If you can't get a good, consistent sharpening in Houston on a regular basis, get the T-Blades. (When I lived in Austin I had a tough time getting a good sharpening... we got a few more hockey shops here in Alberta ;-)
Buy waxed laces for your skates if you like a tight fit - and put them in before your heat-melt.
All skates fit different, and some are geared more for D-men, etc. - buy solely on fit not on brand or looks, etc. If you're a big guy, buy a stiffer skate as it will last longer. (If you're small, too stiff is not good.)
When in doubt, choose light gear. I wear 10 year old used shoulder pads just 'cause all the new ones are huge and heavy. A good composite stick, although more $$, should last longer if you take care of it (assuming you don't have a shot like pronger ;-).