Well, just going out on a limb I decided to install the drivers... Now that I got back into X I'm glad to see that you concurred with my decision.
with all the difficulty that people have been having I thought it would be a lot more difficult than it actually was.
I just ended up switching away from X (ctrl alt F2), killing the server and doing the install (I had edited my xconfig earlier), Once I switched back to X everything seems to run much smoothly.
The XF86Config is what I was having difficulty understanding. As soon as I read the readme from nvidia it all made sense. It's an awesome install.
I don't want to get ahead of myself... but I think this may have taken care of it. I haven't had a freeze yet, and I've been downloading via Kazaa under wine, playing mp3's and doing a few other processor intensive tasks without a single lockup.
TuxRacer also now runs top notch! Always a definate plus