Sunday, April 4, 2010

Ballseye's Gun Shots 53 - Lee-Enfield No. 4 MK1

As you may know, I have been hemming and hawing and wanting to buy a new rifle for some time now. While I want to get a brand new rifle I am also always on the lookout for military surplus rifles that I can buy using my Curios & Relics FFL License. Years ago I considered buying an Enfield but hesitated then suddenly the market pretty much seemed to dry up for ones in decent condition. The Lee-Enfield appealed to me because it was a workhorse of the British Empire from the Boer War through WWI, up through WWII, and into the 1950 when it was finally given up in favor of a self loading rifle. There were many different designations/models of this fine rifle, the No. 4 Mk 1 beginning to be manufactured during WWII in about 1939 with widespread distribution beginning in 1941. Compared to its predecessor, it had improvements such as a strengthened receiver, heavier barrel and a peep sight built into the receiver that was micrometer adjustable.

In essence the Lee-Enfield No. 4 MK1 is a bolt action repeating rifle with a wood stock that is loaded from a 10 round box magazine. The magazine can be loaded using two five round clips or by hand. The rifle is chambered for the .303 British cartridge. The cartridge is suitable as a military cartridge and as a big game getter for animals such as whitetail and mule deer here in the USA. Some hunters have actually used this cartridge on dangerous game such as the African Lion but me thinks I would want something with a bit more punch when facing one of those beasties.

Recently, an online firearms dealer started to advertise these rifles for sale. At $239.95, I thought they were pretty expensive for Enfields since I remember seeing then for $79.00 apiece some years ago. Then again, all firearms prices have skyrocketed and Enfields are no longer available in good numbers. Tonight I looked at the dealer's web page again and saw they had one in particular that they are selling for $259.95. It looks to be in darned good condition and they claim it has an excellent bore. I am hoping this one is actually a No. 4 MK1 and not the No. 4 MK1* model which started production in 1944 and replaced the peep sight with a flip up sight. If it is the No. 4 MK1 I will probably order it tomorrow if they confirm its condition to be up to my expectations. That is I will order it if they can accept an emailed or faxed copy of my C&R; I hope so.

For more info on Lee-Enfield rifles see:

All the best,
Glenn B

The Easter Bunny Lives...

...and as proof of that I offer these facts:

1. Late this afternoon I heard a soft pitter-pattering noise outside my apartment door, just like one would expect the sound of furry tiny feet to make if a bunny were hopping its way down the hallway.

2. I opened my door, looked up and down the hallway but saw nothing, and since the Easter Bunny is a mythical beast - would you expect me to actually have seen it!

3. I then looked down at my door step and there on the floor just outside my doorway I found what is pictured.

4. Chickens do not lay green eggs with squiggly white lines, only the Easter Bunny is capable of such a feat.

5. Not only did the egg have squiggly lines but the egg was sitting atop a bed of phony grass which was cellulose green in appearance - the favorite basket filler of the Easter Bunny - and the grass and egg were in a small green Easter Basket - and everyone knows Spring Green is one of the Easter Bunny's favorite colors (maybe it looks blue in the pic but I think that is due to the flash).

6. Besides leaving behind Easter eggs, the Easter Bunny usually also leaves behind chocolate. Hidden in the grass, inside of the basket, were 4 Hershey's chocolate kisses.

I once again believe in the Easter Bunny! Do you?

All the best,
Glenn B

Simple But Sumptuous - Easter Dinner

I decided to cook myself a very nice Easter Dinner today. I planned to keep it simple and I think I accomplished that while at the same time having it come out tasting heavenly. The picture does not do the taste of it justice. The meal consisted of roast boned leg of lamb salted/peppered/and sprinkled with garlic powder then later basted with red wine (1/2 of one, I saved the other half for stew for next week), pan roasted fingerling potatoes (including white, red and dark purple potatoes) that were lightly covered with olive oil/salt/pepper and garlic powder (cooked at the same time but apart from the lamb in their own baking pan in the oven), broccoli steamed in butter in the microwave, and a salad consisting of lettuce, onions cucumber and dressing. To wash it all down, I enjoyed a fine beverage - one of my favorites - Ommegang Abbey Ale. Yes, I guess I also had a small glass of the red wine while I was cooking and using it to baste the lamb but then I am over 21 and am allowed.

