Reports of the imminent death of my MacBook earlier this week were, apparently, greatly exaggerated.
At the suggestion of my friend, Reed Stoner, I took my MacBook into the office today to have him look at it. He had some extra hard disks at home and offered to replace the hard disk in my computer and transfer all of the data over. He seemed convinced (and I agreed) that the problem was likely the disk. So this morning he did that and since the completion of the swap and data transfer, the laptop has been running without a hitch.
He also used compressed air to blow out the vents where the fan it. This stopped the fan from running constantly and that was nice, too.
Moreover, some time ago I reported about the problems I was having with the actual mouse and keyboard on the laptop. Since I only use the laptop as a desktop machine, I switched to BlueTooth keyboard and trackpad. Reed discovered (and fixed) the cause of the built-in trackpad problems: the battery! As it turns out, if you keep your laptop constantly plugged into AC, as I do, it can eventually mess with the battery. The battery will collect gas inside and expand, warping, and the warped battery was pressing up against the button for the trackpad. Removing the battery fixed the problem. And since I don’t need to take my laptop with me, I don’t need to replace the battery. I just run without one.
All told, it almost feels like I now have a new computer. I’m so glad that everything appears to be working normally again, and I’m grateful to Reed for getting it all fixed for me. Now I can get back to my daily 500 words of fiction without stressing that the laptop was going to die on my partway through.