Thanks to overhearing Arjun ask Bernie a question in IRC tonight, I figured out why my keyboard "broke" and how to "fix it." Now that I know the answer, it seems obvious in retrospect. To see why, take a look at the OLPC Nigerian keyboard. Pay attention to the "h" key. (The problem was that my "h" key thought it was a "u".)
A quick /etc/sysconfig/keyboard edit switching my keyboard layout permanently from Nigerian to United States (until I relearn dvorak) solves everything. I guess my old build before the activated upgrade was set to US, and the activated upgrade... sets to Nigeria? In any case, "it's a feature, not a bug."
I can't believe I've never dug around this stuff before. I was always a wuss about breaking my computer (and other projects), so I never got the sheer amount of bug-fixing experiences most hackers seem to have cut their teeth on. Trying... to... fix. MUST BREAK THINGS MORE. Or alternatively, help other folks whose things are broken... which is why I think I learn more doing tech support and teaching than I would futzing about on my own. Instead of feeling guilty for wasting other people's time, I feel good that I'm helping someone else. (Yes, I'm aware this logic is erroneous. I am apparently not the average hacker, if there is such a thing.)
In other news, I think I'm getting pretty good at getting other people to hack. After spending most of the day in the Chinese consulate waiting for my dad's visa (last-minute work emergency for him; unexpected day-of-unproductivity for me) my mom and I went to the OLPC Chicago meetup at Google, which had (if I counted nametags right) over 50 people. A week earlier I'd expected maybe 30 to RSVP, tops.
Things went phenomenally well (thanks to all the attendees, not my lack of meeting-holding-skillz; everyone pretty much organized themselves) - but I won't talk about it here just yet, because I promised Seth I'd save my report for the 'zine issue coming out soon. Now if I can just attend events that I'm not running and actually get some hacking of my own done... (I really want to go to PyCon, but I'll be in New York while all the awesomeness is happening, including Mike's Sugar tutorial.)
I've been sleeping on a mattress in the corner of my parents' room for the past few nights because it is Damn Cold here and my room gets a feeble trickle of lukewarm air from the heater, which (plus thick fuzzy blankets) is Not Enough. Especially since I still have to prop myself up on 4 pillows and cough for an hour before I'm able to conk out. On the other hand, this counts as Getting Better. So I am satisfied.