I should've known. I presented the session management part of the Winters protocol to a security newsgroup. It was pretty much shot down. They even asked why I was designing my own protocol instead of using SSL or SSH or some other well-established protocol. The answer is that they don't take advantage of one unique aspect of the application I'm designing the protocol for: all legitimate sessions are necessarily derived from a root session. My protocol thus can do without all long-term keys, symmetric or asymmetric. Oh well, back to the drawing board (and I'm getting a copy of Schneier).
I decided to rebuild my home system, which naturally runs Debian, from scratch to do away with all its cruft. Of course I forgot that I need the drivers diskette even in the NFS install, and of course I noticed that after wiping out my previous install. I had no access to the network anymore. I had several past versions of Debian on CD's but alas, my CD drive is broken. I even had some old boot disks for Debian 1.3, Debian 0.93r6, and Slackware 3.0. Unfortunately, none of them would build my system into a shape where it could reach out to the net to grab the stuff I needed. Ended up calling a nearby friend and using his machine for creating that much needed drivers diskette.
Today my network connection suddenly dropped. Turned out my network card was loose and had disconnected.