Title text: The place I'd least like to live is the farm in the background of those diagrams showing how tornadoes form.
The comic is a map showing examples of geographical features as they would be presented in a geography textbook. May be based on the first page of the book You Choose which displays a map of locations similar in style to the one used in the comic and asks the reader "If you could go anywhere, where would you go?".
Randall notes that he would like to live in the middle of this region. These maps include an unusual density of different land forms, leading to an interesting environment in which to live. In the real world, these geographical features might take up far more space, and the geologic forces that shape them might create far different patterns than those shown. This kind of Neverland of geographical feature would offer a range of outdoor activities and landscapes that would make it a very nice place to live, as long as the volcano does not erupt.
Some of the geographic features do have a (very) loose similarity to the area around Boston, where Randall lives. Also near Boston is one geographical feature that Randall has included in this map but has refrained from labeling, the isthmus between the peninsula and the forest.
On the other hand, the map actually looks quite a bit like the area around southwestern Washington and northwestern Oregon, with the reader facing south so the high desert is on the upper left. The volcano could be Rainier or St. Helens. Real-world outdoor enthusiasts do indeed appreciate the Neverlandish landscape. Having little Spanish influence, locals would refer to a "mesa" as a butte.
The title text discusses a different type of diagram usually found in geography textbooks, the one showing the mechanism of tornado formation. Randall notes that he would least like to live in the farm typically depicted in the background of such diagrams. This is likely because the farm is depicted as being on a vast, featureless stretch of flat prairie, the opposite of the rich landscape in the comic. The monotonous landscape would reflect that of Tornado Alley, an area of the central United States where a large number of tornadoes form, and which makes up a large portion of the Great Plains. His dislike for this type of area may also simply be due to the damage created when a tornado hits. That said, chances of a direct tornado hit on any given house are slim compared to simply the risk of property damage. Living near an active volcano may be much more dangerous than living in Tornado Alley. Tornadoes are a recurring subject on xkcd.
Here is an alphabetical list of the different land forms with wiki links:
Bay, Desert, Forest, Glacier, Hills, Island, Lagoon, Lake, Mesa, Mountains, Peninsula, Plain, Delta, River, Sea, Strait and Volcano.
- [A colorful map shows various possible land forms which are labeled (and the last one with a spelling mistake included here). In general reading order the labels are:]
- [In the middle of these land forms, under the river and between the lake and the lagoon there is a black dot on the green bank of the lagoon with an arrow pointing it out. The arrow starts above the lake to the left of the glacier and is labeled:]
- My house
- [Below the panel there is a caption:]
- If I could live anywhere, I would choose the example map from geography books that explains what everything is called.
- Randall has misspelled peninsula with an extra "n" as penninsula.
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