Thank you, i actually used you're tip with the brakes, and it worked. It feels pretty good to take some of those tight turns. I rode 4 and a half hours today to get to work for the week, and it was awesome. i stopped every hour to stretch my legs because after a while that seat gets uncomfortable, but I'm sure I'll get used to it.
One more tip that they won't teach you in the MSF course - concentrate on the front brake for 90% of your braking. I know they tell you to use both brakes evenly to stop, which is just fine when you are coming to a controlled stop at a controlled pace, but when the s*** hits the fan and you need to haul it down right now it doesn't work as you are accustomed to. The much larger amount of weight transfer from an emergency stop unloads the rear suspension and weights the front wheel completely differently than during a normal stop. Using 2 fingers on the lever will give you enough strength to really crank on it but also limit to a certain extent the force you can put on the lever. Always be sure to quickly but smoothly apply the brake in those situations. You can't afford the time to slowly apply the brake, but you can't just grab it and yank it to the bar either or you'll lock the wheel.
What happens when you are surprised or under stress is you will lose a good amount of your fine motor ability, and trying to modulate the rear brake with your foot in those situations is really tough. The wheel will lock, which isn't a super big problem unless it starts to move to the side. If you release it when it's stepped out it will snap back into alignment and upset the cycle and compound your problems. If you are really using the front to its full potential the rear will be almost off the ground anyway.
The bigger problem with a locked rear wheel - IMO - is the amount of distraction it creates. It divides your concentration and draws your focus away from the most important end (front). In those situations you can't afford it. Be aware that in many situations swerving to avoid the obstacle, instead of trying to stop short of it, may be a better choice.
When you hear "had to lay 'er down.."
what they are really saying is "I jumped hard on the rear brake, locked it, and turned away..."
Go to a clean open parking lot and practice with the front brake. You should hear scuffing and maybe a little squealing from the front tire if you are at the point of maximum traction - but be careful and work up to it slowly. You don't have to get to that point in one practice session.
Keep your emergency stopping simple, and focus all of your concentration on the single most important aspect - modulating the front brake.