Fuzzy Math by J Edward Najera

I do not like to get involved with political topics. I have friends and family on both sides of the issues. However, I have a few thoughts about what I see happening.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This observation by Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás is often quoted and it is completely appropriate when trying to keep up with current frustrations happening in our nation’s capital and up and down the east coast.

“This is a madhouse!” Screams Charlton Heston In The Planet of the Apes.

Here’s the problem as I see it.  On NBC’s “Meet the Press” Candidate Trump stated he would deport all undocumented immigrants from the U.S. He would reverse President Obama’s executive orders on immigration.

Trump is quoted as saying: “We’re going to keep the families together, but they have to go.” The opposite is happening already, as I write these words in March of 2017. ICE agents are waiting at schools to round up parents and are tearing families apart. This is a nightmare I do not want to think about . . .

The Department of Homeland Security estimates that 11.4 million illegal immigrants were in the United States in January 2012.

One estimate of the cost to gather these immigrants and send them back would take about 20 years and cost the government between $400 billion and $600 billion. That amount just about matches the defense budget of 2015.

$598.5 billion. This sounds like “fuzzy math” to quote another president.

“I do not want to say harsh words against President Trump. I respect the office.”

I believe I said that.


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Blinded by the Light by Joseph E Najera

I was born on November 28, 1947. I was told much later that I ruined Thanksgiving dinner that year by popping out of the oven about the same time as the turkey. There’s my parents, about the time I came into the world.

My early years were in El Centro, CA. It is in the Imperial Valley, Southern California. The border towns of Calexico and Mexicali are a few miles away. There are miles of farm lands on both sides of the border made possible by the complex system of canals fed by the Colorado River.

I don’t have too many pictures of my mama and me. She went to the hospital shortly after this. She was in there so long that I didn’t even know her. I thought my aunt was my real mother.

In the Imperial Valley, my father, and I suppose many other people, stepped outside to enjoy the cooler evening air of a hot summer night.  I was just a toddler but I remember. He would stand or sit on the front porch. I guess I followed him around like a puppy. He would light his pipe or roll a cigarette and count the stars until he was too drowsy to stay awake.

I wondered as I looked up at him (and to) him, what was he thinking? He had lots of things to worry about. My mama was in the hospital with TB, fighting for her life. Sometimes he would come home from work and find the door wide open and nobody home, including myself.

Our family was falling apart and it must have been too much for him. Eventually he took us to our godparents. My two sisters and I went to Port Hueneme, CA to stay with my aunt and uncle.

My brother went to stay with our grandmother in Oxnard, CA. My father stayed behind and worked. He spent everything he earned on paying the hospital bills.

That year I was born, 1947, that time I was still inside my mama, brought things to the desert skies before our family fell apart.

North of the Imperial Valley, in the Mohave Desert is Edwards Air Force Base. Seven UFO sightings were witnessed by dozens of officers and pilots. This became known as Project Blue Book Case Number 50.

Sightings continued since then. Some of these sighting were caught on film. There is a report that in February 1954 President Eisenhower visited the base and met with extraterrestrials. I do not know if the story is true or not, but the story is out there.

There were 832 UFO sightings throughout the U.S. between June and July of 1947. There were over 1,500 for that entire year.

In the same July, came a report from Zacatecas, Mexico a rancher found a UFO. He entered the cockpit and found two small men wearing silvery clothes.

Near Nashville, Tennessee, a man saw a UFO land near him. Two little men came out and greeted him by sign language before taking to the sky.

Andrew Cherry from Edinburgh, Scotland waited at his usual bus stop close to St Johns School in Baileyfield Road. He saw a disc shaped object hovering above him. It glowed orange and he could hear a humming sound. It did not stay long. It was gone in seconds.

Fishermen in the Mediterranean Sea reported a sighting.

And of course, there was Roswell, New Mexico.

There was also my father. He saw the lights. Some of them streaked in silence across the sky in a matter of seconds. Others flew directly overhead and made 90° turns without coming to a stop or making a sound. He never said what they were. He only reported what he saw.

We were standing on our porch steps, I was looking at his silhouette. What must be the thoughts he was thinking?

Eventually our family was reunited. We moved to Silicon Valley and my brother and sisters grew up there and went our own ways.

