Thursday, January 31, 2008

And then there were two...

So now the presidential election is getting more interesting... and more scary. Edwards and Guiliani dropped out yesterday, so now there are two Democrats (Clinton and Obama) and two Republicans (McCain and Romney) who remain. Part of me can step back and say, isn't this interesting? I wonder who will win? Another part of me is just shuddering at the thought of another 4 years with a Republican as president, and heaven help us if Romney really wins. I hope that isn't possible.

So now it's Clinton and Obama. Experience or Vision? Hard work or leadership? I will support whoever wins the nomination, but at this point, I'm still leaning toward Obama. As I said in a previous post, I feel that a president doesn't have to understand it all to be a good president. He/she needs to be a good leader and a good manager. Obama has vision, and he is an inspiring leader. Maybe that's what our country needs right now, after such a lack-luster leader for so many years. I feel confident that if he doesn't know something, Obama will find a person who does and will bring that person on to do the job. Clinton says that she has more experience, but I doubt that the president will really be involved in the day-to-day operations of the country. I think, at this point, vision and leadership is what we need more.

We'll see if the rest of the country agrees with me...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

TV and me

The Manic Mommies like to talk about what they like to watch on TV, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

First of all, there is WAY too much ESPN and NESN being watched in my house for my taste. Also, these days, PBS Kids has been supplanted by Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel, and we seem to be watching a lot of Zoe 101, Drake and Josh, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, iCarly, and Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide. Also reruns of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. There is no accounting for my son's taste.

So here is what I like to watch:

On The Food Network, I love to watch 30 Minute Meals (with Rachael Ray, my hero) and I think Iron Chef America is hysterical (they all feign this amazing seriousness: it's too funny!). I don't love a lot of the other cooking shows, although I'll glance at Emeril and Everyday Italian every now and then (although I think the host of that show, Giada de Laurentiis, shows WAY too much cleavage - it's like cooking porn).

On HGTV, I like watching Divine Design, although I would never decorate my house that way (too expensive, too fancy, too much!). I think Design on a Dime is my favorite, and I like Kristan the best, although Summer is also very good. I love the way they use very creative and innovative techniques, and use only $1000 to decorate a room. I want them to come to my house!!!! Deserving Design is an interesting show: I don't love the premise, but I love the designer, Vern Yip.

On TLC, I love What Not To Wear. It can get a little annoying, but what I love about it is that the hosts, Stacy and Clinton, try to teach the person how to choose clothes that flatter their body, instead of trying to change their body. It's a very cute show. I used to watch Trading Spaces, and they just brought back their old host, Paige Davis, so we'll see how it goes. Finally, my current voyeur show is Jon and Kate Plus Eight. This poor family has twin girls and sextuplets: 8 kids total! Watching them deal with their brood sometimes makes me feel better dealing with my one, who drives me crazy anyway.

On the Style Network, Clean House is my favorite. The host, Niecy Nash, does psychotherapy with the guests in order to induce them to let go of some of their stuff. Hysterical!

More on this soon...

P.S. I found an interesting recipe today on Rachael Ray's show site, and it was, as she would say, "delish"! I am a great lover of buffalo wings, and this is a "riff" on that, Rachael Ray style. Take a look! Easy and delicious!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Just another fun day

Kid is driving me crazy.

Got a call around 1:30 pm at work from the school nurse. Kid isn't feeling well. "Doesn't have energy," he complains. Nurse says he doesn't look great. Okay. I'm off to school to pick him up.

Get to school around 2:00. Kid doesn't seem so bad. No fever. No cold. No stomachache. But we're going home...

Kid watches TV. Kid eats ice cream. Wants chicken soup. Make chicken soup with matzo balls. Kid eats soup and 3 matzo balls. Still hungry. Eats hot dogs.

Now kid is feeling better. Wants to go outside to play basketball: NO. Wants to go to the neighbor's house: NO. You are supposed to be sick! Rest! "But I feel fine," kid insists. Refuse to let him play outside. He is angry. He sulks. He plays with balls and sports equipment in the house, as he is not supposed to do.

I am pissed.

Monday, January 28, 2008

"Change in the Air"

Senator Ted Kennedy has just endorsed Barack Obama. Maybe, just maybe, there is hope for this country after all.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Mad as hell!

