Forum Posts

Nick Hankins
Apr 01, 2021
In AMA
Go on...I'm sure you have questions. Type away! I'll respond as soon as I can! I may be busy working, so feel free to reach out to me via Entropy Solutions as well!
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Nick Hankins
Mar 15, 2021
In Storytime
After nearly eight years in the beautiful city of Chicago, I was presented with a difficult decision. I had been working at The Oprah Winfrey Show for many years. As INCREDIBLE as that chapter of my life was, I was ready to get as far away from office life as possible. I was ready to use some of the money I had worked for and saved over the years to go travel the world. At the same time, I was presented with the opportunity to work at The Oprah Winfrey Network in West Hollywood. After not nearly enough consideration, I decided to take the job with the justification that, for me, California was this new unexplored, magically beautiful land that I would inevitably adventure all over as a result of taking the job. So I did. My brother Sean came over to my modest studio apartment and helped me pack all of my worldly possessions into boxes the night before my movers were scheduled to arrive. After all of my...stuff...was neatly tucked into a moving truck, I left Chicago's O'hare airport on a blisteringly arctic evening...my plane was forced to retreat twice for de-icing before we could take off through air that had far surpassed the freezing point. I watched Chicago vanish in the distance and arrived to LAX on a warm night. Any apprehensions I had simply washed away when I stepped out of the airport terminal doors and into the warm Los Angeles air. - Time-lapse from my first motorcycle adventure in the Santa Monica Mtns in Malibu, CA My new company treated me incredibly well and welcomed me to this new city in a lovely way. I've been living and adventuring here for a few months now and I love it. The novelty of the job has surely faded as I find myself stuck indoors again all too often. Motorcycling, exploring, hiking, and camping throughout the bits of California that I've been able to on my days off has been a treat. I love seeing mountains and I had missed the ocean so much as I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida near the coast of the Pacific. I miss friends and family in Florida and Chicago but I've met so many new, wonderful friends and I'm excited to continue venturing further and further into California's beautiful natural landscapes. Time for World travel will hopefully come before my knees go :) Come visit me in California! I love playing tour guide in this beautiful place!
Storytime: Why I Moved from Chicago to LA content media
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Nick Hankins
Mar 15, 2021
In VanLife Finances
This is the space where we can talk about the fortunate/unfortunate thing that is MONEY. How to get it, save it, invest it, squander it, hide it (jk IRS fam), pay taxes on it, figure opportunity cost, and generally better utilize it to make your shoulders relax and the corners of your mouth lift up toward your ears :)
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Nick Hankins
Mar 15, 2021
In Home on Wheels
This is the space where we can talk about the endless factors that are considered when hunting down that perfect home-on-wheels. New vs Used Classes, Years, Makes, & Models Floor Plans & Builds What to look for when inspecting a used vehicle
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Nick Hankins
Mar 15, 2021
In Home on Wheels
This is the space where we can share and drool over images of epic vans and builds. You know what to do....
