Whew! several days of debugging later, i found not one but three magic bullets to my problem.
2. Lesson number 2: console.log only shows final state of an object, not “current” state. Use console.dir instead. http://stackoverflow.com/questions/7389069/console-log-object-at-current-state
so my problem wasn’t one thing, but three things all confusing the $#!@@#$ out of me. Hope this posts saves you some of the same pain.