Hey guys, thanks for the reply ... sorry for not getting back to you sooner.
Well, OK, I've got too much on my plates already, so I'll report back here in a while with more. Here's the obvious things so far:
gambas - very nice if you've used VB or VBE or any similar MS IDE. Not as sophisticated as those, but still really useful.
Python - just like the combination of Serpent and Monty Python - flexible, powerful, yet crazy as a larch. I do most of my math and scientific coding in it. Just wish the modules/libs weren't so hard to remember. If you're going to C, C++, or C#, Python is a good, but somewhat difficult start. It has a Zillion libraries and utilities. As Epic Fall Guy mentions elsewhere, and I second, the interactive version of Python (called IPython) is the best interactive environment going... and I've tried more than my share!
Ruby - clean, sweet, easy to use - surprisingly powerful. I've done a ton of scripting over the years - un/fortunately 99% on the MS platform - still have much to (re)learn about *nix shells, but I'd highly recommend Ruby as a starter programming language. Ruby on Rails is REALLY cool for web stuff.
more as time permits... back to hacking...