If anyone else has this problem, I figured out that I needed to exclude file type "so" in my .htaccess code, so a line like this:
rewriterule !\.(gif|jpg|png|js|css|php|html|mp3|pdf|swf|xml)$ /index\.php
should become this:
rewriterule !\.(so|gif|jpg|png|js|css|php|html|mp3|pdf|swf|xml )$ /index\.php
the mod_rewrite code prevented the Zend so file from being opened I guess.
I'm still working on a server path error problem, but hopefully this will save someone else some hair pulling...