Pardon my ignorance, but I just downloaded bitcoind for the first time on a laptop it it took 3 days to catch up with the blockchain. Is there a way to download the client with the blockchain already "loaded"?
Note: I'm aware of lite clients but would like to store the blockchain locally, but update as little of the blockchain as possible from install
I wouldn't download the client from anywhere else besides bitcoin.org, and they don't offer a blockchain already loaded with the client.
Having said that, it is possible to download the blockchain separate from the client: http://eu1.bitcoincharts.com/blockchain
Don't forget to run with -rescan the first time you start it with a wallet that already has funds in it.