i've figured out what the problem is.
apparently the 0.9 version of "win32disk imager" does not flash SD cards properly, it is an absolutely non-functional, broken piece of software that simply did not do what it was supposed to do, and thus is the root cause of all the troubles i've been having.
my computer was running windows XP, so i had to use the 0.9 version of "win32disk imager" which is compatible with XP.
today, i started to have a sneaking suspicion that it was the flasher's fault, so, i hastily upgraded my PC to a 64bit version of windows 7 and installed
etcher and tried flashing the SD card again....and viola! as soon as i put my SD card into the raspberry pi, it boots up great, and everything works as it should.
a quick look at "win32disk imager"'s site reveals the following feedback by a fellow user:
pcpunk: Piece of sh#t! Don't even do what it is said to. It's not even a USB Image writer. Looks like a Hasher?
i had to wipe my entire C partition to install a 64bit version of windows 7 just to use etcher.
it took me a whole afternoon to have to backup all my data which i will now have to painstakingly restore due to "win32disk imager"
this has not been a pleasant experience. the developers of "win32disk imager" should've paid attendtion to feedback and fixed this long ago.