Even with having most of the blocks the hard drive usage seems a little inefficient.
I've had my client offline for several days and just started it. It already had over 69,000 blocks and yet the hard drive was grinding for 2+ minutes solid before the counter started going up. (I even installed version 0.3.2.5 hoping the cached database stuff Satoshi added would help.)
Clearly the initial startup is doing some sort of block (re)verification for all blocks that is causing some synchronous reads and/or writes.
Yes, and the next release will speed that many times over, I've tested both the Windows and Linux client, major speed increase on block updates in them.