Thanks for all the great feedback, everybody! It really helps keep me motivated.
mikescooling: Check the picture I just posted after this reply. You can see a triangular hole in the front of the kettle; it's symmetrical in the back. My plan was to cover the front holes to redirect the heat backward. This make sense? Think it'll work?
grathan: I mitered them so I wouldn't have "holes" from the open ends of the butt welds. Sure, I could just cap them, but I thought miters would look nicer.