Very enjoyable and relevant thread. Here's what I do: I name directories with a number (so they go in chronological order), then the season, then the year. I started about 7 years ago so I'm at a point where my directories go something like this: 26 Spring 2008 27 Summer 2008 28 Fall 2008 29 Winter 2009 (which actually includes images starting on Dec. 21).
Then, if I have a shoot of significant enough size, I create a subdirectory below that (for example, Detroit Grand Prix or the name of a person for whom I did a studio shoot).
I can generally find the images I need with this minimal level of cataloging. I use Lightroom 2, which is great, but I don't keyword. And I never rename files. Whatever name they got in camera is the name they'll have on the hard drives.
I currently use a single hard drive with OS and 3 seasons of photos. I have another 500GB internal drive for backup of the OS drive, and for all of the other photos. And I have a 250GB drive for backing up the data on the 500GB. All photos exist in at least 2 and in some cases three places.
To sync everything up, I use a free software tool called "Synchronize It!" to make all the directories look the same.
I don't do the offsite backup, but, I guess I should. Perhaps when I build a new system (perhaps soon), I'll use the 500GB (EIDE) drive with an external enclousre and turn it into a USB hard drive. Then, I'll have two drives to do offsite switching (at least until I get to 250GB).