The laptop monitor failure I suffered in San Diego (but which had been building up before that) has now been resolved. HP's repair technician came out and was both courteous and professional. He also came prepared with a replacement monitor. He stuck it out to make sure that the new monitor fixed the problem and that the Wifi wire harness, which wasn't a perfect fit, still worked and gave a solid signal (it did). So HP earns back one of the "customer service matters" points it's lost recently, and all credit to them for that.
Incidentally, I seem to have reversed the polarity of my usual Computer Healing Touch (those of you who do tech support know what I mean -- the problem goes away once you walk into the room). While my laptop was in repair I looked around for something to use temporarily, and my first stop was the HP netbook that's in our office. But it won't turn on, the screen stays black and the keyboard lights nonresponsive, even though it was working last week. (Yes, I tried resetting everything, using an external monitor, etc.) I also sat down at a loaner on Al's desk, but it, too, had its screen wink out on me. It's enough to make a fellow paranoid.
But the new monitor is not only working, it's better. First, there's the brightness. Laptop monitors start nice and bright, then fade with time, but you don't really notice since it's so gradual. But when it gets replaced, you suddenly see how much you lost. It looks lovely. Second, the resolution is significantly higher. And it wasn't small potatoes before! I am having to reconfigure programs to use bigger fonts because it was hard to read, even with my vision. Right now it's running 1920 by 1200; the slider has two more positions but I am not going to try them since this looks like the native resolution.
When I talked to Al about the problem, back before it was fatal yet, he insisted we should also talk about getting me a new laptop, so I spent a few hours putting together the specs for a new one. Now I need to pin him down on whether he's changed his mind on this subject, or if maybe he already ordered it (I sent him the specs more than a week ago, after all). Things have been too busy to ask him so far.