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Sunday, 30 October 2016 11:36

Secrets behind the world's great buildings

Celebrated 20th century German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe said architecture began when two bricks were put together well. This might sound simplistic, yet Mies was right -- architecture is the self-conscious act of building, not just with common sense but also with artistry.

There will always be debate over the origins of the art, but the first works we recognize as architecture were built from tiers of sun-baked mud bricks in what is today's southern Iraq. Although the buildings they formed have been rebuilt over the centuries, they were so well conceived that some -- like the Ziggurat of Urnammu at Ur -- have endured for millennia. However, there is architecture and there is great architecture, and what constitutes the latter has exercised the minds of generations of critics, theorists, historians and architects themselves. The grand jury that makes the final decision on which building this will be is chaired by Richard Rogers, an architect famous for two 20th century 'greats', the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Lloyd's Building in the City of London. He is supported by four other architectural luminaries. 

Building greatness

Rogers and his fellow judges have strict criteria to guide them. The chosen building has to demonstrate "visionary, innovative thinking and excellence of execution, while making a generous contribution to society and to its physical context - be it the public realm, the natural environment or both," according to RIBA.
But these architects know full well that truly great buildings -- the ones that catch our eyes, steal our hearts and send shivers up our spines -- are rare, and that while good and even special buildings may emerge in any one year, none might be truly great.
We can date buildings of all eras with remarkable precision today, yet there are those -- from the Pyramids at Giza and the Parthenon in Athens through to Mies's Barcelona Pavilion, Le Corbusier's pilgrimage chapel at Ronchamp and, yes, Gehry's Bilbao Guggenheim -- that will thrill people for centuries to come.
Some of these are imposing constructions, others modest, and not all of them have been costly to build.
"Making a great building is not about having lots of money, though you could make an argument that money helps," says Richard Rogers. "Some of the best British architects have used the humble barn as the basis for intelligent, sophisticated and new buildings."
Indeed, Rogers could have mentioned Mies, who traveled to London to receive RIBA's Royal Gold Medal for Architecture in 1959. When asked by his hosts if he would like to visit some British buildings, the great architect chose to visit just one -- the cathedral-like early 14th century timber and stone.
Whether cheap or costly, humble or aloof, the timeless quality of great buildings has much to do with proportions, ratios and mathematics as it does with intangible poetic qualities.
As the influential 20th century American architect Louis Kahn put it, "a great building must begin with the unmeasurable, must go through measurable means when it is being designed and in the end must be unmeasurable."

Agents of change

As timeless as they may be, what makes a great a building is changing and has been since the Pompidou Centre in Paris was completed in 1977 to designs by Richard Rogers, Renzo Piano and structural engineer Peter Rice.
To many at the time, this iconoclastic public art gallery was an affront: wearing its insides on its outside, it was portrayed as a parody of an oil refinery. Even Rogers likes to tell the story of an elderly Parisian lady who hit him with her umbrella when he admitted that he was one of the building's architects.
For judge Philip Gumuchdjian, the Pompidou was striking for quite different reasons.
"The importance of the experience for me was to suddenly turn a street corner in Paris and to see a completely new concept of building, of public space, of institution," he says. "For the very first time in my life I realized that architects, architecture, a building, could change the way society functions, changes and moves forward."
So a great building can be an agent of change, not purely in terms of structure or aesthetics, but socially, too.

