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It seems that idle is acceptable, when everything is correctly set, as the idle adjustment does very little, right?
No, idle adjustment through the tower can be made with the engine hot and throttle plates fully closed. Ensure that the four black rubber tubes are tight at there ends and crack free, and the rubber O- ring is soft. There should be no air being drawn through the thottle plates with the engine hot.
How critical is the short link for idle/cold start? What is best way to set the short link?
Every setting is critical to get the Spica system right. Do you have access to the relay crank idle stop/full throttle tool? This is the best starting point to set the short link and get the throttle plate settings just right. Every setting relies on the previous one, so its best to start from the top. On a cold start the throttle plates should be open a crack once the TA and long rod are adjusted hot at 0.019. This is communicated back to the relay crank and the short rod for cold starts.
Could the FCS be sticky and not release fully to let it idle? Doesn't seem likely to me as it idled before.
Yes, the FCS can be sticky. You can do the 12V test to its lead. If you suspect its sticky and slow to return remove the rear access plate on the pump and try working it with a small blade screw driver to see if it frees up.
Plugs seem lean (insulator is very white, electrode not burned up though), but I don't want to just richen up the CSS & FCS. What might be a reasonable amount that won't make things super rich, a 1/2 turn, a full turn? I can always put it back to where it was.
Getting the CSS adjusted right may take a few mornings of cold starts. Adjusting the FCS has no direct impact on cold starts.

Having said all the above these settings are moot without getting the ignition timing right, dialed in, so you can rule it out.
 

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I’ve tried the glove trick, but never been able to get to the point of ZERO suction — it ALWAYS gets sucked in. Using a piece of card stock, I can reach the point of no suction and figured that was good enough. Am I kidding myself…?
At full operating temperature, if you plug the idle air port on the tower with your thumb and the engine stubles, then stalls - you know its set right and drawing close to zero air at the butterflies.
 
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I find myself thinking FCS is somehow acting up, but of course this is just a hunch.
Remove, clean, test and re-install. (Replace if necessary).
 
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