And that means that my little fugue state was apparently all for nothing: the line in question does exactly what I thought it did (but worried that it didn't!), and so it isn't interesting. The whole episode has distracted me from the task of finding why the larger program is misbehaving -- and it so exhausted me that I can't bear to read the next line of code (something about ($< % 3 and exec 'cat')||dump, whatever that does!). And as I blearily give up bug-swatting for the day, I suddenly remember the 22-year-old Pascal book that I'd read, and I wish that the person who wrote "86400" had instead followed the Pascallers' advice to use a named constant!