i am an unrequited astronomer, pretend patient, gentle adventurer, pedal enthusiast, recovering calligrapher, occasional thespian and unfinished poet living in portland, oregon. contacting me via email is usually a good idea.
aaaaaaaaha! i think my nefarious troubles were related to a corrupt font! when i reviewed my notes from the previous episode, i did a search for info about the ATSServer, which i finally learned is the Apple Type Solution Server (a user process responsible for managing the available fonts and making them available to applications). not that most of my symptoms looked like they had anything to do with fonts, mind you, but reading that reminded me that i had just added a bunch of fonts to ~/Library/Fonts/, so i took them out and rebooted. poof! everything works again! michael verified that when he had consistent crashing & wake from sleep problems several months ago, it was also due to a corrupt font.
geesh, if i had known that earlier i would have saved myself 2.5 days of work. there's not enough info on os x troubleshooting yet. :P