Well, the system has been stable overnight with the spin up drive.
Good grief! I just found the problem. Here was the line that led me to it:
writhziden's link to usasma's SSD quote
-> Crystal Dew World
-> Crucial firmware upgrades
-> Crucial m4 2.5 inch (9.5mm) SSD:
Release Date: 01/13/2012
- Changes made in version 0009 (m4 can be updated to revision 0309 directly from either revision 0001, 0002, or 0009)
- Correct a condition where an incorrect response to a SMART counter will cause the m4 drive to become unresponsive after 5184 hours of Power-on time. The drive will recover after a power cycle, however, this failure will repeat once per hour after reaching this point. The condition will allow the end user to successfully update firmware, and poses no risk to user or system data stored on the drive.
This firmware update is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED for drives in the field. Although the failure mode due to the SMART Power On Hours counter poses no risk to saved user data, the failure mode can become repetitive, and pose a nuisance to the end user. If the end user has not yet observed this failure mode, this update is required to prevent it from happening. If you are using a SAS Expander please do not download this Firmware. As soon as we have a Firmware Update that will work in these applications we will release it.
Here is the link to the upgrading of the firmware
for Crucial m4 SSD's. So I believe the firmware is at 0001 (it's what is listed on the drive and I haven't upgraded it). It will be at 0309 when it's done.
I will post what the final results of this monkey show are and whether the drive is happy after the firmware upgrade. Thanks once again to writhziden and Seven Forums. Without it, who knows if I would have ever found that tiny little clause of esoteric BS on Crucial's webpage. If it works, then at least nothing has been permanently lost or broken!