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Work, Golf, Racing

In the IB diploma program students have to write an IA (internal assessment) paper for all of their subjects. It's a 15 to 20 page paper on anything that they're interested in as long as it involves the material from each class. I got lucky this year having only six grade twelve students. That said, it means I have about 120 pages of reading and grading to do during my three week break. This is a tough task for me. Not something I have a lot of experience with. However, with one year of experience my hope is it goes much smoother this year compared to last year feeling completely lost. I invested about four hours into it yesterday and finished two papers. My plan is to attack another one this morning, but there's something on my TV that's going to make this an extra challenge.

The start of the racing season happens in Tulsa, Oklahoma today. This week is the Tulsa Shootout and next week is the Chili Bowl. Both events take place in an indoor facility called the Tulsa Expo Center. Outside of the building there's an enormous statue called the Golden Driller. Anyone who wins their class for their event takes home a small Golden Driller statue. For dirt racing, it's certainly a crown jewel item. Not having a Golden Driller in your trophy case is a mark against the legacy of any dedicated dirt track racer.

The Shootout this week is the less prestigious event. It's draws amateur and professional racers from all over the country in six different classes of wing and non-wing racing. 1650+ have registered for the event. That's a lot of race cars. Next week is only midget racing. It's the event that brings Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, Alex Bowman, Ricky Stenhouse, Daryn Pittman, Sammy Swindell, Kyle Busch, and Rico Abreu to Tulsa. For those that know racing, these are big names. Last year Logan Seavey won in a thriller driving for Kevin Swindell. Hoping for a repeat as I'm a Swindell fan. Kevin Swindell lost the use of his legs many years ago in an racing accident. He's become a competitive car owner and crew chief. It was an honor to meet him a few years ago in Knoxville. I was glad to shake his hand and let him know I appreciate what he does for the sake of our entertainment.

I played eighteen holes on Tuesday this week. I got through the first twelve holes playing pretty standard golf for me. A lot of "half boagie" golf. I play six holes , and shoot three over par. I play twelve holes, and shoot six over par. I shoot in the low eighties a lot overall. But this Tuesday was different. My last six holes were embarrassing. I ended up joining two other players for the last six holes and think I was somewhere around eleven over par for that stretch. Generally I like joining other players, but the two gentlemen I joined wanted nothing to do with me. It was awkward. I didn't hit a playable drive on several holes and had to take a drop a few times. No smiles. No conversation. I tried to engage each of them a few times, but they didn't reply in kind. Language barrier was certainly an issue, but that's never been much of a problem in the past. Even when I offered praise on a few of their good shots it was awkward. It was certainly an outlier moment for my time here in China. Will give it a go again today and do my best to make sure my attitude determines my game. Hit some good ones and smile. Hit some bad ones and laugh.

Got out to play eighteen holes again. Played the first fourteen with Lin and Soon. Both have only just started playing and struggled mightily, but we all had fun. I posted a string of doubles and boagies to start, but played the final twelve holes in only four over. I think I posted something like an 85 overall. You can see in the picture above most of the grass here is brown, but the fairways are all still green and the greens are in decent shape. They take good care of the course. I'm thinking that I might not get out again to play for a month. Weekends are just too expensive and it might be fairly cold through January. Today got up to just over sixty degrees. Not bad.

Two more days of work and then I head north to spend a few days in Wuxi with Aiyun before our Harbin ice adventure. Well, not "real" work, but grading and sitting in front of a computer watching videos and answering questions so I can have my Washington state certification renewed before next school year. Yippee skippee.

Final note: mom is Improving. She getting back her normal levels of dementia. Moira said the straight up hallucinations of seeing things that aren't there have gone away. Hoping that the next six months go smoothly. The helpless feeling of being on the wrong side of the planet was awful. I'm confident that my presence would have made a difference for her. Fingers crossed.

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