Humour – The Queen’s Riddle

QueenThe Queen’s Riddle

When the Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada met with Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen of England he asked her. “Your Majesty, how do you run such an efficient government? Are there any tips you can give me?”

“Well,” said the Queen, “The most important thing is to surround yourself with intelligent people.”

The Minister frowned, and then asked, “but how do I know if the people around me are really intelligent?”

The Queen took a sip of champagne. Oh, that’s easy; you just ask them to answer an intelligent riddle. Watch.

“The Queen pushed a button on her intercom.”Please send in the Prime Minister would you?” The Minister walked into the room and said, “Yes, your Majesty?”

The Queen smiled and said, “Answer me this please. Your mother and father have a child. It is not your brother and it is not your sister. Who is it?” Without pausing for a moment, the Minister answered…”That would be me.” “Yes! Very good.” said the Queen. Continue reading

A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers


We all know what collective nouns are do we not? OK, I had completely forgotten the English language term until I saw the title above.

Collective nouns are the names given to collections or groups, be they beasts, birds, people or things. It is a naturally occurring phenomenon in many languages of the world e.g. English, German, Swedish, etc.

We have all heard of a a pack of coyotes, a flock of birds, a troop of Boy Scouts, and a fleet of cars. 

The use of collective nouns started back in the 14th and 15th centuries to designate collections of wildlife in hunting terminology (Wikipedia) but where did the term a plague of lighthouse keepers come from?

According again to Wikipedia, “A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers” is a track from the British band Van der Graaf Generator’s fourth album Pawn Hearts (1971). It is notable for being a concept piece over 23 minutes long, which comprises the whole B-side of the album.

Now this collective noun has never been used before as far as I can find out, and will probably now become embedded into the English language as another collective noun. Although sounding deadly as in infectious, the term in this case, as explained by the composer means a gathering as in “a pride of lionsa murder of crows, so a plague of lighthouse-keepers“.

This term will not in general be used very often as a plague of lighthouse keepers is a very rare commodity, as mentioned in my article Our First Union Meeting-Nov. 13, 1994. Because of their isolation, lighthouse keepers do not get together very often in a group or gathering.

For those of you interested in hearing the musical piece, it is available on Youtube.

[media url=”” width=”400″ height=”350″]

Also, the lyrics and other information is available in a Google Search.

OK, that is solved. Now what are we going to call a group of lighthouses? Any suggestions? Again this is a very rare occurrence except at a river mouth, harbour opening, etc. Maybe a confluence of lighthouses? or? Any suggestions?

Mise Tales Six

If you do not know what Mise Tales are then please see Mise Tales One.

Quite a miscellaneous selection this time – mostly humour. The first is a cool Snickers candy bar advertisement, again with a lighthouse theme. Does anybody have any other lighthouse advertising?

Big job to go? Get on with it.

********************************** Continue reading

Let’s Finish the Month With . . .

We started this month with an April Fool’s joke – lets finish it with a few more jokes.

Below are a group of jokes, mostly about management, the office, and working hours, etc., all related to lighthouse work in a way. A lot have been adapted from other jokes. Authors are mostly unknown, or they won’t come forward! Enjoy!

Tools of a Lighthouse Keeper

Q. What are a lightkeeper’s two best friends? A. Duct tape and WD-40.

If it moves and shouldn’t, use the duct tape. If it doesn’t move and it should, use the WD-40.


New Rules for Government Employees

Dress Code

It is advised that you dress according to your salary.

If we see you leaving on holidays wearing fancy shoes and carrying an Eddie Bauer bag, we assume you are doing well financially and therefore do not need a raise. If you dress poorly, you need to learn to manage your money better, so that you may buy nicer clothes, and therefore you do not need a raise. If you dress just right, you are right where you need to be and therefore you do not need a raise.

Sick Days

We will no longer accept a doctor’s statement as proof of sickness. If you are able to go to the doctor, you are able to go to work. Continue reading

Mise Tales Four

If you do not know what Mise Tales are then please see Mise Tales One.

I found this cute video on the Internet about a lighthouse keeper. In all the stories they seem to have problems to solve. It’s also true with real life lightkeepers too.

 [media url=”” width=”400″ height=”350″]


Lighthouses in operation have declined due to the expense of maintenance. Let us take an artistic photograph of it for lifetime memory. – Digital Photography Review/Challenges 

Lots of lovely large photos of lighthouses at the link above – worldwide lighthouses – beautiful photos!


Continue reading

Mise Tales Three

If you do not know what Mise Tales is then please see Mise Tales One.

