Great read Greg, thanks.
I am a firm believer in gently dumping my ash before a relight. As you said,trying to relight through an inch of ash is just not practical. I also believe the flavors will be lost when trying to smoke through a pile of ash. I use the pick end of my tamper to stir my ash then carefully tilt the bowl making sure I do not lose any unsmoked tobacco, tamp gently, and then relight.