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Nick Hankins
Mar 15, 2021
In Storytime
September 18, 2016 .... well really, June 18, 2017 TLDR: The short story about why I chose van life. I was bored, unfulfilled, and my spirit was drained. It's funny, as I look back on this unfinished blog post that I started years ago, I'm reminded of my many good intentions that just didn't quite make it to fruition. Here I am in my hotel room at this unusually nice Ramada. It's 2:40 in the morning and I'm stranded in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. My mum is over on her bed, tossing and turning every 30 minutes, occasionally waking up to say, "You're STILL working over there?? You should get up and walk around every once in a while." Ah sweet hyperfocus and OCD. Much has transpired since I decided to leave my amazing family at the Oprah Winfrey Network in West Hollywood to pursue a less desk-centered lifestyle. I've packed this amazing hunk of meat in my skull with an immense amount of new information and I've shared some epicly dope AF experiences and adventures with family and friends. My intention last year was to do life in a new way: the proper way; the way that I had been dreaming about and bitching about after so many years of waking up when my alarm told me to, trying to recall "how my weekend was," gradually upping my glasses prescription from staring at computer screens all day (and night). I wanted to go where the happiness was. The mountains. The woods. The deserts and beaches and fields and open sea. The ne'er explored vastness and macro lens subtleties of this gorgeous planet. I wanted to be "free!" My open browser tabs often looked like this: Throughout 2016, I had developed a deep fascination for #VanLife. Watching minimalist adventurers like Alex Honnold give a tour of his van and explain his simple way of life to the camera in such a raw way, "welp, here it is. my everything..." These videos, interviews, and articles on YouTube, Instagram and the like moved me. Something I do quite often when facing what I believe to be a big life decision is that I talk about it, a lot, with everyone. I told my friends, my family, my bosses, strangers...I talked to everyone I encountered about my fascination with this lifestyle. I judged their reactions. I absorbed their personal questions and concerns about the specifics and logistics and...less romantic aspects of the van-dwelling lifestyle. I fielded the inescapable "...van down by the river!!" jokes. Typically what happens at this stage is, well, more often than not, I bail on myself. I get hyper about a new idea. I'm inspired. Fired up. All in. But then my inner voice, which is always talking, always worrying, always projecting the worst possible scenarios, preparing for what seems to be inevitable difficulties or even failure, that voice puts out the flame and I'm left in a slump of inaction. But something different happened this time. The stars really did align. My lease was up in LA, my super supportive girlfriend at the time had no obligations and was totally in, my brother and his girlfriend had already ripped out the back seat of their Subaru to hit the road with a fury, and my boss at OWN had a very clear understanding that I was ready to retire from an ultimately less fulfilling life. I said my farewells and goodbyes to my friends at OWN and our neighbors at Funny Or Die, and I went straight home to start drafting the most epic spreadsheet I've ever made.... To Be Continued....
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Nick Hankins
Mar 15, 2021
In How-To
June 18, 2017 So I was updaitng my website and was having a helluva time with this funky text issue. I was writing my About page bio with many paragraphs and I decided, for the sake of formatting and keeping these little graphics lined up with certain new ideas and breaks in the bio, I would break the whole bio from one text box into three. The easiest way in my mind was to copy + paste the text out into my mac's Notes application, as I usually do, then paste the three different sections into the three separate text boxes. This caused problems. The line breaking that typically happens automatically when you type a sentence and a long word can't fit into the box stopped working properly. Words that could fit in the space on a line before the end of the box were moved down to the next line and, worst of all, the text box was BREAKING WORDS IN THE MIDDLE. For instance, I type the word "congratulations." This word might appear at the edge of a text box border and typically, in a word editor, the whole word should bounce down to the next line or the word should be auto-hyphenated, but ....WHAT HAD HAPPENED WAS.... the word was being split in two. It would look something like this ....."and I wanted to give my con gratulations..." No amount of backspacing to join the word back together would remedy the issue. I read all of the WIX help articles about resetting text themes until "maybe" the issue will go away... and even some PowerPoint articles where users were having similar issues that wouldn't be resolved until adding Japanese language which adds the ability to toggle the word editor breaking words in the middle of two characters. I knew it was invisible formatting from the transfering of the text between the WIX text box and the Mac Notes app and back again. So, TO FIX THE ISSUE AND PREVENT RETYPING YOUR ENTIRE POST....you need copy the text into a word editor like...Text Edit for Mac. Then you need to convert the text from Rich Text into Plain Text. In Text Edit for Mac this can be done by clicking Format in the menubar > Make Plain Text I don't beleive there is a straightforward way of converting text from Rich to Plain in the Notes app for Mac. Copy and paste it back into your WIX text box, add your font and size and other formatting from within the WIX text edit toolbox and Bob's your uncle. My first How-To post! Hope it helps! Now someone help me with SEO so I can get more people here to help them with their tech woes! :) Cheers!
