Tag Archives: NY

‘Red Hot Chilli Pipers’, Highland Games, Loon, 2015: Up Close — Part I.

.Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail

.by Anura Guruge

Related posts:
>> Red Hot Chilli Pipers‘, Loon, 2015.

>>The Brigadoons‘, 2015 — Part I.

++++ Refer to ‘Highland Games‘ page (↑) for other posts ↑↑↑↑

Sunday, September 20, 2015, NH Highland Games at Loon.

We are HUGE fans of the ‘Chillis’. We have seen them, in prior years at Loon, and at the fabulous (free) concert they did in Concord, NH, in February 2014. Great group. Very personable. Makes me ultra-proud that they are British and, moreover, from Glasgow. Glasgow is special to me. I use to go up to Greenock to celebrate Hogmanay. My friend Ian W.F. Williams was a pillar of Glasgow society and I have spoken, a number of times, at the ‘National Conference Centre’ in Glasgow — once doing a keynote presentation in front of 870 people.

The ‘Chillis’, as ever, did GREAT at the Games. Love their dynamic energy. So reminiscent of the ‘Seven Nations‘ — and I am no longer sure as to who will be more proud of that comparison, since the ‘Chillis’ are now quite famous in their own right — as is but right.

Just a few closeups to get us started. I have close to 100 pictures of THEM from Loon. So I will do a few batches. Enjoy.

Click to ENLARGE.

Copyright will be enforced vigorously.

Thank YOU “The Red Hot Chilli Pipers”. You Were Great.

I plan to do at least 2 more photo sets of the ‘Chillis’.

Two things, please. Your sound engineer, on Sunday, BUTCHERED your sound! The sound was distorted and clipped. Not good. You guys were good enough to get away with it. But ditch this ‘engineer’ and get another one or use ‘Boston Sound Works’. How can I say this delicately. The ‘local’ (NY) vocal ‘talent’ wasn’t much of a catch on the stage. I am SURE she is very good, but not as a vocalist for YOU. So …. You guys can do better than that ON STAGE! SMILE. Grin. Come on. I remember the talent in Glasgow, if not Scotland. Keep it Scotish. 

All the pictures taken with my new Sony a77 Mk II.

August 27 — The Important Anniversary In My Life, And This Year I Will Talk About ‘APL’.


IBM Hursley per Google Maps. Cricket pitch & local pub highlighted.

.Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail


by Anura Guruge

Related Posts:hursley_site_detail
>> IBM’s 1st ATM in the U.K.
>> Donate Hursley House To The National Trust.

>>Think” sign — Aug. 28, 2014.
>> Hursley’s John Fairclough
>> Mainframe 50th.
>> Gene Amdahl & I.
>> IBM Hursley pictures.
>> Malaysia flight 370: And ‘Poor’ IBM.

Search on “Hursley”, “IBM” & “mainframes” for other IBM (Hursley) related posts >>>>

For the last few years I have been trying to ‘put a stake in the ground‘ every August 27th. It is an important anniversary in my life. I left Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), for what turned out to be for good (though I had no idea that it would be thus then), on Sunday, August 27, 1967. I was a week shy of my 14th birthday. I left on (what I think was a Pan Am) Boeing 707 from what was then ‘Katunayake Airport’ to Athens (Greece). It was my first trip outside of Asia.

Seven tumultuous years later, during which I lived (at least for 11 months at a time) in three different countries, viz. U.S.A. (Buffalo, NY), France (Paris) and the U.K. (London & Swansea), on Tuesday, August 27, 1974 I started working for IBM — at Hursley in the U.K. Well since my birthday is my birthday (though due to the hospital mix-up it could be +/- 2 days), I joined IBM a week shy of my 21st birthday. That it was the 27th, as I have talked about before, was CUTE and neat. I had NOT planned to start work — the VERY FIRST working day of my entire life (having never worked, for pay, in any capacity prior to that) — on a Tuesday. But, for the second year in a row I was spending my Summer in Bangkok, Thailand — and what Summer it was with the Vietnam war coming to an end ‘right there’! [That is another story.] I had sent a telegram to IBM saying that I planned to accept my job offer (from nearly 18 months previously) and start work on Monday, August 26, 1974. Got a neat telegram back saying basically that that was good, and that August 26th will be my official start day (in terms of salary) BUT since that Monday was ‘August Bank Holiday Monday’ would I please not come into work until Tuesday, August 27. That was how I started my working life. Getting paid for a day that I didn’t work — and spent most of the day watching cricket on TV. (Well, to be fair to IBM, IBM also paid for many days when I was not at work — though I was supposed to be — but was in Southampton watching Hampshire play! That is another story too. My work didn’t really suffer and that is all they cared about. Performance reviews were BIG in those days. I had 7 reviews in the 5 years I was at IBM. The reviews were graded from ‘1’ to ‘5’. ‘1’ basically said you walked on water and ‘5’ meant that you passed water when you realized that your review was done. Of the 7 reviews I got a ‘1’ in 5. So I guess the time I took off, without telling anybody, during the Summer, to watch LIVE cricket, really didn’t affect my performance. I did, ALWAYS, make up the time — albeit working late into the night (and as such getting overtime). What can I say.