Future forms

In the second decade of the 21st century, the latest developments in computer design and robotic construction mean that the ultimate form of future buildings may morph as they emerge from the ground. This is a complete change to traditional building design, yet it may give us great buildings imbued with a new kind of beauty. "A great building is one that cannot have been imagined before it was created," Gumuchdjian notes. "It's a building that inserts inspiration into the backdrop of our every day life, a building that pulls us together as a society, a building that questions the way we live and empowers us to expand our understanding of the possible."
Tsien says that she and Williams try to "make buildings that will last and...leave good marks upon the earth," and names time and love as the two essential ingredients that make a great building.
"Nothing is immediately great, but we see architecture as an act of profound optimism. Its foundation lies in believing that it is possible to make places on the earth that can give a sense of grace to life -- and believing that this matters. It is what we have to give and it is what we leave behind," she and Tod write.
Transcendence, endurance and love. Here are three qualities the RIBA might want to add to Roman architect Vitruvius's famous 1st century list of essential qualities of architecture -- "commodity, firmness and delight" -- to evoke the spirit their judges hope to find in the finest building of 2016.
It might just turn out to be truly great architecture, too.
Wednesday, 26 October 2016 10:25

Merit movies to release maiden movie next year

For sometime now, it has been rumored that merit movies company is working on a major project for the movie industry but the actual project had eluded most movie fans until today when the executive producer and CEO of Merit Movies, Dr. Addo Cornelius disclosed to news233, that the company would be releasing its maiden movie next year on 14th April 2017. He wasn't only emphatic with the date of the release but also said it will feature top movie actors and actresses from Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana. He however did not disclose any names but said plans were advanced with the shooting. He also added that the movie would be shot in January 2017.

Production for the movie began in late April 2016. Filming is set to begin in January 2017 and movie would be premiered in cinemas all around the world from 14th April 2017.

The budget for the movie is set at a whopping $200,000 and Dr. Addo explained it was because of the Stars to feature on the movie. He again explained that casting for roles in the movie would begin next month and anyone at all could audition to be part of this great movie to hit Africa and the world.

The movie is said to be an African epic romance - comedy film; so fans just have to cross their arms and wait patiently for this one.


Dr. Addo Cornelius - CEO & Executive producer - Merit Movies

Actor John Dumelo has said the NPP will suffer their worst electoral defeat ever in the December polls.

According to him, majority of Ghanaians are very impressed with the performance of the Mahama-led government in the last four years and as such, are not interested in the change message of the elephant family.

Speaking at the parliamentary campaign launch of Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, at Aveyime in the North Tongu constituency of the Volta region, Mr. Dumelo urged party supporters to work and prepare for another NDC victory in the December polls.

“This year will be the worst performing year for the NPP when it comes to the election. They will get the lowest vote ever because Ghana is deciding and Ghana has decided, [to retain the NDC]. So what kind of change are they talking about when we see all the projects around, and they say change is coming. That means the change is backward and we want forward change,” the movie star told the mammoth rally on Sunday.

Okudzeto Ablakwa who is seeking a second term in parliament said Voltarians will not be swayed by the unimpressive promises of the NPP, as they are already witnessing massive development under the NDC government.

He lampooned the key campaign promises of the NPP, such as, one-district-one-factory, one-village-per-dam and one million dollars for each constituency, noting that, such promises cannot match the value of investment Ghanaians have benefited in the first term of President Mahama.

“In North Tongu, we are not impressed with the NPP’s promise of one million dollar per constituency because in the road sector alone, president Mahama has invested more than 70 million dollar [in this area].

The community day SHS which we are befitting from, one is valued at Ghc 7 million that is far more than a million dollars.

If it is about the one-village-one-dam, we already have modern irrigation facilities with underground canals, so can’t leave more or less,” Mr. Ablakwa, who is also a Deputy Minister of Education, has illustrated.

He however entreated the party’s rank and files to eschew complacency and propagate the good deeds of the government so as to achieve the 97 percent votes target for him and the President in the area.

The ‘Ablakwa 2016’ campaign launch was graced by host of government functionaries and party stalwarts from the national and regional secretariats.

Monday, 24 October 2016 17:26

Dancehall artiste Vybrant Faya is dead

Dancehall artiste Emmanuel Kojo Quayeson, better known by his stage name as Vybrant Faya, is dead.

The artiste died Sunday, October 23 at the 37 Military Hospital in Accra after he was involved in an accident on the Tema Motorway.

