I am typing this on one of my two favorite Christmas presents. I've been saving for one of these for over a year, and my wife's christmas gift was the difference between what I had and what I needed. So yeah, I'm a Mac now. As least as far as my portability goes. I'm still a PC in most other aspects of my life, like at work and when I have to sit down and pay bills. So far I'm digging it, other than some weirdness with the keyboard layout (Apple thinks DEL is Backspace) and some flakey wireless connectivity I'm still trying to iron out.

Anyway, I love it so far.

Of course the day after Christmas, we were driving around in Wilkes-Barre and the A/C compressor seized up, and the only place open on a late Saturday afternoon the day after Christmas was a Sears Auto Center, so I brought the car over. The guys there were great -- even though they couldn't fix it, we poked around for about an hour and determined exactly what the problem was. I tipped them $20, then snipped a wire that kept the clutch from engaging, and that let us get home.

Yesterday I spent most of the day sitting around waiting for the garage to call me. The definition of "extra money" is "what you have right before shit breaks." I really wish it could have happened last month instead, but if it had, I probably wouldn't have a new computer right now, so I guess it was in the cards.

Current estimate is approximately $800-900 bucks, and unfortunately it's not as easy as saying "It's winter, who needs air conditioning?" and simply forgetting about it until June, because apparently when the bearings in the compressor clutch go south and the car is making a noise like a 55 gallon drum full of marbles being pushed down a cobblestone road, it also tends to get extremely hot. Not only does this spell almost certain death for the fan belt, it also has the unfortunate side effect of making the heater smell like BO and burning hair, which is no good for anyone. At least the quick fix at the Sears store let us drive home without being forced to smell burnt armpit the entire way.

My second coolest present was a set of BuckyBalls. I received them from my good friends who always get me something either funny and useless or cool and useless every year. If you've never seen BuckyBalls, (which I never had until I received them), check out this video:

Awesome right? So I immediately opened the package and placed the perfect cube on my desk:

After about an hour, I was a master at this. I could do exactly none of the things in that video, and I couldn't even get it back into the little cube it came in. I was going to shoot a video similar to the one above to show off my prowess, but I didn't have time. Instead, I give you the "after" picture:

Once I got done picking the tools out of it, I promptly lost one ball somehow. I have no idea where it is, or what it's currently stuck to, but it seems to have simply disappeared into whatever alternate universe buckyballs come from. Since you can't make the cube without all 216, I decided to write to the company and ask about getting one ball replaced. Here's their reply:

From: Buckyballs [mailto:getbuckyballs@gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, December 30, 2009 10:53 AM
To: johnny virgil
Subject: Re: You've probably been asked this a million times..


We're so happy to hear that you've had such a great time playing with our balls. What a bummer you're missing some... lost balls are no fun. We do have great news for you though, you can
click here to purchase a set of 10 replacement balls so you'll never have to worry about missing balls again. In the meantime, enjoy playing with the balls you do have.



So I officially love this company and you'll all be happy to know that my new balls are on order.

On a completely unrelated topic - it's apparently newsworthy that Rosie O'Donnell has a new "partner." Unfortunately, this has caused her to be in my face more than usual, which is not a pleasant state of affairs for me. But since I notice things, being forced to stare at her horrific visage every time I turn on the TV or open a news site has brought something to mind: Is it just me, or does her smile make her look like she's trying to gnaw a tough piece of gristle off an antelope haunch?

Gah. That's just scary, if you ask me. It could be from too much botox, I'm not sure. What I do know is that I can almost hear her low growl from here.

I hope everyone has a great new year, and had a fantastic NYE. Ours was pretty mild, other than the scalpings. We had dinner with friends, drank a bunch of sake, watched Inglorious Basterds, paused the movie mid-scalp at 11:55, popped a bottle of champagne, watched the ball drop, had a short toast and went back to the movie. Good times.


  1. Anonymous3:22 PM

    Hey Johnny- Santa brought us Buckey Balls too- thanks for the replacement info since we lost a ball too. Can't have fun when youre missing a ball...

