Ok, I installed the new sensor today. I will post some pictures later. Interestingly, the sensor from Standard Motor Products has 'NTK' stamped on it and the box had the label "Made in Japan".
Funny, I wonder how its different from the 24300 NTK model I was considering buying?
Already, the driving is much smoother. No codes thrown since I pulled/replugged the back-up fuse. The car is much quieter and drives with more throttle response and no more lugging! VTEC actually didn't feel like the shimmer of death from before when I asked about problems from the car while under full load. Let's see what kind of mileage change I can get out of this for my next fill up.
Lastly, the sensor I just pulled appears to be the original L1H1 sensor. It was black with years of carbon build up at the center then towards the base and was chalky white at/towards the tip, as well as rusted around the threads(had to do the 'loan-a-tool' from Autozone).
It then makes me wonder if its been running on a bad sensor for over 100k miles!?
I'm sitting just over 241k right now and the original sensors probably won't last much longer than 100k in a 'clean' environment.
Also; just a thought, I'm sure not having to rev the car as high from a stop will help a lot.