This clip from The Daily Show is so hysterical...John Stewart is making fun of the media for embellishing, shall we say, the ire of the presidential candidates....watch if you have a few minutes. (sorry, you have to sit through about 30 seconds of commercials first...) I couldn't take this campaign if it wasn't for The Daily Show!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Found in my son's locker this morning

along with a number of plastic bags, winter gloves, and assorted trash: a piece of paper, on which the following is written in VERY NEAT handwriting:

Your shit I hate you Your fuku You have a vigina You poop in your pants Your stupid

Don't know whether to laugh or cry...so I think I'll laugh....at least his handwriting is good, and his spelling isn't too bad...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My abortion story

Blog for Choice Day

While I missed Blog For Choice Day, which was yesterday (on the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade), I still wanted to write something about abortion and how it has affected me.

I don't have a personal abortion story to tell, although I might have. My story is about an abortion that might have been, if things had turned out differently.

When my husband and I decided to get pregnant, we knew that we were about to face a big decision. My husband has a genetic disease called Neurofibromatosis (NF). I should do a longer post on this, but basically, if one parent has the gene, the child has a 50/50 chance of getting it. NF, which is characterized by neurofibromas, or growths on the nerves, can be as mild as a few bumps on the skin, or as severe as numerous growths causing disfigurement, pain, and can even turn cancerous. You never know how severe a case can turn out to be. My husband has been very lucky in this regard, but others in his family have not. Both his father and his brother died of complications related to NF. So my husband was very clear that he didn't want to pass this disease onto a child.

At that time, which was 1998, there was a test available for the NF gene after you got pregnant. (I believe that now there is pre-implantation testing, but it wasn't available at that time.) You had to have a CVS at about 9 or 10 weeks, and a few weeks later, you would find out if the fetus had the gene or not. So basically, if we wanted to have a child, our choice was to get pregnant, have the test, and if the baby had the gene, have an abortion. At about 12 or 13 weeks. Not a great choice, but that was all we had.

So that is what we did. We got pregnant. (And I had really really bad morning sickness... but that's another story...) I had the CVS. We waited around for the test, two very very very long weeks. And then, finally, we received the result. Remember, there was a 50% chance that we were going to terminate this pregnancy.

Luckily for us, the results were negative, and we continued the pregnancy. But if the results had been positive for NF, we would have terminated. Because my husband didn't want to see another person suffer with a disease that had already devastated his family.

So that's my story. If abortion hadn't been available to us an an option, my son wouldn't be here today.

My first blogging award


Bipolarlawyercook surprised me by giving me my very first award! I've been awarded a Blogger With Integrity Award, in the category of Social Conscience! I'm very touched and flattered. Thank you so much!

Thumb update

Did you ever realize how much you use something very small and seemingly insignificant...like your left thumb, perhaps? Ever try buttoning a sweater without using your left thumb? Putting in an earring back? Washing your hair? Washing under your right armpit? Very hard to do without putting pressure on your left thumb.

How's my thumb? Thanks for asking. It's healing. Still looks pretty gross. I guess the "glue" is holding it together well enough. But I'm still trying not to use it much, and trying not to get it wet. And I'm pretty shaky in the kitchen these days, with knives especially. But other than that...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Don't fight!

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are fighting publicly now as part of the presidential campaign process. Please don't fight, you guys! It's just going to make everyone angry, it makes you look silly, and it won't help you get more votes. What you agree on is far greater than what you disagree on. Stay civil! Don't fight! Don't demean yourselves anymore than you already have!

P.S. Someone from New England Mamas feels the same way and puts it very eloquently. Take a look.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Had a bad day

Did you ever have a day that wasn't going so well, and you couldn't really put your finger on what was wrong until the end of the day, when you finally figured it out?

Yesterday was one of those days.

I just wasn't feeling right all day: kind of logy and tired, couldn't concentrate, couldn't really get anything done in spite of the fact that my husband and son were out of the house most of the day.

Around 6 pm, I started to make dinner. I defrosted some chicken, and was cutting it with a knife, exactly as I'd done 1000 times before.... and I cut my thumb. Pretty bad. Pretty deep. Was bleeding pretty bad. After a while, got the bleeding to stop. Finished making dinner.

