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UGH power source / newbie strategies

I'm new to the list, and new to the hobbie.  First, let me just say
thanks to all of you for sharing your vast experiences and opinions, and
thanks to those responsible for maintaining the list and archives.  The
collected wisdom has allowed me to gain a much greater appreciation of
this craft than would have been possible in such a short time without
it, even though I've devoured a number of helpful "getting started"
books.  I'm an impatient type, and while I don't sit around and worry
about the problems that arise in my tanks, I realize they're often
probably best served by less intervention rather than more.  But with
all this information at my disposal, I feel so incredibly equipped to
master whatever trouble comes up in my tanks, and (probably naively)
believe that I'm actually in control of their environments.

I've scoured many a Web-site trying to find the best approaches for
various aspects of setting up my new 60 gallon tank.  I think George
Booth's strategy makes the most sense for setting up a planted tank. 
Remember, I'm new at this, so my opinion is not one of experience, but
rather one of a relatively unbiased (no experiences to cloud my
judgement) software engineer diving into this stuff in a nearly
obsessive manner (ask my wife).  I must admit I've not followed every
lick of advice word for word; after all, this is my tank and I'm very
much an experimenter by nature.  I've also done a fair amount of DIY,
not only to try and keep costs down, but also because I enjoy building
things.  Thanks George, and also thanks to Eric and those that have
contributed over the years to the Krib.

Now to share a couple of my own finds:

  - Under gravel heating power source:  Strolling through Home Depot I
came upon those outdoor low voltage lighting kits/supplies.  A nicely
packaged 120V->12V transformer and timer.  The ones they had on hand
clear stated "Not for use in ponds...", and didn't have a grounded plug,
so I wondered about their safety (any opinions on this?).  I happened to
have one at home in my shed that I wasn't using, and it did have a
grounded plug, carried no such warning, so I put it to use.  It can
handle up to 120W of load, more than enough for my 30W UGH.  They sell
for $25-$35 for about 80-120W.

  - Tex Blast - I couldn't find it here in the San Francisco bay area. 
But I did find 100-lb bags of what appeared to be very similar stuff at
Payless Rockery in San Jose, produced by a company in Pleasanton (name
now escapes me).  It is marketed as "coarse aquarium gravel".  Medium
grade was also available.  It is a nicely sized (1-3mm) mix of mostly
light-brown pebbles.  It sells for about $9 a bag.

  - Laterite - Found 1-lb bags for $1 each available from ClayMakers, a
potter's supply store in San Jose.

Bob Fozard  -  foz at assuredaccess_com