Oh, my TV's not configured. No problem, I'll just turn this on and--
...fortunately Vista was smart enough to revert the driver settings to the prior configuration, so I wasn't treated to another repetition of this nonsense. I reasoned that the recent Service Pack 1 install that was rolled out broke the display driver; so I went to ATI and downloaded the latest patch and installed it.
Why the hell is it that Windows is incapable of remembering where you put your icons when the screen goes to a smaller resolution? All I was doing was installing updated drivers and I still had to re-arrange all my icons when the install was finished, because the crappy-ass Windows Default driver can't run in 1680x1050. Instead of taking this into account and, I don't know, backing up the appropriate INF files (or WTF-ever are their equivalents in this strange post-DOS world), they just write over the things with impunity and make the user fix it.
It's just wrong. I mean, come on--how hard would it be for the guy writing the installer to say to himself, "You know, I bet this'll scramble the user's icons if he's running anything above default resolution--I'll back up his desktop settings and restore them when the install is done, so I don't make him do all kinds of stupid crap that he really shouldn't have to do."
On the plus side of all this, once the new driver was installed, it had automatically gone back to the settings that included the TV, so I'm now able to watch anime again. Why those settings got backed up is a mystery for the ages, one I'll probably never have the answer to.
Another bonus is that these newer drivers are a bit faster, which also helps. (Or maybe the broken-ness was just making the thing slow down, and replacing the drivers restored the original speed. Either way, I win.)
* * *
And so, after my errands for the day were done, I checked out the Escort's front suspension, and found nothing wrong. So I guess I'll just drive it until it breaks, and then fix it.
Ball joints: solid as the rock of Gibraltar. Axles: doesn't seem to be any unusual amount of play in them. Tie rods: A-OK. (As expected; I only replaced them about 3,000 miles ago. If that.) Engine mounts: I could barely move the engine. I tried rocking the car and it still didn't move hardly at all, so the engine mounts seem okay.
My suspicion right now is the driver's side axle; it seems to have the most amount of play in it. If I'm right, it should fail gracefully and give me plenty of warning that it's going bad: the CV joint will start to make an awful rumble. If I'm wrong and it just goes snap one day, then I'll have the car towed home. F it.
But no diagnosis is complete without a worst-case scenario, and this one's a doozy: the differential side gears in the transmission. If the diff is going bad, I don't know what I'll do. Probably swap in the spare drivetrain, which would pretty much end my aspirations of putting it into the '86 Fiero. But if it's the diff, I expect it to go BANG at some point, which will be it for that transmission, anyway.
But, WTF, I bought the car for $400; what do I expect?