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Nick Hankins
Mar 15, 2021
In How-To
June 18, 2017 This is the space where you can find me if you or your business needs tech or creative help, be it for the complex and involved: Technical design and consulting Troubleshooting On-site event or production tech, network, AV, and IT management/administration Video Conferencing Video Wall / Digital Signage Production system design and management Camera and drone camera operation Audio tech Producing/Directing/Advising Lighting Video/Photo/Audio Editing Music Composition Creative Writing Writing, Reviewing, Editing, Scripting ...To the less involved but still quite important: A helping hand to build your confidence interfacing with everyday technology How to use cloud storage How to change privacy settings and avoid scam How to clear up your inbox How to clear and protect your computer from viruses How to take and share photos and video on social media How to make your iPhone run faster and last longer How to organize your digital environment and clear it of clutter How to set up networked devices at home or the office How to find detailed answers and solutions to any and every question you can imagine And....what the heck is a "snapchat filter" Previous and current clients include: Oprah Winfrey Tony Robbins Rosie O'Donnell Byron Katie Sonya Brown The Immokalee Foundation Lisa Stickan Soo Yeon Lee Edwards Technology Videxio Videro Blur Studio Discovery, inc. Harpo, Inc. Oprah Winfrey Network
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Nick Hankins
Mar 15, 2021
In Home on Wheels
I found this epic playlist of old, educational videos that explain the complexities and intricacies of auto mechanics in a SUPER clear and detailed manner. Watching the videos made me realize, even though I have learned SO MUCH since starting Van Life, I still know so very little and must continue learning. Understanding what is going on when you turn the key in the ignition, put your vehicle into drive, and touch your foot to the gas pedal is vital to a fuller, deeper, and less frustrating van dwelling experience. Enjoy!!
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Nick Hankins
Mar 15, 2021
In Home on Wheels
This is the space where I will share all of the amazing, inspirational, and incredibly thorough/helpful van building tutorial videos and guides that I have found floating around on the interwebz.
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Nick Hankins
Mar 15, 2021
In Home on Wheels
"When buying a used vehicle. Inspect. Know what to look for and what to ask. Come prepared with a list of specific questions. Take your time. Bring a mechanic friend to help inspect! Test everything." [I promise the rest of these wont be this long] - I did a lot of research and consideration when I decided to dive into #VanLife. There was so much to consider! Buying a new vs used vehicle. Brand. Model. Year. Entry price point vs expected fuel economy. Built or to-be-built. Availability of parts. Availbility of service centers around the US. Difficulty of repairs / part replacement. Et cetera et cetera. Initially, I was a bit crazy and I started researching the specifics of building a custom van with an electric powertrain/drivetrain.... I went deep into the EV forums and crammed my head with new information and also looked at companies that already had commercial electric vans for rent to see what was possible from an engineering standpoint. The expected pricetag and time commitment for this build was a bit staggering. So I chickened out and started researching the Sprinters. I read a ton, starting with the new vs used arguments. Essentially, new = working, but expensive entry cost, prone to crippling failure without an EGR delete (more on this later), and expensive/complicated to repair with a sparse network of repair shops that would even touch it or be able to order parts for you to wait weeks for. Then used, you'd want to buy prior to 2007 when the EPA introduced the stricter emmissions regulations that sort of crippled diesels manufactured and sold in the US. Pre-2007 means high, high mileage. While these vehicles are notorious for pushing 600k miles, you just never know what kind of dramatic issues and wear that you may be inheriting. Out of curiosity, and after calling various Mercedes dealerships around the US, I found that the one closest to home in California had the best deals and rebates. I drove to the Laguna Mercedes dealership and looked at a brand new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter high roof cargo van with the intention to build it out from scratch. But the best that the dealer could do was around $41,000 for a basic high roof box on wheels. That was simply much too much, regardless of the expected savings in future