Susan Kashack knows as much about do-it-yourself automotive repair as I or typical goldfish do.

That it to say, she knows just enough to sense something was unusual when she came upon her son, Jeff, working on his 1988 Volvo station wagon in his driveway.

Susan, the marketing and communications VP at Sonoma State, has observed that when Jeff's dad works on a car he has more tools and instruments at ready than a brain surgeon with a scalpel fetish.

But Jeff, 31, equipped himself with a single wrench, his iPhone and his iPad.

"The iPad sat on the fender, guiding him in making the repairs," his mother said.

"He gently placed his iPhone between two very close-together pieces of the engine, then turned the camera function on and rotated the lens so it was facing him. He was then able to see what was wrong.

"He looked it up on YouTube and had the repair done within 20 minutes!"

ANNA FILICE constantly serves others, so she itches a bit to have folks preparing a benefit supper for her.

"It's kind of a humbling experience," said the Windsor mother of six recently diagnosed with a rare cancer.

The Men's Club at Santa Rosa's Cardinal Newman High ( invites everyone to the fundraising barbecue it will put on for her at the school April 27.

Anna plans to be there with her husband, Joe, who taught and coached at Cardinal Newman before switching to the faculty of Hanna Boys Center. She wants to stand up there at the barbecue and thank everyone for the extreme kindness, but already she's feeling at a loss.

Anna thought for a moment. "My husband's a really good talker," she said. "Maybe I'll let him do it."

BOB ZENI BLUSHES a shade or two at the mention of the celebration at Piner High at 6 p.m. Friday to dedicate the Robert F. Zeni Administration Building.

"I'm a little overwhelmed," said Zeni, one of Piner's oldest friends and strongest advocates. He was vice principal when the school opened in 1966 and he worked the post until his retirement in 1989.

But to this day he boosts Piner, serving on the school foundation that he co-founded and the Hall of Fame.

He allows, "I put my heart and soul into that school."

DID YOU READ "The Kite Runner?" What a story of life and friendship in tormented Afghanistan.

Author Khaled Hosseini will be in Sebastopol on April 21 to engage in a conversation with Michael Krasny of KQED radio's "Forum" at a benefit dinner at the French Garden restaurant.

It's hard to imagine a more fascinating dialogue taking place hereabout that Sunday night. "The Kite Runner," Hosseini's first novel, and his second, " A Thousand Splendid Suns," have sold more than 38 million copies.

The writer's conversation will benefit the good works of the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center (

(Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and