Suffice to say we had an after-dinner visit to the local ER, where the doc there washed my "laceration" and put it back together with glue. It's really not that bad, but I'm feeling pretty annoyed with myself,and sorry for myself. And I'm favoring my other hand, and finding it hard to do things that I usually do. Poor me.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Dr. Flea follow-up

Dr. Flea is back! Kind of. I was happy to read an interview that he did this week, talking about his experience (for those who don't remember, he was a local pediatrician who was sued for malpractice and blogged about his experience). I wrote about this issue back in May when the Boston Globe suddenly seemed obsessed with blogs. Anyway, just wanted to say it's good to hear from Dr. Flea/Dr. Rob again, and I'm glad that he is basically okay. Although he will never blog again, he says, as his wife will divorce him if he does.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Drug Research is Somewhat Misleading

I heard an interesting story on NPR this morning, and I've been researching it on the 'net ever since.

A researcher who used to work for the FDA noticed that studies of anti-depressants that yielded positive results (that the drugs worked better than placebo) were published more frequently than studies that yielded negative results (that the drugs only worked as well as placebo). So he did some research into it, and wrote a paper about it that was published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

I guess this is news, but I'm not so surprised. Of course it makes sense that journals publish studies that show interesting results. If the result is "it doesn't work," that's not as interesting.

The problem with this is that the doctors and other medical professionals who read the journals are getting a biased view of the studies. They are only reading the studies that say the drugs work, and have no way (unless they really dig) of learning about studies that found no effect of the drug.

Here are some articles I've found on this topic today:
Unfavorable drug studies don't get into print
A happy face on antidepressants
Study indicates bias in drug trial reporting

And there are MANY others.

So what does this mean? It doesn't mean that anti-depressants don't work, which I'm afraid is the message that many people will get from this report. What is does mean -- in my opinion -- is that providers need to be careful to review ALL the studies about a drug, both positive and negative, in order to learn the real story of its effectiveness. Journals need to be more open to publishing studies that show no effect. With anti-depressants, prescribing is very trial-and-error anyway. Some drugs work for some people, some don't. So docs often need to try several in order to find one that works for a patient. I don't think this research should discourage people from using anti-depressants. It just reminds us of the importance of research -- all research -- and that we need ALL the facts when making medical and health decisions.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Romney won Michigan: ugh

Hopefully this will be his only win. Read this wonderful discussion of Romney on BipolarLawyerCook's site called Romney would sell his grandmother to be president: it's awesome! Although too polite. I wouldn't use the word "please" when asking people not to vote for Romney. I'd just say: don't vote for him! or you'll be sorry!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Working from home with kids underfoot is hard? Duh!

This is front page news from the Boston Globe today, commenting on yesterday's snowstorm which caused many adults and kids to stay at home:
Many of the same Boston-area workers who spent hours sitting in snow-snarled traffic during the season's first storm last month took a decidedly different tack yesterday: They sat in front of a laptop, telecommuting from the comforts of home.

If nothing else, yesterday's modest storm proved to be a one-day experiment in the effectiveness of the home office, especially among those not used to it. All across the region, many found a few surprising pitfalls entwined with the obvious perks.

Yes, they could work in their pajamas, but they also had their children, under no obligation to telestudy on a snow day from school, getting in their way.

As we say in Boston: no duh...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The more things change: thoughts on "progress" in 20 years of reproductive health

Twenty years ago, when I was in my idealistic mid-20s, I was a health educator at Action for Boston Community Development Inc. (ABCD), working in Boston teaching sex ed to kids in middle schools, and counseling skills to family planning counselors in community health centers. At that time, kids had a lot of questions: exactly how are babies made? And once they grow, how do they get out? Does sex feel good? What does it mean to be gay? Counselors also had a lot of questions: how do I encourage my clients to use birth control when they don’t mind getting pregnant? How do I best help them protect themselves from HIV? How do I talk to a pregnant client about their options when I’m not comfortable with some of the options myself?

