My paternal grandmother was a wonderful odd duck. One of her eccentricities was a prediliction to use pig latin when she needed to pass private or secure messages — a sort of precursor to PGP, if you will. One day we showed up at her place to find a note affixed to the door: “Le Eekay is Oosay le Orchpay,” it said. We looked under the porch. Sure enough, there was the key. I guess she reasoned that nefarious criminals wouldn’t be sufficiently intelligent to decrypt the message.
Her husband, my grandfather Dan Rukavina, emigrated to Canada from Croatia. Once in Canada he worked in the mines and, said my grandmother inummerable times “beat the freight” across the country — in other words he hitched rides on freight trains going cross-country to look for work.
Somehow the history of “beating the freight” has been lost — search on Google and you find only 2 search results.
But there’s a new digital resurrection of at least part of this history in the new warchalking movement.
Apparently people like my grandfather communicated with each other using chalk symbols like these ones here to signal good locations for food, sleep, etc.
Warchalking duplicates this practice, but for a somewhat less urgent and less life-sustaining purpose: identifying public wireless Internet access points.
Since we installed WiFi here at Reinvented World HQ in Charlottetown a couple of weeks ago, it seems only right to share what we have and pay a sort of techo-homage to my grandfather’s generation. So witness our very own warchalking symbol pictured here. It’s not made of chalk — it rains too much here! — but the message is the same.
If you’re in the area — 100 Prince Street in downtown Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island — and you need some WiFi for your laptop, just pull your car out front, or have a seat on the lawn, and surf away.
The network uses WEP, so you’ll need the WEP key before you start. Le umbernay to allcay orfay le EPway Eekay is on le arwalkchay ignsay.