So, as I booted up for the first thing this morning I had two consecutive kernel panics during the boot process. Both had to do with ACPI. ACPI is the bios tool for suspending and hibernating a computer. I found a simple fix but am going to hold off applying it unless I get more panics. It was strange that it panicked on boot now after dozens of boots with no panics.
While I was researching the panic issue I happened to find the fix to my missing splash screen at boot. Turns out that it was simply a resolution problem. The splash config was specifying 1280x1024 but my laptop's resolution is actually 1280x800. The fix was simple and now I get to see the splash screen. Joy.
Finally, I noticed that I no longer had the eye-candy visual effects that I had been drooling over. Under the System->Preferences->Appearance tab I saw that they were turned off so I turned them back on. Within a few minutes my computer locked up. That's great news because now I know that the problem with the computer freezing had nothing to do with Firefox and everything to do with my ATI Radeon graphics card. So, for now, I'll file that information away and deal with it later. Back to the no-visual-effects Gnome. Sigh.
Today, I really need to get work done on a Ruby gem that I'm writing that searches Medical and Scientific publications. Hopefully Eclipse won't get in my way like it did last week. Wish me luck!