It’s difficult to suggest I’ve attained the status of being an opinion leader without sounding indelicate, or egocentric. But there it is. I am. It’s true. You can verify this for yourself by simply clicking this link and reading the blog post it leads you to. It appropriately enough falls under the title, “Opinion Leaders, GA leaders sharing their expert opinions.”

See, I told you I was one.

Welcome to, The Conundrum of Modern Life, hosted by AOPA.

Perhaps it’s best to define some terms for the benefit of the uninitiated. GA stands for General Aviation. The term refers to smaller airplanes, helicopters, hot air balloons, and the sort of flying done by people who aren’t wearing a uniform or drawing a paycheck from an airline because of their service on the flight. I’m a GA kind of guy. That’s not all that rare, though. There are hundreds of thousands of us in the U.S. It’s practically a club, for goodness sake.

AOPA is an acronym that stands for Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. And while I am not an aircraft owner, I am a pilot. I’m also prone to sharing my opinion with pretty much anyone who asks. It’s almost a disease. Perhaps I should consult with my doctor about this tendency. Then again, we just spent some leisurely time at the local coffee shop swapping opinions on a wide variety of topics. So maybe he wouldn’t see it as a disease at all. Perhaps it’s just a social interaction thing that fuels debate and gets our morning off to an entertaining start. Either way, take a look at AOPA’s Opinion Leaders when you get the chance. A number of truly interesting people share their views in this space on a regular basis. With the variety built into the publication you almost have to find an affinity for at least one of them.


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In the 1970s right around the time Bruce Springsteen made the covers of Time and Newsweek simultaneously, I was a high school student. I was in my junior year and limping miserably through an academic career that would make nobody proud – least of all me. My parents were beginning to have doubts too, I’m sure.

Into that intellectual void stepped a man who made a profound impression on me. I continue to rank him as the best and most valuable teacher I ever had. His name is Mark Cohan, and I use the word, “is” intentionally. He is not dead and gone and he is certainly not forgotten. He is alive, vibrant, and still making an impression on me all these years later. Read More →

Variety may be the spice of life, but being over-scheduled, over-worked, and unfocused tends to make Jack a cranky, unlikeable boy. Be that as it may, things are about to change around here. Live the Zealous Life was originally intended to be a catch-all for the various work I do. Politics, aviation, writing, parenting, the whole shebang. Plans are one thing. Execution is another. It’s time to whittle this site down to the basics. The fun stuff. The content that readers find most appealing. Live the Zealous Life is streamlining – and it’s my hope you’ll enjoy the new design and the new focus much more than this original version.

Starting soon (by February 2014 certainly) these pages and posts will become focused completely in writing, publishing, and the creative impulse. In addition to the blog there will be a podcast that brings other writers into this space to share their stories of how they work, why they write, and what advice they might share with others who wish to write and publish.

The process of change can be hard. But change is a necessary part of life. Right now I’m truly looking forward to refocusing Live the Zealous Life into a fun site, an educational and entertaining place in the Internet. A home away from home that you can visit while on the train to work, lying in bed, at your desk, or even during an atypically long diversion from your daily routine (also referred to as a bathroom break).

So come back and come back soon. Things will look and feel a bit different when you do. I think you’ll like what you find here.

Until then, bundle up, y’all. It’s colder than anyone wishes it was right now.

Carry on.

Screen shot 2013-11-04 at 7.45.00 AM863 Magazine is the brainchild of a husband and wife team who have, if nothing else, a deep and abiding love of their community. And by community I don’t mean their immediate neighborhood. They view the world through a different prism. A good prism that gathers all the quirky, interesting, casual, comforting, and unexpected bits of life from this corner of the world. They gather these details and share them in print and on line. They’re the good guys. To their credit, they’re doing something about their dreams. Specifically, they’re living them. And thanks to their generous spirit of sharing, you get to life them too. At least you can live them vicariously through the pages of the magazine. Why not? I do.

The plot of land 863 Magazine represents is probably different than the one you live on. For one thing, it doesn’t snow here, there are no mountains, and white water is only seen coming directly from the tap. 863 is an area code in central Florida, where the sun is strong, the sand is plentiful, and the landscape is as flat as a pancake. Well, a lumpy pancake, but still, pretty darned flat.

Sergio and Andrea are the captains of the ship. As they guide their readers through voyage after voyage through the area, they grow even as they help their readers grow. I like this magazine. I like writing for it. I enjoy the other writers I find there, too. Most of them are people I have shared a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with. But not all. I have something to learn about the world around me, and 863 Magazine helps fill in a few of those gaps with each new issue. So grab a copy, flip through the pages, see if there isn’t something in the 863 area code that grabs your attention. And if there is, why not plan on stopping by to see whatever that is for yourself?

We love company.

