1) Where are all the common programs like Market and GTalk...
2) Why isn't it asking for my gmail account?
"As of 0.8.4, sapphire is no longer including google apps by default, for legal reasons. If you still wish to have the google experience installed, then please download the package below and install it as well."
Taken from here-http://sapphire.ccroms.net/wiki/releases/sapphire-1.0.0
once you get google apps to load and you sign back into your google account your contacts should pull back over. If they dont, then follow these steps to get them to sync. (I had to do this so that is why I know):
Go to Settings > Accounts & Sync > click on your gmail account; You will then see:
Sync Calendar (all with boxes next to them) Make sure all the boxes are checked then hit your menu key and tell it to sync now. This will pull all your contacts over.
For some reason Sapphire does not have all those boxes checked automatically.
all of those boxes have always been checked for me. are you sure they aren't stored in the cloud as part of your "settings"?
anyways, to the OP:
reboot and sync