I just checked out a post @ http://www.stupidranger.com/ titled:
It's The Circle Of Protection 10' Radius, And It Moves Us All.
I must say I am amazed. I have never really looked at my gaming years quite like that before. Though, I have one small bit to add. See, The first game I ever played was a HEAVILY homebrewed 2nd edition game that had been running with the same group for nearly 8 years at that point. High magic would be a SEVERE understatement, as Power word: KILL was a granted power at first level to followers of Abyssia the goddess of murder (among others!). I know, I know, sounds hokey - but it worked! And IT was FUN! I can see, according to this list, he was cusping between Monty Haul and Hardcore models. It was a great game, and I have some awesome memories of the two years that started it all.
That said, I think it behooves us DM's to think a moment about how we play the game. I hadn't given it a moment's thought before now, but WE influence the gamers we play with in fundamental ways. After gaming with this group as a player for two years, I was able to lure about half of the group over to a side game (in the same world with my DM's blessings) on a different day. To this day, I don't know how they survived my ineptitude! Fortunately, I had some excellent coaches that kept me on the rails, so to speak, and I was able to polish my skills to at least a dull sheen.
This brings me (in true Donny roundabout fashion) to my point. Your players learn from your example. Some are DM's taking a day off, but being the rare breed that we are, most of our players haven't DMed before (some may never) but the ones that do, are learning everything they know fron US! What kind of example are we setting?
I learned the game under a DM that played the high risk = high reward model. He allowed us to wander anywhere we wanted on the map, and was always ready to bring the pain. The massively overpowered characters were tempered by massively overpowered enemies that would make their 2nd ed. Monstrous compendium counterparts wet themselves in terror.
Where do I see his influence 13 years later? I always add 40-60% to any critters HD + max hit points. Save DC's are always +2, BBEG's are always no less than 4 levels higher than the party. In exchange, the party usually gets about +25% treasure across the board. Is it monty haul? Probably, does it matter? Not usually.
My advice would be to treat your group like they are all you're little cousins and nieces (minus the patronizing). Some of them are just there to kill monsters, and get away from real life for a few precious hours. Others are learning the ropes, and may very well be running the games your kids are going to play in.
And the moral of the story is: Bad DMing is contagious, while good DMing is often underappreciated. I wish I could find my old DM, I'd like to shake his hand and tell him that he gave me a good start.