Unfortunately, I can't help you on the lighting. However, an easy way to monitor threads is to use the "new posts" link in the top header to scan for threads with new responses, or you can keep track of a specific post by "subscribing" to it.
To do that, click on the "Thread Tools" drop down menu on the header directly above the first post, click on "Subscribe to this Thread", and "add subscription". You can then find a list of your subscribed threads when you click "My Account" (top header) and scroll down to the second to last listing ("Subscribed Threads") on the left margin menu.
I hope that wasn't too wordy...
Welcome to the club!!!
Stroked and stoked!