Let's see which problem to try to solve first. Since the mailbox problem is understood, I suspect I should go investigate the laptop problem first. Time to pull the disk and stick it in another machine.
Obviously, I'm getting little real work done today.
Comments about how I should drink the koolaid and start paying Apple big bucks or switch to a gelded operating system without a lot of required software are not necessary or appreciated. Those are not an option.
Update: It looks like all non-protected files in C:\ got deleted. Probably by someone (me?) doing del *.* in the wrong directory. (No viruses or file system corruption were found.) Of course why boot.ini was not +S +H +R is another story. Double fail. At least the machine is back.