Last night I got this from Netflix:

We’re offering you a special opportunity to give your friends and family one month of Netflix service for FREE – that’s twice the length of our regular free trial!

You’re a friend, right? If you want in on this, just send me your email address, and I’ll forward the offer. I promise I won’t add you to my newsletter list (that’s up to you) or ever, ever sell or give away your address.

Netflix is a cool company, and this is a cool offer. The offer expires 6/15/08, and – sorry – it’s good only in the US.

Let me know.

The trouble with borrowed books is that their owners want them back. In fact the Library gets downright nasty about it, even going so far as to demand money, sometimes lots of money, depending on how long it’s been.

Further, owners of borrowed books will, almost without exception, take a dim view of margin notes and highlights. Even your friends will generally suggest, albeit ever so gingerly, that you buy them another book.

Which really isn’t a bad idea. If you’ve left much of a yellow trail through the pages, you need to own the book anyway. The trail is there, after all, to lead you back to your favorite passages.

Which brings us to the offending implement.

Unless you really just don’t like the book (in which case your friend can keep it), you can’t read without a highlighter either poised in your right hand at the ready, or wagging between your teeth like a cigarette holder. (If the highlighter spends much time in your mouth, the construction of the upper end is critical, but more on that later.)

I discovered my first Sanford Major Accent when I was in college, a fat yellow thing with a chisel point that ranked right up there with Liquid Paper, a good idea someone should have thought up sooner.

Here I’d been struggling along, underlining passages in books–or crossing them out, depending on the curve of the page and the steadiness of my hand. Give me a tight deadline and a half-pot of coffee, and I could cross out entire chapters within an afternoon.

Then I found the Major Accent. Suddenly the pages of my favorite books glowed yellow. Or pink, or green, or blue. I could color code now–but that meant carrying a pouch the size of a cigar case, and flipping pens back and forth as I read. Just too much fuss.

Besides–and this was the worst–the yellow got everywhere. If you turned the page before the ink dried, you’d mark not only your favorite passage, but the one on the facing page as well. Then it nearly always bled through the paper, so you got three yellow passages for the price of one.

Then one day, at a Christian bookstore, I discovered these dry markers meant for highlighting the thin pages of a Bible. It resembled a thin yellow crayon wrapped in layers of paper with a string running down the inside. The idea was to pull the string up from the bottom about a quarter inch, and peel away the paper to reveal the yellow point.

These things seemed almost a gift from Heaven. No more transfer from one page to another, no more bleed through.

And just like I once did with a crayon years before, I could vary the intensity of the yellow. I developed a loose system: A yellow square around a passage meant something like, “hmm.” Light lining meant, “important passage.” And if I drew a square around a passage and proceeded to color it in entirely, my tongue protruding from the corner of my mouth like a kid with her color book, that meant, “is there any way I can write this passage inside my skin where my soul can see?”

I said the paper wrapped dry marker seemed almost a gift from Heaven. Almost. More like a gift from Disneyland: close to Heaven, but lower budget. The thing left little curls of paper everywhere, and it broke easily. Sometimes the yellow “lead” would slide through the top during use, so you ended up holding it funny, with one finger over the upper end. And you really didn’t want to put this highlighter between your teeth. The paper got soggy.

Then Heaven really did open up and send down a highlighter worth having. The Bible Dry-Liter has the same crayon-y yellow lead, but this one’s in a nice plastic case, and it’s retractable. It doesn’t break with normal use, and it can take every bit as much abuse as a cigarette holder without causing cancer. It lasts a while, too. I bought three or four some months ago, and I haven’t reached the end of one yet.

All that for two bucks. And you can buy it here.