Had to come out of "lurk mode" to say that I was able to painlessly unlock and root my Nexus using the Wug's Galaxy Nexus Toolkit. Hours and hours of research here and just about every other site and it all came down to an anticlimatic 15 whole minutes at most.
I'm still running stock and trying to decide on which rom to flash. Oh well, back to research.
Again, thanks to all of you for the information I have gleaned from here and the inspiration to do this.
Now, about those roms, and kernals ans such...