fuel costs and consumption because of the efficient diesel engine. I encountered this article warning against the Mercedes Sprinters, new or old, altogether. I brought up all of the points in the article to the Laguna dealer. They were aware of the article and they could not dispute the points that the author brought up. So, I bailed on the Sprinters. So I looked at the comparable high roof versions of the Ford Transit, the Nissan NV, and the Dodge Ram ProMaster, but they were all around the same price for what I wanted - an empty canvas, a basic box on wheels. The entry cost was just TOO HIGH. I still had the unknown but most likely $10,000+ cost of building my sustainable tiny home on wheels. If I were to buy a sub $10,000 used, American-made, gas-guzzling vehicle, say 9 mpg... at $2.00 / gallon for fuel PLUS expected repairs with cheaper, plentiful replacement parts that could be worked on at a huge network of mechanics all throughout the US, it would take me *pulls out calculator...tap tap tap tap* .....a REALLY long time to even approach the entry cost of that Mercedes Sprinter. I found a great article written by a long-time vanlifer. He essentially said: HEY YOU. YOU THERE. GOING CRAZY WITH INFORMATION OVERLOAD. READ THIS! Don't worry about finding the perfect van right away. Don't worry about the build or the floor plan. Don't worry about any of that. Just see if van life is right for you first. I've been doing this for a LONG time. Think I still have the van I started with? No. I've gone through at least 6 new, start-from-scratch builds and each time I start over, I know better what I can live with and without...what is nice to have vs what I must have. So, throw a mattress in the back of a beater and go camping. Hell, go sleep in the car you already have. See if VAN LIFE is right for you. Then go from there... Don't worry about having the most perfect, future-proof vehicle on your first try. So, after taking a few deep breaths, I hopped on Craiglist to look for a cheaper, used vehicle. I found myself in an aggressive, fast-paced, piranha-filled used van market. Good listings disappeared within the first few hours they were posted. I chased a few seemingly GREAT deals, but ultimately had them sold from under my nose, probably because I asked too many questions right off the bat. Then I found my van... In my research and used van searching and forum hopping, I had become familiar with the van conversion company called Sportsmobile and sort of associated the name with....very nice floor plans and builds and thoughtful craftsmanship from experienced RV, motorhome, and vehicle-dwelling veterans....and $$$$$. Sportsmobiles, new/used/whatever, were always VERY expensive. Like for retirees who didn't want a big ol honking class C RV but wanted all the luxeries that typically come inside said bohemeth. The fact that this was 1) nearby 2) a very new listing 3) a SPORTSMOBILE conversion!!! 4) sub $10,000 5) seemingly immaculate interior 6) low mileage ..... I mean it seemed perfect, and it sort of was. I called the guy right away and told him I wanted to come see it. He said he'd been getting a lot of calls already but no one asked to see it yet. I drove over to Rancho Cucamonga with Julie and my little "used vehicle inspection list" and met the guy and saw the van. It looked great. Little bit of surface rust and chipped paint. It was an old vehicle. The inside was as immaculate as it seemed in the pictures and I was already in love and knew I was leaving with the van. I asked him if he knew of any issues mechanically and of course he said, "None that I know of! It was owned by my grandparents and they rarely used it. It's been parked for a bit, but we drive it up to Big Bear now and then. Runs great!" So I asked for a test drive and off we went. It drove great. Sold. And straight to the mechanic. Manny the mechanic and my new best friend for the coming months did an initial assessment and that's when my never-ending? van fix list began. So...to wrap this up....Drive it around the block. Accelerate and brake hard. Make sure the odometer and spedometer is working. Test cruise control. Ask about fuel economy. Listen for chirps and taps and cracks and anything that could be something. Ask about it. Inspect the tires and any exposed rubber for wear and dry rot. Check all the gauges and error lights. Check for rust ....EVERYWHERE. Check seals and gaskets on doors and windows. LOOK UNDER THE HOOD. LOOK UNDER THE VEHICLE. Test everything that uses electricity, speakers, radio, cabin lights, headlights, brakes, turn signals, power windows and locks. If it's a conversion, check the "house" electrical applicances. Look closely for areas that look like water has come in ...water-stained wood is a good indication. I'll stop there. Lesson Learned.
