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Boot-up hangs unless I manually select the kernel in the bootloader

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http://askubuntu.com – In my stock Ubuntu install (forgot which critter its named for, about one year old), I am able to boot up normally only if I manually select the kernel in the bootloader (Grub). If I step away and it boots from the default, the system will hang with the word "Ubuntu" on a graphics screen and a few white/red blinking dots beneath it. umb@digdug:~$ uname -a Linux digdug 2.6.32-42-generic #95-Ubuntu SMP Wed Jul 25 15:57:54 UTC 2012 i686 GNU/Linux Synaptics says I have 'grub-pc' version 1.98-1ubuntu-13 installed. My grub.cfg does have default="0" which I would expect to make the defaul (HowTos)