Management of Vybrant Faya, known for the smash hit single ‘Mampi’, confirmed his passing in statement copied to Myjoyonline.com.

The statement said, “We are shocked and in total state of sorrow. We met with Vybrant and some of his family members on Sunday afternoon around 3pm and had a rather good discussion. Few hours after their departure we had a telephone call that Vybrant Faya had been admitted at the 37 Military Hospital after being involved in an accident.”  

The statement signed by Kelly Nii Lartey Mensah, a member of Shatta Movement Family (SMF) Communication team noted that, “A team from SMF was quickly dispatched to the hospital only to be told that our brother has passed on.”

“We are grief-stricken and cannot hold back our tears. Our deep condolences to the family. Family of Vybrant Faya is yet to release official statement on the issue.  May Allah find a peaceful place for you brother till we meet,” the artiste’s management added.

Vybrant Faya was born in Tema, Ghana on April 13, 1987 to Mr Samuel K Quayson and Miss Theresah Ackon.



source: myjoyonline

About fifteen years ago, when entrepreneur Michael Stausholm started a business with a friend, his partner painted a rosy picture of the future of the business and promised him a lot of success.

Stausholm believed him and felt uplifted, as if saying it would will it to be so. Thinking positive, after all, is a common step to success, right?

“Positive thinking is something in the DNA of most entrepreneurs,” says Stausholm, who is based in Copenhagen and who previously worked for shipping company Maersk and then went on to consult for large companies on sustainability issues. “If you don’t think positively, you would never start a business.”

But when the business fell apart, he learned an important lesson. There’s a downside to the power of positivity. “Just being positive and happy go lucky is not going to work — it has to be mixed with realism,” he says. 

The power of positive thinking has been a guiding principle for business leaders at least since 1936 when Napoleon Hill published Think and Grow Rich. Two decades later Norman Vincent Peale wrote The Power of Positive Thinking, which has sold more than 21 million copies worldwide, and more recently Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret has gripped business leaders and others with its promises of success based on positive thinking.

According to these positive-thinking tomes, negative thoughts or doubts stand in the way of success. But, in fact, a new crop of research finds that positive thinking has its limits — and even brings its own pitfalls. Positivity could be limiting your success.

Gabriele Oettingen, a professor of psychology at New York University who wrote Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation, says that when she started studying positive thinking, she discovered that energy, measured by blood pressure, drops when people generate happy fantasies about the future like landing a job or earning money.

“The problem is people don’t get up their energy to fulfil their wishes,” says Oettingen.

Often when people fantasise about achieving their goals they may not exert enough effort to actually achieve them, she says. Oettingen found, for example, that two years after university graduates fantasised about getting a job, they ended up earning less and receiving fewer job offers than those graduates who were more filled with doubt and worry. It turns out they also sent out fewer job applications.

“They fantasise about it and then feel already accomplished and relax,” and lose the motivation it takes to make things happen, she says.  

Nimita Shah, the director of the London-based group The Career Psychologist, says people often come in feeling frustrated about not being able to manifest their wishes and then they feel guilty about having negative thoughts, worried that their downbeat thinking is part of the problem.

“It’s similar to having an immediate diet quick fix,” says Shah. Fantasising about the future may help create a short-term boost, but “in the long term it adds to people feeling worse”.

Naturally hardwired

So, should we be worried and thinking the worst is around the corner more of the time? That could be tough. Optimism is embedded in the human psyche, says Tali Sharot, author of The Optimism Bias and director of the Affective Brain Lab, a London-based group that studies how emotions affect the brain. She had been trying to study the impact of negative events on emotion when she stumbled across the idea that people are naturally hardwired to think positively. In her initial experiments she asked people to imagine future negative scenarios such as relationship breakups or losing a job.

She found that people would automatically change the negative experience to a positive one — they would say, for example, that they broke up with their partner and found an even better one.

“It ruined my experiment,” says Sharot, but she realised that people have an inherent bias towards optimism.  “They imagine the future to be better than the past,” she says.

