Maybe these practices will be of value to others... so when I setup a machine, I usually leave the host in a very simple state. I'd like to stick with etch but as it turns out I ended up using lenny for a most of my openvz setups.
Also, I usually have one machine which resembles the concept of "sid" - the kid who breaks toys. The one I use the most I call "Bart", yes this is on the Simpsons family machine. Along those lines, "Lisa" is a communications system, hosting email services, DNS, and jabber.
Homer is the web server and I haven't setup Marge or Maggie yet.
This way I can have several different environments for different reasons.