February 27, 2012

Cheers and Jeers: Feb. 27, 2012

CHEERS to Department of Environmental Conservation forest rangers. The term "heroes" is applied far too loosely these days, but these rangers meet every definition and every implication of the word. If you don't believe it, ask Stephen Mastaitis of Saratoga. He owes his life to their extraordinary — in some ways, superhuman — efforts. If you missed the story in last Wednesday's Press-Republican, he was hiking atop Mount Marcy, the state's highest summit, when he became separated from his party. A typically ferocious windstorm roiled the snow, beclouding his vision and muddling his judgment. He headed down the wrong side of the mountain. The rangers were called. The howling winds ruled out a helicopter rescue, at that point. Four rangers were dispatched to climb to the peak, but the search was called off at — get this — midnight because of the overpowering weather factors. The wind subsided enough to resume the search at 3 a.m. Imagine hiking on perilous mountain peaks in pitch dark with the wind chill at 20 below. Five rangers began their ascent up the mountain. The rescue took place around 8:30 a.m., and the frigid Mastaitis was safely airlifted to hospital care. Heroes come in all sizes and all locations. Warfare typically brings out the best in our heroes. So does a night on mountain cliffs in engagements with nature's most vicious weaponry. The state's rangers are experts at what they do, and their bravery and willingness to risk everything for a stranger is unparalleled. New Yorkers are lucky to have them — especially lucky in this regard is Stephen Mastaitis.

With wedding season approaching, CHEERS to families who skip the outdated tradition of the bride's family paying the bulk of the wedding costs. The tradition began centuries ago, basically as a payment for the groom's family accepting a woman who would be a financial burden. How it has been sustained to this day is a question that parents with a number of daughters must often wonder. According to the website, tradition dictates that the bride's family cover the costs for the engagement party; the ceremony, including location, music, rentals and all other expenses; the reception, including location, food, beverages, entertainment, rental items, decorations and wedding cake; the bride's wedding dress and accessories; bridesmaids' bouquets; photography and flowers. The groom's family, on the other hand, was traditionally responsible for the rehearsal dinner and travel and accommodations for his family. Not exactly a fair split in these modern times of two-earner families. reports: "Rather than burden one family with practically the entire cost of a wedding, it is common practice these days for both families — and sometimes the bride and groom — to share expenses." With weddings sometimes costing tens of thousands of dollars, a fair split of costs seems like the right way for couples to join.

— If you have a Cheers and Jeers suggestion that you want the Editorial Board to consider, email it to Editor Lois Clermont at

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