I mentioned that I was an idiot and left my (very nice and very expensive) tripod standing by the side of the road a few months ago. While I was hoping that someone would do the right thing and return it or at least drop it off with the local authorities, that never happened. In the meantime, I purchased an inexpensive video tripod with a fluid head that made my life easier for the time being and came in very handy on the movie project I'm still working on. However, a video head isn't suitable when shooting still photos and I have been longing for the days when I could easily and quickly set up my old gear when shooting stills.
After some research of user reviews on Amazon, I found what I think is a suitable replacement for my old head. Like the old Markins Q-Ball, this new AOKA ball head is very strong and seems to be built well. So well, in fact, that I have a hard time understanding how it can be manufactured and sold for what I paid. I also picked up an adapter mount that allows me to put this new head on my video tripod legs, so I didn't have to buy a new set of legs. The sticks I have aren't carbon fiber like my old ones, but they are strong and they allow me to get the camera right down to the ground for low angles.
I still have searches running on craigslist and eBay on the off chance that my old gear will turn up someday, but until then, this new equipment should serve me very well.