good news!

so, i decided to try the famed "jam something between the metal shielding and plastic bottom cover directly above the GPU" trick, and lo and behold, it worked!  I ended up using some polyeurethane surface savers...aka feet for miscellaneous stuff.  my only worry is that the heat from the GPU might melt them if it gets too hot.  I have a few left over, so i'm going to put 'em in the toaster oven and see how much heat they can take.

Thanks for your replies, and i'm hoping this fix will last me the next 4 months till i'm done school, then i'm going to retire it and do something really crazy with it.

I'm still open to fun mod ideas as a hobby project though, i'm all about creativity!