even with a corrupt disk, most of the data can be recovered
if in doubt run fsck
if that doesn't work, remember there are special little flags you can use to force the issue
if that doesn't work, telling the computer to fsck thrice will sometimes actually work
"volume successfully repaired"... we'll see.
Well, it rebooted, and I have Desktop, now we'll see if the corrupt piece of crap data really was flushed and the rest of the disk is there.
It is though comforting to know I can still hack it with Unix. One of these essential survival skills that you don't forget.