Yeah, I'mma stay out of my basement too, I think. The Nether seems pretty cool. Are you going to build in the Nether realm itself, too? Apparently blocks like lightstone don't stick around when taken out to the normal world.
Maybe you could do a really tall 1x1 tower at one of the portals and light it to see where it's at?
A tower wouldn't have worked because the Nether is a system of caves and caverns, and even though I knew the general direction of the portal, I had no idea how far it was or what its elevation was. After an hour of blindly searching, I checked the distance between those two portals in the main world with Cartograph, divided that by 8, and dug a tunnel to that point. From there, I knew the portal was either going to be above or below me, so I decided to check below first, I dug out one block, and there was the portal in the middle of the cavern. I went down there, threw some cobblestone around it, and connected it to my other portal with a 2x2 tunnel (too small for ghasts to spawn in it). Now I have quick, safe transport to a snow biome should I ever want to relax with some ice fishing.
Since then, I've connected up two more portals, so I can now quickly access my monster trap (which used to require a 2-minute boat-ride), and I've connected my mountain base/mining hub. I only need one more portal at my holiday home on the other side of my island and I'll be set. I've also cleared out a small space in the Nether as a sort of base, but I don't spend much time there because of the horrible noise the ghasts make. I also made a small observation room that allows me to see into the nearby cavern:
Thank Notch they can't see me through the glass!
As for the new spawning system for monsters deep underground, Notch said he doesn't like it. He's entertaining the idea of changing it so that torches give out less light the further down you are, which I think is a much better system. I agree with him that there should be a greater risk lower you are, as that's where the most valuable minerals are, but the current system doesn't give enough indication of when you're safe or not.