Thank you for the advice! My problems got better and then, unfortunately, got "stuck" again. Before receiving your replies, I hard rebooted the system and luckily, the .NET update was still listed in my Windows Update list. I went for it again and it *worked* (i.e., installed in a few minutes). So, I continued using the computer for the rest of the day.
Then, the windows updater informs me of more "important updates." I clicked "install updates"...45 minutes later, I realize that it is once again stuck (still installing 1 of 3)...now it's stuck on "Update to .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1 for the .Net Frame..."
What is the deal with these .NET installations? I've installed over 30 updates since I bought the computer a few days ago...it has locked up twice, both times attempting to update .NET.
At any rate, thank you again in advance...but if I end up rebooting and the update is no longer an option to attempt a second install through windows update, is there a way to manually do so?