Tomorrow – (in Australian time at least) – is the 40th anniversary of the first flight of NASA’s Space Transportation System (STS) – better known to most people as the Space Shuttle.
That first flight was taken by OV-102 – (named “Columbia” at the time of commissioning) – on April 12th 1981, and marked America’s return to space for the first time since the Skylab space station was abandoned in 1974.
So it was a big deal. I clearly remember watching the launch on television at our home in Townsville, and the subsequent regular updates. For someone who was interested in the space program, but not having been alive or old enough to remember Apollo and Skylab, people in space again was amazing to me.
Astronauts John Young – (the ninth man to walk on the moon) – and Robert Crippen took Columbia into orbit that day for what amounted to a test flight – launch it, get it to orbit, and land it a couple of days later.
Columbia was of course lost in 2003 on return from space while completing STS-107, only the second shuttle lost after Challenger just after launch on STS-51L in 1986.
On October 1st of this dastardly year of 2020, as a family we suffered the loss of my father.
It has taken me a couple of weeks to find any kind of words to make sense of this loss – but I’m actually coping a lot better than I thought I would. Dad was unwell for about 10 years, but the last 6 months saw a rapid decline in his health, and we knew the time was near.
So it was not a surprise, but it was still a shock.
I’ve been trying to focus on what it means to me going forward. He had three children, and four grandchildren – all of whom he adored.
He was a bit of a workaholic during his working life, but he did that to support the family. We didn’t always get everything we wanted, but we always got whatever we needed.
There are so many stories I could write about – countless stories that would take years to complete.
We were always going to lose Dad one day – it is one of the truths in life that everyone we love will eventually pass – so I’d been prepared for that for quite a few years as his health steadily declined.
In the nearly two weeks since his passing, I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what his passing means to me.
I will of course miss him. I’ll never be able to pick up the phone again and talk shit about the football or the car racing again. I’ll never again be able to tease him for falling asleep in my comfy lounge chair the moment he sat in it.
Those things – (and so many others) – are gone, but I knew that would happen, so that’s okay.
While preparing his eulogy with one of my sisters – (read proudly by her at the funeral) – I figured out what I will miss the most, are not the complex memories, but the intangible moments.
We were getting absolutely smashed, and at three-quarter time, we were 41 points behind – but I had a feeling that Melbourne were tiring, and I turned to Dad and said: “we’re going to win this!”
He said I was “out of my mind” – (though his actual words might have been a bit more colourful!) – but I had a feeling.
Thirty minutes later when the final siren sounded with Essendon one point in front, I turned and looked at him, grinning.
The look on his face was priceless – and I’ll never forget it.
It was one of those completely intangible moments – those moments you couldn’t just create even if you tried. It was a single moment, but borne of years of sharing our love of the game, and our Bombers.
Or the moment Channel 7 came back from a commercial break right near the very end of the 1995 Bathurst 1000, and our favourite driver Larry Perkins – (who had been racing from behind all day after an incident at the start) – had gotten into the lead with barely nine laps to go when the previous leader Glenn Seton broke down.
We were literally dancing around the lounge room in complete joy, completely on instinct. It just happened.
I’ll never lose those moments in my heart – (and there are many of them) – but what I will miss most is that there will be no more of them.
Earlier in the year, I posted about the 1990 Bathurst 1000, and how as part of the telecast, Channel 7 embarrassingly missed the winning Holden Commodore of Win Percy and Allan Grice crossing the line.
Here is the resultant video from that first attempt:
I mentioned in my first article that footage of the car crossing the line did exist, and was broadcast as part of Derryn Hinch’s program on the Friday night before the 1991 race.
I had never seen it again since.
Now, with the recent release of the 1992 Bathurst 1000 on DVD, I have finally come into possession of the missing footage of the car crossing the line for victory – after discovering it within a profile of Grice as part of the 1992 telecast.
So, armed with that footage, I have revisited my edit, and finally – FINALLY – after 30 years I’ve been able to put it together for posterity.
Here is the entire final lap, with the footage of Grice crossing the line spliced into exactly where it belongs:
$access_token – this is the same as your existing OAuth application access token – this has not changed, at least in my case.
$group_guid – this is the only new piece of information you might need. While you can query for this value via the API, for most people the simplest way to get it is to open into your Bitly account in a web browser, where you will find the GUID in the URL, as per this image:
$shorten_domain – if you have a custom domain – (for example, I have the domain “mwyr.es” for shortening purposes) – this is the value you need here. If you don’t have a custom domain, just use “bit.ly”.
$shorten_url – this is the URL you wish to shorten – simple!
So now you can call the function, with the required information.
Firstly, the input data required by the API is converted to JSON via the json_encode() function.
Secondly, we set up the cURL handle, and then supply it with the required data. Note the JSON data is passed within the “CURLOPT_POSTFIELDS” variable, and that the access token is passed as the “Authorization: Bearer” header in the “CURLOPT_HTTPHEADER” variable.
Then we execute with curl_exec() – and store and return the results for further processing.
To understand the returned JSON – (including the generated short link) – and the HTTP response codes, refer to the excellent Bitly API v4 documentation.