Okay, so I am a Mom. I am a lot of other things, too, but the Mom part seems to take up most of my life.

Some days I feel as though I will die of boredom and no one will even notice. I will just sit here amid the smattering of toys and books with titles like "The Foot Book", and quietly give up the ghost.

Of course, if I died loudly, my children might notice. But I will have to compete with Steve from Blue's Clues and an orange car that plays La Cuccaracha over and over.

I watch as my carpet slowly changes from white to a kind of dingy brown, and wonder if the vacuum cleaner will even make a difference. I try. It doesn't. I sort of knew that it wouldn't, but you have to try, don't you?

Yesterday, my children started school. For the first time, they are not with me. I had five hours to fill. They loomed ahead of me like mountains, and I have no gear to climb them.

I got a ticket on the way to the school in the morning. I didn't care.

When I got home, the house seemed so large and empty. I decided to fill it with music. I cranked up the stereo with Black Sabbath and vacuumed the dingy carpet again. When the CD player switched to my Steve Miller Band CD, it was time for lunch.

I called a friend and we headed to a Chinese restaurant. When we were finished eating, it was time to pick up my children. The day passed so quickly, that I hardly had time to miss them.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, that I'm more than a disciplinarian, injury kisser, clothes washer, food dispenser. I used to be cool. I once had purple hair. Did I mention that? I was in a band. I remember high school. I had friends. And now what I am is a woman, no longer a girl, who has dreams and ideas and loves a man.

The man is brilliant, and he is a writer. Maybe not for a living, but a least for a life. He had dreams, too. And ideas. And I wonder, do I inhibit them?

Maybe tomorrow after I'm done watching the grass grow, I will ask him. And I can hear his answer. It is always the same. "I love you", he'll say. And I can live with that. For now.

An acronym for Message Orientated Middleware. This is software that passes data between applications by means of enscapsulating it in packet-like structures called messages. The movement of these messages is co-ordinated over the network from application to application by middleware. This is like e-mail for programs, though middleware provides other functionality too.

To give an example, suppose Widget Inc. wants to create a website to sell it's industry leading resons online. It has to connect it's existing infrastructure (production orders, invoicing, etc.) to the web frontend. This existing infrastructure is spread over various machines on its network.

How could you do this? Assuming the old applications already have some exposed APIs, one way is to invoke them directly when a customer hits the submit button on their order basket.

This is nice and simple, but potentially has a number of problems. What if the network fails while the customer's order is being processed? They might receive an invoice but no delivery of resons. Or what if slashdot posts a story about reson cooled PCs performing better than water-cooled ones? Your order system might quickly become overloaded.

Middleware can handle these problems (god, I sound like a salesperson). Here, when a user hits the submit button, messages are generated and put onto a queue server. The middleware delivers these to the legacy applications (they have to know about messages which may require some rewriting or adapter programs) which process the order in the same way as before.

But this time, if the network goes down, the middleware can preserve all the messages so that when it comes back up, nothing has been lost. Equally, if the site is suddenly hit with large numbers of orders, the middleware can start up more instances of the handling applications, in much the same way that Apache can create and shutdown extra instances of itself to handle demand for web pages.

These are some of the advantages. What are the disadvantages? It's certainly a lot of infrastructure to put in if you don't already have it. And it costs, if not for the software, then definitely for all the extra staff you'll need to put it in

An associated buzz phrase is EAI - Enterprise Application Integration.

Chuck Lorre situation comedy that debuted in 2013.

They say that comedy is tragedy plus time, because time and perspective are required in order to see the humor in the situations that provoke us to need to laugh at them. 

Lorre, one of the show's creators and the mastermind behind The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men is a recovering alcoholic, and one of his most famous actor hires, Charlie Sheen - well, his problems with substance abuse are literally legendary. Part of the problems with the meltdown around Sheen on the show had to be due to the clash of alcoholic personalities, dirty laundry was aired all around.

I'm sure Lorre channeled his recovery into the genesis of this sitcom, which follows three generations of women and their complex relationship with each other and the addictions that bind them.

Anna Faris plays Christy Plunkett, a young woman who is one year sober from alcohol at the beginning of the pilot episode. A montage of her life leading there is seen in the show's opening credits, featuring her first as a rowdy young stripper, then in a mugshot, and finally with her mother and daughter (both of whom turn out to also be addicts).

The primary relationship in the show is between Christy and her mother Bonnie (Allison Janney), who is also an alcoholic, drug user and gambler. There is no such thing as an ex-addict, once one is addicted one stays so for life. It's a disease which can go into remission but has no cure. So the show follows her and her mother (the daughter, revealed to be pregnant in the first season, was quietly written out having decided to adopt the baby out and leave the household). There is also a younger son, but his character (who is seen to be slowly falling into alcoholism and drug experimentation himself) has moved in with his father - making the primary thrust of the show about the relationship between the two wpmen.

The show mostly centers around their lives as addicts - they are often in an AA meeting, and participation in sobriety meetings are a crucial plot point. Via this, the two women have a support network of friends including fabulously rich divorcee socialite Jill Kendall (Jamie Pressly), Christy's best friend - and a cast of motley women who range from the housewife to the dowdy spinster. 

Finding humor in the vicissitudes of addiction is possible because the entire cast's characters are established to have been sober for a significant amount of time - so that recollections of arrest, living in a car, the downsides to drug usage and more get the rose tinted glasses effect. However, it also adds poignancy to any conflict because we know the characters are especially vulnerable and at risk when things go south.

Needless to say if you're going to play the dangerous game of riffing on a source of deep societal pain, you walk a razor's edge and you have to be savagely funny. Done right, it's cathartic. Done passably, it's Arthur with Dudley Moore - and done poorly, it's Arthur with Russell Brand.

Lorre and company have very wisely moved the at-risk characters more out of the picture, and assembled a fantastic cast with impeccable comic chops and some really damn good writing. If you're in a Chuck Lorre comedy, you're probably going to be giving a "surprised reaction" stare a lot, and Anna Faris' blank unbelieving stare is the best yet. 

They are able to riff on societal attitudes to alcohol, including an interesting against-the-usual-grain subplot in which Christy's estranged ex and her son's biological father inadvertently leaves his marijuana unguarded around the 14 year old boy. Things are bad when Christy worries that her son is falling into drug use - and riffs on the double standard we have towards getting thoroughly inebriated on either alcohol or marijuana. The punchline to that whole subplot is that the son finally admits that he went for the weed because his father was out of beer, implying that they were worrying about the wrong substance all along.

It's been positively reviewed and has received multiple awards in its three season run - with no sign of flagging in sight. At once humorous, but also dark but also therapeutic and cathartic, it's a welcome addition to CBS on Thursday nights.

 

 

 

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