I have gotten my Arduino and am going through the examples.
At least I feel like I am crawling as opposed to standing still. I know I will get out what I put in and hope to learn more every day.
Thanks for everyone's help. It is all very helpful and encouraging.
Probably 99% of the forum is going to hate me for what I am about to say, but I'm old and I could care less, so let's get into this adult learning stuff:
Adults generally do not do well with the slow, regimented teaching that works for children. I spent over 3 years in adult education and course development and adults need examples that they can recycle - something that they can relate to and then edit to make it their own. This is where Google comes in ... probably (IMO) the greatest tool invented in 15 years for self-learning.
First, find a project that matches a project you want to accomplish. Project should be generally in the 50% area of what you want but concentrate on the power and the display: these are the big items you want to get right on day 1. Power: AC (inc. power brick), DC (battery - primary), DC (battery - secondary/rechargeable incl. LiON), or solar. You will likely find that if you use an UNO, the easiest choice of power is the DC wall brick which puts out about 7V - 9V to power the barrel jack. But the on-board regulator is not very "strong" so there is a limit to using the on-board power.
Second, that display is very important assuming that you want more than blinking lights! Displays can be one of the most frustrating part of any projects because of the libraries, protocols (serial, parallel, I2C, SPI), and voltages: 3.3V or 5.0V. Then there are OLED and LCD that are Black/White and then there are those inexpensive color displays! Never underestimate the annoyance of implementing the display! If you can find a basic project using your board and the display of your choice, then your project is half-way done. You might as well read this because you will eventually need to deal with voltage conversions.
Third, implement the project as the author intended. Comment out areas that are NOT pertinent to your need ... maybe a servo or stepper motor. Leave the display code and any sensor code that you intend on reusing. This part is tricky but you can reload the UNO and test often until you get just the shell. Save you project often. When you get things stripped down and working, make another copy and strip out all of that code you have been commenting!
Now you have a working template to move forward. Your initialization code and display are all working even if it just says "Hello World" in multiple fonts. You should have a loop() that is essentially empty or maybe pulls in a sensor value for display or just implements a counter to display.
At this point, you can begin to start adding your code to customize the template. Save often but on different days, rename the sketch... do not worry about the space on the harddisk, the sketches are saved as text and have little impact on storage - you can clean-up when your project is complete.