That sort of optimism bias, which Sharot calculates exists in 80% of the population regardless of culture or country, helps people get motivated in the first place. Studies also show that optimists live longer and are more likely to be healthier. Positive thoughts, she says, can also become a self-fulfilling prophecy. People who believe they are going to live longer may end up eating healthier and exercising. And ingrained optimism bias also helps people prevail in the face of dire circumstances.

But the optimism bias also tends to cause people to underestimate risk. That means for all its upside, we also, say, underestimate the amount of time and money a project will take or how a new pair of shoes will make us happy. In the end, too much optimism is dangerous and can get in your way.

Embracing your inner negative Nelly

But if our natural inclination is to be sunny in our thinking, it will take practice to take on board just enough negative to help offset those optimism blinders. Using her two decades of research, Oettingen developed a tool called WOOP

which stands for wish, outcome, obstacle and plan. The tool, also available as a website and smartphone app, walks people through a series of exercises designed to help them come up with concrete strategies to achieve their short- or long-term goals, mixing positive thinking with attention to any downsides and barriers.

For example, you might want to start a company but then realise you hate to ask people for money or don’t want to work long hours. You can then either figure out a way around those obstacles, like teaming up with a sales person or sticking to predefined work hours. Or you might decide that the obstacle is too big and isn’t worth it after all — before you’ve performed poorly.

“Then at least you can put the goal aside without a bad conscience and you can say ‘no, no I’ve looked it and at the moment it does not fit into my life’,” Oettingen says.

When Stausholm started the sustainable pencil company Sprout a few years ago he took lessons from his earlier business failures. He put all agreements down on paper and made contingency plans for the worst-case scenario.

Now the company sells more than 450,000 pencils a month in 60 countries, results which have surprised even Stausholm.

“There is a lot of talk about being positive when being a business owner,” says Stausholm. “But the opposite of positive is not negative — it’s having a sense of being realistic about what you can achieve and accomplish.”

Wednesday, 12 October 2016 18:24

Trump presidency 'dangerous', says UN

Donald Trump's "deeply unsettling and disturbing" views make him a danger internationally, the UN's human rights chief has said.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein cited Mr Trump's comments on the use of torture and his attitude to "vulnerable communities".

The Republican presidential candidate's campaign has been marked by a number of controversial comments.

Recent crude remarks about women have caused the biggest political fallout.

Overnight President Barack Obama, at a rally for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, condemned those comments, saying: "The guy says stuff that nobody would find tolerable if they were applying for a job at 7-Eleven."

Mr Hussein said at a news briefing in Geneva: "If Donald Trump is elected on the basis of what he has said already - and unless that changes - I think it is without any doubt that he would be dangerous from an international point of view."

Mr Hussein said he was "not keen or intent on interfering in any political campaign within any particular country".

But he said that when an election could result in an increase in the use of torture "or the focus on vulnerable communities in a way that suggests that they may well be deprived of their human rights, then I think it is incumbent to say so".

Mr Hussein has spoken out before on Mr Trump's policies, saying in June that "bigotry is not proof of strong leadership", while in September he launched a scathing attack on Western populist politicians, branding them "demagogues and political fantasists".

During the campaign, Mr Trump has said that "torture works" and has promised to bring back "a lot worse than waterboarding".

Waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques previously used by US forces on terror suspects have been banned by the Obama administration.

Mr Trump said of waterboarding in June: "I like it a lot. I don't think it's tough enough."

His comments on migrants, Mexicans in particular, have drawn fire from rights activists.

He has vowed to build a wall along the mexican border and in June 2015 branded some Mexican migrants "rapists" and "murderers".

Mr Hussein's latest comments are unlikely to change the New York billionaire's harsh criticism of the United Nations.

"The United Nations is not a friend of democracy," Mr Trump said in March. "It's not a friend even to the United States of America, where as we all know, it has its home."

