I received my California ballot over the weekend and dropped it in the mailbox today. The state was supposed to start mailing them out in early October, so I was starting to worry that I didn't get my ballot until the 11th. I've been looking forward to voting in this election, and have been checking the mailbox every day this month.
I've been registered as permanent vote-by-mail (PVBM) for the last three presidential elections, and was absentee before that, so I don't know if I've ever voted at a polling place. Just fill out the ballot and mail it in. It's also possible to check at the local ROV to see if/when my ballot is "counted".
California probably isn't going to be electorally significant in this year's Presidential election (55 EVs in the bag for Obama), but there are a few important state issues on the ballot, particularly Prop 8 (aka Prop-Hate, the anti-gay initiative). I voted No on every other State proposition just to ensure I didn't accidentally vote Yes on Prop 8!