Just a quick note here to promote Google Desktop, which I discovered a few days ago and is super cool. (Free download here). It puts a column down the far right side of your screen, in which you can place all sorts of useful gadgets. I use it for a nice big "analog" clock (complete with "mechanically" twitching second hand- reminds me of staring at the overhead clock in boring high school and college classes - the ultimate, of course, being The History of Africa by Professor Sarfo at York College of Pennsylvania Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12:30pm in the MAC building...it's been almost 10 years and still the scars remain....).
I also have the current local weather and a slideshow randomly presenting pictures from all over my Pictures folders. The coolest part, though, is the Web Clips area, which I have set up to show me the latest 3 posts from a dozen of the websites, blogs, etc. that I look at daily or on a regular basis. You just need the RSS/Atom feed address for the site and it eliminates the need to open a browser and access a different Bookmark or type an address for each site to check for new content. I also have a scratch pad, which you can type notes on. All this is customizable and able to be hidden from view whenever needed. Here's a screen shot of mine:
UPDATE: I was just going through the list of available gadgets for Google Desktop and saw that there is a laundry timer. You can see when your washer/drier will be done. Awesome!