Dude, he was a VOIP CCIE who worked at Cisco. I think he was a real VOIP engineer.
Since this is just experimentation he will be fine with 8gb. The networking part of RAC on VM is relatively painless. Sharing the disks between VMs is the only tricky part.
My vote exactly--Oracle also has a bunch more math functions built in.
I'm in a similar income range to the parent and do a few of those things. I've bought some nice nearly new Armani sport coats and great shoes on eBay for next to nothing, and they are barely used. I got a brand new tux last month for $50.
Why spend it if you don't have to?
Canadian customs officers are known for playing 20 questions and generally being bullies. The US customs officials are no angels either, but Canada seems to be rough.
My favorite is France, where you show them your passport, and they let you in. No bullshit.