Balls to the wall has nothing to do with testicles. Neither does balls out.
Both expressions mean working at maximum effort or speed, and the balls in question are part of a device invented in the 17th century — the centrifugal governor.
Please, allow me to explain.
James Watt designed the most widely known centrifugal governor in 1788 to prevent his steam engines from running out of control.
On the diagram below, the balls (labeled #3) are attached to lever arms linked to a vertical shaft. The horizontal shaft is the engine’s drive shaft.
I published a digital chapbook containing 12 pieces of my best flash fiction. It’s a one-hour short-read available as an e-book and part of Kindle Unlimited.
Although short, Jim Latham’s Noon in Florida packs a punch. Each of these short stories illuminates an aspect of what it means to be human. From a son connected to the nuances of his relationship with his dying father via the beeping of a heart monitor in “Keeping Time,” to an “old guy” doing what…
Three of us lurched down the narrow path carved into the dense forest.
Weaving our way from one side of the path to the other, we paid no attention to the various squawks and rustlings produced by the creatures in the dense forest surrounding us.
Having consumed an intemperate number of Bell Lagers with our dinner, we were only minimally aware of the humid night air that coated our skins with moisture.
In fact, we weren’t paying attention to much at all, other than finding our way back to our hotel room.
We certainly weren’t looking where we were going.
It’s not often a New York Times editorial triggers me.
I grew up in California — in wine country no less — where I witnessed firsthand the xenophobia and racism directed by the state and federal government, not to mention private citizens, toward Mexican-Americans and other Latinx people.
Despite this, I studied Spanish in high school. Since then I have been privileged to enjoy trips to several countries in Latin America.
Jorge Ramos’ opinion piece about…
Up early with the bats in a soft rain, I’m walking down a steep path to the climate station we’ve set up at the river. The forest is silent except for some restless insects and one or two birds.
I raise the kerosene lantern high to take the readings of temperature and humidity. Droplets of water hiss as they strike the glass.
Back up the hill, I shrug my way into the kitchen area and set the lantern down. A deck of cards in order by suits and an empty gin bottle sit on the table.
Not my doing.