Update to my initial observations from earlier in the day:
After using the phone all day with the new JB on it I am still not noticing much of a difference in speeds. Definitely not any faster or smoother but like I said, ICS was always pretty fast and smooth for me. If anything I've noticed a few times when it seemed a little slower. There seem to be a couple more redraws than I'm used to seeing and those seemed slower but again, not by much.
I have yet to have any program conflicts with the main programs I use. I poked around and there seemed to be a whole lot of added Google bloatware installed with JB - Google magazines, Google mp3 music or something. I got rid of them all. Also thanks to the poster with the tips about uninstalling updates and then getting rid of Verizon bloatware - that worked well.
Battery seems about the same to me. At first it seemed to be going faster than usual, and then a little later is seemed slower. But after a solid 8-hour shift at work of streaming music, playing online chess, surfing fb & Tapatalk, and texting I'm still at 37% battery which is about right for that much use.
I played with Google Now a little bit and it's okay but I'm not a real big Googler anyway. Probably the one new thing that I can say that I absolutely love is that the Back key changes to a down arrow key when the keyboard is open. Hitting this drops the keyboard out of the way. This is something that always annoyed me before so I love this feature.
I have not noticed any difference in the performance of the Circles widget. My screen background is black in the recent apps button but I almost never use that function either and I honestly don't remember what it was the few times I used in ICS. I have not noticed less volume in my ringtones or notification sounds. I did notice that when I went in the check the sound levels that all of them were up to max. I generally back the notification one way off.
I had never tried the little microphone speech to text button on the keyboard before so I tried it. At first it said 'Getting ready...' and had the microphone with a red slash through it. It took quite a while but it finally started working and worked surprisingly well. Subsequent tests of it worked much faster after the initial try.