Going to Be Good

This article will be good. Cupcakes are good. I have good grades in school. My friend is good. All that’s good, but what do I mean by “good”?

When we say that something or someone is “good”, we have positive, esteemed opinions about what we are referring to. For example, suppose after you watch a movie, you think, “That was a good movie.” We can tell that you really liked that movie, and you have respect for that movie to a certain level. Every day, we use “good” copiously to describe many things in our lives, whether it be in our writing, speech, or ideas. But there’s more to the word “good” than just being a compliment, and this ambiguous word can suggest so many different things. It’s not always enough to declare something as “good”, because its denotation may not always capture the complete meaning behind your ideas and it does not always apply in the same way for everyone.

A Good Time to Use “Good”

“Good” is a very vague word and does not specify what exactly is positive about something. “Good” can take on different meanings in different contexts; you can find qualities of an object that are “good” for different reasons. If I said that a cake is good, there are multiple things that I could mean:

  1. The cake looks good, or the decoration on the cake is really pretty
  2. The cake tastes good (chocolate is the best!)
  3. The cake smells good
  4. The texture of the cake is good (who doesn’t love a soft, spongy cake?)

Notice how “good” is used in each of these descriptions, but it points to a different thing. Because there are multiple meanings behind “good”, every time you present your opinion, try using a more precise word that is specific to the quality that it describes. For example, if I wanted to point out the taste of the cake, instead of “good”, I could say: “The cake is delicious”, or “The cake tastes sweet”. This way, you know that I’m talking about how much I loooovvvveee the taste of chocolate cake.

Another example of an unclear usage of “good” appears in The Hobbit when Bilbo wishes Gandalf a good morning and Gandalf replies,

“What do you mean?” he said. “Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?”

What exactly makes the morning good? Why should the morning be good? It’s a simple greeting, but to whom does it apply? Is there a better word you could use to make the meaning clear?

Let’s replace “good” with “Beautiful”, so then you would say “Beautiful morning”. By replacing good with a descriptive word, I would be able to infer that you’re talking about the weather, the scenery, etc.

In formal writing, always try to avoid the use of the word “good” (unless it appears in direct quotes from a source, then you can’t really change it). “Good” sounds elementary, and we do have a larger vocabulary span than such basic words. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people use “good” in their essays or articles because exactly what they are thinking, or what perspective they have is unclear since “good” is quite flimsy (okay, I know what you’re thinking. I’m using the word “good” because I’m trying to explain why you shouldn’t! Stop it. I’m not a hypocrite). If you’re expressing your opinion about something, try not to say what was good and what was bad, because that doesn’t really say much; add some more depth to your statement. Some terms in my vocabulary include: controversial, beneficial, unreasonable, quixotic, effective, predictable, ulterior [intentions], and rebellious. Using thorough words with specific meanings not only makes your writing formal and advanced, but it also shows the reader that you have clarity in your thoughts.

Banish “good” from your vocabulary. It doesn’t exist. “Very good” doesn’t count either (haha, gotcha!)

Other terms to describe quality (to replace “good”):
vivid, vibrant, delicious, pungent, fragrant, satisfactory, musical, soft, peaceful, thunderous, cheerful, ecstatic, beautiful/handsome, sharp, warm, comfortable, cozy, studious, energetic, dedicated, strong, supportive, excellent

Bottom line: Don’t use “good” in your writing or when speaking because though it is a positive word, it makes things unclear.

My Good, Your Bad

We all have our own standards and our own definitions of what is right for us. In a basic definition, something is “good” when it helps us, and that thing or person is different for each person. Our background, our expectations of ourselves, and our dreams set personal standards that we must meet to feel satisfied.

When we use “good” as a measure of quality, such as a “good” test score, a “good” job, or even what you might consider a “good” book, it can often become an umbrella and become the bar for everyone, not just one person. In some cases, this can lead to the growth and development of a community; on the other hand, a general standard makes several people vulnerable to bullying and discrimination.

From the perspective of a student, a common example of this is that an A is a “good” grade to receive on a test, and any grade below that is disgraceful. On one hand, this pushes students to work harder to do their best and earn an A, but…

When they don’t, they may feel like they aren’t good enough, or that they are dumb (which is totally NOT TRUE). So what do we do?

It’s important to keep high standards of oneself and the community because that’s the only way we can motivate ourselves to strive for success. At the same time, understand and accept that each person has personal goals that will help them meet the higher standards. Don’t judge and condemn others just because they don’t meet your standards. If the results of their work make them happy, then that’s what’s important.

Recently, we had our final exams, and the first exam I took was for science. I was elated to have received a 97%. When I asked one of my classmates what he got, he told me he had a score of 63%. If I had gotten this score, I would be horrified and disappointed in myself, probably fearing the wrath of my parents. But my classmate was perfectly happy with this score as long as he still passed the class. If he was happy, then his score didn’t really matter to me; I just gave him a high-five, celebrating the end of the first final.

You don’t always know the background of other people, and people don’t know your background either. It’s not fair to judge each other based on individual standards. Decide what’s good for you and aim to do the best you can (or even beyond) because, in the end, the only thing that matters is what makes you happy.

So...What’s Good?

Does this mean that “good” is a bad word? No. It’s just not the best word to use. How can you use “good”? Use it to encourage, rather than define.

“Good” is a positive word, so use it in that way. Tell your parents they’ve been good (or how about supportive and kind?) parents. Tell your friends they’ve been good (maybe funny, loyal, and caring?) friends.

