Well I've sorted out these problems, finally. Thanks for all your thoughts and prompts.
It turns out there were two versions of the 15" R51 in respect to screen resolution - mine does not get the higher res of 14## x. Mine has a max of 1024 x 768. That's why even though I followed directions that you gave to enter the settings through the control center the change was not showing up in the settings manager.
Soooo ... I did something else that was suggested here: I played around with the windows manager and appearance options. My thinkpad didn't play well with the 2011 settings, but it really does nicely with the Phoenix 2010 options. The windows now behave themselves and I can grab the bottom corners etc. Hurray!
I also discovered that the default keyboard setting makes my " (double quotation mark) appear as an "at" (@) sign. I changed the keyboard to one similar to mine - a different thinkpad model, and now that behaves well. (I had it set properly to US English - not international)
Could I please register a suggestion for the next Live CD package? This has been wonderful to play with. It does a lot of things with great ease. Despite the few bits of confusion, I do quite like it. That said, I would have LOVED to have found a simple text editor besides mousepad available. My suggestion would be a simple writing program, like focus writer. (Thoughts from a newbie - for what they're worth.)
Thanks all for your help.
PS: I can't be totally sure, but I believe my thinkpad runs cooler running PCLinuxOS than the other distros I've tried. Granted, all are running from DVD so I don't know if the same would be true on HD, but I found it interesting. No real heat testing was done, except how the unit felt underneath to my skin and how much heat I felt blowing from the vent.