Follow-up to my dead projector issue:
Instead of having my projector repaired by ENCOMPASS - Mitsubishi is out of the projector business and has now out sourced all repairs - I asked tier 2 support if there was an alternative. Why? Well, I called ENCOMPASS for about 2 days and no one answered the phone. When I finally did get through, I was told that my call would be returned with an estimate if it was the ballast. No one ever returned the call. Suspicious, I made further enquiries (via google) and ENCOMPASS has very poor ratings. It looks like they are either incompetent or don't care or both. So, they won't be repairing my projector.
From the mitsubishi support web site of service locations: http://www.mitsubishi-presentations.com/service-center-locations/
I found a local repair place - official Mits service center - that will fix it for $250. It is the lamp-strike ballast - as was determined by Ron from tier 2 support at Mits (by the persistent clicking sound trying to strike an arc through the high-pressure and gas-filled bulb. NOTE: there is no filament in there.)
So far this projector has given us almost 6 years of great service and an absolutely stunning picture. If I can get another couple of years, then I would like the next projector to have a solid-state (LED, Laser or LED/Laser hybrid) light source. So far, this has proven illusive for projector manufacturers for home theater projectors. Data projectors have already made this leap into the future. But because the contrast is low and the colors are off, these solid-state light sources are inappropriate for the home theater.
If this problem happens to anyone else, then I would assume you would be able to get this fixed relatively easily. I hope to be back in business by the week-end.