So Giles was half right. I have bad RAM in my iBook. The half that Giles was wrong about was that the bad RAM was the aftermarket part. Uh uh. It's the part that's soldered to the motherboard. Ouch.
For about six months (according to my panic.log,) my iBook has been very intermittently giving me kernel panics at various times, usually in startups. The problem is, of course, that it seemed intermittent. It would crash after boot, during boot, as soon as the Apple logo appeared... and sometimes it would get stuck on the little rotating logo during boot.
I found this out while following the directions at thexlab.com - which I highly recommend to anyone who is self-troubleshooting their Macintosh. I ran the Apple Hardware Test application that's on my system disk. I've done this before, but here's the catch: I did it as soon as I got my first panic. This told me about the bad motherboard RAM.
So... I re-ran the test... no error.
Did it again, no error.
This seems to be telling me that the RAM issue is heat-affected... and when the machine warms up, it works. I just have to let it sit on for a while after it has crashed.
Why in the world did Apple hard-wire RAM to the motherboard? It would be great to just be able to swap out a stick of RAM. Instead, I'm relegated to either a new motherboard, or a new computer.
No, of course I didn't get AppleCare. And it just makes me frustrated when I watch this on Lydia's non-crashing Dell.