There's many ways to skin this cat. Previously I used the Raspberry PI installer to burn the image onto a 4Gb SD card. This time around I see that there is a distro especially for hardware hacking.
I found my way from the Adafruit learrning's lesson one
From there I ran into the occidentalis distro as an alternative to wheezy
Which led me to the RPI easy SD card setup
which recommends using the SD associations SD formatting tool
which I installed on our Mac
but this is confusing because the formatting tools referenced in the NOOB method. The command line tool method does not mention the formatting tool.