As a followup to my post concerning issues I had with my new kindle, random commentator John pointed me in the right direction and solved my problem. His suggestion to look into the Kindle cover as being a potential source of the problem was dead on.
Removing it from the cover made the problem go away, and so all was good. Except that I liked my cover. A quick note to customer support concerning my discovery as suggested in that troubleshooting thread had an almost instant $60 credit in my Amazon account, and a new even-better-'cause-it-has-a-light replacement cover.
Kudos Amazon for the quick turnaround!