I got plenty to talk to you about, (check my post count) cuz I started with an ECB and just got a kettle 9 months ago. Love offsetting in a kettle.
First off, get a digital proble thermometer. You'll never know if a butt is done without it, and you don't want to keep opening the ECB and stabbing it with a instant read.
Answers: (wish I had more time today)
1. I think you spray down the inside with veg spray. Since you light the fire in there with everthing un assembled, that heats it up plenty. Spray down your racks each time for easy clean up.
2. Home Depot is great for hickory chunks. Fireplace store will get you a line on local wood sources. read the Bandera 101 file in the file section. Skip all the Bandera specfic stuff, but there is a wood article in there that is good reference. Personaly, in an ECB, just stick with the Kingsford. Others will disagree, thats just my opin.
3. Ashes. Welcome to the world of smoking. I have neighbors with gardens that get ashes, my own garden, etc. But in a couple weeks in the summer, they are saying "no more". So get creative. Throw them in the back of the a-hole neighbors pick up truck. Put them in that snot nosed kid's wagon up the street. Give bags of it to the local high school punks during Homecoming week. Let them get creative.
"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." - Jack Reacher
Bandera, M-BGE, WSM, Gold Kettle, Kenmore Gasser, 36Qt Turkey Fryer, ECB, Dutch Oven