Two housecalls later, the Pank is back up and running. It wasn't the machine (as I cleverly deduced by taking it to the office with me and seeing if it worked there -- and it did). It was, I think what you kids today, call "The Wi Fi."
I was only able to talk myself into the netbook at all after the best computer store in the world opened up in my neighborhood -- instilling confidence that I could keep the thing up and running. (Everyone who has a computer is basically like everyone who has a Jag -- they spend all their time in the shop.) They set the thing up, and the Owner has now ridden to the rescue twice when I flashed the pink Barbie head distress signal into the sky over the DiscoKroger. Luckily, the solution involved some really high-tech shit.
I woulda been so embarrassed if he had taken one look at the thing and said, "the ON button is right HERE." Instead, it basically involved repairing wireless access for the entire neighborhood. (You're welcome, Neighborhood.) And also: I think we launched a space shuttle -- just for fun. One thing I know for sure: if you are lucky enough to know people in life like PowerGeeks and FoodGays, you had BETTER do whatever it takes to stay on their good side.