There are, I am told, people who have read every single installment of The Vent, all the way back to #1. This is not an enormous amount of reading — the entire series is around 1,000 kilobytes, or slightly smaller than Tom Clancy's novel Without Remorse — but I must admit that when I started writing these things six years ago, I never imagined that eventually the archives would be the size of a Tom Clancy novel. (And my original site was limited by ISP decree to, yes, 1 MB; needless to say, I outgrew it rather quickly.)

I should point out, though, that while there have been (counting this one) 279 Vents, you will not find opinions on 279 different subjects. Years of training in the Department of Redundancy Department have given me the ability, or at least the sheer gall, to repeat myself ad nauseam. One of the more common topics, alas, is myself, and by now I've disclosed enough of my own fears, phobias, and stupidities that I wouldn't at all be surprised to find that some PhD candidate in abnormal psychology has been mining this site for case histories. (And by gum, if you have been mining this site for case histories, at the very least I think I'm entitled to an autographed copy of your thesis.)

None of us, of course, are perfect. (No, not even you.) Still, the distance between myself and perfection has always struck me as incredibly long, and even on those few occasions where I was clearly at the top of the scale — snagging 800 out of, well, 800 on one of the College Board's individual-subject Achievement Tests (no points for guessing which one), or converting that 6-7-10 split in front of seven witnesses — I found myself wondering what kind of horrible mess I would make of things in the immediate future to compensate for all this sudden brilliance.

And that particular reaction still plays out now and then. This site has been visited over a hundred thousand times, and every time I look at the logs I wonder "What on earth are all these people doing here?" Usually it's perfectly obvious, though sometimes it's disturbing.

"Aha!" says our PhD candidate. "Here's a fear referred to only in subtext: the fear of writer's block, of having no topic at all." Okay, you got me. If I had had a topic this week, would I have written this? Of course not. Maybe I'll have something for #280. I hope.

The Vent

1 February 2002

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 Copyright © 2002 by Charles G. Hill