Well, I gave Mepis a go, and it seemed to work pretty well (apart from a mouse detection issue, that because I have plenty of XPs with Linux I was able to fix). Mepis is Debian based, and the mistake I made was to try to upgrade from Mepis directly to Debian unstable. That broke KDE. Time to start over.
I haven’t yet tried to salvage any of my data. Much of what I value is gone. Some is recoverable, like the many mp3s and oggs I’ll have to re-rip from my CDs. Others aren’t, like photographs of my daughter. And my Mozilla bookmarks are gone, too.
I’m trying to take this as a liberating experience somehow. Not sure exactly what I mean by this yet. I’m pretty incoherent just now.
So anyway, if you are a friend wondering why I’m not emailing you, it’s probably because I’ve lost your address. email me so I have your address again.