Good idea about the plopping. Sometimes less plopping is better, especially with any kind of cream styling products. I've found (and I think PixieCurl has said this too) that with creams, plopping seems to sometime cause more frizz. It's good with gels though!
2b/3a, primarily use Jessicurl and DevaCurl products, Curls Hair Tea conditioner and various gels. I'm modified CG-ish since 5/04.