I’m the type of person who is always going 100 mph, adding five more tasks to my list for every two I cross off. So when I’m forced to wait unexpectedly-for a doctor appointment, perhaps, or a delayed flight-I generally don’t take it well. There’s always so much more I could be doing with that time.

I’m not the only one who feels that way. Last week, I spoke with Michael J. Pallamary, president of La Jolla, Calif.-based Pallamary and Associates. I had been corresponding with Pallamary regarding the recent launch of the Land Surveyors Advisory Council on Technical Standards (LSACTS), of which he is a founding member, as well as several articles that he is writing and another project he’s wrapping up-all while running a successful surveying business-when I received the announcement about www.tiepoints.com, the new Web site Pallamary launched as a research and resource center for California land surveyors and other land-related professionals. Granted, I’ve encountered other movers and shakers in this profession over the last year and a half, but this level of activity seemed almost unreal. “Where do you find the time for all these initiatives?” I asked him.

Pallamary explained that a recent back injury and related surgeries had left him with several months of unexpected “downtime.” But instead of feeling sorry for himself and watching endless hours of TV, he had used the time to his advantage-pulling together research he’s worked on over the past decade, networking electronically, and pursuing projects that he didn’t have time for previously. And that’s just Pallamary’s style. As an expert witness in numerous court cases involving land surveying and land use, he often finds himself sitting in courtrooms waiting to testify. He said technology has been one of his greatest assets. “My netbook is so small and portable-I bring it with me everywhere I go so I can write articles or work on other projects anytime I’m waiting,” he said. “I’m always working on something.”

As I sat in a jury room yesterday, I thought about my discussion with Pallamary. This was my first summons, so I wasn’t sure whether a laptop would be allowed, and I had to return my camera-enabled smartphone to my car. There I was, completely disconnected from the outside world. I ended up waiting the entire day before I was finally dismissed. I could have easily viewed it as “wasted” time. Instead, I used the time to read and reflect-a luxury I can rarely afford in my hectic schedule as a working parent with a young child. Although I had initially been frustrated by the unexpected intrusion in my carefully constructed agenda, I ended up feeling grateful for the forced downtime.

Sometimes it’s the unexpected delays and unplanned detours that provide us with the most valuable opportunities. It’s up to each of us how we redeem those moments.


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