/ Regex

Jet lag and regex: a game for the truly masochistic

Over the last few weeks, I've found myself in 5 cities across 3 continents. Jet lag has been a fairly persistent challenge to tackle.

Luckily, I keep a reading backlog on my phone. Some items on the list are most likely to get read when it's 3:30am outside, but it's 12:30pm in my brain.

Accordingly, over the last week or two, I've been whittling down my regex reading backlog while adjusting to new time zones.

Up until this recent spat of reading, I've been able to stumble my way through writing and editing regular expressions, but I wanted a more solid grasp on the subject.

John Gruber mentioned a while back on The Talk Show that the introduction to regex in the BBEdit user manual[1] is one of the simplest ways to start digging in. I gave it a read and can also vouch that it's a short, focused, and comprehensible introduction. I knocked that out during a couple of sleepless nights in Kagoshima and Osaka, while playing along using this iPhone regex app.

Now that I'm back in NYC (and trying to get into this time zone), I'm working my way though Mastering Regular Expressions by Jeffrey E.F. Friedl. Both Gruber and the BBEdit manual recommended this book, and I'm enjoying it so far. (Who wouldn't enjoy a regex book that, on page 5, correctly points out that the Japanese term for "regular expression" is a homophone for "genital expression"?)

Now that I'm into the book, I'm quite excited about regular expressions at the moment. But I would have struggled to get started if not for a few long, jet lagged nights spent wide awake.

If you're ever looking for a solid litmus test to check for jet lag or insomnia, try reaching for some regex docs. If you're still reading an hour later... you win?


  1. Note when you search for the relevant section that the BBEdit manual calls them "grep patterns". ↩︎