I use “iGoogle” as my homepage. (google.com/ig). You can add widgets for all sorts of stuff. I fire up my browser and can see my most recent GMail messages, the weather, news headlines, Dictionary.com’s word of the day, quotes for some stocks I watch, etc.
Now, you can have custom skins for it, too. Although I was a little unnerved giving a non-Google module access, it works great and looks great. If you’re using iGoogle, you should take a look. (And if you’re not using iGoogle, you should be.)