I wish you nothing but solid roads ahead of you Tanker Bob. You might want to check out Ubuntu CE (Christian Edition), as I know a lot of people enjoy what they added to the core. I agree with the previous reply on Wine, just that wine doesn't work for every windows program yet, but getting better all the time. What I do is run VMWare, which then runs my windows within Linux and then I don't have to reboot if I need anything. You can download VMWare Server for free, or you can use other virtualization software, such as XEN. You typically have to redo your windows install, unless you can work out the method of using an existing parition within the virtual system, just that is tricky.
Another nice Ubuntu package is Mepis. You can look at that on my website, knolinux.com, which I try to help people new to Linux like yourself decide which version will be best for them.
One package you might want to look into adding is called Automatix (www.getautomatix.com)