So it's finally time to leave apt-get, at least on my desktop machine, and go down the path of bsd and ports. I gave up on fink for my software packaging needs and switched to OpenDarwin instead. The main reason for the choice was that OpenDarwn has a larger and more updated package list, so it requires less manual downloading and package dependency resolving. The small price of learning a slightly different controlling program (port vs apt-get) was more than outweighed by the ease of typing 'sudo port install x' and just walking off and letting it do all the work. The lack of a central repository (OpenDarwin downloads the tarballs directly from the original site, not from a central repository) makes it difficult to use a repository cache, but I guess that's irrelevant since I am the only one in the office that uses OpenDarwin anyway.
Also took care of the clunky OpenOffice issue by installing NeoOfficeJ. My colleages have not had good experiences with the older versions but the latest version does not seem too bad. Fires up relatively quickly and seems stable, but I must admit that I have not used it too extensively. Will know more later.
One minor annoyance with OSX are the emacs keybindings, or the lack of two of them. Almost all the commonly used ones are here, even the obscure ones. However, there are two that I use very frequently that are not found in the text editor programs - Meta-f and Meta-b. These go forward and back one word, respectively. I have ctrl-f and ctrl-b, which move one letter at a time, but I have gotten very used to the one word movements that I seriously feel the lack without them. In terminal, all the Meta-x keys are done via option-x, and in text editors, some of this is there. option-backspace is backspace one whole char, the same as Meta-backspace in emacs. However, the option-f and option-b keys produce some strange characters, instead of replicating their Meta-x behaviours. Ah well. At least option-arrow key still moves on word at a time, but I'm too lazy to move my entire hand the few cm required to hit them :)
One other note - never use transparencies on anything you want a fast response time from. I had a slight transparency going on my terminals and was wondering why text-mode emacs was moving dog-slow. Once the transparency was shut off, it was back the good old speeds you have come to expect and love from text terminals. Even with the high-end graphics cards that all these machines come with, transparency is still very expensive on the CPU