John, I think I've got the two of you sorted out here....
I do have my monitor calibrated, but it's not an Eizo or NEC. If I upgraded the monitor then I wouldn't be able to afford the ink. I have to save up for a measurement device in the future too for profiling.
In fact, I did just what you said, I downloaded all the profiles so I can get an idea of what each will look like. It will be fairly accurate for my eye, but I know that Jon and others would see great differences with their trained eyes. However, the profiles are good enough that I can look at the prints Brian made for me, look at them on my monitor in soft proof and see that they are close. (Admittedly, his paper doesn't match the canned profiles IJM has, but ones from a similar papers seem to match quite well.
I think I could go for carbon, for certain types of prints. I have one shot of driftwood that looks great with the carbon curve profile. The warm tonality seems to add a unique contrast that brings out the grain in the wood very nicely. However, I really can't see myself using carbon to any great amount. I can understand why you'd like the Special Edition. It is warm like the carbon, but not nearly so warm, and the highlights remain cooler, at least in my soft proof. I just don't know if I can go even that far for my first ink. Considering I''ll be using piezography2, I could get away with ordering just the 5 SE or CAR inks if I decide to be adventurous. I'm still leaning towards Selenium. I has just a hint of warmness in the midtones. It's almost like Neutral beginning to step out of its comfort zone. I could even consider Warm Neutral, but I'm beginning to think I should either stay with Neutral for my first ink, or Selenium. According to IJM, Selenium is very close to traditional darkroom methods.