After a valiant fight, my laptop hard drive gave up the ghost. It finally succumbed to a worn ball bearing. Fortunately, my supergeek friend rescued not only my data, but my laptop and my pride as well. Moral: Backup, backup, backup!!! (or to quote a cheesy Christian saying, "Jesus saves, so should you!")
Anyway, I'm going to give my old hard drive a proper funeral with a big hammer and a pair of pliers!