Ok, everyone, thank you for all the assistance. Here is what I found out, and what I need to know now.
1. The x11-driver-video-nvidia173, which was apparently removed, is now back, upgraded to 173.14.31-1pclos2012, with today's upgrade of the repos in Synaptic. I did a reload and upgrade all, and it came up and I selected it. I also selected pclos3.pae.bfs, the 2.6.38 kernel with pae, that I didn't have before. The machine boots nicely into that kernel and the video now has the right colors--people look like people, not like some aliens out of Startrek.
2. The other thing I found is that the 3.18 kernel that wouldn't boot into the gui could be started with startx after I put in the original video fix that was posted here (but before
I got the new Nvidia driver). When it came up, my desktop was gone, and a peculiar desktop showed up instead. I could put the old background up--it's a .png file that
OldPolack was nice enough to get for me a year or more ago. But none of my program icons, and some other stuff showed up that I didn't care for. So that's when I
went back to 2.6.38, this time with pae.
I think I'll just remain with the 2.6 kernel, unless I can get the same gui as I have now with the new kernel. Call me a stick-in-the-mud, if you want!
Now what I need to know is how to modify menu.lst to put this 2.6.38 pae kernel on top. What happens if I deselect (in Synaptic) the kernels I'm not using? Or just tell me
how to edit the file so as to put 2.6.38-8pae on top, with a safe mode that also boots to that kernel. It occurs to me that I might go to "Update MBR" from this
screen that I'm on now. Would that work?
Thanx again, folks--doug