Wife decided that linux wasn't for us. seems the screen flicker bothered her. she was able to tell me once she recovered from the seizures. Boy needs to play his game, too, and since i couldn't get wine installed, i decided to put linux off for the short term at least.
the bad part is that, after re-installing XP, my network no worky. i can only use the linux boot disk to get on the webs. maybe linux ruined my machine! other odd bit: at no point during my windows install could i donk with my partitions. i had to use the linux boot disk. once it loaded, it took no more than a couple of minutes to find the appropriate tool and make it do its magic.
summary: if Wife could be more patient and Boy could forgo the game, i'da stuck with linux. the one sticking point for me was itunes and i discovered that it's no big deal to sync the ipod via rhythmbox or banshee.