Now, as a woman in my more-realistic mid-40s, I can clearly look back 20 years to 1988, and I realize that the issues that we were dealing with then regarding sexuality, abortion, teen pregnancy, and sex education (who should provide it and what should it consist of), are the same issues we are dealing with today. Not a lot has changed. Indeed, we have gone backwards instead of forwards in some of these areas.

I find this very sad. Why have we made no progress in 20 years?

Twenty years ago, the AIDS epidemic was on the forefront of everyone’s mind. At that time, contracting HIV was a death sentence. We were trying desperately to prevent kids from contracting HIV through the use of condoms and safer sex. Teen pregnancy was also on everyone’s mind, and we were teaching about birth control, decision making skills, refusal skills: survival skills. The kids and adults I worked with didn’t love the idea of abortion, but they realized that sometimes it was the best choice. Some folks thought that kids should learn abstinence, but in inner city Boston, most folks thought that kids needed concrete advice about birth control since so many kids became sexually active at a very young age.

I remember during the elder George Bush’s presidency that Title X, the federal family planning funding, was encumbered with rules that forced us to split off services that gave information about abortion, causing real problems in the provision of family planning services. And I remember in 1993, how relieved we were when President Clinton removed those barriers to services and care.

Now the younger George Bush has been in office for almost 8 years, and with religious belief trumping science at almost every turn, we have had years of abstinence-only sex education which seems to be increasing the teen pregnancy problem once again; we have the FDA refusing to allow provision of morning-after contraception to young women who need it; we have a parade of right-wing anti-gay men being outed as regular people after all; we have the erosion of Roe vs. Wade; and we have presidential candidates congratulating pregnant teen television stars who chose not to have abortions.

We are living in very, very strange times indeed.

I recently came upon a faded cut-out copy of the poem “On the Pulse of the Morning” by Maya Angelou, written for Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993. We who worked in family planning felt so hopeful then, to have a new Democratic president who was intelligent and filled with ideas for change, and who understood what was necessary to protect the reproductive health of young people.

I am hoping to have that same feeling of hope and change next January, when our new president, whoever he or she may be, starts his or her new presidency. I am hopeful…but I am realistic, too. I realize that there are many in this country to who don’t agree on issues of sex education, teen pregnancy, choice, and other issues of reproductive health. But we have to move forwards, not backwards. Hopefully our new president will be able to forge the compromise necessary so that in another 20 years we haven’t gone even further backwards. Hopefully our new president will encourage government policies on these issues based on science, not on religious belief. I am hopeful. Are you?

(This is a test drive for a possible op-ed piece. Let me know what you think!)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Sharing the load

I work 20 hours a week at my out-of-the-house job, and the other half of my job is taking care of my son and the house. Our house is pretty small, so I've never insisted that we hire cleaning people. So I guess it's my own fault that I'm doing all the cleaning.

Yesterday, I found a list I had written a long time ago with all the household tasks on it. Finding that, combined with watching Supernanny the night before, gave me the incentive to type up the list of tasks and to call a house meeting after dinner.

I presented the list to my husband and son, and asked that they choose some tasks that they will promise to do. There was a lot of grumbling. My son took a look at the list, and announced that he wasn't going to do any cleaning in the bathrooms (I thought this was pretty funny, actually, since he is king of the missed toilet). Reluctantly, he agreed to a few tasks. My husband agreed to do several of the tasks, but this kind of discussion always makes him uncomfortable. I think he feels guilty that I do the lion's share of the house care (and food preparation), but then he also feels unappreciated for the things that he does do around the house (although when he puts the dishes in the dishwasher but leaves the pots and pans and other kitchen cleaning to me, am I supposed to be appreciative?). On the other hand, his job brings in the lion's share of the salary. So it's hard to figure out what is equitable.