    Juvenile, yes...but funny.
    Happy New Year!

  2. My husband got his Macbook Pro just about a year ago, and loves it. Thanks to you, he will now have new balls too, since I am going to order those for Valentine's Day. What's better to give a guy than balls? I'll just go ahead and order the extra to begin with.

    Wilkes-Barre, huh? You went to the Badlees thing didn't you? JEALOUS!

    Glad you had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Wishing you an outstanding '10!

  3. Glad to hear you'll be getting replacement...um...balls. Omg, I feel like so Beavis right now. Hee hee, he said "balls."

    Anyway, Happy New Year, dude.

  4. How awesome is it that you can have a conversation about balls, and it's not about sports, and it's still considered legitimate?

  5. That response letter is AWESOME!

    Happy New Year Johnny!

  6. Ooooh--thanks for the balls info. I know a few people who could use a set. Now--do you know where I can find some humor seeds for those same people who need to grow a sense of one?

    Happy New Year, JV!

  7. Just found your blog, I follow Everybody's Workin For The Weekend.
    I used to work in an AC repair shop and depending on the car you may be able to avoid the comp job for now-on many models you can replace the bearing in the clutch and disengage the compressor which allows the belt to turn as needed, on other models you can bypass the compressor by changing the positon of one of the tensioners-usually to the belt routing of a non-AC equipped model of your car. I would contact a couple AC-specific auto shops and talk to either the service manager if they know what they are doing or the lead tech. Good Luck. I look forward to reading your archives :)

  8. That response letter is the bee's knees...I mean, balls.

    Maybe I should order some of those for my ex, since he lost his own a LONG time ago.

  9. Anonymous1:05 PM

    Happy New Year Johnny V!

    Cool new toys! While there are already enough balls in this house, those BuckyBalls are pretty cool. I just may have to get some.


  10. How funny, we were also watching Inglorious Basterds for NYE, albeit an hour behind you. We almost forgot about the ball drop, until someone said "Uh, guys? It's 11:59." Cheers to you in the new year, and enjoy your Magneto Balls.

  11. Upstate Broad4:07 PM

    If it took you an entire year to save the money, I'm betting you went with a MacBook Pro. The Big Guy and I spent last years tax refund on a pair of regular MacBooks (we're just mature enough to know that we're not mature enough to share), and I promise you won't regret it. Since we're not bogged down with umpteen layers of security, these puppies are lightening fast. I wish we had done this years ago. Enjoy

    I hate to admit it, but there was a time in my life when I was a fan of Rosie O'Donnell, and was in a position to do a huge favor for a member of her show's staff. She got me passes to the show, and seats right up front. That's her fake-it-for-the-cameras smile. If you look at her eyes, you can see that she's not really feeling it. But if she smiles for real, her eyes just disappear completely, an unfortunate facial feature that I happen to share.

  12. In the meantime, enjoy playing with the balls you do have...hehe...you just know someone invented the product second. What came first? All the jokes and snappy one-liners about the promotional material and customer service replies such a well-named product would permit staff to make.

  13. Buckey Balls. Yet another useless thing I have not invented. It has been my dream for some time now to invent something that people can't live without so I can sit home fat, dumb, and happy (but RICH).

    I may have to get those, even if I only use them for finding lost rachets.

    Thanks for a new year's laugh.

  14. I was just looking up the balls to order them. Here's an excerpt from the Amazon description:
    "an Erector Set that never stops erecting"

    I think this proves Amanda's comment.

  15. If she opens her mouth she projectile vomits all the food she ate in the last 7 days.

    That is a hell of a start to the comment year for me.

  16. Every year, Rosie looks a little more like Ralph Cramden, of The Honeymooners..

    Happy New Year, Mr Virgil

  17. Hey JV. On the AC. The clutch is locked on. It's a magnetic deal, apply power, energize the magnet and it engages and turns the AC compressor. So Sears just snipped it to get it disengaged. You can probably replace just the clutch.
    You will also want to get this done this winter. The AC is activated when you engage "defrost" to clear your windows, or as we say here in the south "winders". The clutch should be cheaper than the entire compressor and clutch. The clutch also means no sucking out the freon (frezzon here in the south again). Which is all a labor charge and all.
    Merry NY and all.

