And when you "tink" you unknit your stitches a stitch at a time by inserting your needle into the stitch and removing the yarn. I love this word because it's knit backwards! Hee!
Yes, the quality and make-up of your needles can make a lot of difference in how your stitches look. As I mentioned earlier, I get much more uniform stitches using bamboo and wooden needles. Curiouser and curiouser, isn't it?
I know what you mean about staring at your knitting when you're not working on it (maybe that's why we love to look at patterns, too). I did this (and still do sometimes) with a finally finished object. It's kinda amazing to think that you're actually creating something and that it looks pretty darn good. Admiring your handiwork and thinking about knitting and what's next, yeah, talk about a time suck (but a good one).