Here is the “G” installment of my abc collection. I choose about three words and write something about them trying to relate them to Switzerland or the Swiss. This week’s words start with “g”. “G” is for gaming, guests and gold.
is for Gaming
For me, the cool thing is doing things that could only be done in gaming.
~ Warren Spector
Gaming. It’s been around for a long time. At first there were the pixel spaceships that you shot down before the ate you. Beep, beep, beep. When I first came to Switzerland we bought a little computer soccer game, actually it was just little red dots. They symbolized the players the bright one was where the ball was. Beep, beep, beep. Excitement to no end.
A lot of these games were produced in Asia and the instructions were translated from the original language into German, French and English. Naturally I always read them in English. That was fun trying to figure out exactly what they wanted to say. Once the instructions started out with “How to game”. Okay, exactly how do I game this game?
We weren’t the only people in Switzerland who were fascinated with the computer games. It was by no means something only youngsters did either. A friend’s mother in her 70s was constantly gaming! Of course the younger generation grew up gaming. When Ben was teaching, once a 5th grader wrote an essay about computer games. At the end he wrote “and then I was game-over.” Almost philosophical, if you ask me.
is for guests
It is not the quantity of the meat but the cheerfulness of the guests which makes the feast.
~ Edward Hyde
We’ve had lots of guests at our home. Sometimes people are talkative almost like storytellers. We’ve got some good friends who are like that and it’s fun when they visit. It’s always good to invite a couple of people like that when you throw a party. The Swiss, in general are more conservative; they can tell a good story but aren’t necessarily rambunctious.
When Ben worked for an American company here in Switzerland quite often we had dinner parties with American guests. Once he invited about 5 or 6 people over. When everyone except one person was there I thought “oh my, a whole evening of us just looking at each other?” I mean, it was pleasant but very, very calm. We were all, more or less the quite types. Then Mary, the last person showed up. I had never met anyone like her before or since. She was a walking and talking party all by herself. Genuinely infectious. It was as if a light was shinning on her the whole time, center stage. The evening was saved and everyone had a great time.
is for Gold
Silver, Gold, I do not discriminate! I like sparkly things.
~ Charlaine Harris
Did you know that coins minted in Switzerland until 1967 were a silver alloy? Well, only the 50 Rappens, 1, 2 and 5 Franc pieces. I suppose that originally the silver was what the coins were worth. At some point the silver exceeded the worth of the coin’s face value. Some “smart” Swiss were “collecting” the coins, melting them and then they would sell the silver. Not only was the government losing money making the coins, but others were making money. So, in 1968 Switzerland started producing all the coins with a copper nickel alloy.
Switzerland also produces gold coins called “Vreneli”. Vrene is very Swiss woman’s name, Vreneli is the diminutive. Being that a woman’s head is on one side of the coin, it makes sense. I read somewhere that the official name is “Helvetia Head” but I’ve only ever heard it called a “Gold Vreneli”. They are 90% gold and originally had a face value of 10, 20 and 100 Swiss francs. I believe that they were actually used as tender until 1936, now they are just collected as an investment. Their values rocket and fall with the price of gold.
Gold as an investment isn’t as easy as it sounds. Ben had a relative who invested quite a bit of money in gold with the expectation that it would go up. After she bought it she waited and waited for its value to rise. At first nothing happened then it started to sink. After waiting a while and not wanting to lose more money she sold what she had with a loss. I don’t think I have to tell you what happened next. Some people just aren’t made to be investors.