And the question is: What do I do about all the words and symbols that come up when I try to write a thread?

The answer is in the upper right hand corner of this message. the square with two A in it. When you put the cursor over it, is says,
"switch editor mode" When you click it, you will notice a solid black line that will appear on the left side of the message box, and also at the top of the message box.
When the line is there, you are able to change font, color, size.

It took me a while too.

Richie