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Nick Hankins
Mar 15, 2021
In Storytime
"Check for window leaks. Then check again....and again....and again..." (Volume 1) We literally just left the shop that fixed the van's broken speedometer/odometer. We left late in the day on the way out to visit my great aunt and uncle in Washington. We stopped at a Target in St. George, Utah to pick up a few things I needed to tidy up the solar/charge controller/battery installation and decided we should rest. While we were resting, it started to rain...hard. The sound of the rain didn't wake us, but the bizarre, cold, wet sensation sure did. The long, custom, sliding window behind the driver seat was letting a lot of water in, and upon closer inspection, it appeared that it had been letting water in from that spot for quite some time. The wood was darkened, perhaps moldy from many a rainy night. Aside from being woken up from water coming into the living room, the largest concern was that the water was coming in directly on top of my solar charge controller and batteries!! Julie and I scrambled to find the source of the leak, but it didn't make sense. It seemed like the water was coming in from under the window, along the wood frame that the window was on top of. After searching for a long minute or so, and after removing the curtain rails and some window framing, I found that the water was pooling in two areas. One area was because of the gasket for the sliding window. It was absorbing so much water from the outside that the entire length would soak and oversaturate, then pool in the metal rails before spilling over, soaking the area below. The second area was at the top of the window on the outside. The seal had dry rotted at the edge and the pooling water was entering, running down the inside frame of the window, soaking the wood beam and upholstery beneath the window and then dripping down to the charge controller and batteries. After drying everything up, I ended up having to....find a way to rip out that entire piece of soaked, rotting wood framing and paneling behind the converting bench/bed behind the driver's seat. It was difficult as that large piece was the first thing that was installed so I had to disassemble it where it was before muscling it out from behind the bench frame. Check for leaks. Spray high pressure water from every angle at every window and door! Lesson Learned.
Storytime: Check For Leaks content media
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Nick Hankins
Mar 15, 2021
In Storytime
Where the adventures really started. We had driven from Los Angeles all the way to the home of my great uncle and aunt, Jim & Gaby in Middleton, Washington. We visited with them, shared photos and stories, and refilled our water tank before setting off with a new member of the van: a big ol' Pecan Pie that Aunt Gaby insisted we take. She said we could use it when we arrived at our next destination, to help celebrate Thanksgiving, of course. My brother Sean and his girlfriend Jenny were relaxing at Bridger Jack campground in Canyonlands. I like driving through the night for a variety of reasons: less traffic, for instance. One of the downsides is...visibility. Julie was driving into the park, slowly, as per the deer crossing warning signs. Nevertheless, a deer, as deer do, waited until our van was 10 feet away from her before darting out right in front of us. Julie slammed on the brakes to save her, but the Pecan Pie, along with everything else on the counters, flew forward, crashing into the back of the passenger seat, opening up and splattering all over the carpet, of course after nailing a laptop and a few t-shirts along the way. Strap it all down. Secure everything. Lesson Learned.
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Nick Hankins
Mar 15, 2021
In Storytime
"The deepest ditches lie in the darkest shadows..." Driving down a long stretch of gravel road in BLM land approaching the Grand Staircase-Escalate National Monument in Utah. The sun was setting and shadows were getting long. What appeared to be a long shadow in the road was in fact a super deep ditch that formed from water runoff and we unexpectedly got to test the travel of our suspension. After this, we slowed up a bit, interrupted some friendly, curious cows that were grazing on the side of the road, and found a turnoff that led to a sketchy set of steep, icy switchbacks up to a windy, frigid ridge with a sort of campsite at the top. There we chalked up our tires and found a fire pit with a dead tree next to it. A stubborn night by the fire ensued. 37.249603, -111.898907 When in doubt, drive slower. Lesson Learned.
