I love Perl. I have programmed in many languages over my long career. In high school I started with PL/I, then learned IBM 360 and PDP-11 assemblers. Later at MIT I picked up LISP, ALGOL, PASCAL, and plenty of theory. In 1983, I got into C, and UNIX stuff like shells, awk, sed and such. Much of my career at that point was C. I first heard about Perl about 1993 and downloaded it. The Perl 4 doc was a single man file about 40 pages long. I was doing some tricky stuff in shell and awk but I didn't migrate to Perl just yet. In the spring of 1993, I landed a contract where I was going to process a large data tree and generate dozens of C include files and this was my first real Perl program. I got the pink camel, devoured it and became a devotee right away. All those niggly little problems I had to deal with in C such as array bounds and memory allocation were gone. Also gone were the limitations of sed/awk/shell. Perl was the perfect language for manipulating the data tree and doing text generation. I only wish Perl 4 had references as I had to create a fake tree out of a single large array. I even gave a lightning talk about that at YAPC in Montreal. Ask me for the code if you want to see something interesting but highly obsolete.
I eagerly anticipated Perl 5 and quickly learned it when camel 2 came out. I wrote an @ARGV parser as an exercise to learn it. I still have that code and the design concepts are still decent but it needs a full rewrite. And with all the other option parsers out there, why would anyone care about another one (even if it has concepts almost none of the others have :-)?
I have attended the very first Perl conference in San Jose in 1997 and have been to all (even after it morphed to OSCON) but one since then. I also have enjoyed going to all of the YAPC::NA conferences and my first YAPC::EU in 2003 in Paris. I like being around Perl mongers and hackers for many reasons. They are a very creative and fun bunch of people. I have theorized that Perl hackers are more fun than other users of other languages because Perl is more fun that other languages. What other language would have an ACME:: namespace for joke modules? Can you imagine Java, C#, or Python allowing such public fun?
My final point before I get into the list of Perl stuff below is why I like Perl so much. Perl maps onto my brain like no other language. It does what I want it to do and doesn't get in my way. Scalars, arrays and hashes are all I need for data structures. Perl allows me to express my coding with the least amount of work and in the most accurate way. I don't want to write extra lines of code if I don't have too but I also have developed a strong coding style discipline that keeps me from falling into the realm of obsfucated code. That discipline is needed in coding in all languages and is not only needed for Perl. Perl can be used for one liners, short scripts, medium sized programs, and enterprise size systems. It is the best data and text munger language around. And Perl 6 will be even better - I can't wait to see them try to put 'Perl 6 compatible regular expressions' in other languages!