I had the SuperDrive replaced 2 years ago, under warranty, so it's not that old. Therefore, I don't know, it sees some of the music CDs, just not all of them, and all the DVDs I put in it play just fine. If it's the drive again, I'll be bummed as I don't have time to replace it before I leave on my trip. I guess I'll have to live with the music I can load for now and have it checked out when I return home.
Try a different ripper. They may be more tolerant of whatever ails your computer:
X Lossless Decoder: Lossless audio decoder for Mac OS X - http://tmkk.pv.land.to/xld/index_e.html
My favorite but a bit tricky to use until you learn all configuration is done through the preferences menu.
Max CD ripper - http://sbooth.org/Max/
Well turns out I had plenty of music and podcasts to load up the old iPod from iTunes. So, got thru the trip just fine. Bought myself a Laser Lens Cleaner when I returned. Ran it a couple of times and all was good again. I used it after every 5 CDs and never had anymore issues. I have another one somewhere in my house too, but it seems to be lost.