Ok, a new chip, some more RAM, and a Bios upgrade later, my machine decided to stop chewing on its ass and behave.
I now have an XP 2500+ and a gig of PC2700 DDR. Not a huge upgrade, but it’s a sweet ‘n short trip to tide me over until I can get one of the new Athlon 64’s and a new mobo. mmmmmmmmmm …. hardware … *drools*