Today was one o' them "Aha's!!"...or maybe. I think so. Here's what started this epiphany of found knowledge:
Back when I was desparately de-worming my computer, (after last summer's devastation) and learning a lot (one Pyrrhic victory after another) I finally got to where I re-formatted my hard drive-probably 3 times in the course of a weekend-until I got it right.
Anyway, it dawns on me today while I'm wandering around the jobsite with my surveyor's transit over my shoulder-'cause I'm thinkin' about attacking the computer in the trailer with similar intensity (as a last resort to clean the cobwebs outta that little puppy)-"How come, if I sand-blasted my hard-drive right down to the bare metal (and then put a primer coat-Windows-back onto it), was there a piece of intelligent soft-ware left in place to do the thinking?" Obviously, the entire hard drive wasn't rendered bare, butt-ugly nekid. Something hung around to do the work of re-formatting, etc., etc. What was that little nugget (kernel?) and where does it live? Was that the BIOS, that is somehow wedded as one with the hard-drive, never to be ripped-off and thrown aside?
The concept this question poses somehow strikes me as a basic life form question, kinda like the origins of the universe. If someone can make sense of this, my oneness with computer mysticism will move into the wispy clouds of the great mountain that lies beyond Windows Wonderland.