This is great info, thanks all! I have a good idea of what to expect and what I would need to do. I really have a lot of respect in particular for those who use distros like Gentoo and Arch Linux but I'm not sure it's so wise for me to switch to either of those at this time. I figure I should continue my experience in distros I usually use at the moment, Debian in particular. I currently installed Debian Testing and Lubuntu on my laptop.
My previous desktop had Debian, Mepis, sidux, Kubuntu and Fedora installed all in respective partitions. Since, I'm soon building a new 'updated' desktop (with slightly different hardware mostly a new mobo and new video card), I can plan out a new configuration of installs and system. This includes a plan for VirtualBox so I could decide to try something like Gentoo or OpenSUSE in a virtual machine for the time being.
I hope to be more efficient and safe with separate drives for my data so it should be easier to experiment if I so decide.