Really, in the end, I have nobody to blame but myself, I suppose.
I found out that, when the Mac can't find its system folder, it will flash a folder with an alternating image of a question-mark and a Finder logo.
It's all kind of amusing, actually.
Now, for some dumb reason, I'm determined to learn PHP and MySQL. Having obtained the most recent PHP, I wanted to install it, and I did so.
I'm thinking now that I didn't completely understand the installation instructions, because what I did caused PHP to break down...or at least that's what it looked like. I was treated to the amusing spectactle of typing 'http://localhost/~eagle/phpid.php" only to have Apache tell me that my machine couldn't talk to herself. Hmm.
Ah, no worry; I'll just reinstall Tiger. After waiting for it to me most of the way done, the installer got to 98% finished in installed Finnish and...stalled. I didn't panic-immediately. Things sometimes pause. But after a half and hour of being 5 minutes away from being done, I had suspecting that all was not well.
Reboot the computer. Remove the Tiger DVD-ROM. Try to reboot. And the Mac tells me "you took away my system folder, you bastich!"
So, we're reinstalling but starting back from OS X 10.3.2. The applications are complaining; I'll have to reinstall QuarkXPress, and work out an activation issue with Adobe on the Creative Suite.
But...hey...at least PHP is working again! So, there's a takeaway right there.