So got a new motherboard and some new memory. The computer was still not working. However the wife, bless her soul, mentioned that maybe I should try the old memory in the new mobo. Sure enough, it booted and stayed stable. Yay. Now I can surf again.
Oh and she got me a dvd+-r/w Sony DR710UL external. The successor to the one I have at work. And it's a sweet piece of hardware. The Nero stuff isn't that bad either, but then again I didn't really get a choice in burning software and the native stuff for Windows XP tried to think that the drive was a CD writer. The only weird thing now is that one of the cdrw drives in the machine (of which there are two) wouldn't detect or show in the items known category till I did an 'Add Software'. Very odd.