How much database poking can I do?

Have you looked at "Dr. Nic's Magic Models"? It's hosted on RubyForge at http://magicmodels.rubyforge.org/

While it doesn't do exactly what you ask, I bet you'd get a pretty good jump-start by seeing behind the curtain.

-Rob

Rob Biedenharn http://agileconsultingllc.com
Rob@AgileConsultingLLC.com