thanks to all, but nothing is working.
the strange thing is it was working fine for a month, then it just stopped. i can't recall doing anything different at the time.
i just tried Yahoo Widgets, and weather works fine there. but every weather one i try for windows sidebar won't connect. the RSS widget connects fine though!
i tried googling for a while, and this thread kept coming up on the first page. i really hate that!
oops i lied, the feed widget is displaying old feeds. and i just tried the currency widget, it won't connect either. so it's definitely a network issue. but i have not changed anything in my firewall, and it won't connect even when the firewall is off!