Just for laughs, here is the list:

House Chores List

daily
  1. plan (make sure have ingredients) and cook dinner
  2. clean up after dinner (put away leftovers, put dishes in dishwasher, wash pots and pans, counters, etc.)
  3. check grocery list to see if things need to be bought (milk, juice, etc.)
  4. general straightening up around house and putting things away (pick things up off floor, clean up crumbs, etc.)
weekly
  1. grocery shopping
  2. laundry (when hampers are full) including folding and putting away
  3. dusting (bed frames, windowsills, etc.)
  4. sweep kitchen floor
  5. empty wastebaskets, take trash and recyclables to dump
every other week
  1. wash kitchen and bathroom floors
  2. vacuum downstairs and upstairs
  3. clean toilets (2)
  4. clean bathroom sinks (2)
  5. swiffer wooden floors
occasionally
  1. clean windows and mirrors with Windex wipes
  2. clean cars (crumbs, windows, etc.)
  3. clean carpets if dirty

When I see it all written out like that, I can understand why I'm tired! I'd be interested in hearing how others deal with this issue. Ironically, BipolarLawyerCook wrote something about this issue just yesterday. Is it something in the air?

P.S. Here is a post I wrote on this topic last year.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Escapade at the doctor's office/A fun day off

This morning I had a 9:45 appointment at my doctor's for my annual physical. The office called yesterday and said to arrive by 9:30 (they didn't say why) so I obligingly arrived at 9:30 am. I filled out paperwork, peed in a cup, and paid my co-pay, and was ready by 9:45. Soon, the nurse called me in, took my blood pressure, height, weight, checked my vision and hearing. Handed me a gown to put on. So by this time it was around 10 am.

I started reading a magazine.... then read another... then another...it was 10:30 am. Had they forgotten about me?

The back story to this fascinating tale of woe is that I had agreed to pick up a friend after her... ick... colonoscopy (yes, I'm approaching 50, too, so it's in my future as well). The pick up time was around 11:30, but they would call me on my cell phone.

You know where this is headed, right?

So I'm waiting in the doctor's office, it's now 10:40 am, and my cell phone rings. My friend will be ready to be picked up at 11 am.

Great.

So what did I do? I did what any self-respecting person would do in this situation. I got dressed, and left. Told them I had to leave, and that I'd waited too long, and that there was someplace else I had to be.

And I went and picked up my friend from her appointment.

So I'm pretty annoyed. I don't like the fact that I have to wait an hour, maybe more, at the doctor's office. Overall, my doctor gives me good care, and someone will usually see me the same day if I'm having a problem. But there is often quite a wait.

I probably shouldn't have planned on having the physical and picking up my friend in one morning. I should have known that the doctor's visit would run late.

But by rights, a 9:45 appointment should be done by 10:45, don't you think? 11 at the latest? Especially since I arrived early (on their request) and I was ready at 9:45. Shouldn't they give me the same courtesy?

It's been such a fun day already, and it's only 1:30 in the afternoon. I really really enjoy my days off.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Thoughts on the election

Everyone, it seems, is talking and writing and blogging and arguing and becoming bored to tears over the upcoming election... so I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon, too.

My thoughts? Well, everyone is talking about change -- even the Republicans (although not Romney, so much, but he is an...well, never mind). So clearly, a change from George W. will be a good thing all around.

But to whom should the helm of the United States be handed over?

Of course I am hoping for a Democratic win, and that would be either Obama or Hillary. At this point, I am leaning toward Obama. I think he is smart, and has vision. He seems to get that people need to come to an agreement of some sort even if they don't see eye to eye, an important idea if you are going to work in Washington. Whether Hilary's claim of more experience is true or worth anything, I don't know.

But what I've been thinking lately is this: being President does not mean that you get to single-handedly run the country. A President is only as good as the people he or she hires to work with him/her. It's like being a manager of a big project. You can't do it all. You have to have a vision, and good people, and an idea of how to get it all done. Then you delegate, delegate delegate.

This is something that the American people don't seem to understand. When you hear "person on the street" interviews from Iowa and New Hampshire, it seems like people think that this person they are electing will actually be RUNNING THE COUNTRY ALL BY HIM/HERSELF. They want to like this person. They want to feel connected to this person.

I want a person who is smart, who seems to grasp the important issues, and who will be a good manager.

Is that too much to ask?

P.S. A great op ed by Mass. Gov. Duval Patrick on Obama.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Torah, torah, torah

If it's January, that means Sisterhood Shabbat is coming to my shul, and somehow I've been involved for the past 4 years in the production of this event. It's a great event, an inspiring day, and it's amazing to see the service completely led by women.

