flew too close to the sun
ok, here's what really happened.
after getting my workstation all cozy w/ Ubuntu in one partition and Windows 7 in another, i opted to install Windows XP in a third partition. this would make it easy for me to boot into my three target OSes w/o devoting new hardware or messing w/ RAM-gobbling virtual images. except... after installing XP, the partition service (grub) was hosed completely. even worse, i found that XP had hacked up both my Windows 7 boot space *and* my shared file space. XP install is not a very friendly neighbor!
jesse tried to bring things back inline, but failed. i finally decided to pull the plug on W7 for now and went w/ XP and Ubuntu on the same drive. i'll get W7 running on another drive sometime soon.
now that things are settled down, i'm still having fun. the only bummer is that, every 30 min or so i realize that i'm missing some important piece of software that was not installed in the rebuild. good news is that i'm just deciding (sometimes) to *not* install some software bit and working around it or learning to use something else (already installed) in it's place. not a bad strat for clearing out old stuff, eh?