Well, I've made a few alterations, taking the need to make the "Action Alert" graphic/link prominent and displayed on every page ... so I put it in/on the header in one variant - the one below. I'm going to be honest and say I prefer this design for its fidelity to the original design of RS (1.0 and 2.0) way back when. I tend to like the familiar. Furthermore, as Brian said, the header not extending all the way over the sidebars (IMO) serves to highlight the star of the show, the blogs' content.

I've also altered the header of RedHot to make it more distinct.

With the "Get Local" feature, I've decided to add it to the main menu and rename it simply "Select State". I'm conceiving it (probably because I'm not the one who's going to code it) as an active JavaScript-y menu type thing that, for example, shows the state flag whenever the state's name is highlighted. Of course, a more sensible (but a lot less sexier) approach would be to just have a drop down menu revealed on mouse-over or click, but where's the fun in that?

This one below pays homage to absentee's cool modification of my original here - the header extends across the full width and the "Action Alert" is in the sidebar - same deal as above with the "Get Local" feature.

As usual, all criticisms welcome.

And thanks for indulging me.