What I didn't mention is that just as the hard drive was dying on the upstairs computer, the laptop (which rubyloot uses when I'm up here, or vice versa) power brick died. Now, power bricks are cheap commodities. Compaq/HP is still using this particular brick on other laptops.
Therefore, it really annoyed me to find that the only place in town that had one, wanted $90 for it. They sell regularly for under $50 online, and the best price on ebay was $17 + shipping, which came out $23.00. So rather than spend more money we don't have from the checking account, used some of our paypal balance to cover it.
Anyway. The upstairs computer. Wouldn't boot, even after I made sure and sys'ed the new drive, finally scrounged up a copy of the ntldr and ntdetect.com from the i386 directory on the XP install CD, probably should also find a valid boot.ini file so it won't issue the stupid error message, and set them all system/hidden.
But, it's all better, and the C: drive is sitting there mostly idle.
Now, the main hassle: Trying to restore all the myriad favorites and bookmarks.