[oops, had to turn computer off for a storm and then forgot this; hope the talkback stuff still makes sense]
Back home from a trip to Raleigh NC. I got my paper written, although I'm not happy with it. Next is to get Linux running on this desktop PC I got in December. THe only Linux distributions I have laying around don't grok the ATI X1300 video card, and the monthly bandwidth cap here makes me reluctant to download one. So ordering a CD is probably easiest, and it's a good way to support Mandrive if I order theirs.
apenwarr, interesting comparison. I like your footnote: Canada is oh so often a compromise between US and Europe, it seems. The strength of the "old boy network" varies from country to country, but even in the UK the pull of the college tie, of the university scarf or the school socks (i.e. you were at the same educational establishment) is strong.
salmoni, you can get adaptors for M39, although don't expect auto-focus :-)
Yes, "bokeh" can be a lot of fun; I've always been fascinated by depth of field effects.
haruspex you're right, I meant aperture, I was oversimplifying. But the point of the f/1.8 is not only to maximise shutter speed, but also to minimise depth of field, so that the subject is in sharp focus but the background is blurred. It's especially popular with portraits.