About Warren Ross

If you really want people to know you, it helps to post a non-smiling photo. Unless you never stop smiling, in which case you're too happy to be a writer, or maybe you're in some other kind of trouble.

It also helps to post a smiling photo. Thus the pair.

My friend Michael Burlingham shot the left one in Southold, NY on August 31, 2015 a millisecond before I started telling him this joke:

Two old acquaintances ran into each other in the park.
One said, "Did you hear that old Oddvar died?"
"That's too bad; what did he die from?"
"Oh, nothing serious."

I had been told that joke in 1978 in Tønsberg, Norway by artist Gunnar Romberg. At the time it was 35 below zero, Fahrenheit, and Gunnar's two-year-old granddaughter was outside playing in the snow with a little pail and shovel, as happily as any toddler would do at the beach in summertime. Gunnar's family were all wonderfully kind to me. I think of them often.

My friend Rick Hauck shot the smile photo on Schoodic Peninsula, Maine, in 2013. Please don't worry about the Canyon Ranch hat—I passed the place many times but had no reason to go in. That hat cost me one dollar at the Speedway Outlet in Tucson, my all-time favorite thrift shop except the old Beacon Hill Thrift Shop on Charles Street, Boston, in the seventies.

I was born in Massachusetts, and live there now. I've done my share of traveling and expect to do more.

  • Mountaineer still alive
  • Hippie with a work ethic
  • Perpetually underestimated
  • Pseudo-artiste with a killer muse
  • Proudly unprofessional when appropriate
  • Cooker of good Fettucine Alfredo
  • Crashless driver
  • Machine fixer



Here are the jobs I've done, in chronological order, starting at age fourteen:

  • Farm hand
  • Ecology teacher of fifth graders
  • Restaurant host
  • Tavern bartender
  • Publishing editorial assistant
  • Proofreader/copyeditor/writer
  • Busboy
  • Waiter
  • Sawmill operator
  • Arborist's assistant
  • Handyman
  • Renovation contractor
  • Publishing consultant
  • Web developer
  • Self-Publisher

I know the word "consultant" raises flags. But that was the best word for my publishing services, because I did a wide variety of work for all kinds of clients, from the smallest businesses to five Fortune 500 companies.

An aside: I've always had an irrational distaste for the word "solutions" to describe business services. But I used that word on my publishing services business card because it was the best word available.


Assorted Things

For seven years in my spare time I played bass guitar at about two hundred paid gigs in and around Boston. For eighteen years my favorite hobby was mountaineering: rock climbing, snow and ice climbing, and ski mountaineering. These days my excellent climbing partner Scott and myself are too decrepit for any serious hijinks. But we sure have some memories, and if we didn't have each other to confirm that we really did what we did, we wouldn't believe we'd done it. Here we are in 2011 on the final day of the Haute Route ski tour, on our way down the long descent to Zermatt...


Fifteen years ago I forgot something important. I had also forgotten what sort of thing it was, though I somehow knew it was not something I needed to do or really needed to know. Just some interesting life factoid of value to me alone. For many years, at least twice a week, I wished I could remember it, but never could.

Then last year it jumped into my consciousness. AHHH! My lucky day! What relief and happiness!

I should have written it down, because a couple hours later I forgot it again and it's still lost now.


When I was four, my best friend Jimmy came home from the circus and said he had seen a swell trick we could do. He said, "You stand on that end of the see-saw, and I'll climb up on the swing set and jump down on the other end." He was a year older than I was, and bigger. The launch was a success until I landed and broke my collarbone.


Back in the 1970s I was playing the beautiful old par three golf course at Wentworth-by-the-Sea in New Hampshire. One hole was about 125 yards with a granite ledge just in front of the green. I mishit my shot thin (low and hard) so the ball hit the ledge and bounced way high in the air back in my direction. I looked up and watched the ball flying, flying—oh, here it comes, how about that—and put out my hand, and caught it. My feet had never moved. I say that's better than a hole-in-one.


When I was a kid, whenever someone knocked on the front door our dog would jump up and dash through the back of the house and through the back screen door and around to the front door to see who was there. One time the dog was lying on the floor and wagged his tail, and his tail thumped the floor and he thought the thumping was someone knocking. He jumped up and took off, and so I thought maybe there was someone knocking, so I went and opened the front door. There was the dog, smiling at me and wagging his tail.


In my teens I broke my nose twice in the same way: playing softball center field, sprinting to catch a long fly, and running face first into the side of the head of the left fielder. Both times I caught the ball and held onto it. Since those triumphs, I've never been able to breathe well through my nose.


In the Fall of 1972 I worked at Otter Lake in southwestern New Hampshire, teaching fifth graders about nature. Every Monday morning a whole class of kids arrived and stayed until Friday afternoon. A bunch of college-student volunteers like me took care of them 24 hours a day. We got food, a bunk, and twenty-five dollars a week, and we each stuck with an assigned group of kids all through the week so we got to know them, and grew attached to them. One week on Friday afternoon I finished with my kids ten minutes early and asked them how they'd like to spend the last ten minutes. They wanted to see where I stayed when I wasn't staying with them in their bunkhouse, so I showed them the instructors' bunkhouse, and they saw my guitar in the corner and they said, "Can you play a song?" So I started playing and singing Blue Suede Shoes, and instantly every one of those kids erupted into the wildest unrestrained dancing I've ever seen. Ten minutes after that, they were on the bus waving goodbye, and I never saw any of them again.

I've played in a lot of places for all sorts of audiences, but that is my all-time favorite.


I broke my left leg in la Grave, France. The Briançon surgeons did a fine job, and the hospital was all-around excellent—peaceful and quiet; completely dark at night in my room; no beeping and buzzing, no phones ringing; no audible voices; the nurses all tiptoeing around with tiny flashlights to make sure you're still alive without waking you up. If you ever plan to bust some bones, that's the place to do it. My seven days in that hospital are a fond memory.

My other injuries are no fun to talk about.


I'll add more stories here sometime soon, probably.