>Thanks everyone for the insight. >I had not figured out that you have to us the "AE-L, >AF-L" button and shutter release button both to focus >and take the picture.
Actually, you shouldn't have to do that - unless you've specifically programmed the button for that behavior. Out of the box behavior is that the shutter release button, pressed 1/2-way, activates autofocus.
I'd suggest you read through the manual about resetting all settings, and then reset them, getting back to an out of the box state.
Download the spreadsheet of settings at the top of the forum to give you another perspective on everything you can control.