Price gripes aside, as of this very moment I have my plane tickets booked and my car reserved. I leave on Thursday and I'll be back on Saturday. Work is just going to have to cope with my taking emergency bereavement leave.
youngvanwinkle -- I know you offered crash space while I was in the state and I really appreciate your generosity. Given that my uncle lives 2 hours outside of Houston I'll just stay at his house and lend whatever hand I can during my all-too-brief stay.
[Addendum at 2108: USB 2.0 can suck a bucket of ass. FireWire 400 (aka "First generation Firewire", not to be confused with FireWire 800 aka "Second Gen Firewire") is about five orders of magnitude faster than this shitheap of a protocol. It's taking forever to copy my entire MP3 collection onto the iPod in preparation for my flight, all because Apple completely abandoned FireWire on the video (5G) iPod because their user market is expanding so strongly in the PC arena and all the Windows mouth-breathers were confused by the shining beacon of hope that was IEEE-1394.