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rc.alsa is in charge of loading modules and settings on startup. If it's not executable maybe you can't notice that because the sound modules would likely be loaded by hotplug.
Check the permission with: ls -l /etc/rc.d/rc.alsa
Well my problem was solved (sorta) ... if I run a alsactl restore after I boot up everything is fine ... which then equates to hotplug over-writing the file as the link provided suggests. The simple script in that link should fix my problem.