Thank you, everyone, for the advice I received on my LiveJournal. I really, really don’t want it to be an impending hard drive failure, but I’ve already had the laptop for over four years. At this point I’m pretty much playing with the casino’s money.
Still, I downloaded OnyX from the developer’s site, and ran it. It checked the S.M.A.R.T. whatever and assures me that the hard drive is not about to fail (which I take with a grain of salt). It also repaired permissions and changed a bunch of things that Disk Utility completely ignored.
Anyway, things seem to be working pretty well, alluvasudden (knock on my wooden head), and I’m hopeful that the casino will keep fronting me chips for a while. In the meantime, stuff’s backed up and I have a crapton of work to do.
Thanks again. I’m really grateful.