Throughout his years my father would step outside and gaze at the stars before turning in. Was he thinking deep thoughts or thinking about his worries?

Or, was he waiting for the lights?




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The Quest by J E Najera

Many years ago on a family outing to visit the relatives in Oxnard, my family took us to the Ventura County Courthouse.


My father led us downstairs to the Ventura County Museum. This was old news to my siblings but being the youngest, everything was an adventure. There were lots of stuff to see there about the old days, including things about my father’s family. This was why he wanted me to go there.

In that crowded room, my father led me to a display. It was a model ship. It was much like one we had at home when I was very small. It was magnificent in its miniature detail. Then I noticed the caption. “Made by a 15 year old Mexican boy Carlos Majera.”

They spelled our last name wrong, but that was not the issue. Now that I am an old man, I wanted to see it again. Here is a photo from an old newspaper clipping.


Sometime in the 1960’s I believe, my cousin Rex Winters made an effort to correct the spelling of our last name. I appreciate his effort on my dad’s behalf.



Here below is a photograph my father took. It must have been right after he finished making it.


Milady and I took some time off to go down there and find that boat. We finally made it to the new Ventura County Museum in the city of Ventura. It is a fine place to visit and I would like go back and spend some more time there.

However, no boat. The people there had no idea what I was talking about, but they did tell me about a place in Oxnard a few miles away that specializes in model ships. Off we go. Eventually we found the place. The Channel Islands Maritime Museum. They have a website, and here it is: http://www.cimmvc.org/



Here I am standing in front of it. Milady and I stepped inside and immediately it has become one of our favorite places on this planet.


Near the entry of the museum is this famous painting. The staff there were quite proud of it. so proud in fact they replicated the painting on their front window.




They have many other wonderful paintings on display throughout the museum, but what caught   our attention were the many model ships on display. In my quest I thought these people might know where my father’s model ship was. I told them my story and they were kind enough to call the Ventura County Museum and some other places to find out what happened to my dad’s model. In the meantime, we walked around.


We found this magnificent model of a turtle ship. I was amazed by the detail and the meticulous care that must have gone into making this. The original turtle ships were from Korea. Their word for these was Geobukseon. I have no idea how to correctly pronounce that. They were used during the Joseon dynasty, that is from the 15th century until the 19th century. It is recognized as the first armored ship in the world.


The ships are on display inside glass cases. We were there at that particular time of day when there was a lot of reflection.


It took years to make some of these models. Each piece was made by hand. If you have been reading some of my other blogs, or have visited my Facebook page, and everyone is welcome to, you will know that I work with iron. I am a member of an art gallery called Gallery 9 in downtown Los Altos, California. I appreciate the effort that has gone in to make each of these models.



I am in deep respect of patience involved in dealing with the lines or ropes just in this small part of a much larger ship.


What a wonder!


There is a section of the museum is dedicated to the memory of Edward Marple. There is a picture of him towards the back working on one of his projects. You can see some of the tools and equipment that he used. The ships he made were on display here in this museum.


Here are some of the supplies he used.


Here is another view of his workbench.



Both  ladies that work inside the museum  were very helpful in trying to help me find my father’s boat. After several phone calls and more than a half hour of their time, they found someone who remembered my father’s model ship. With this I have reached the end of my quest.

It turns out that the ship was sold by the County Museum sometime in the 1980’s. They told me that it was falling apart so I guess somebody wanted to repair it. I do hope she found a new home.  I would like to think that she is in someone’s living room to this day.

Thank you, Carri Reid, and the other helpful and friendly staff members. I know I will be back there soon.


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The Old Place by J. Edward Najera



That picture was from my father’s high school yearbook. He was a senior in 1927. He had two names Carlos L. Nájera and Charles Olivas. Both names were legal and he was proud of both of them. After his father died, his mother married John Olivas. He adopted my dad legally and gave him his last name.

Olivas family

Here’s my father, standing next to my grandmother Maria Concepción. His sister Natalia is next, then his brother Robert. That’s John on the right, and my two uncles Frank and Henry Olivas. Frank and Henry have their own story, if the Good Lord gives me time enough to tell it.

