The short answer: The Vent is a more-or-less-weekly essay, usually 250 to 650 words, on a topic that for some reason demands my attention at the moment it's written.
By "more-or-less-weekly", I mean that there are usually four of them per month, 48 each year. As of the end of 2001, there had been 274 Vents written. At the current rate, and assuming I don't drop dead some time in the interim, Vent #1000 will appear in mid-February 2017, at which time this site will be almost old enough to drink. (Will you still need me, will you still read me, when I'm sixty-four?)
The Vent is the oldest regular feature here. In fact, it's older than the dustbury.com domain itself; Vent #1 was one of the seven original pages when this site was originally hatched in April 1996 as Chez Chaz. A Vent can be on any subject, but given my particular predilections, two topics seem to dominate: politics (US and Oklahoma) and depression (mine).
The series quality level follows the usual bell curve: a few of the Vents strike me as pretty damned good, a few others as absolutely horrible, and the vast majority fall somewhere in between. While the design has been altered a few times, the text of any individual Vent remains unchanged (any external links may have died since the original issue) unless there is a dated Update statement contained therein. This means, of course, that there are undoubtedly a few ideas expressed somewhere along the way that today make me cringe, but that's part of the price of maintaining an archive.
In June 2000, I began keeping a daily blog. Perhaps I thought it might ultimately supplant The Vent as a soapbox. But it didn't happen. The daily entries tend to be on the short side (350 words or fewer, sometimes a lot fewer) and there's more of an emphasis on the here and now.
Generally, I don't mind someone linking to a specific Vent links define the Web, after all. The URLs follow the format <http://www.dustbury.com/vent/ventXXX.html>, where XXX is the number of the Vent in question, with leading zeroes when the number is 99 or below.
And no, this has no connection with Michelle Malkin's Hot Air network, which features a videoblog called "Vent"; I was here first, yes, but more to the point, I think she's using it as a verb, which I'm not. At any rate, I don't think there's any likelihood that anyone will confuse the two: Malkin is a beautiful young woman of impeccable conservative credentials, and I'm, um, not.