I'm well aware that this isn't statistically ridiculous
but it does leave me with the nagging concern that I've configured something wrong in my solo setup.
If you have some connections in your bitcoin client, don't see any errors in miner and your card is working (because you can submit shares/blocks to the pool), then everything is working fine.
It would be nice to have a test network with a low difficulty (maybe just a single node) that could be used to validate miner implementations.
There IS testnet network. Just start bitcoin client with -testnet argument.
testnet is a good point--I didn't think to doublecheck with that, but all seems to be well. Just a matter of time now. sigh.