Screen shot 2013-08-07 at 8.21.11 PMHere in my home neighborhood of Polk County, Florida (and yes, it was named after the 11th President of the United States, James K. Polk, just like you thought it was) there’s a new magazine on the stands that’s devoted to the local population. That doesn’t mean the native population. We get plenty of visitors from out of state. Heck, we get plenty of visitors from other continents. They wing their way from where ever they call home to the place that I call home, because the place I call home is so stunningly beautiful, affordable, dynamic, awe-inspiring, and maybe even a little relaxing. Whatever the reason, they come. And now that 863 Magazine is on the stands as a freebie, those visitors from far off places can be just as in the loop as any of the long-timers in town are.

The title, 863 Magazine, refers to the area code in these parts. 863 is the prefix assigned to Polk County, a plot of land that’s considerably larger than the state of Rhode Island, yet without all the snooty seaside mansions and old world stuffiness you might find in other parts of the world. Nope, here in Polk you can check out an art museum or go fishing. You can attend the theater, or get sweaty on the bike trails that weave through the Green Swamp or surround Lake Hollingsworth. Polk is a collection of 17 separate and unique municipalities that each have a charm and an identity that’s worth getting to know. There’s no better place to start that research project than in the pages of 863 Magazine.

Check it out. Plan a vacation with it. Walk the streets of any town in Polk and see if you can pick out people who have been featured in the magazine. Go shopping at one of the merchants who advertise in its pages. You just might have fun. Truth be told, there’s at least an outside chance you’ll have so much fun that you’ll feel compelled to shop for a house and move in – at least for part of the year.

Yeah. Polk County is really that cool. Really!

This song is called, Give Up Your Heart. The place is a long gone club that was located across the street from the train station in Hartford, Connecticut. It was Murphy’s Pub, where we had quite a following.

Enjoy, dance, sing, live!

It was the mid 1980s when the Broken Hearts came to public notice. With a growing following in the northeastern US and a newly released album, they moved to New York City to pursue fame and fortune. Like so many bands, that is where it all fell apart. The four members of the Broken Hearts went their separate ways, all going on to successful lives. But they all continued to dabble in music. Some more than others. Michael Mazzarella led the Rooks for years, building a respectable following and a library of tunes that continues to expand. Today he is a member of Sonic Blue Sound Revue and continues to play in and around NYC and the world. Tom Bittel took over guitar duties in a surf band known as The Aquatudes. Drummer Patrick Yourell played with fellow Broken Heart Mazzarella in the Rooks for several years. Today he’s in Canada, but not by force. He says he likes it there. Bassist Jamie Beckett went the other way, disappearing into the swampy sandbar known as Florida where he claims to be at home and loving it. He still plays often, but rarely in public. His last gig was with a pick up band in Winter Haven, Florida’s Central Park, led by Nat West, and including Squire Smith on bass and the inimitable Jim Stafford on guitar. Let me tell you, that boy can play!

Here’s a sample of what the Broken Hearts were all about. Live, at Mad Murphy’s Pub in Hartford, Connecticut – sometime in 1985 – it’s The Broken Hearts!

CoverWriting a Sci Fi series has turned out to be one of the most interesting and engaging writing projects I’ve ever engaged in. The Lifeboat Augusta series opens with To the Lifeboats, a novella that establishes the basis for the larger story. Just About Armageddon, is novella number 2, where the plot thickens and the suspense deepens. Novella number 3 is in process now. Carrying the title, Isle of Safety, novella 3 is where the story takes an interesting turn or two, surprising readers who thought they had a handle on where the arc of the story was headed.

Because the blog allows the opportunity to provide sneak peeks and insights into what’s coming up next, I’ll make sure I post some details now and then to keep faithful readers up to date. Perhaps more than anything else I enjoy the e-mails readers send with their predictions (or suggestions) for what should happen next. So far nobody has nailed it, but I’m glad they’re reading, writing, and sharing their imaginings so freely.

Read on, dream on, and work hard to make the world you live in the one you want to live in.

Screen shot 2012-10-10 at 3.58.36 PMI told you there would be a follow-up and here it is. If you ever thought your local airport was a rich man’s playground, or a waste of space, or a waste of money – prepare to be surprised. The truth is you truly depend on that fantastic piece of land. In fact, it just might be the most important resource in the area when the chips are down and you’re really in need of help.

Check the story out online, or look for the print version at an FBO near you.

Last week I wrote a piece for General Aviation NewsScreen shot 2012-10-10 at 3.58.36 PM that has gotten some interesting comments. It focuses on Santa Monica, California – a wealthy coastal community with a fine little airport that gets little if any respect from the administration that oversees it. In fact, as seen from a distance it would appear the fine folks at Santa Monica City Hall would like to shut their airport down if they could.

Odd, isn’t it?

In all of American history has any community ever celebrated the highway passing them by? Or the railroad going around the other side of the mountain? Or filling in the port so all those pesky ships stop sailing in and blowing their horns at all hours of the night? No, that seems to be a rarity. But killing off a functional airport appears to strike some as a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

Check out last week’s story, then take a look at GeneralAviationNews.com later this week if I have anything to say as a follow-up. I can’t promise, but I get the distinct impression there will be an argument for the average person with no interest in aviation getting up and doing what they can to preserve the viability of their local airport. After all, it’s in their best interest to have one as close as they can get it.

Comment at will, y’all.