He has criticised the US spending on the organisation. In April, he said: "Where do you ever see the United Nations? Do they ever settle anything? It's just like a political game. The United Nations - I mean the money we spend on the United Nations." Mr Trump is still battling the fallout from his lewd comments on women in a 2005 video released on Friday. Mr Trump described how he had sought to have sex with a married woman and made other sexually aggressive comments.

Many top Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, have since distanced themselves from Mr Trump.

Mr Trump fired back in a string of tweets, saying the "shackles" had been removed, allowing him to "fight for America the way I want to". He said he neither wanted nor needed Mr Ryan's support.

Mr Trump said "disloyal" Republicans "come at you from all sides. They don't know how to win - I will teach them!"

Mr Obama weighed in against Mr Trump at a campaign rally in Greensboro, North Carolina.

He said: "You don't have to be a husband or a father to say that's not right. You just have to be a decent human being."

Mr Obama questioned how senior Republican politicians could still want Mr Trump to be president.

Meanwhile Mr Trump delivered a gaffe while addressing supporters in Florida on Tuesday, telling them to go out and vote on the wrong date.

ABC News footage showed him saying: "Go and register. Make sure you get out and vote, November 28." The election is on 8 November.

A recent PRRI/Atlantic poll suggested Mrs Clinton holds a 49-38 lead over her opponent. 

Singer Janet Jackson has officially confirmed she is expecting her first child, at the age of 50.

"We thank God for our blessing", and posed for a picture with her growing baby bump.

Speculation about her pregnancy surfaced in April when she postponed her 'Unbreakable' tour, saying she wanted to focus on planning a family with her husband, Wissam al-Mana.

She was recently spotted in London shopping for baby essentials.

The People magazine quoted a source close to the Jackson family as saying: "She is super excited about her pregnancy and is doing extremely well. She actually feels very good about everything."

In a video posted on Twitter in April, she told her fans that she was postponing her world tour because "there's been a sudden change".

"I thought it was important that you be the first to know. My husband and I are planning our family," she said, adding: "Please if you can try and understand that its important that I do this now."

She went on to say: "I have to rest up, doctor's orders."

Profile: Janet Jackson

  • Janet Damita Jo Jackson was born on 16 May 1966 in Gary, Indiana in the US
  • She is the youngest of nine children and sister of late pop icon Michael Jackson
  • She released her first album Janet Jackson in 1982
  • She has a total of 11 albums with the most recent, Unbreakable, released in 2015
  • She is a seven-time Grammy award winner
  • She began her career with the family's reality TV series The Jacksons in 1976 and has since appeared in several movies such as Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married
  • The singer married her third husband, Qatari billionaire Wissam al-Mana, in 2012.
  • Janet Jackson is far from the only famous face to give birth later in life.

    Oscar-winning Halle Berry had her second child at 47, three years ago, and John Travolta's wife Kelly Preston gave birth to her third child at 48.

    Geena Davis - best known for her role in Thelma and Louise - became a mother later in life after falling in love with an Iranian-American neurosurgeon in her 40s. Her first child, a girl, arrived when she was 46, followed two years later by twin boys.

    Then there was Swiss billionaire Maria Louis-Dreyfus, who gave birth to twin girls in March 2016, aged 53.

    But these mothers - and Jackson - are all positively young when compared to the world's oldest new mothers.

    In fact, there are at least three women in India who claimed to have carried their children to term when at least two decades older than the pop singer.

    Omkari Panwar, said to be 70, gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl, in 2008. A few months later, Rajo Devi Lohan also 70 - gave birth to a little girl, her first, much-longed for child.

    Daljinder Kaur, who may be as old as 72, although she claimed to be just 70, gave birth to a son in April 2016 after three attempts at IVF.

    Each time, the births caused a debate over the ethical issues surrounding having a baby so late in life - especially after Maria del Carmen Bousada de Lara, the Spanish woman who once held the title of the world's oldest mother died three years after

    having twin boys.

    All three are understood to have used donated eggs in order to have their children.

Thursday, 21 April 2016 21:07

World's 100 most influential people named

A list of the most influential people in the world, according toTime magazine that is, has been revealed.

The 100 names vary from world leaders to Youtubers to activists to rappers and according to the editor Nancy Gibbs they all “have the power to make us think”.

Extremely high-profile, expected individuals like Tim Cook, President Barack Obama and Caitlyn Jenner make the list as do lesser-known individuals like Dan Carder, the engineer who exposed the Volkswagen emissions scandal of 2015.

The select six chosen to be on the front of the coveted issues areLeonardo DiCaprio, Nicki Minaj, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, Christine Lagarde, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Priyanka Chopra.

The description of how each person is influential in their field of work is often written up by somebody in the same field, for example, Zuckerberg and Chan’s write-up is by fellow technology-come-humanitarian power couple Bill and Melinda Gates while Jennifer Lawrence profiles her friend Adele.

Aside from Adele, who has just been named the UK’s richest ever female musician, fellow Brits on the list include Mark Rylance,Idris Elba and Lewis Hamilton.

See the full list below

Aziz Ansari

Caitlyn Jenner

Laura Esserman and Shelley Hwang

Palmer Luckey

Sunita Narain

Roy Choi

Felix Kjellberg (a.k.a. PewDiePie)

Hope Jahren

Dan Carder

Nadia Murad

Lee Berger

Mussie Zerai

Marc Edwards and Mona Hanna-Attisha

Christiana Figueres

Alan Stern

Raj Panjabi

Ibtihaj Muhammad

Gina Rodriguez

Kathy Niakan

Kip Thorne

Lin-Manuel Miranda


Tim Cook

Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal

Yuri Milner

Mohammed bin Nayef

Katie Ledecky

Dwayne Johnson

Pope Francis

Sundar Pichai

Wang Jianlin

Kathleen Kennedy

Eli Broad

Stephen Curry

Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg


Kendrick Lamar

Gael García Bernal

Taraji P. Henson

Melissa McCarthy

Elena Ferrante

Riccardo Tisci

Ryan Coogler

Ariana Grande

Idris Elba

Bjarke Ingels

Oscar Isaac

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Guo Pei

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Mark Rylance

Charlize Theron

Yayoi Kusama

Priyanka Chopra


Kim Jong Un

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Vladimir Putin

Paul Ryan

Diana Natalicio

Lori Robinson

Lester Holt

Queen Máxima

Ted Cruz

François Hollande

Darren Walker

James Comey

Raghuram Rajan

Hillary Clinton

Aung San Suu Kyi

Sergio Moro

Justin Trudeau

Xi Jinping

Barack Obama

Mauricio Macri

Jaha Dukureh

Reince Priebus

Tsai Ing-wen

Sean MacFarland

Bernie Sanders

Nikki Haley

Jin Liqun

Donald Trump

Angela Merkel

John Kerry

Christine Lagarde


Nicki Minaj

Lewis Hamilton

Usain Bolt

Marilynne Robinson

Karlie Kloss

Jordan Spieth

Alejandro González Iñárritu


Tu Youyou

Denis Mukwege

Sania Mirza

Ronda Rousey

Leonardo DiCaprio


The Queen has lit the first of more than 900 beacons lighting up across the UK and overseas as part of her 90th birthday celebrations.

Prince Philip, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall then joined the monarch at a private dinner in Windsor Castle.

Earlier, cheering crowds lined the streets in Windsor as the Queen took part in a walkabout.

On Twitter, the Queen thanked senders of "#HappyBirthdayYourMajesty" tweets.

In another tweet, the Queen said: "I send my best wishes to those who are celebrating their 90th birthday... on this shared occasion, I send my warm congratulations to you.”

At the lighting of the beacon in Windsor, the Prince of Wales, referring to his mother, said: "I find it very hard to believe that you've reached your 90th year and I suddenly realised the other day that I have known you since you were 22 years old.

