that wasn't standing puddle-like water, just making the surface wet. This evaporation created invisible areas of warm, super-saturated, rising air over the track surface, and running through those areas was not pleasant.

Tennis is the other sport that may be affected by this phenomenon. And it will get worse before it gets better: The high temperature for Monday in Chicago is predicted to be 98 degrees.

Meanwhile, someone apparently familiar with the area described the neighborhood of the track & field venue as "gang banger turf," warning that a convenience store just a couple of blocks east should be avoided if crowds of youth are seen around.

Registration today seemed to go quite smoothly. Late in the day, I saw just short lines that moved quickly. From what I have observed so far, the many volunteers are well-trained and efficient. Big props to all the volunteers for their dedication and hard work. (That said, Saturday will be the true test.) - Chuck Martin