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You might also check out the Google directory, sites listed there also show a PR bar.
A good introductory read I'd recommend is this:
Should answer your first questions pretty well.
I submitted the site to DMOZ yesterday but will be a while before it shows up (and I'm not sure how to tell if it will be added or not).
If there is any way to tell the PR without the toolbar or a DMOZ listing, plz let me know.
I also noticed that my description is old, and not up to the current dmoz description (i am a dmoz editor and revised the description aabout 2 weeks ago). Is the lack of a PR in Google directory in any way related to the status in dmoz?