John Olivas is a descendant of Don Raimundo Olivas whose home became  California Historical Landmark No. 115.dscn1762

Here I am sitting near the front gate. As you can tell, I don’t like to pose for pictures.


This plaque briefly tells the story Don Raimundo’s place. If you are ever traveling through Ventura County on Highway 101 take the Telegraph Road exit and follow the signs. It is between the cities of Ventura and Oxnard.


Here is a view of the old house. At the time it was built there were not too many two story adobe houses in California. This is one of them.


This plaque is near the entry Adobe grounds.

I wrote about this house earlier in a post: A Kevin Bacon Moment by Joseph E Najera



According to my father, somewhere in the kitchen wall is a hidden well for emergency water in case they were ever under attack.


This is not the way I remember the kitchen. It was a lot more primitive. There was a fogata, a fireplace where the cooking was done. I am remembering when I saw this in 1965 when I was a teenager.


The rooms have been restored with period furniture.


This old photo was inside one of the rooms. They must have been John’s people. I don’t know if they have been identified.


At that time that we were there, last June, 2016, there were several groups of students on a field trip. Milady and I followed a group. The docent gave a very good talk as he led us the house.


The back yard gate faces south toward the city of Oxnard where both my mother and father grew up in the early 1900’s.


According to my dad, that building at the corner was the original building. Don Raimundo lived there while building the main house.



The caretaker was living there when my father took me there. His name was Roy and my dad went to Oxnard High with him. He gave us a private tour of the house. It was a mess inside, trash and broken furniture. Roy’s job was to take care of the grounds and protect the house from vandals.

The house has a website: http://www.cityofventura.net/olivasadobe

They have events throughout the year including performances and weddings, and keeping the traditions alive.



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The Liberator by Joseph Najera



The B-24 Liberator was used during World War II.  By 1943 the B-24 replaced the B-17 as the main long range bomber.  It was powered by four Pratt & Whitney R-1830 turbo-supercharged radial engines, producing 1,200 horsepower each.

They were a little over sixty-eight feet in length.  The wingspan was 110 feet.  They were 18 feet high and they carried a crew of seven to ten members.

The Liberator carried ten 50 caliber machine guns and carried up to 8,000 pounds of bombs.

They were used in Europe and in the Pacific.


The following photographs are of the “All-American”.  It is the last flying B-24.  It came to the San Jose airport a while ago and was open to the public.

The plane is supported by sponsors and by charging admission.  The sponsors’ names are listed on the side of the plane. I was happy to pay for this walk through history.

Also listed on the plane are the names of the past crew members.  The lady in blue is looking at the names.


There is a man in a dark suit and a captain’s hat on the stairs.  He was a B-24 pilot during World War II.  The people are lining up to walk through the plane.  It was a three-hour wait and my wife and I were at the end of the line.


The visitors to the plane entered through the tail section.


Here is a view of the cockpit.  Looking at these primitives devices, I find it amazing that twenty years later our country was sending men into space.


Below the dual guns at the front, is the glass window the bombardiers used for sighting or aiming their bombs.


Here is a closer view of the propeller and engine.


I am in the midsection just outside the bombay.  I have to bend down.  There is not much room in there for a taller person.


Here is a close-up view of the waist gun.  A docent told me that each gun had available only one minute’s worth of ammunition.  This was to keep the weight down on a long flight.

img_20161010_0027img_20161010_0028Here is a side view of the tail gun.


The gun turret moves left to right and the guns move up and down.


Most of the older men there actually flew in in these planes.


The man with the beige cap was a pilot and told us how he had to bail out of his plane when the bombs he was carrying started exploding before they were dropped.  He said he was captured by the Germans and was a (POW), Prisoner of War for the duration.



Matthew 5:9 says “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

I am sure that the good men that flew in these planes received that blessing.




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On Board . . . by Joseph Najera


 . . . San Salvador, the flagship of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo. In 1542 Cabrillo, along with those who sailed with him were the first Europeans to explore the coast of Northern California.

This ship you see above, is a replica built by The Maritime Museum of San Diego.  In late September of 2016 she visited Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey.

My wife and I live in San Jose, California.  Depending on traffic it’s an hour and half drive to the Monterey Peninsula.  We made the drive with eagerness and anticipation.  It was a chance to see history come alive.


