You showed a few fancy ways to change the fill and stroke for text once it was a shape, but can't you also effectively "fill" any shape by using the stencil mask technique?
Yes. You can have your pattern in the Masked layer and then the text (or any shape you want to reveal) in a Mask layer. In fact, this approach leaves open the possibility to edit the text which is impossible once you convert text to a shape (by breaking apart twice). The only disadvantage of using masks is that you need to manage multiple layers.
You finally mentioned Blends in the last sentence of the Summary. Shouldn't they be part of a chapter on special effects?
For sure, but these were covered in both hours 4 and 5. This chapter focused on effects that you can animate. While you can apply a Blend to any Movie Clip instance, including clips that animate, you can't tween the Blend effect. That is, Flash can't interpolate between two frames with clips that use different Blends. Having said all this, you can definitely use Blends in conjunction with any of the tasks this hour. (Though, do realize they only apply to clip instances not text or shapes.)