Arie, Thank you for your concise reply. I followed your advice and removed the Hosts file. Results have generally improved, but occasionally I find some notices in the lower-left Activity bar and always accompanied with a combined cursor arrow-hourglass combination. Clicking the Esc key removes the hourglass and in some cases results in the word "Done" appearing the Activity bar or in other cases the word "Stopped" appears there.
Let me show you three arbitrary posts on the WindowsXP forum and the notice from the Activity bar below:
restore factory defaults
No Internet Connection
Transferring data from base.googlehosted.com
Vertical Taskbar On Desktop
Transferring data from creative.cc-dt.com
Clicking Esc on those three resulted in a "Stopped" condition but the following post had no notice except "Done."
d:\mplay.com" is not recognized ........
Interesting that when I went back and re-opened the three above posts, they all came up with "Done" in the Activity bar.
Back to the Hosts file, if I may, removal of it is contrary to my understanding of one of its purposes, Blocking. The link below: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hosts_file
devotes considerable space to that subject.
The following link http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.htm
also appears to support the use of the Hosts file for blocking unwanted sites. So right now I'm still confused and my computer does not operate as it did previously.