> I'm willing to submit a patch, but I am unclear what the next steps are.

Yeah you'd have to figure out exactly *why* it is so slow within the
ruby core, then figure out a patch to overcome that slowness, then
file a report to redmine.ruby-lang.org

If I were you I might consider just switching to 1.9 :)

Also http://rubyforge.org/tracker/index.php?func=detail&aid=19034&group_id=426&atid=1700
might be of interest.

Also running your code against ruby-prof might help you see what's going on.
GL.

=r