Hi, I'm trying to get started with Ruby, but I don't feel that any of  
the current books or material that I've uncovered are really what I  
need to get moving at full steam.  I have a background in computer  
science and have programmed in C, C++, Java, Perl, VB, Assembly (x86)  
and others, however I've been away from real programming (aside from  
minor php stints over the last couple years) for about 4 years.

I'd like to get started with ruby, however I really need some small  
exercises or projects ranging from basic beginning to intermediate  
and advanced as I lack context while reading through material and  
tutorials.  My ultimate goal is to master RoR, however I feel that I  
would like a foundation built upon understanding ruby before jumping  
into frameworks, such as RoR.

Any thoughts or ideas or material available that helps the rubber hit  
the road more appropriately for folks like me?

Thanks much & kind regards,

-George