Storytime: Proceed With Caution content media
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Nick Hankins
Mar 15, 2021
In Storytime
"Fly eggs are on EVERY banana! Check the fridge before you go!" [So, if you are squeamish, go ahead and scroll past this post] - It was the end of Feburary. I had just finished a job for Tony Robbins in beautiful B.C. Canada, Whistler to be specific. I flew home and my mom and I drove the van down to visit my grandparents at their winter trailer abode in Port Richey, FL. I had just cleaned my solar panels for the first time since early January. Jacob, my long time friend and bandmate from The Little Family Band in Chicago, called me and asked me to come play with the band at a beautiful Irish venue called Galway Arms. I agreed, flew up from Florida, and while I was there, was called out to LA for a job, then Whistler for the aforementioned job. Anyway, after cleaning the panels, I went into my van fridge to grab a cold drink. I was greeted by a swarm of tiny little fruit flies and a quite pungent .... um ..... stentch. I had left a banana on the door shelf of the fridge and.... well, I just forgot, or rather neglected to consider checking the fridge before I took off for Chicago. The result, while fascinating, was ultimately unpleasant. The fridge, being sealed to keep the cold air in, would be difficult for a collective swarm of fruit flies to 1) find and 2) penetrate. So I concluded, with the faint recollection of information I had read on the subject online once, that the fruit flies....WERE ALREADY IN / ON THE BANANA. Gross. Right? Yes. I looked it up to verify before posting this Lesson Learned and, at least according to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, it appears to be factual. "....occasionally fruit flies seem to appear in our kitchens as if by spontaneous generation...This is because they can travel into our homes, unbeknownst to us, as larvae on the fruit we buy. The adults lay their eggs, invisible to the naked eye, on bananas and other fruits, which later hatch while the fruit is in our fruit bowls....Since banana peels seem to be the most common bearer of fruit fly larvae, some people prefer to compost banana peels in outdoor bins only." - http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/recycle/reduce/how-to-control-fruit-flies-and-fungus-gnats.html Check the fridge before you go. Lesson Learned.
Storytime: Check The Fridge Before You Go! content media
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Nick Hankins
Mar 15, 2021
Awesome 17-Day Build with Guide content media
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Nick Hankins
Mar 15, 2021
In How-To
This is a space where I will be writing helpful articles for typically technical issues that I personally had a relatively difficult time resolving on my own and after a considerable amount of time Googling and Forum-searching for solutions online. Hope I can help!
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Nick Hankins
Mar 15, 2021
In General Discussions
I'll be sharing some exciting things going on in my life. Take a moment and share something with me! Share a quick comment. Feedback about the site. Your life story. This is YOUR forum. Love, Nick <old comment from Dad> June 21, 2017 Rodney Hankins I write this in hopes both of my beloved boys have a read. First off, your daddy is old-school, was raised to always try and do the right thing. The American Dream when I was younger was getting a good job and eventually a mortgage. Needless to say, the times they are a changing. The day you become a parent the one thing you hope is that your child is happy. You hope you can provide a better life than what you had growing up. This is my hope for both of my sons....I'm hoping that the ventures you're both on makes you happy. I hope that it's giving you a greater sense of enjoyment out of life, because in the long run, it's all that really matters! Here's to safe travels always, hoping for great fulfillment in your ventures!! Much Love from dear ole Dad... P.S... more pictures and videos from the road so it feels like we're taking the trip with ya...J.S.
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Nick Hankins
Mar 15, 2021
In General Discussions
This is a space where I intend to share the latest Technology News and Updates that I find in articles and videos on the internet. I often look at the world around me, and instead of feeling inspired for the future of humanity, I feel grim. I feel like short-sighted greed and carelessness by a powerful few is dragging our collective humanity down, or at least slowing our progress or hindering our potential. Immersing myself in Information and Education outlets such as TED Talks and RSA Animate and Popular Science magazines have always brought me RIGHT out of that nasty existential funk. The intention here is for this to be a place where I may help others with a little positivity and techno-optimistic futurism and by admiring the latest sophisticated mechanisms and the like designed by those many scientists & engineers who stubbornly set out to positively shape our world!
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Nick Hankins
Mar 15, 2021
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Nick Hankins

Nick Hankins

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