Welcome back Mr. Caputo...
A number of people have been commenting on Martin Fowler's "Transactionless" essay. I didn't realize how unusual that approach seems.
I've said a number of times in public that if I had not begun my career by reading COBOL instead of, say, Java, I probably would not have gotten so far so fast.
Likewise, if I had not begun my career dealing with ISAM files instead of relational databases, I would probably have a much shallower understanding of what databases are and how they work.
In fact, of all the projects I've ever been a part of, one of the most impressive, most critical, and most educational was converting several enormous databases full of life-critical 911 location information from what was essentially a fancy ISAM arrangement to a true SQL database. Even at the time, though, our target SQL db did not have full support for referential integrity, so I became quite familiar with code that handles both referential-integrity checks and also that handles commits and rollbacks based on those checks.
I once wrote an article called "Old School Meets New Wave". Its funny how certain old techniques return to use over and over.