Re: thermal paste
Whew, that must be some contact between the CPU and the heatsink. Make sure all the retention brackets are released. Maybe you can try turning on your PC for awhile, then attempt to twist off the heatsink. The heat should make it easier. But be careful to turn off the PC once the heatsink it off. You don't want to fry the CPU without cooling.
*Fact: Microsoft Window's Blue Screen of Death vs Computerforums.org's White Screen of Death. Which is worse?