  18. Dom, how the hell can you lose one, that's what I want to know...

    kc, yeah, it was a good show. We stayed at the woodlands where the show was, so it was a good time. The only part that sucked was going to sleep at 7am and having to check out by 11, then drive 4 hours.

    UR, I know! And ten of them to boot.

    BG, are you saying normal ball conversations aren't legit?

    Jae, I've been trying to figure that one out for a while. I think it's something you're born with.

    Rachel, thanks! I tried to go that route, but I guess there's no bypass pulley for the 2003 Mazda 6? Enjoy the archives, there's a lot there. If you notice any broken pictures, let me know. I used to use a place called xs.to for hosting them but apparently they timeout and disappear, so I'm trying to replace them.

    Zan, thanks for the bees balls mental image.

    KMarie, they are a lot of fun, you should.

    selah, I'm an X-Men fan and I think you just ruined it for me.

    UB, yeah it's a pro 2.66 15", but I got the refurb. Same warranty, $300 buck cheaper, looked brand new. Sorry about Rosie. I just can't take her abrasiveness and her ignorance.

    Jen, I'm still waiting for that idea too....

    Powdergirl, you are so right! Great observation.

    Ray, yeah even disengaged it was making noises - they just got a lot worse when it tried to turn the compressor. It was frozen up, so I couldn't just replace the clutch. They also don't make a bypass pulley for that car, apparently. So I ordered a compressor online and had it shipped overnight to the garage, and that saved me a $150.00.

  19. Anonymous8:17 PM

    Yeah Johhny- it's like that one little ball was the Rebel Ball- it's stuck somewhere holding on for dear life trying to make it's getaway.... we can't be the only ones who lost just ONE ball.... though my son did drop the whole blob of Buckys into the crack of a LaZBoy.... those little suckers were stuck to the mechanism one the WAY bottom. It was quite a search-and-rescue!

    have fun with your shiny new balls (hee hee)

  20. don't get buckyballs near your flash drive!
    One of those grandma doily things, looke like Janet Jacksons wardrobe malfunction.

  21. p jane10:41 AM

    Dude, Rosie's looked like that forever, but back then she was a comedienne (?sp) so the look worked. In _A League Of Their Own_ she was the wiseass, so no smiling needed and in _Sleepless In Seattle_ she was the sassy best friend who made Meg Ryan look even better than usual by comparison.
    Point? ...nothing really other than you are TOTALLY right.

  22. How funny, I watched Inglorious Basterds on New Years Eve as well, and paused mid Aldo Raine introducing himself with the terrible Italian accent for the third time, so I could pop open some champagne and toast the New Year.

  23. I've wanted a set of those balls since I first saw them at ThinkGeek. I found a display set at a novelty store and spent a half hour doing trying to do just one or two of the things I saw in the video. Nada. Nothin'. Zip. I couldn't even get them in a flat strip – there were always one or two of them at the top that made a little loop instead of coming together.

    They're still cool, but I'm not sure anyone can really make them as cool as they were in the video.

  24. I had no idea that was a smile. I thought that was just how Rosie shuts her mouth. Like her lips can't close around her teeth. Guess not...

  25. Um, uh okay. That balls email killed me.

    Also, how can you not figure out how to do things with them? Balls. Heh.

    Glad to hear you're a (portable) Mac now. I've been one for two years and I have zero regrets. I share your sentiment about the delete key, however. You'd think that since Windows has gone and snatched nearly everything about Mac, maybe Apple could get on board with an actual delete key.

  26. "but it seems to have simply disappeared into whatever alternate universe buckyballs come from."

    Is that the same black hole socks disappear into?

    That reply email from the company - a company with a great sense of humour, who knew?? Full of win.

    Loving your archives btw. :)