Use external hard drive to copy music to second computer

Ok, here's the situation and what we're wanting to do. I'm so confused by all of the iTunes file manipulation, copies of music, libraries, playlists, etcetera.
We have a home computer (Win. XP) that has a slave drive in it. We use the slave drive for image, video and of course, our iPod music storage.
I have a work computer (Win XP Pro) that also has a slave drive in it, and I use it for image and video storage.
I have an external portable Maxtor USB hard drive.
My wife and I have different music tastes, but both of us do mutually like about 70% of the music on our home computer. It's that other 30% that we can't stand of the other person's music. Since iTunes makes it near impossible for us to use multiple iPods on one copy of iTunes (without jumping through hoops (such as computer user accounts, manual vs. automatic management, using Playlists, etc.) and confusing us to no end), I'd like to simply copy all of our music onto my external hard drive, carry it to work, put a fresh copy of iTunes 7 on the work computer, copy the music off my hard drive and onto my work computer's slave drive. Then do a fresh setup of my iPod again (since it's been loaded with some of her junk by accident).
I don't want to change my home computer's settings or anything. My wife does 90% of the music purchases. I'd just like to pick and choose what I want from home and I'll manage it at work on that computer. You see, she has her iPod setup to put any and all new music onto her iPod. If she buys an album, all of it goes on her iPod. Me, I like to pick and choose which songs go on there.
So, how is the best way to copy the music, library, whatever it is I need onto my external HD and then copy it onto my work computer's slave drive?
From then on, if we add songs/albums at home, how should I best keep taking the new songs/albums over to my work computer so I can manage my own iTunes/iPod? Can I just go in and copy the files out of "iTunes Music" folder onto a zip drive and then drop them in the work computer's "iTunes Music" folder?
BTW, I've decided my next computer will be a macbook. It will be my first Mac and I'm really looking forward to seeing what all the Apple/Mac fuss is about. But GESH, I'd thought Apple was a little better than all of this non-sense. I hope it's just that I'm really confused by iTunes and not yet up to the Apple/Mac way.
Oh, and THANKS IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR HELP!
Message was edited by: JJCoke

Thanks ed2345!
I was thinking maybe I could just use the "Moving your iTunes Music Folder" instructions all the way down to, BUT NOT INCLUDING steps 11 & 12. Instead, once the consolidation and copy to the external drive was done, I'd just need to go back up and point to the original iTunes Music folder, right?
I have no problem manually adding to the work PC during the week as we add new stuff to the house. Is just copying the new music out of home iTunes Music and onto a USB zip drive to carry to work and then drop in the work iTunes Music folder the way to do it? If so, that's easy enough for me!
As far as playlists, I thought had a pretty good understanding of what they were, but your use of the words "points to songs" better cemented my understanding of what they were. I thought they were duplicating songs into miniature libraries. I would have no problem doing as you suggest (creating a JJ Playlist) and then pick-n-choosing through the library. However, is there a not problem with two different iPods (both are Nanos, but hers is a 4GB and mine is an 8GB) plugging into iTunes (at different times of course) under the same computer user? Will it recognize that my 8GB Nano is connected and not her 4GB and then let me manage my iPod manually or by only updating "JJ Playlist"? And then 5 minutes later after I've unplugged she could go in and it would do her automatic full sync?

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