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Thank you very much almut! We can consider this question closed!
I knew I could count on the monks! In addition to my regex skills being way below what they should be, my bit manipulation and use of packing is much worse...
The code is elegant, effective, and I'm certain much faster than what I had. I will be studying this code to see if I can use this sort of logic to help me in future coding efforts.
If the knowledge and innovative thinking of the perlmonks could only be harnessed for a single purpose - I'm sure world peace would be a piece of cake!!!!
--- duggles ;-)
Life is short, but it's wide -- Chuck Pyle