Finally pulling the trigger on this new SmarTrip situation. Long-story short, the card's been giving me problems for weeks now.
First a few gates stopped recognizing it, then a few pay stations stopped, and the moment that I returned from the Dominican Republic - the card just didn't work at all - forcing me into the shame of a paper card to get out of National Airport Tuesday night (perhaps second only to the shame of being that guy that holds up the line because your card isn't working at the gate).
Anyway, it's off to find a new SmarTrip - kinda bummed though - it's like my years of DC fun since I moved here in late 2007 are wrapped up in that old card. Oh well, here's to the next 5 years of Metro adventures.