Well last year, on August 27, I talked about John Fairclough who was the lab. director during my whole tenure at Hursley.


Ken Iverson’s 1962 book, the TITLE of which begat the language …

This year let me talk about ‘APL’ — A Programming Language — the BRILLIANT coding system, for mathematicians, engineers and scientists, that was developed in the early 1960s by Ken Iverson. I can’t be 100% certain of this BUT I think I once ‘spoke’, obliquely (if I remember right), with Ken during my time at IBM. I will get to that in a second. Looking after APL was the first task I was given upon joining IBM (at Hursley) and going through about 10 days of orientation. I had been hired to work for the ‘System Support Group‘ (SSG). That it was called the ‘Swapping Society Group‘ had a lot to do with the 1970s and I will have to tell that story in a later post. So looking after APL meant that I was responsible for making sure that APL, which was an interpretive language, was readily available, 24×7, for all the hundreds of very clever engineers who used it for their work at Hursley — mainly for modeling engineering designs.

Though I was a programming language freak at the time — which is why IBM offered me a job during my 2nd year at University — and was proficient in about 5 languages, I did NOT know APL. Knowing APL was not a requirement per se. My job was to support the system — not write code. But I set out to learn APL and that was HUGELY rewarding and fun. I was never a master APL programmer (as I would be in Assembler, FORTRAN, PL/I, COBOL & PL/S) but I could get by — and most importantly those that used APL, in anger, at Hursley, knew that they could talk ‘APL’ to me and I would not be clueless.

I loved APL. It was so compact and terse. Not verbose like today’s programming languages. Much of it was done with SPECIAL mathematical symbols. Here are some examples of APL code. Neat … right?




So given all the special (Greek) symbols involved you needed a special APL keyboard to program in APL. 

IBM’s APL interpreter, which was very clever, was also VISUAL. That meant that you could create symbols by OVERTYPING and the system would recognize what it was. Well, in 1974, we, at least in Hursley, did not have any electronic terminals — i.e., (3270-like) displays. We used selectric teletype terminals for interactive programming and system management. Yes, we also, in 1974, used punched cards and paper tape. Given the symbols you needed a bespoke APL Selectric Golfball for APL. IBM, of course, made and sold them. You just needed to order them IF you planned to use APL. I kept a whole drawer full of APL Golfballs as part of my job for those that came by asking for one. I would also carry one in my pocket. Carrying a Golfball in your pocket really gives meaning to the expression ‘playing pocket golf’.


Selectric Golfball.

Well, soon after I joined Hursley we were tasked with implementing the new “APL Shared Variable”, APL SV, system. APL SV, like all of the IBM APL systems was developed in the ‘States’ — I think, at the time, in ‘Yorktown Heights’ in New York. SV was new and had some issues. There were a number of times I had to call the ‘States’ to report problems or ask for workarounds. My contact was Adin Falkoff, Ken’s collaborator and right hand man. Adin was very nice and always helpful. It was during one of these calls that I think Adin said “Ken says ‘Hi'”. Wow. [I always admired Adin’s last name.]

There was one printing problem in APL SV that had gone for over 6 months without a fix. The Hursley users were constantly bugging me about it. Though it wasn’t my job to FIX problems in APL SV — that being the prerogative of the ‘States’ — I decided to have a look. In those heady days ‘we’ — meaning anybody that worked for IBM — basically had ready access to the source code of more or less anything that IBM created. So I had the source code and I went digging. I found the problem. I fixed it. Even patched it locally on our system. Then I called up Adin and told him how to fix it. He was very pleased. BUT, not as pleased as my BOSS. He was ecstatic. It was funny. But in those days there was REAL competition between the ‘States’ and the non-U.S. labs. So now we had the situation that Hursley had fixed a bug that had foxed the ‘States’ for 6 months. This was why I could go off and watch cricket during the day and nobody complained! 

I miss APL. I keep on thinking about installing it on my PC.