By using “good” in the right way, whether it be in writing or in words, we can spread some “good”ness in the world! 🙂

I’m here for you – By Nandini Dharwadkar

Be kind to all

A brand new day. A brand new life. Only ten cars were zooming on the streets, which was the only noise left in the city of Fremont. At least, outside. Inside of hospitals and clinics, the only sound that could be heard was the moaning and groaning of suffering patients, and the soothing voices of the nurses and doctors that worked hard to cure the sick. Everyone noticed this change. Everyone knew. But not everyone cared. The rich were just taking this as a chance to relax.

Coronavirus was taking over people’s lives. And taking them away. And no one could be more affected by this than 15-year old Lily. She wanted some way to help the underprivileged people who couldn’t provide for themselves, the ones without a job because of the lockdown, because they are the ones who need help the most. Lily watched out of her window as she observed a man stuffing his trunk to its maximum capacity with cans of food. Corona Virus

Food, she thought, there will never be enough. For the the higher class with a lavishly decorated home, and the ones with a plain blanket and hard, cement bed. I need to make it enough, especially now.

And watching the man with his cans, Lily knew exactly how to help...

An hour later, Lily had persuaded her sister and had gathered a few friends with her to help other people during this time of distress and were walking around the streets carrying large trash bags. Filled with food and supplies in it that they had pooled out of their own homes. It wasn’t much, but it was worth it. And everyone around the world knew that.

They walked down Thornton Avenue, where they saw an old lady sitting at the edge of a gas station, who was watching them nervously. Her eyes said it all. But as they approached, the woman’s gaze fell to the sidewalk, but Lily knew what the lady’s heart wanted.

Lily kneeled in front of her, and tried to ignore the deadly smell circling the woman. Trying not to scrunch her nose and be rude, Lily said benignly, “How are you doing, Ms….?”

The old woman seemed to trust the teenagers who were silently watching, and said in a croaky voice, “Gibson. Ms. Gibson. What are you doing here? And why are you outside?”

Lily pulled out six large cans of beans, tomatoes, vegetables, and chicken that her mom had saved up. She lined them up in front of the woman. “For you,” she said, and took the old woman’s hand and squeezed it. “We’ll get through this. Coronavirus will be kicked away by vaccines that our doctors will discover. Stay strong. You’re not alone. We’re here for you. I’m here for you.”

Ms. Gibson was speechless. “You’re here for me,” she repeated. “You’re here for me.”

For two hours Lily and the other teenagers walked around Fremont passing out food to homeless and needy people. Other residents noticed the group with large bags as they passed out food. Soon, almost everyone in Lily’s community had joined in the heroic act, and were chanting, “We’re here for you. I’m here for you” to everyone they provided supplies.

Lily looked back at the size of her group and grinned. It took one small act of kindness to prove that the coronavirus could not kill off the kindness people felt for each other, despite the lockdown. All people had to do to prove that was to say four simple words: “I’m here for you.”

Thumbs up to Apple on Inclusion and Diversity

Apple hosted their annual fall product launch yesterday in the Steve Jobs theatre in the Apple campus. The event had its regular razzmatazz of new products and self-described superlatives for its own products. There was something different about the event this time and no it was not the iPhone 11 Pro. This time, the presenters were from diverse backgrounds and were inclusive. Thumbs up to Apple on Inclusion and Diversity and making a real effort towards it.

Historically, the presenters of the events were white males (and to some extent females) who would boast the features and performances of the products. This time around though, we saw Asians doing the keynote presentations, females in actions but sadly still not blacks. I am fairly certain that it is just a matter of time where every company and organization will make Inclusion and Diversity their priority.

But for now, I think I will enjoy the launch and wait for the availability of iPhone 11 Pro. It is a great product and Apple has managed to excite me after 5 versions of the phone.

Are we becoming the mice of NIMH?


Some time ago, I had written about people behavior and civilization. Those thoughts sparked from how people behave in less than optimal situations like a crowded train. But that's nothing compared what's happening around us nowadays. Last week there was yet another mass shooting in a public place in the US. This time the shooting was at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. There have been 248 mass shootings in US in 2019 and at this pace, it will easily surpass the 323 mass shootings that took place in 2018. Are we becoming the mice of NIMH?

Social Issue

What is the society now coming to? Are we really becoming the mice of NIMH where we are unable to handle the bounty that nature and our society is providing us? The video below is very distressing and is that a harginger for human society. All the indicators so far point in that direction only.

Will this human behavioral trend mean that all the social gatherings will cease to happen and everything will become virtual? Already the today's kids don't like to go and hang out together. Rather they choose hanging out together in virtual chat rooms like Google Hangouts or Facebook Messenger. Messenger website evens has a catch-phrase, "Be together, whenever."

Messenger Message
Is it worth it?

These kids are missing out on all the personal contacts gained by actual interaction. This kind of social interaction is not preparing them for the rigors of the real world and they become socially awkward. Will they become "The beautiful ones"? Only time will tell, but I am worried.

Already the upcoming social events like the Fremont Festival of the Arts will have enhanced security after the Gilroy incident. In that case, people immediately start viewing each other with suspicion and instead of what should be a celebration of art, culture and human interaction, the ambience becomes acidic and caustic and an ordeal. I have already made up my mind to not go to the festival.


I just hope that good sense will prevail and human race will address this issue and halt the seemingly inevitable march towards doomsday.