my disks from cheapbytes arrived today, and feisty fawn is installing at this very moment… which gives me the very strong impression that it actually was the disk from canonical that was wonky, and not the CD-ROM drive or the hard disk.
also, tomorrow is the first day of ganesha chaturthi… so… happy ganesha chaturthi everyone! 8)
now, back to my install. hopefully i will have a functioning computer again shortly.