i totally agree on the asking thing. i find it hard to ask for things at times for fear of being a bother, or just because i don't feel comfortable (even though i am fighting hard with myself to stop thinking that way). there is more feeling of independence if my friends initiate the help, and then i get to choose to accept the favor or not. if you are worried about offending your friend by asking them if they need your assistance, just talk with them about it. once you get there point of view on the matter, then you can better judge the situation next time. another less threatening approach is to say something to the affect of "hey, i'm going to the store, is there anything i can get for you while i'm out?" or "man i'm thirsty, would you like a glass of water while i'm up?". it is a little more sneaky (my friends do it all the time hehe), but this way they/we don't feel that you are having to do anything extra.
i hope this helps!
dana <img src="/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />