Good news! My laptop is okay (Thank God!) and I found out what the problem was. When I plugged in the charger, the light would turn on but it would fizzle out. I raise it up, lights up. I put it down, turns off. Connection to the laptop was fine but then I noticed a little frazzled exposed wire. One trip to the computer store and now I'm connected, just needed a new charger. I had the original ac adapter where you wrap the little cord around the prongs. So if you have that kind, don't wrap the cord around the prongs too tightly.
I guess three years of doing that plus some heat from the wires made my adapter a done deal.
As for running through all the possibilities of the next computer being a laptop or a desktop....I think it would be a laptop again. Being able to work from anywhere is a hard habit to break.