Another question on yeast.
My father made a decent living baking bread for a number of years at a breakfast joint in Jamaica and taught me everything I know about baking bread, which, admittedly I don't know much about. He always told me to "prime" the yeast in a pint glass of warm water with a pinch of sugar before mixing. This is something I do religiously any time I make bread and it seems to help (also helps me know if the yeast I'm using is still alive!). But quite honestly I really haven't been terribly impressed with any bread I've ever baked. What I make isn't bad or inedible but it always seemed to be missing a good deal of texture and flavor that's present in many of the breads I like.
The recent nytimes article prompted my girlfriend and I to start making bread more like mad. Our proof on concept baking was pretty good. We followed the recipe exactly, I even went out and bought a dutch oven, though all our local cooking supply place had was a Rachel Ray's branded type. Though it drove me nuts to wait that long to put it in the over I was delighted with the texture we ended up with.
Anyway, my question,
During the rising process does the yeast kill itself eventually? I mean, if I let it rise for such a long time do I have give it a breath of fresh air occasionally? Does it ever eat all the sugar and then just go dormant? And what's the max time you should let something sit at room temp?