Yesterday I spent several hours configuring, compiling and reconfiguring and recompiling the kernel. This morning I finally got the slim, quick and complete kernel I wanted. I believe that I have all my devices supported, and I threw in most of the usb section as modules just in case.
The next task was getting X11 up and running. The latest versions of X leans heavily on hal, and gentoo has really dropped the ball here. I installed gnome-desktop with the assumption that it would pull in X11. Not only did I have to install X11 separately, but X11 left out hal, which is now required to connect X11 to input devices. I ended up wasting a couple of hours this morning rewriting xorg.conf line by line and searching the internet for clues as to why the mouse and keyboard would work in the console but not in X. I finally came across this post, and then in more depth here.
I am now closing in on the 24 hour mark and still no desktop or wireless network. I wonder if all the work involved in installing gentoo in any way colors peoples appreciation of the distro.