In the end, the Geniuses at the Apple store couldn't get my hard drive to function enough to recover any data. Being the Geniuses that they were, they also failed to call me to inform me of this fact before they tossed out my old hard drive and replaced it with a new one. I spent a few happy days last week thinking all my data could be recovered, then was hit with the horrific realization that it was all gone when I booted up my computer to find a pristine hard drive.
It turned out that the piece of crap backup program that came with my Lacie Firewire drive hadn't been backing up properly for at least half a year, so a good chunk of my e-mail, music, and photos just evaporated. In this day and age, losing the data on your hard drive is like having a couple robbers walk out with your furniture and music collection. Very depressing. Living in the digital era, it's almost as if nothing happened if it wasn't documented and digitized into pictures, e-mail.
After a week, I've almost gotten my computer back the way it was. After almost five years using a computer, it fits as comfortably as your favorite pair of jeans. If I've failed to return your e-mail recently, know that it's probably because I don't have it anymore. I can't wait until all my data is stored on some remote server and backed up daily by some third party.
If there is any benefit to this, it's that my computer was cleared of the clutter that tends to occur through regular use. I tend to be a packrat in the physical world, and I'm no different with digital assets. If someone stole all my clothing, I'd be devastated, not to mention naked, but in some shadowy corner of my mind I'd be thrilled at the opportunity to rebuild my wardrobe from scratch.