I must say, my first reaction to the question was "Danny Goodman's Hypercard Handbook" (or whatever it was called). Hypercard really was a great program for the OP's interests. Too bad Hypercard isn't around any more.
I note that the OP did not say he wanted to become a programmer, merely to learn some technical skills.
One of the hardest things to learn in this regard is the unnatural precision required -- that is, speakers of natural languages are used to almost every word having multiple meanings, and having amazing flexibility in word choice and sentence structure in anything they want to say. Computers are much more structured and computer languages have much greater constraints. For the purpose of learning, it helps to think there's only one meaning and only one way to say something.
I think HTML (or perhaps better XHTML) and CSS is a good place to start, actually. Creating/copying a simple web page with HTML and then modifying it by adding a list and then using CSS to change the appearance of some simple elements will illustrate that precision. CSS has the "advantage" that any syntax error simply results in the statement being ignored, without causing the whole thing to "die". The "advantage" to XHTML over HTML is the same -- it's more tightly constrained, and errors simply result in NOTHING. That is, of course, also it's "disadvantage" because a "minor" error doesn't provide much in the way of a clue as to where it is.
I'm sorry I can't suggest a good book to start with for a total beginner, though.
I did take a brief look at "Scratch", and that might be a good place to start, too. Don't allow yourself to be put off by it being aimed at kids. If you're a beginner, you want something that's intended to be easy to use to do something "interesting" -- something where you can see the result quickly and easily. After you've changed the color of a fish sprite (a tutorial video I watched) and made a whirling butterfly you begin to see how the pieces fit together.
As someone else said, if you have a mac available, Automator may be a good place to start trying to do something actually useful.
Be prepared to ignore many of the remarks from programmers who frequently fail to recognize just how unnatural their normal way of thinking is.
Oh -- one more thought -- If you want to try something that doesn't require a computer, but will help you to learn to think like a techie, find a "good" book on Plane Geometry and learn to do the proofs and work the examples. Of all the HS math courses, this is the one most like programming -- you have some basic "facts" and ways of combining them and have to make something new.