Since I am particularly good at not writing in my journal, I am in a great position to criticize others’ writing. Today, I would like to focus on one particularly bad habit: weather reporting. Don’t do it.

I recently had the opportunity to transcribe a great great grandfather’s missionary journal. Peter H. Hansen of Mayfield, Utah served in Denmark from September 1889 at least through 1892 (the diary I was transcribing ended while he was still in Denmark). Fascinating, right? I eagerly anticipated hearing about his companions, meetings, the subjects of LDS sermons of that era, neighbors, local church members, and investigators. Here is a short sample:

Sun 1st: Thaw & Cloudy Meeting at Broby Spoke part time.
Mon 2nd: Clear & Windy. Mailed a letter to the wife.
Tues 3 Cold windy & changeable. At home.
Wed 4: Windy & Changeable. At home.
Thurs 5: Very windy & cold with showers in Soro.
Fri 6: Rainy & Windy. At home.
Sat 7: Snowing. At home.
Sun 8: Fair. Two inches snow. Attended Grensmode Spoke for awhile in the forenoon.

This is from March 1890, but let me assure you that this week is typical. It snowed in Denmark that winter. Really.

Do you think it bad form to make fun of my great great grandpa’s diary? I will admit that I am guilty. I must admit that I was bitterly disappointed to be so bored.

It opened my eyes, though, to the transformation of our self-perception. I have no doubt that the missionary journals from Peter’s ancestors one hundred years later would be full of stories and reflection that might teeter on self-obsession (I include my own sporadic journals in this). Did Peter simply not view himself as the subject of his diary? Did he not think of himself as much, as often, or as deeply as we think of ourselves?

While Peter’s apparent lack of self-importance probably indicates that he was a better kind of person, it certainly makes less interesting journal-reading.