Yes, it is. Could I just define an IP and then it wouldn't go looking for one?
Exactly. Windows has a timeout of about 60sec when the DHCP drivers are loaded. If no DHCP server responds, you are just sitting there waiting. By setting the IP to a static number (if you are not connected, it does not matter what it is), then this timeout period is avoided. This could be more hassle than its worth, as you would be constantly changing the network settings.
If the NIC is a PCMCIA card, see what happens if you boot without the card. I don't have much experience with these, but it might cleanly boot if the NIC is not present.
I have not yet begun to procrastinate.