I've had a similar problem going back some time regarding the tray icon. I have the icon hidden by the system now. I gave up on the splash screen a long time ago and have it turned off.
I developed a more reliable method method to assure me that Eset is running using some simplified programming language.
I am on Win7 also maybe that's the issue. Either way as you said it's small potatoes.
Regarding your Carlin quote, the forecast for tomorrow is: Decreasing darkness giving way to increasing light. I guarantee this forecast is 100% accurate.