I have no idea why this has taken so long for me to get around to beginning to play with these. I don’t know why I decided to get out of bed and finally do something with it right now. I’ve had several old arduino boards from Sparkfun in my top desk drawer for literally years. I was probably avoiding them because I knew once I started it would only open up years of work on things that I didn't have time for and didn't really want to know what I was missing... But I've ruined it now. It's no big deal, it's no great accomplishment but the little arduino board connected to my Mac right now is flashing it's LED under my own control.
I played with trying to burn PIC type chips probably 10 years ago but I refused to run windows and at the time that made it virtually impossible to actually do that. Now days that is no longer the case. I've been ordering little boxen from sparkfun and others for a long time now and the pile of things I really need to build something out of has grown alarmingly large. Now just have to figure out the setup of these XBee doohickies and it's going to be a very interesting year.