Thanks for your response ProstheticHead.
That's a good question now that I think about it. My friend was running Vista; I am running 7. Maybe that has something to do with it. Actually, new developments: I updated the mobo bios to the latest version just to see if that would change anything. Along with that I updated some other drivers, including the one for the wireless card. Nothing seemed to change.
Then I was looking at the statistics provided by the RALink utility that came with the wireless card. It produced some interesting numbers:
Frames Transmitted Successfully = 0
Frames Retransmitted Successfully = 0
Frames Fail To Receive ACK After All Retries = 220 (I honestly don't know what this means but I think it is significant?)
Frames Received Successfully = 4271
Frames Received with CRC Error = 1276 (This number dropped significantly after I pulled the battery out of my cordless phone)
Frames Dropped Due to Out-of-Resource = 0
Duplicate Frames Received = 0
So, anyway, anyone who has a suggestion for fixing this, please respond.