The main problem with coordinating Sisterhood Shabbat is finding the 55-some-odd women to take all the parts of the service. Some parts -- like opening the ark -- are easy to fill. Other parts -- like leading a portion of the service -- are harder to fill. But the most difficult part to fill?

Raising the Torah.

No one wants to raise the Torah (also known in Hebrew as "hagbah"). They are afraid they aren't strong enough. They are afraid they will drop the Torah. They are just afraid.

This is starting to drive me crazy.

My feeling about it is this: the synagogue and Judaism and the service all belong to us. We don't have to be afraid of it. We aren't performing for someone else, or doing it for someone else. This is for us!

The Torah belongs to us! We can look at it, touch it, read from it, kiss it, carry it, and, gosh darn it, we can raise it! It may take some strength and some training, but I know that I can lift my son who weighs 63 pounds if I need to, so I'm certain that I can raise the Torah if I need to! And if I can lift that much, I'm sure most women (who also can lift their children) can lift a 25 pound Torah. Period. End of story. Sof pasuk.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Abortion decisions are made privately

Ellen Goodman has another great op-ed in the Globe, today on the Spears pregnancy, current movies that promote pregnancy over other choices, and how to talk to kids about all this.
"...we are in the midst of an entire wave of movies about unexpectedly pregnant women - from "Knocked Up" to "Waitress" to "Bella" - all deciding to have their babies and all wrapped up in nice, neat bows...

Here is a cinematic world without complication. Or contraception. By some screenwriter consensus, abortion has become the right-to-choose that's never chosen. In "Knocked Up" it was referred to as "shmashmortion." In "Juno" the abortion clinic looks like a punk-rock tattoo parlor."
I couldn't agree more. In today's media, becoming pregnant unexpectedly and then keeping the baby has become de rigueur.

I think part of the problem is that abortion is a private decision. You don't announce to the world that you are pregnant, and not happy about it, and that you are considering abortion. This is something that is done behind-the-scenes. So while, in fact, many women -- yes, even movie stars -- might be choosing abortion, we will never know because this isn't something they talk about in public.

Maybe what has to happen today, which is seeming more like 1970 every day (or even 1950) is that some public figures -- movie stars, whoever -- are going to have to come forward and talk about their abortion decisions in public, so that people can see that yes, some people are still deciding on abortion, and yes, they are not ruined because of their choice.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

My son loves these commercials

I think they are pretty funny, too...

The original is the McNugget's Rap
http://youtube.com/watch?v=-lOyZKmRRuI

and the take-off, Boston-style
http://youtube.com/watch?v=425Mds5LMEA

Conversation with son

Back story: 8 year old son has been home for 2 weeks of winter "vacation" and has discovered a wide array of activities in order to entertain himself and completely annoy myself and his father.

This morning, 7:56 am:

Son bounces basketball in the kitchen.

"J, stop that! I told you not to bounce the basketball in the kitchen!"

Son stops bouncing ball and sings very loudly.

"I told you a million times not to sing so loudly!"

We get into car. Start driving towards school.

"Mommy, these are all the ways that I can annoy you: I can bounce the basketball in the house. I can sing really loudly. I can hover. I can hug you too tightly."

He smiles.

I guess he knows EXACTLY what he is doing....

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Amazing and easy bread!

My friend Jessica turned me on to this recipe for simple crusty bread from the New York Times that is....delicious and ....simple! I cannot believe that bread this good comes from yeast, water, and flour (and a bit of salt) but it does! I tried it both on the pizza stone and in a loaf pan, and it came out great both ways. I am amazed! You must try it!

Simple Crusty Bread

Adapted from ''Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day,'' by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François (Thomas Dunne Books, 2007)

Time: About 45 minutes plus about 3 hours' resting and rising

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tablespoons yeast

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough

Cornmeal.

1. In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).

2. Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put dough on pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.

3. Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.

4. Dust dough with flour, slash top with serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.

Yield: 4 loaves.

Variation: If not using stone, stretch rounded dough into oval and place in a greased, nonstick loaf pan. Let rest 40 minutes if fresh, an extra hour if refrigerated. Heat oven to 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Place pan on middle rack.

P.S. Happy New Year!
P.P.S. Thank goodness my son goes back to school tomorrow... that's all I can say... thank goodness....