Some comments on your workflow:
Coming up with a good naming strategy is important as many cataloging programs only offer basic renaming functionality (unlike external apps). Most of the time one will only be able to either rename at import or rename within the catalog program. Almost no catalog programs handle external tools renaming images that are already cataloged. Picking a good strategy early on (eg. in the Import step) can simplify matters greatly.
Importing into Laptop
With laptops, as an alternative to a USB2 reader, one can buy a PCMCIA card adapter that accepts Compact Flash and other formats. The standard PCMCIA card adapter isn't terribly fast, but if one can find a "CardBus32" adapter, you can get excellent rates.
Update on Photoshop Album:
Adobe is giving away Photoshop Album SE for free -- it actually provides a decent catalog program for someone starting out and doesn't know if they're ready to embrace the whole tagging process.
Photoshop Album 2 (and Photoshop Album in general) has been dead-ended by Adobe. One must buy the Photoshop Elements 3 package (photo editor + organizer) to get the improvements on Photoshop Album 2. If one doesn't have Photoshop or Elements, then Elements 3 is a great integration suite for many hobbyists.
Serious hobbyists should consider open database formats
People should keep in mind that Photoshop Album / Elements uses a closed-format database format (like many catalog programs). This means that migration from the program to another someday might be incredibly hard (especially if you've invested hours of tagging thousands of photos). Reasons for migrating between tools are many... poor speed, missing a key feature, concern about database format, etc. There are some programs out there that open up the database to scripting, allowing easy transfer of all the hard tagging work.
I've recommended your book to countless others as it's one of the few books that tackles end-to-end workflow so well. Good job!
My own take on workflow
I have created a page summarizing some of these workflow details, including naming strategies, cataloging and the archiving: