This afternoon was another comedy of errors for the news desk. I walked out of a meeting with the news director to hear a reporter say into his cell phone, "Now, that's an answer out of my pay range. Let me have you talk to someone else." He handed to phone to my coworker on the assignment desk.

I logged into the computer and kept an ear out on the conversation. It sounded like my coworker was trying to have a picture emailed to us for use in a story. The reporter then started telling us in the newsroom that a media outlet in Nebraska wanted to wheel and deal for a mug shot that we were requesting.

A mug shot is normally viewed as open to the public. It was a shock to hear another media organization tell us they'd only send it to us for a, b and c. (I honestly don't know what they were requesting. It could have been anything from credit for the picture to payment for the picture.)

The mug shot had to have been released to the media in Nebraska originally by the arresting police agency. A producer in the newsroom beat me to saying, "can't we just call the sheriff."

As ridiculous as the above sounded to me, the next thing I heard was a jaw dropper.

"I called the sheriff's office and was told no one was in the office because it's Arbor Day," my coworker said.

What? Many in the newsroom echoed my sentiment. What?

Then the Nebraska jokes started, and well, I am and always will be a Nebraska girl at heart. I couldn't just stand by as Nebraska and Arbor Day were made the fodder for jokes.

I went to the edge of the desk and said loudly, and animatedly, "Don't you know Arbor Day began in Nebraska? It is a big holiday for Nebraska. You see long ago, someone, I think the governor, planted a forest for his wife who dragged out west with him from the eastern states to settle in Nebraska. She missed her trees so, and her husband loved her so much he didn't want her to be sad. He planted her a forest, and now Nebraska has the largest man made forest. of all the WORLD."

With all eyes on me and jaws visibly gaping open, I finished with a courtesy. That brought on the laughter and questions of the man made forest. I went on to explain the original forest was planted so tightly together, it's virtually impossible to maneuver through as the trees have all grown together. "Not even animals can live in the forest!" I exclaimed.

"What do you mean? Where do the animals live then?" a producer asked.

"The land animals live in the outer edges of what is now natural forest, but the trees are filled with birds, insects and other tree animals!"

At that there was more laughter, more jokes, and then comments on the Archway over I-80 in Kearney, Ne. I chimed in on the Archway, exclaiming, "It has the longest escalator in all of Nebraska!"

Okay, it's time for the whole truth: everything I said today is how I remember being taught about Arbor Day. I admit I may have some of my facts wrong. So I looked Arbor Day up on the internet. The history of Arbor Day explains everything, and I wasn't that far off. J. Sterling Morton wasn't governor, he was a journalist, and he did plant trees and flowers for his wife after they moved from Detroit. Oh, and one other minor fact. J. Sterling Morton didn't plant the man made forest, he and his wife just had a love for trees and flowers. Charles E. Bessey, botanist, started the man made forest.

Now that I'm all caught up on the facts, I still choose to believe the romantic side of Arbor Day and love it even more as it was started by a journalist.

However, Arbor Day is still no excuse to NOT work and to NOT release a mug shot to the media. What would J. Sterling Morton say to this?

Written Friday, April 24, 2009