3 column design in HTML5 and CSS3

Do you have a question? Post it now! No Registration Necessary.  Now with pictures!

I have to completely redesign a website, and feel comfortable updating
to HTML5 and CSS3, but because of my memory issues (haven't done it in a
couple months so I have to "relearn" the basics) I thought I would get
some preemptive help, and apologize if this has been asked & answered
before (possibly even by me).

I won't cross-post, but am posting similar messages in C.I.W.A.H and

I am looking to do a simple 3 column layout with a header and  footer.
My notes, past designs, and searches produce examples that seem to
employ too many nested/unnecessary divs (one highly praised example uses
8 divs for a 3 column layout, not counting header or footer).

Simple question, is this still the state of the art, or is a less
complicated, direct approach now possible?

I assume C.I.W.A.S. will provide the most answers, but being unfamiliar
with HTML5 thought it best to ask here too.

As my first venture into HTML5, are there any recommended references
(preferably searchable pdf) available, and does anyone have any
recommendations on what to focus on familiarizing myself with before I
begin. Any precautions, or heads up would also be greatly appreciated.

I know w3schools isn't very highly regarded here, but are their browser
stats usable, or does anyone have a better resource?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Site Timeline