Smacked my gaming computer around a bit more. I think that the CD drive itself is going bad, and that's the cause of the weird slowdowns, so I unplugged it. So far, so good. Strange pauses have completely stopped.
I'm back to playing LotRO. It might be a game where Hers Truly can sit with me and play. She wants to help me stomp monsters. It also looks like they "fixed" the Weathertop plot quest. I stopped playing because of this quest. It was group only, and even being 10 levels over the quest, I got my kiester kicked. If I read between a line on the update notes, so were lots and lots of other people. They likely looked at the numbers for the primary quest line, and saw participation hit a brick wall at that quest. That, and with most of the game being at a high level, folks leveling up just couldn't find help to do Weathertop as a Fellowship style quest. Personally, I'm wondering how many casual players simply threw in the towel at that point, just like me.