Not the "reader" (of the camera card) at all!!!
After 3 different BRAND NEW readers (all returned because NONE of them worked)
I FINALLY clued in that it MUST be the card itself!
so, I went and bought a new card.
took a bunch of photos using the new card.
plugged the whole contraption into my mac.
i have no idea what to try next.
so i'm going to the apple store on the weekend.