Last week in this space I regaled you with my early and frequent misadventures in early technology, fumbling through basic COBOL programming and compiling enough of those old computer punch cards and failed run sheets to stock a landfill, or at least a compost heap.

In my mind at least, I was helping the environment through recycling even if my grades didn’t exactly reward my earth-friendly effort.

I should mention that also while in college I contributed more than my share to the glass recycling effort with regular deposits of long-necked bottles.

But that’s fodder for a future column.

It would be another 10 years — 1984 to be exact — before someone showed me the marvel of those early years when she was able to “talk” to another computer user via typed words in what was my introduction to the genesis of e-mail.

Today, e-mail has become as much of a morning ritual as a vente latté at Starbucks. It was not long afterwards that we witnessed the sophistication of widespread Internet trawling or “surfing.”

Prior to the information age, surfing in the 1960s and 1970s to me meant that strange summer ritual that suntanned — and mostly blonde — folks on the left coast performed almost as a rite of passage. Personally, I never understood the attraction of being sucked under a tsunami while attempting to balance yourself on what amounted to a fiberglass ironing board, but I digress.

In the 1980s, when cable invaded most of America’s living and family rooms, the cable provider gave you a channel remote that in the ensuing years would cause more arguments between husbands and wives than infidelity ever could.

I don’t think TV’s “Divorce Court” often mentioned channel surfing as a reason for a marital break-up, but I suspect that was often the beginning of the end for many unions.

As a matter of evolution we discovered addictive and often helpful Web sites such as Google, not to mention traditional games such as Solitaire and chess now played online and a whole new era of “surfing” was born.

But just as channel surfing — courtesy of a cable remote — made us inherently lazier, I’m sure we would be shocked at just how large a portion of a traditional work day is spent cruising online at non-work-related URLs.

And in the interest of full disclosure, I’m hardly a virgin at this, nor am I telling you anything you don’t already know. It’s just that as someone who’s often 10 years behind the curve on every trend, I’m stunned at how sophisticated surfing has become, not to mention prevalent.

As an example, some 20 of us gathered around a co-worker’s cubicle last week watching the hilarious Bush-Kerry parody of “This Land is Your Land” on And many have since replayed it several times.

By the way, if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.

Now as far as reining in the frequency of employee surfing, that’s up to you. Some have described it as therapeutic, while others view it as a necessary evil to retaining and maintaining a happy workforce.

Now, can anyone give me a five-letter Yiddish word for “bedbug?”

Hmm. I’d better “Google” it.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access