As I listened recently to a colleague lecture about intelligence I found an idea that relates very well to this month's knitting project: fluid and crystallized intelligence. Psychologists tend to view intelligence as having multiple forms. Fluid intelligence depends on the ability to use new information and develop new skills, and to view information with a unique perspective. Crystallized intelligence depends on the ability to store and retrieve information. So there's how much you know and how well you use it!
I believe that learning to make socks two-at-a-time is helping us build our fluid intelligence. Certainly we could say that the standard approach to making socks, one-at-a-time and from the cuff, is part of our crystallized intelligence, and with perhaps a bit more practice we can add these other techniques.
I finished my toe-up, simultaneous socks. Instead of making them thigh-highs, I decided to make a matching set of mitts. I found Judy Becker's magic cast-on to work very well (thanks for the link!) for the socks, but I encountered the same problem you had casting on when I began the mitts. Oh, what a tangled mess I made. Plus, it made me very mad. Knitting hasn't made me so mad in a long time. So, I did what you did: began with dpns and after a few rows transfered it onto the circulars.
Maybe I'll try to exercise my limited amount of fluid intelligence and cast-on some cuff-first socks for the next project...