This is my first brief post in response to my own question. I admit to being intentionally provocative in my comment postings, and am truly grateful for the community's response. So, given that there must be other "newbies" out there who may be reluctant to ask so-called "dumb questions", I would counsel that the only truly "dumb questions" are the ones you keep to yourself. Accordingly, I intend to try to do something like a journal in recounting the trials and tribulations of my own struggle to get this package to do my bidding. Here goes.
I first learned of QGIS when I was about to hit the button to download and ultimately purchase MapInfo. As I was moving my hand to the enter key, I noticed somehow out of the corner of my eye that there was no Mac version of MapInfo. So, I stopped my hand and went off in search of a Mac mapping application. All I wanted to do was to plot some cities on a map of the US. Nothing fancier than that.
To make a long story short, I found QGIS, downloaded it, read a few pages of the documentation, quickly learned that there was very little there that actually instructed me on how to use the package and I set off on my own. I searched the web numerous times looking for help, found this site, and also found quite a bit of other help on other sites, including videos, but all were keyed to the earlier versions, so were only marginally helpful given the changes made to the GUI and approach to using 2.2.
These "parallel" help sites became allegories and riddles for me to solve in my attempts to use 2.2. Thankfully many years ago I was a developer (remember minicomputers and DEC VAXes?), though for most of the past 15 years I have been managing large groups of credentialed technologists, rather than being buried deep within the bowels of OS's and compilers and apps. I am well enough oriented to these high speed sewing machines to be able to find my way around, despite creating lots of trouble and frustration for myself in the process.
So, the first order of business was to learn how to navigate QGIS. There is precious little that I found to orient the new user. I have found that most software documentation is written as though the user already knows how to use the system. I am sure that is not the intent, but that is the experience I can best describe mine to be, and QGIS is no exception.
Accordingly, the first thing I would suggest is that QGIS be documented with a quick-start guide, or a "how to immediately use QGIS to plot some data on a map" guide. If these things exist, I never found them, so they should be featured more prominently. The search function on the documentation pages returns "no resulst found" for nearly all of my searches. That is a pretty bad metric IMHO (or I am incredibly incompetent, which is altogether possible, but even incompetent's like me can be taught - eventually ;) ).
More in my next post...got to go earn my living