Things I can recommend (all unsolicited endorsements):
Photoshop CS!!! Take a class (get a discount on the software at the student store). It will be one of the most incredible experiences of your life. And this new version ROCKS for handling text. (Every Fontplay and Kaleidoplay on this site made using Photoshop)
Adobe "Classroom in a Book" series: Another class act from Adobe. ($31.50 w/ free shipping at Amazon.com). This and the discipline to sit down and go through it is all you need to get a running start. Equivalent to a college course (this is what my class used) Comes with a CD.
Windows XP Pro: A very stable OS with lots of nice features, especially for connectivity issues.
Dell Computers: Very dependable. Both desktops and laptops.
Zoom: When you buy a camera, spend a little extra, if you have to, to get more optical zoom than 3X. You'll thank me later.
Amazon.com: Good prices, good inventory, very reliable, and often free shipping.
Supernews: Good Usenet retention, with more plan flexibility than most.
Cox High-Speed Internet: I have about eight years of excellent service with them.
Multiple Master Fonts: If you learn how they work, it is like getting a twenty font set for much less than that would normally cost. Very cool idea that has been abandoned, but some are still around for purchase.
MyFonts.com: An excellent outlet for independent fontmakers. Very good prices for larger foundries too.
On another note:
Muramatsu Flutes: An excellent value for higher quality flutes.
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