I have a feeling billmb won't be back to see this reply (unless he gets an email I suppose), but I bumped it seeing how it is a great title for an intro thread.
I'm located on Oahu Island and recently came to own an UNO R3 and the Arduino cookbook. I also just ordered a good $100 worth of tinkering parts from Mouser and Sparkfun and I'm looking forward to building most of the projects from the book over this summer. I'd love to meet up with anyone else in the Honolulu area to collaborate and help each other out.
A little background about me: I'm a student at Hawaii Pacific University in the Computer Information Systems program. I have some electronics experience and have been studying Java pretty much daily since this January. I cracked a book on Python for the first time right about the time my Arduino arrived in the mail about a week ago. Seeing all the C similarity, I'm going to hold off on Python until next year so I can focus on both Java and Arduino programming for the time being.