I'd also like to take a moment to thank the fine folks at Acronis for making the incredibly awesome Acronis TrueImage software. With TrueImage I not only had a backup of Curmudgeon's dying disk drive (which was very nice to have when I literally blew the magic smoke out of the poor thing) but it also included a "CloneDrive" feature that copied everything off the old disk (including the boot sector) onto a new disk and gracefully resized partitions to deal with the differing capacity of the new drive. That made things go a lot more smoothly.
A big "Blow me" to Western Digital for putting that weirdass feature on their drives, and a "blow me" likewise goes out to Via for having such a freakishly twitchy SATA chipset.
And now I away to do some last-minute Christmas shopping with Mudgeon.