"But this, ladies and gentleman, is a very special occasion and this beacon that her majesty is about to light will also represent - as it lights other beacons across the nation - the love and affection with which you are held throughout this country and the Commonwealth.

"So can we wish your majesty a special and the most happiest of birthdays on this occasion."

Members of the Army cadet force have taken beacons to the top of the highest peaks of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Some of the beacons are specially built gas-fuelled structures, while others are traditional bonfires or braziers on top of tall wooden posts.

Earlier, Royal gun salutes were fired from each of the UK's capital cities as the Queen met crowds of well-wishers in Windsor.

The Queen, who was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, was presented with a birthday cake at the Guildhall by the Great British Bake Off champion Nadiya Hussain, who had created an orange drizzle cake with a butter cream and marmalade filling.

The monarch also unveiled a plaque marking The Queen's Walkway - a 6.3km trail that links 63 significant points in Windsor.

The trail was designed to recognise the moment on 9 September 2015 that the monarch broke the record held by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, by being on the throne for 63 years and seven months.

This was, in many ways, an ordinary working day for the Queen. Unveiling a plaque, meeting flag-waving members of the public on a walkabout, being presented with a bouquet of flowers - these are things she has done thousands of times. But the crowds weren't going to let her forget that this day, her 90th birthday, was something out of the ordinary.

Some had been waiting for hours - some for days - to catch a glimpse of the Queen on the day she became the nation's first-ever nonagenarian monarch.

As the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh walked the short distance from Windsor Castle, a spontaneous rendition of Happy Birthday rang out - and it wouldn't be the last.

One woman who has lived nearly as long as the Queen summed up the atmosphere. Gwen Tarr, 88, who says she is "Windsor born and bred", said: "It was so lovely. I just wanted to celebrate the day with her and wish her a happy birthday - and many more birthdays to come.”

Most of the gun salutes were due to be 21 shots - the standard royal gun salute - at locations including Hillsborough Castle, Cardiff Castle, and Edinburgh Castle.

In London, the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery staged a 41-gun salute at midday in Hyde Park. And the Honourable Artillery Company fired a 62-gun salute across the Thames from the Tower of London at 13:00 BST.

Prime Minister David Cameron said the Queen had been "a rock of strength for our nation" and the Commonwealth, as he and fellow politicians paid tribute in the House of Commons.

Mr Cameron said: "Her Majesty The Queen has lived through some extraordinary times in our world.

"From the Second World War... to the rations with which she bought the material for her wedding dress.

"From presenting the World Cup to England at Wembley in 1966, to man landing on the moon three years later. From the end of the Cold War to peace in Northern Ireland.

"Throughout it all, as the sands of culture shift and the tides of politics ebb and flow, Her Majesty has been steadfast - a rock of strength for our nation, for our Commonwealth and on many occasions for the whole world.”

The Prince of Wales recorded a special radio broadcast for the day, in which he read an edited passage from William Shakespeare's Henry VIII.

The reading by Prince Charles, which has been broadcast by the BBC, is an extract from a speech by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer to King Henry VIII after the birth of the future Queen Elizabeth I.

A photograph was also released showing the monarch with young members of the Royal Family.

The image, one of three taken by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz, shows the Queen surrounded by her five great-grandchildren and her two youngest grandchildren.

The other Leibovitz photographs show the monarch walking in the grounds of Windsor Castle with four of her dogs and sitting with her daughter, the Princess Royal.

Queen's 90th: What's happening and when?

21 April - The Queen will unveil a plaque on Windsor's Queen's Walkway, before lighting the first of a chain of beacons. Gun salutes will also be held across the UK
12-15 May - Celebrations featuring hundreds of horses and performers in the grounds of Windsor Castle
10 June - A national service of thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral
11 June - The annual Trooping the Colour at Horse Guards Parade
12 June - The Queen will host a street party for 10,000 people in the Mall
Highest peaks

In the evening the Queen will be accompanied by Prince Philip, the Prince of Wales, and the Duchess of Cornwall, as she lights the first of more than 900 beacons across the UK and the world to mark her birthday.

