Now, let me explain this because it has totally and completely boggled me and I'm hoping someone can tell me wtf has happened to my browser:
I click on my Opera icon in the quickstart menu and there's a pause, the little eggtimer goes around and around and then stops, but no browser pops up. But when I ctrl>alt>del to view the Task Manager, there it is, running, under my name (supposedly the only identity on the computer - and WTF is ASP.NET anyway and why do they have a user account on my machine?!). But while it's there in Processes, isn't not there under Applications and it's not visible on my desktop at all.
I dialed the system back to a system restore point in August to try and undo whatever damage had been done by the freaky-ass power fluctuations, but after the restart - click - eggtimer - processes but not apps, yadda yadda yadda.
I finally had to install a new copy in a different directory and copy over what settings etc I could. (Thankfully that includes bookmarks and other precious data), but my Opera session was lost, so those 6 or 7 tabs I had open earlier? Yeah, not a freakin' clue what half of them were.
ETA: I also updated and ran Spybot and Ad-Aware and got rid of several evil cookies and registry entries (gods, I loathe Internet Exploder) and got a clean bill of health spy wise.
In conclusion: *CLINGS*