Cabrillo claimed these California lands for Spain as he sailed up and down the coast.  I wonder if it would have changed the course of history if he had entered and explored the San Francisco Bay.  Perhaps that would be a pointless speculation.


Many people waited in line to board her.  We were among the lucky ones.  Were there early enough to get free admission.  Later visitors that day would have to pay.


The men who built this ship also sailed her and were available to answer visitors’ questions.


There were many of these posters along the queue to board the ship.


These images are perhaps too small to read but it is possible to get online and read this information.



The steering mechanism was interesting to me.


It was more complicated than the mechanism used by Christopher Columbus forty plus years earlier. I wrote about this in my novel Nena the Fairy and the Iron Rose.


The distance between the decks is about three feet.  The tiller is connected to the rudder through the opening.  The rudder descends below the water level and steers the ship.


(I thank Jerry Soto for the use of his photo)

The problem for the pilot is that one human being is not strong enough to turn it right, straight, left.  That is why you see the ropes and pulleys in the foreground.


The man in front of the curtain is the pilot of the ship.  He is the one in charge of steering the San Salvador. He is standing directly above the deck with the tiller and the ropes and pulleys.  The pole he is holding is connected to them.


The pulleys give him leverage, or power, so he is able to move the rudder to the right or left as he is directed from above. The pic below shows what the pilot sees when he is looking forward.


He has to rely on the Captain to tell him which direction to move the rudder.

There was more to my visit. I will share them in another post.


Non omnis moriar



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By Any Other Name by Joseph Najera

Cabrillo College, Cabrillo High School, Long Beach CA, Cabrillo Credit Union, Cabrillo Middle School, Santa Clara, CA, Cabrillo National Monument (U.S. National Park Service), Cabrillo Pacific Insurance Services, LLC.

Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo’s name can be found up and down the west coast many times over.  He carried a name that is remembered.  What did this man do to make himself remembered?

The Maritime Museum of San Diego has done a wonderful thing to help us remember.

3gi1_web__jgs4420                                                                photo courtesy of Jerry Soto

Between the years of 2011 and 2015, they built a “full-sized, fully functional, historically accurate replica of the ship San Salvador.” Here I am quoting Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

11111                                                           photo courtesy of Jerry Soto

She is called a galleon measuring 92 feet long with a beam of 24 feet. The capacity is listed as 200 tons. That was twice the capacity of the Santa Maria of Columbus’ First Voyage.

mmmmmmm.jpg                                                              photo courtesy of Jerry Soto

The word “ton” can be a tricky word meaning 2,200 pounds. It can also be mistaken for “Tun” a large wine barrel.

Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo used the San Salvador as his flagship. In 1542 Cabrillo along with those who sailed with him were the first Europeans to explore the coast of Northern California.  The other ships that sailed with him were the 100-ton La Victoria, and the smaller San Miguel.

yyyyyyy.jpg                                                            photo courtesy of Jerry Soto

On 28 September, 1542, Cabrillo claimed San Diego Bay for Spain. He moved on and claimed Santa Catalina Island and the nearby San Clemente Island.


Cabrillo next came back to the mainland to claim San Pedro Bay. He moved on to Santa Monica Bay. He explored Anacapa Island, San Miguel Island.


He sailed north as far as the Russian River, north of the Golden Gate. They entered Monterey Bay then decided to spend the winter back at Santa Catalina. Cabrillo died there of a fatal infection on 3 January 1543.


Here’s the San Salvador tied up at Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey. My wife and I were fortunate enough to board her. I have spent some time on the Santa Maria replica that is now on display in Corpus Christi, Texas. This is a much larger and more seaworthy craft than the ships that Columbus used.


I looked up and saw a crow near the crow’s nest. How often does that happen?

Here she is under construction. It took nearly five years to build and many more years before that in planning and fund raising.

When completed, San Salvador was launched on San Diego Bay and became part of the Museum’s fleet of historic and replica ships.

222222                                                             photo courtesy of Jerry Soto

She made her debut on 4 September 2015, leading a parade of tall ships for the start of San Diego’s annual Festival of Sail. At that time she was powered by an auxiliary engine since she had not yet been fitted with sails.


Thanks again to Jerry Soto (http://www.jgsoto.smugmug.com/)  for the use of his photographs.

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