IN MAY OF 1987 JACK BIRDWELL STEPPED OUT OF THE AIRPORT in Revkjavik to an icy wind and cold rain--typical spring weather. He zipped up his parka and immediately felt the chill go away. From the inside the terminal he had watched as the rain pelted the window and figured he'd be sloshing through puddles in the near future. Jack grew up in south Florida so he was used to rain--just not cold Icelandic rain. On his way to customs he sat down, pulled a pair of Eddie Bauer duck boots out of his suitcase and slipped them on his feet. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for the young volcanologist–to study in Iceland, home of one of the world's hotspots for volcanic activity. He wasn't about to pass it up. So with frigid temperatures and sloppy weather in mind, he had decided to "gear up" with a good jacket, wool sweaters and duck boots before he left home. The rumor that Icelandic women couldn't resist an American in a parka and duck boots had nothing to do with it.