Wow - tons of great advice. Thanks a lot guys! Looks like the consensus is to not sear - sounds good to me and keeps things simple.
I think my aversion to hickory stems from me using too many chips at one time. Maybe I'll try hickory again for the brisket - only this time I'll stick to a handful every hour or so, as suggested. I do want to try that oak sometime, though. Too many decisions...
Now to search for "done" temps. Thanks again, guys!
Thanks for the tips on cooking with the fat cap down - I would not have thought of trying that.