So after hearing absolutely nothing on my DSL problem for over 48 hours, I called Earthlink back. I got a rep who actually seemed to have a clue, and didn't treat me like I was a moron. This was progress. She also seemed to grasp that error messages reading "Hardware error" usually do not indicate a software reinstall solution -- particularly not when the (obviously clued) customer states very firmly that they have not installed any new software nor made any changes on the system. (You hear that, Sam? "Hardware error" does not equal "reinstall software". Got it?)
So now it looks like the modem has gone bad. Which, actually, I had asked the illustrious Sam about. (His response was to reconfigure my network settings in a nonsensical manner.) If Illustrious Sam had told me back on Saturday that I might want to get a new modem, then all would have been fine and I would have picked one up over the weekend -- when I had time. Now (since I didn't get a competent rep for two more days) I am going to end up having to skip my class in order to pick up a modem. Heaven knows when I'll have time to configure it.
On the bright side, roomie figured out that the phone number we were using to connect on the dial-up wasn't the right one. On the down side, it causes both of our computers to shut down and reboot about every 5-10 minutes. I am still not a happy customer.
It's a good thing there is no World Rally Radio, since I seriously doubt that I'll be able to get this fixed by the weekend. OTOH, I'm starting to seriously consider that $435 flight down to Mexico. I could really use a vacation...
In unrelated news, I go begging a new mortgage broker for a loan today. *crosses fingers* I hope this one goes better.