Members of the Army cadet force will take beacons to the top of the highest peaks of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Some of the beacons will be specially-built gas-fuelled structures, while others will be traditional bonfires or braziers on top of tall wooden posts

Queen Elizabeth II at 90

The Queen has been married for 68 years, longer than any other British monarch
Her coronation was the first to be televised and was watched by over 20 million people in the UK
There have been 12 UK prime ministers, seven Archbishops of Canterbury and seven Popes during her reign
She has sat for more than 130 official portrait paintings
During her reign, she has visited 117 countries, travelling more than a million miles
In 2012 she became the second British monarch to celebrate a diamond jubilee, and in 2015 became the UK's longest reigning monarch




Don’t you wish that there were more hours in a day to accomplish all the things you’d like to get done? I know I do. Every day I start with my list — even multiple lists — but inevitably, I get side-tracked by a colleague, a seemingly urgent email or another tab opened on my browser that’s just calling out to me.

All of a sudden, it’s 6pm and some combination of your stomach, your family or your exercise trainer is about to take centre stage.

Well, Dr Syd has the prescription for you. It starts by recognising that the biggest reason you keep running out of time is because you’re not treating the hours and minutes as the precious resource it is. If we wasted food the way we waste time, we’d all be malnourished.

Here are five ways to stop wasting time:

Turn off your email. Don’t just close out the program on your laptop, but also on your mobile phone, your iPad, whatever electronics are within earshot. How could it possibly be a good idea to surround yourself with irresistible distractions that are sure to disrupt? Instead, set aside time to go through those emails two or three times a day all in one shot. And remember the “one and done” rule that applies to most email messages: deal with it right away, don’t save it for later — and delete often.

Minimise meetings. The mere thought of meetings is enough to trigger horrible memories of countless hours wasted. While I can’t ban meetings from your life, or mine, I do have two suggestions to help you pay a lower “meeting tax”.  First, stop going to meetings because you think you need to be there. Either you definitely do, or you definitely don’t. Don’t waver on this. And second, for those meetings you’ve got to go to, try to schedule them back-to-back, leaving time at the end of each meeting to quickly take some notes to remember the key takeaways.

Take advantage of free time. On airplanes, use the time to work through something that can’t be rushed. (I wrote the first draft of this column on a three-hour-flight from Miami to Boston.) The forced isolation for a set time period on airplanes takes away the pressure to figure out stuff super-fast and it’s a time that’s nearly distraction-free. Less pressure, more thoughtfulness.

Set tough, but realistic, deadlines for yourself. I know sometimes everyday work gets in the way of efficiency. There are ebbs and flows of various projects, and you definitely can’t control people around you. But, you can try to get more control over yourself and how you do your own work. When you finish one task, move on to the next. Or if one project hits a roadblock, move on to the next and come back to it when you’re fresh. Try to wrap up for the day at a point that will be easy to pick up the next day.

Self-reflect. At the end of each month, take a cold, hard look at your calendar and how you spent your time over the previous four weeks. Are you proud of how you used your time? Did you get a solid return on investment from what you chose to do? Are you following the suggestions in this column to stop wasting time? Even the best intentions aren’t enough to break old habits. If you’re serious about this, monitor how well you’ve been doing. It’s one of the best ways to get anything done. Don’t just say you’re going to stop wasting time, or assume that you are, but check and make sure. Ready? Schedule your check-in right now, one month from today.

Like many of the most important things in life, stopping yourself from wasting time isn’t rocket science. It’s a combination of what should be common sense but often isn’t, and a healthy dose of personal discipline. It’s just not more complicated than that — which means there’s no reason why you can’t make it happen. Now, what will you do with all that extra time?

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