Slowly, slowly, things start to get better. This time I built up a stripped Ubuntu command-line installation, then added xorg, IceWM and a few GTK2 applications, to keep me in business.
It's in this interesting blog
Startup is fast, but shutting down is a different story. I have to spawn a terminal and issue the shutdown command, then type a password. Ill be honest here and say that the entire process pushes the shutdown time to almost 25 seconds. I guess if I wanted, I could alter the sudoers file to give myself permission to shutdown without a password, and maybe make an alias for the entire command. But to be honest, it doesnt interest me enough.