> Any suggestions on how to improve startup time?

As mentioned, you'll probably get better help on the rails or dreamhost 
forums.

Having said that, I had a similar problem on dreamhost and solved it 
using a cron job that periodically accessed my rails app,

0,5,10,15,20,25,30,35,40,45,50,55 * * * * curl -s http://my.domain.com/ 
> dev/null

Hope that helps,

Chris
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