Well that was 1974 to 1975, in Hursley, working for IBM when I wasn’t watching/playing cricket.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day In New Hampshire. Reflect. Rejoice. Resolve.


Anura Guruge

Related posts:
>> Boxing Day In New Hampshire … — Dec. 23, 2012.
>> Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve Scottish Style) … — Dec. 29, 2012.

Click to ENLARGE and appreciate. I got this picture, with much thanks, from ‘rnbphilly.com’ 100.3 WR&NB.

Click to access video and read article.

Click to access video and read article.

Given that I have lived in New Hampshire since 1986, I clearly recall when Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was not a holiday in New Hampshire. In those days I used to work in Massachusetts and it was a holiday there. I remember Danielle going to school in New Ipswich when there was no mention of Dr. King and a holiday.

Town of Alton, New Hampshire where I have lived since 2007, to my embarrassment, does NOT celebrate MLK Day. Town Hall and other facilities, including dump, are open on MLK Day.

I also remember, quite vividly, the day in 1968 when Dr. King was assassinated — though I had no idea who he was at that stage. I had come to the U.S., for the first time, on September 4, 1967 — my 14th birthday (my father, a great one for anniversaries planning our trip from Ceylon to the U.S. such that we left on August 27, my parent’s wedding anniversary and arrived in New York on September 4, my birthday). We lived in Buffalo, NY and I was attending Kensington High School in Buffalo — just a few blocks away from the very urban, working class neighborhood with subsidized housing that we lived in. It was a big impressive school; very friendly and accommodating. It had a huge swimming pool in the basement. That is where I learned to swim — being able to swim being mandatory in NY. The school was integrated and I was too naive to know if there was any strife. I didn’t see any. Since I ‘messed’ about on a number of sporting teams, with singular lack of distinction, I interacted with a lot of black kids. Most found it funny that I couldn’t run fast. They would try to teach me to run. One of them would run backwards urging me to keep up with him. It was, as far as I could tell, a happy school. I only saw one real fight and it was between two white kids, one of whom I knew.

Anyway, this day in Spring, as the snow was melting, the Fire Alarm rang. We all trooped outside. There were a lot of kids. Not sure how many. But, it was SMALL compared to Ananda College, my school in Ceylon. That was three schools in one, kindergarten all the way up to ‘A-levels’: lower-school, middle-school and upper-school. It had 6,000 kids, all brown, all boys and (in theory) all Buddhists. Anyway, back to Kensington. As we were standing outside, a BUZZ started. Kids were getting agitated. No problems. Just agitation and groups of kids talking, animated. Eventually we all trooped back. No sooner than we got in the alarm went off again. There were three alarms that day. The story was that black kids were pulling the alarm in protest. That is how I learned about Martin Luther King, Jr. and his tragic assassination.

In 1991 NH changed its archaic ‘Fast Day’ to ‘Civil Rights Day’ — albeit with no mention of Dr. King.
In 1999, the ‘Civil Rights Day’ was officially changed to
“Martin Luther King Day”,
NH thus becoming the last state to have a holiday named after
Dr. King.

Kensington High School, Buffalo, NY, more or less as it was when I attended from September 1967 to June 1968. Wikipedia, from which I got this picture, tells me that it was closed in 2003 due to ‘academic performance and increasing student violence’. Wow. It was not in a gentile part of Buffalo even in 1967. Though my father was a Professor (at the State University of NY at Buffalo (SUNYAB)), I guess this was the best that he could afford in those days, us having just come across from a 3rd world country that did not permit its currency to be converted into hard currencies. Looking back, it never bothered me! Given that I came from a huge, 3-story house with 14 bedrooms, it had to have been a shock to the system to move to a 2 bedroom tenement house. But, I don’t remember having any issues. I guess I was just excited to be living in a foreign country that had apple pie and ice cream — which we didn’t have in Ceylon. I put on 20 pounds my first 3 months — which I am still trying to shed. I ate apple pie and ice cream every day for months … [Would still do, if I could.]

budu madura

Just one of the myriad buildings that were a part of the sprawling, campus-based Ananda College, Ceylon — in the 1960s. This was the main middle school building. I remember being in the classroom, at the very top. I, having much privileges and clout as the ‘Head Boy – Middle School’ (having also held that at the lower school) sat right by the window, on the left. The glass on the window was broken. My father had nationalized the school. So the teacher’s blamed all that was wrong at the school on my father. So, on a regular basis, I would get told that the reason that the window was not being repaired was my father’s fault. I had given up conveying these messages to my adoptive father.