@Post 4 - I hear you! Whether it's a cool mist or a warm mist humidifier, they sure get nasty quickly if you don't maintain them every day. But there are some little tricks you can use. Having plants actually increases your humidity. Or a fish tank. (Of course, either of those will also take maintenance!)
You can also try putting a pain of water near your register or on the radiator, if you have one.
@Post 6 - Dehumidifying is trickier, but hardware stores sell room dessicants you can use. Some people say that a tray of crystal cat litter in a place with good airflow works, too.