One or two things have come to mind. A friend wrote and asked if I had ever heard such and such a story about a crazy lighthouse keeper who killed himself.

Reading his story brought to mind another story that I had heard or read about at one time, but a Google search cannot seem to find any reference to either one.

Anyways, here are the two stories about crazy lighthouse keepers. If anyone can help in locating the source, or more information, please contact me.


Tale Number One from my friend.

Bob says:

I was again browsing your multi-faceted site and got to wondering if you had ever chanced on the story of a supposed suicide wherein a keeper bludgeoned himself to death by repeatedly running headfirst into a brick/stone/concrete wall?

The instance as it was told to me almost fifty (50) years ago was that a headkeeper on an unnamed light on the Pacific Coast went mad and performed the terminal skull-smashing in the presence of his assistant keeper.

It was related that the assistant keeper was a recent immigrant from Eastern European background with very little English language capabilities and who, by dint of his Eastern Bloc Soviet state upbringing,  was also very fearful of any form of police or military authority. Continue reading

Humour – Government Policy

I received the following in an email today. Based on yesterdays’s MCTS announcement, I think this applies. Government thinking sometimes is so adverse to public wishes that I think government ministers must live in another universe.


The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that; “When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

However, those in government  will apply a more advanced strategy to solve the same problem.

1. Buying a stronger whip.

2. Changing riders.

3. Appointing a committee to study the horse.

4. Arranging to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses.

5. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.

6. Reclassifying the dead horse as living-impaired.

7. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.

8. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.

9. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase dead horse’s performance.

10. Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse’s performance.

11. Declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially more
to the bottom line of the economy than do some other horses.

12. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.

And of course….

13. Promoting the dead horse to a Civil  Service supervisory position.


Humour – Lightkeeper – Management Boat Race

The Lightkeepers won by a mile!

The Coast Guard Management (red) and the Lighthouse Keepers (green) agreed to engage in a yearly boat race. Each team would contain eight (8) men. Both teams practiced hard to get in the best shape and  to reach their peak performance levels. On the big day they both felt ready to win. The Lighthouse Keepers won by a mile! 


Here was the root of the problem!

The Management team was discouraged by the loss. Morale sagged. Coast Guard Management decided that the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found because they were going to win the race next year. So they established a panel of auditors to observe the problem and see if there were any differences between the teams. Continue reading

Foghorns Were Cool Places to Sleep! c. 1980s

– Roger Mogg (Assistant keeper on McInnes Island 1983 – 1987) 

Airchime horns - photo Chris Mills

Back in the early 1980’s I was offered the job as a assistant lightkeeper at McInnes Island.  I was told at the time that this offer was only for couples, not for singles (this turned out to be false information). I had just broken up with my long term girlfriend so assumed I would have to decline the offer. 

At the last moment I happened to meet a girl named Liz Robertson, and she seemed like the outdoors kind of person that one would have to be to enjoy life at a lightstation. After hardly enough time to know her first we agreed to go to start life as lightkeepers at one of the more remote stations in British Columbia. 

Coast Guard took us there in one of their lighthouse tenders (ships) that also doubled as an icebreaker. After the ship refueled each and every station on the way up from Victoria , we finally arrived at McInnes Island, one of the most scenic places on the planet earth. 

We were real busy the first day as you can imagine. Unpacking all of our belongings, opening up house windows that had been sealed for years with paint, trying to learn weather transmissions, and generaly getting to know how the station operated.

Looks like it just landed

One of Liz’s prized possesions was this cat of hers that was as black as charcoal. John Coldwell the senior keeper was giving me the grand tour of the station and we were in the radio room teaching me how to test the foghorns. Now these foghorms were massive things designed to be heard at sea for several miles in heavy weather (banks of grey painted Airchime horns facing south into the sun and open sea – ed.). 

At this time Liz came running up in a big panic and said that she had just witnessed something black shoot out of one of the foghorns at high speed. We went to investigate and found her cat maybe fifty meters away shaking like something out of a bad cartoon. The cat must have climbed inside one of the foghorns because they were a warm place to take a nap. We never saw the cat go within eyesite of those foghorns again. 

[audio:Pulteney_Point_2X_Electronic_Airchime.mp3|titles=Pulteney Point Electronic Airchime]

Humour – A Casualty of Automation

The following was supposedly an actual advertisement in an Irish newspaper: 

      1985 Blue Volkswagen Golf
      Only 15 km
      Only first gear and reverse used
      Never driven hard
      Original tires
      Original brakes
      Original fuel and oil
      Only 1 driver
      Owner wishing to sell due to employment lay-off

At least according to Dan’s Lighthouse Page!