As for those potatoes, the purple ones - yes they really were purple. The skin is either black or very deep dark purple, and the inside is a lighter purple but still pretty dark. They taste great despite looking weird. I once heard there are over 25 varieties of potato native to the Americas and we normally eat only a very small number of that variety. These are delicious, tasting a lot like regular potatoes but just somewhat stronger and earthier. The photo is not edited and is just as it came out.

As I have said before, I love fairly simple meals the best. Today's was no exception from that rule and I devoured it with gusto. I guess it helps that I like my own cooking but it was also a plus that the meat came out medium to medium rare (depending on where it was cut), so it was nice an juicy, there were plenty of drippings left in the pan for added flavor, the fat on the outside of the roast came out crispy, and it was pretty tender. Add to that the delicious flavor of a good lamb roast and it was truly a gastronomical delight. I only wish I had family or friends with me to enjoy it. Sharing a meal like that with special people always makes for a better dinning experience and I would swear it makes it taste better too (not that this needed to taste any better but sharing something that good is definitely the way to go if at all possible). While I may not have had any dining companions with whom to share it I suppose that means I will have more leftovers for myself. That is not a bad thing at all - I love lamb; and did I mention I love my own cooking - at least when I get it right - and this was ever so right.

Hope your meal today was at least as half as good tasting as mine and I also hope you at had good company there with you to share it. If you were really lucky then your company helped clean your dishes; me I had to clean my own.

All the best,
Glenn B

Happy Easter

I want to wish all of you who celebrate it a very happy Easter. I was raised Catholic but have not celebrated or participated in religious services for a long time. I recently realized I do, for a fact, believe in a higher power, in God, though it is likely not in the same respect as do most who are followers of organized religion. Regardless of how I believe, I also believe in many of the bedrock tenets of Christianity. One of those in which I hold a firm belief is to do unto others as you would have them do unto yourself.

Today, as I sometimes have done before, I decided to go out and do unto another as I would hope someone would do for me if I were in need. I drove around downtown Phoenix looking for the most down trodden soul I could find. It wasn't long before I came across a guy walking the streets who was dirtier than any bum I have seen in Phoenix since I got here. His clothes were covered in dirt and somewhat tattered, his hands were literally black with grime, and it looked as if his spirit was just as bad off. He was just standing in the middle of the street (the traffic lanes) on Monroe street (or maybe it was Adams) looking at a large hotel and the people leaving it apparently to go to Easter Services. I don't know if it was hope or despair he was feeling. maybe hope that someone there would give him a handout, maybe despair over remembering better times. As I drove up from behind him he walked onto the sidewalk and past the people standing there, they ignored him just as I often ignore street people.

There was a difference today, for me and for him. drove to the corner and pulled over where I could do so safely and waited for him to walk up next to my car. I called out to him to ask him if he wanted something to eat. This guy was o street savvy bum from New York City. He was not making it living on the streets and leeching off of homeless shelters - this guy was obviously hungry and in need of a meal. His eyes widened and he ran the several feet to my car. As I handed him the bag of things i was giving him, I told him what was inside - a couple of pieces of roast chicken, a few pieces of bread, an apple, a bottle of water and a can of soda - I forgot to mention there was a pair of socks too (I'll get back to them and why they were in the bag). He took the bag, looked into it, looked at me, was saying thanks and cutting him off, I said here is ten bucks to help you. He replied "You're frickin great man, thanks" or something to that effect. I was happy, he was happy and he looked as if I had just given him a king's ransom. I wish I could recall his exact words to share with you but somehow, over the last 15 or 20 minutes since i gave him that meager bit of food and money I have forgotten already. I don't think though that I will ever forget how he reacted, how totally amazed and happy he was to get a small handout like that.

