I think my iPod and I may have reached a truce that will take us perhaps until Christmas (or beyond?)...
When I plug the iPod in, it loads replacement podcasts until it encounters a disk error (at a little under half full). I don't press the issue, and it doesn't flip out.
Hypothesis: an iPod mini *may* be in Christmas or Christmas+birthday present range for one of my parents. Alternately, I'm going to be paid for running a silk painting workshop, I'll be earning more tutoring money next term... and who knows? Maybe I'll sell a painting at the fall art show? In the fall, I'll feel more comfortable about spending money on a new iPod than I do at the moment.
In a nice discovery, I found out that university staff *do* qualify for an education discount, contrary to what the Apple promotion guy told me. (The apple site mentioned staff, and I asked at Computers on Campus too.) Not that there's an education discount on iPods, but there are on new laptops. (Although I *could* buy a laptop and get a rebate for a free iPod touch right now, I think I'd prefer an iPod mini, and waiting a bit longer before spending the money on a laptop.)