To helpful friends writing in to say that it is time to give the poor thing a rest, leave it on the shelf in its treasure box, don't risk shorting out the whole laptop, and for God's sake use some of the other USB memory devices sitting around the house, I say: Thanks! Got it! Already put this plan into effect!
But before it goes away for good, this final USB achievement to note. Yesterday, one day out of its WD-40 bath, the USB stick would properly store and list files, but apparently had something wrong enough with it that it could not pass the integrity test for Windows Vista's "Ready Boost" function.
Today, it passes that test. Proof in the Vista screen shot below. The ReadyBoost cache is the next to last file listed, 4GBs in size. I won't say "USB Stick, heal thyself!," but something happened.
And as soon as that shot was taken, the plucky device was "Safely Removed" from its slot and placed in its satin-lined box, where it watches over the rest of the tech establishment. Talk about going out on top.