Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


January 2, 2014

Weight loss, writing and buying a giant tarantula top resolutions for 2014

— — The year 2014 has dawned, and I’m not for sure that I’ve really resolved to do anything. Maybe I should do a few resolutions so I will have a few worthwhile goals.

My first one is a classic and the easiest one to make because I do it anyway: Work out more. I try to visit the gym at least twice a week since keeping my weight down makes my diabetes more manageable. I’ve been slacking thanks to the holidays, but making exercise a New Year’s resolution is a good way to get back on track.

My second resolution is to cut down on the paper I have to deal with every time a new round of bills arrive in the mail. My kitchen table gets covered with stacks of paid bills and bills waiting to be paid. I need to do more of my payments online and tell myself how much money I will save on stamps and trips to the post office.

Resolution three is to catch up on the books I want to read and reduce useless time on the Internet. I’ve made a good start by reading a Sherlock Holmes anthology. Here the great detective meets people such as Tiny Tim and Wyatt Earp.

Another new book is about a Chinese general named Sun Tzo and how history would be different if more generals followed his ideas. For instance, the author argues that General Robert E. Lee could have won the Civil War if he had avoided the Battle of Gettysburg. Instead, Lee could have found good defensive positions of his own and compelled the Union Army to attack him rather than vice versa. Another option was to continue his march north and occupy a northern city such as Philadelphia, which would have been a huge political blow to President Lincoln and the support of the war.

I have a shelf full of books I have purchased or received as gifts, but I haven’t made the time to really sit down and read them. It’s time for me to get back to basics and return to one of my favorite things to do — reading.

My fourth resolution is to create more things to read; in other words, I want to do more writing. I’ve always wanted to write a novel. For years I’ve written a variety of short stories. My very first were what are dubbed “fanzine” stories. Fans of shows like “Star Trek” write their own tales featuring the show’s universe and characters. I did a couple of stories I would frankly rather forget.

I’ve written a couple of “Star Trek” novels, but those were more exercises than earnest attempts at being published, but now I think I’m ready to try a novel with my own characters and universe. I imagine an alternate 1880s in which the Civil War ended sooner and the historic Vlad Tepes, better known as Dracula, founded an empire that dominates Eastern Europe. I have ideas for a novel and maybe even a trilogy.

Of course, drafting a novel will take dedication and a lot of work. You can generate a waist-high stack of paper before you finish a novel’s final draft. I’ll have to break down and finally get a computer printer. I guess that’s resolution number four.

Resolution five is to keep my spending under control and keep up a resolution to avoid impulse buying. I have to keep asking myself whether buying a new knife, book, gargoyle or collectible will make me happier than what I have in my collection already. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the answer is no. There are so many things I can do without.

There is one exception to this resolution. I have always wanted a giant tarantula, and I might go ahead and do it if the circumstances are right. I went to Bugfest, a big show at Virginia Tech, and saw a giant white knee tarantula as big as my hand. I’d love to have one of those if I could make the situation work. I would have to find new homes for one of my other tarantulas to make room. I avoid telling myself that “just one more won’t hurt” because that road leads to hoarding.

New reporter Ann Elgin suggested I make “find true love” one of my New Year’s resolutions, but I’m not sure about that. The quest for true love has given me warm friendships and fond memories, but it has also gotten me letters from women in prison.

I’ll do the best I can to keep these resolutions. The write a novel resolution will be the most difficult and the keeping weight off will be the easiest. All I can really do is try to live life to the fullest and hope for the best. The year 2014 could be the year to make dreams come true.

Greg Jordan is the Daily Telegraph’s senior reporter. Contact him at


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