In order to try and make my compy last a little longer, I am trying to fix it myself. Brace for explosions.
Step 1) Backup the drive [currently in progress]
Step 2) Run Disk Doctor on it all
Step 3) Pray hard
If this works, then I don't need to fret about any further fixes... for now.
If it doesn't work, then I have to make an appointment with the local Apple Store to get the hard drive replaced. Sigh.
The backup's finished. Let's see what Disk Doctor can do.
Cross your fingers.