Sometimes, all you have to do is ask.

San Jose State Social Science Professor Maria Luisa Alaniz was reading U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's autobiography when she saw a connection between Sotomayor's story of struggle and that of San Jose State students. And that's what she sent an invitation asking Sotomayor to speak on campus.

It worked. Sotomayor will appear at 4 p.m. Oct. 20 at San Jose State's Student Union, where she'll sit for an onstage conversation with UC Berkeley law professor Melissa Murray. The two aren't strangers: Murray clerked for Sotomayor when the latter was on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

The event is the capstone of San Jose State's Campus Reading Program, which this year focuses on Sotomayor's book, "My Beloved World."

Students, faculty and staff can pick up a free ticket at the Event Center Box Office starting Tuesday, and members of the public can purchase a ticket for $10 while they last.

BUT WHO'S COUNTING?: California's Great America -- the Santa Clara amusement park now famous for being next to Levi's Stadium -- expects to welcome its 75 millionth visitor over Labor Day weekend.

The park, which opened May 20, 1976, will have commemorative gifts for the first 7,500 people through the gates on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. More gifts will be given to 75 random people each day, and I wouldn't be surprised if they find something for any park visitors that are 75 years old. It's a theme, after all.


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Lucky Mr. or Ms. 75 Million will get a VIP package and a "golden key" to the park. Wouldn't it be great if that key unlocked a magic door to some of the park's long-gone attractions like the Tidal Wave and the Sky Whirl? Maybe Great America can work on that for its 40th season next year.

THIS IDEA HOLDS WATER: During the early matches of this summer's World Cup tournament, the staff at soccer haven Britannia Arms Almaden found themselves pouring out a lot of half-empty glasses of water that had been asked for and left behind by patrons.

Everyone thought this was terrible given the drought, so the pub started selling bottles of water for $1 with the intent of contributing the money to the Pat Tillman Foundation. Not only did it cut down on the amount of water the pub was using, co-owner John McKay reports that the Brit delivered a $1,212 check to the foundation. "Thanks to all our thirsty customers," he said.

Contact Sal Pizarro at spizarro@mercurynews.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/spizarro.