I too, agree with you. I have found that a good dose of PATIENCE plays into your analogy.
Last night I was at the Son's visiting and we began discussing a little cook he did at a friends house. They had Spares, just trimmed and skinned.He said that although the Ribs he did that night were O.K.;they weren't like he wanted them
(self critisizm,I like that) and he was trying to achieve what I do(man, that made me feel good
I asked him if he stoked up the fire to any degree and he confessed . He is not the patient Soul I have become,When patience is used in the equation,your variables tend to lessen;i.e.-I am very Anal about keeping my lid closed as long as I possibly can. I feel that a pressure and moisture are produced by the heat from the firebox passing under my baffle and plates,so I will wait until my fire is just where I want and tends to stay there 30min. or so while I am prepping the meat.Then i will put the Spares in at my 220*F,with a nice blue smoke wafting from the stack.Shut the lid to my smoker and leave it alone... when my temps. start to move up or down 10* to 20*,I'm looking for the problem,usually the fuel needs a little replenishing, or the ashes need emptying or maybe just a little more air,etc.Then,about an hour from my calculated time to be done, I open the lid,spritz a little if I want and check for doneness.
Point is, I am patient enough to set there and drink my drink and tell my stories or just visit,and watch my grill thermos. I don't like getting upset, so I have only one speed;slow!
I also like the idea of keeping a log of my cooks. I keep these to refer to when I need .
As stated, I have learned my pit,the hot spots are no problem since I know them. It allows me to basically know where I want to place the meat at the beginning of the smoke(what needs more heat etc.)so I don't have to open the lid for a while.Where the fire is in the firebox,how big the fire should be,how hot(keeping the fire actively burning a little or not )to keep the fire hot.My bigger smoker actually uses less fuel than my little NBRedRiver(which I modded to reverse flow).
Also,the size of the fuel is a factor,I tend to do better with a smaller stick than some of the big trailer rigs. "Flo"(my pit), loves 10" to 12"splits about 2"to 3" in dia. (double split if you will).Likes it's fire at the front of the box for better air flow,and really hot(almost burning or flickering all the time and when adding any,it brust into flames almost immediately(pre-heated on the top of the FB).
Sorry about the long windedness
Hope this helps and,