the fault for the huge disparity seems to be mine. i accidentally wrote $string instead of $str in the source code as i first posted my regex solution and since themage
seems to have his solution based on mine he copied the mistake. The huge results are based on $string being uninitialized.
i found the mistake as i tried my solution later on my pc and changed the typo. but that was after themage
wrote his reply
"WHAT CAN THE HARVEST HOPE FOR IF NOT THE CARE OF THE REAPER MAN"
-- Terry Pratchett, "Reaper Man"