OP, thanks for this great post, we can learn a lot from a fresh perspective.
Did you find on your journeys a link to Bitcoin StackExchange
? (Not stock exchange).
It is a Q&A site about Bitcoin, and I see as one of its prime goals helping newbies such as yourself.
There's a link to it from bitcoin.org, and I wonder just how many people actually follow that link and ask questions there (vs the people that discover Bitcoin , don't go to Bitcoin SE, and feel overwhelmed by its complexity)
When I discovered Bitcoin, back in April, you could still buy them via Paypal (through good old Bitcoin Morpheous). Also, in Israel (where I live), we happen to have an easy Bitcoin exchange
that takes a simple domestic bank transfer and gives you BTC.
2012 is the year when Bitcoin usability will really start kicking in. We already have wallet encryption, light "client side" wallets, and soon Scripts
. The future is looking good.