Ruby has a feature that every language should have: the capability to multithread. Personally, I'm fond of forking a thread whenever something that I'm about to do is time consuming. For instance, any kind of input/output operation or attempt to obtain information from another server deserves another thread.
In Ruby, threads are compatible across all platforms, which is quite an accomplishment. However, I recommend further reading on the subject of multithreading. From personal experience, I know that multithreading is truly a dark art and is not meant to be undertaken lightly.