I do something similar now and then up in NYC and sometimes give a twenty to a homeless guy but doing that has never made me feel like what I did today. Only one guy in NYC ever really came even close to the appreciation shown in this guys eyes today. Most have never shown anything even close. I think that maybe because the homeless in NYC are used to begging, used to leeching and used to receiving. This young man today, and my guess is he was around 25 years old, did not seem used to anything but despair and dirt and certainly did not look like he had been expecting anything good to come out of today or tomorrow. When he walked away fro my car, he walked away with a look of sheer anticipation on his face, anticipation of enjoyment, or of a full belly, or of the sweetness of can of soda or for whatever he might use that ten bucks. I think I walked away a different man myself and in that there is something i don't think I will ever forget either. That something else I will not forget is how I felt after giving it to him. I felt a little less burdened, a little bit happy, a little more Christian (in a idealistic manner) - and and certainly a little bit better for it. It probably made me feel as happy as almost anything else since I have been here in Phoenix.

Now, I am not telling you this to blow my own horn. I am not patting myself on the back. Neither am I preaching to you on what you should or should not do. What I did today was minimal and was certainly no great effort on my part and no great expense to me. I guess the reason I am telling you this at all is to suggest, that you too can go out an enjoy your celebration of Easter, or of your Christian heritage, or of any religion that believes in goodness and doing unto others as you would have them do unto yourself, by going out and helping someone in need. To tell you the truth think today did me more good than would 100 visits to church. I can tell you without a doubt that going to church never did anything to uplift my soul like that little bit of charity I did today. Imagine if we all went out, maybe once a month, or a few times a year at the holidays, and did something like this. We and they we help would be better off for it. I'll be doing it again - now and then - but I doubt very much I will ever feel the same as I did today. Today showed me that maybe I ought to be helping more. I count my blessings this Easter in that I found someone I could help even if just a bit and that in so doing I am sure to have helped myself too.

Oh, before I forget, I did promise to tell you about the socks. The socks,r at least a request for them, is what prompted me to go out today and look for someone in need. You see, yesterday there was a guy begging outside of the entrance to my apartment building. He asked a couple of young ladies for food or a dollar. one of the gave him some money. As I walked into the building he asked me if i had any socks i could give him. I just ignored him and walked into the building. he was pretty bad off looking but I was not about to give handouts to a homeless person outside my apartment building, I think it is a dangerous thing to do. Something funny though happened as I walked by him. I guess my shirt had ridden up a bit exposing the badge on my belt. As I walked by he asked "Hey are you with Customs?". That almost floored me, how could he know that - most people who see an ICE badge would ask if you are with Immigration or with ICE. Being that I came from the Customs Service and was merged into ICE when it was created after 9/11, I just kept wondering how he had arrived at asking that question once I had gotten inside. I was curious and keeping thinking about that got me to thinking I ought to help out the poor slob with something. After about 10 or 15 minutes inside, I decided to give him something and got together my little care package including the socks. I only was going to give it to him if he first assured me he would leave the area. This guy looked pretty rough and was apparently scaring other tenants with his forwardness as they approached the building entrance, thus the reason the cops showed up showing so much interest in the building entrances (you will see what I mean in a moment). Well, he was not there when I went to look for him. I drove around a bit and dd not see him but did see two police officers on bicycle patrol probably also looking for him as they drove around the block a few times paying close attention to all the entrances to my building. I decided to put the food into the fridge still in the bag I had it in and then to go out today to look for someone needy. The socks were still in there today and though they might have been a little bit cold from having been in the fridge, I am sure they will help warm up the guy I gave em to. For all I know, the guy today was the same guy as yesterday. I really did not pay attention yesterday but am happy that I paid attention today in that I went out to look for someone needy to help out even if just a bit.

All the best,
Glenn B