Thanks for Scott and Kelly on their thoughts about the dishwasher, but I lummoxed it into shape today. After work, Jonathan and I took in Target and picked up some white vinegar, Tang, and a dishwasher cleaner.
I was able to determine that my model indeed has no food trap, so the litting thingie down below that I almost tore apart is just a odd looking net thing to prevent things smaller than a square inch from going down the drain. So, checking out some wives' tales on the next, an empty load o' washer with a coffee cup of vinegar might do the trick. Turns out, the inside looks a ton brighter, and cleaned the jets pretty good. To be on the safe side, I also ran the cleaner through a run through to make sure it was spifferiffic.
Put in some test dishes to see how it turns out.
I've learned a couple things through this escape, despite my sucking post yesterday. The dishwasher is in fact, original with the house, circa 1981, shy just 2 years from being older than me.
Second, it's a no no to "wash" your dishes before putting them inthe dishwasher unless their are burnt on stains or super crustified. In either case, soaking them till they soften up, THEN putting them in the dishwasher is all good. Otherwise, you use twice as much soap and water (sink AND dishwasher), which doesn't help anyone but the utility company and soap making company.
Message boards rule. :) If you don't know something, there's usually a message board on it. Do some browsing/searching on the board before posting. You'll get to know the integrity of the board without being a newb and posting about the same stuff everyone else does. If you walk in with the details, you walk out with the information you need.
This post is brought to you by my Woodchuck. Thank you and have a good night. :)