Just picked up my first WSM prior to this I had, what was my first smoker ever, an old Charbroil H2O which is just another name for the ECB. After making many of the modifications I read about here in the forums I cooked on the H2O quite a bit before retiring it because I realized how in love with this new life is was. So yesterday my wife and I went to the local Walmart and I finally got the WSM 14.5" after many, many weeks of research of course. Used my son for scale when sending the finished assembly photo to my wife. I also scored a decent amount of decent meat from Martins/Giant yesterday with whole chickens at .88 cent a pound and shoulders at .99 cent a pound. So tomorrow, since I can't do it today due to heavy winds left over after a tornado, I'll be smoking an 8lb shoulder dry rubbed using Apple wood. Any suggestion or advice for a successful first cook on the WSM would be greatly appreciated. Any tips about the WSM would be greatly appreciated like answers to some questions: -Can I cook with it straight from the box or is the thermometer no good? -If I were to try a whole bird and a shoulder at the same time what would be the recommended setup? -What is the silver dish I've been instructed to sit in the bottom of the smoker? It appears to be similar to the dish underneath the 18.5/21.5 smokers. Is it a heat shield for protective purposes? Thank you all who visit my post. I hope to cook and add qview after my first official cook.