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Examiner
  • Jason Offutt: Come for the weather; bring food

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  • I have friends (jerks) who live in Florida (double-jerks) who often post their local weather conditions (paradise) on social media (witchcraft).
    Of course, by “often” I mean only in the winter when weather conditions here in the Midwest are somewhere between Hoth and about 90 minutes of Disney’s “Frozen.”
    One of my Floridian friends (you think you’re pretty tough 1,100 miles away. I’m looking at you, Eric), in a display of epic mega-jerkery, routinely tags me in photographs of himself standing on the beach in a T-shirt and shorts drinking beer. This prompts me to shout to anyone who cares, which is usually no one, “To %$&# with this. I’m moving to Florida.”
    Which I never do because, unlike the Midwest, Florida isn’t known for its barbecue.
    Forty-four percent of the world’s population, 3.08 billion people, lives in coastal areas (within 93 miles of the ocean) in what I like to call the Spring Break Zone. It’s warm and sunny there. Girls wear bikinis, trees grow citrus fruit and everyone looks like people on TV.
    Why wouldn’t you want to live there?
    A good chunk of the rest of the word’s population (except, apparently those of us in the Midwest and Siberia) lives in one of the 400 cities with a population for more than a million people in the At Least We Have Cultural Events and Professional Sports Zone.
    Both zones are charming, have nice restaurants, sometimes alligators (sometimes in the sewer, sometimes out), and are a heck of a lot more pleasant than where I’m sitting right now dressed in more layers than a four-cheese lasagna.
    I live in the Midwest, in the Freeze/Swelter/Freeze Zone, with 65.5 million other people currently dressed in long johns and Carhartts. I was born here, went to college here, work here, and am raising my children to be good little “bundled in scarf and mittens” Midwesterners. Sure, I’ve traveled, but like my somewhat single-minded friends the salmon, I always come home.
    There are colder places, of course. Like International Falls, Minn., with an all-time record low of -55 degrees, and Yakutsk, Russia (population 200,000? Seriously?) with not only an all-time record low of -81.4 degrees, it has an average yearly high temperature of two degrees above freezing.
    Then there’s the mountain valley town of Rjukan, Norway, which until 2013 spent six months without sunlight. Yes, mountains blocked out the sun from March to September, presumably making it a vacation resort for vampires. Last year the town installed three huge mirrors high in the mountains to reflect sunlight upon their dark, dark town.
    Is it cold in Rjukan? Of course it is; we’re talking Norway. My question is what was the expression on the town founders faces when that first March rolled around and the world went all “30 Days of Night” on them.
    Page 2 of 2 - Right now there’s snow on the ground. Here, and most probably in Rjukan. So why do I continue to live in the Midwest when in Florida it’s currently warm enough to wear flip-flops? Because of the awesome barbecue. Like you really had to ask.
    Jason Offutt writes this column for The Examiner.

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