Stage Three: Days Spent Learning (Vol. I)
Next up, there's the third stage of the operation - taking the things Phil achieves on screen that imply he has spent time learning new skills, and attempting to use educated guess work, and other reference points to work out how long each achievement might have taken. Armed only with Google, and a healthy curiosity, I set out on this part of the quest with incredible gusto.
Then I had a lie-down and watched Hot Shots: Part Deux instead.
But then I got back on it: First there are the big two - learning how to make ice sculptures and how to play piano from scratch. The ice sculpture business is pretty difficult to quantify, though you would assume that being in show business he has some interest or background in art, so even if he went in as an ice virgin, he might learn faster than another person.
I'll also assume he is self-taught, which is bound to take some time (top Ice Sculptors in London Eskimo Ice can only call themselves top of their game due to 25 years of experience), and portraiture's got to be the most difficult style to master.
In conjunction with that, Malcolm Gladwell has stated that it takes anyone 10,000 hours to become an expert at any one subject, and Phil is clearly an expert ice sculptor, since the ice sculpture is the one thing in Groundhog Day that is entirely quantifiable by what we can see on screen (playing one song well does not make anyone an expert pianist, and speaking one French poem perfectly likewise is not an indicator of expertise).
Broken down that is an hour a day for 27 years, but we know Phil by now, and we know that when he figures out that something gets him closer to fourth base with Rita, he's likely to pursue it a little more rabidly than that. So I'm suggesting an average of 4 hours per day - based also on his willingness to stick to 4 or 5 hours of card flicking for six solid months, and the impending threat of frost bite over longer periods - which brings that to just under 7 years, based on him working for consecutive days for that whole time, or more likely 10 years sticking to a traditional 5 day a week working directive.
A giant leap to the next running total: 4102 days And then there's learning the piano. Again, you have to consider that 10,000 hours to become an expert - not that we know Phil is an actual expert, in the Mozart mould (took him 13 years to produce world class music after being "discovered" at the age of 4), because he isn't composing or anything.
So let's call him an exceptional pianist - three quarters of the way to expert - so 7,000 practice hours. At the level he is clearly playing at at the end, he must have been putting in two or three hours of practice a day at least (any more and he would be in severe danger of carpal tunnel syndrome or tendinitis) though not every day (for the same medical reasons). That breaks down to about 7.5 years playing for between two and three hours a day every day.
But I've already said I'm working on the basis that he sticks to the habit of five days on, two days off- so that makes it ten and a half years or there abouts (seems Harold Ramis was right about the ten year mark). 10.5 years= 3833 days And a new running total of 7935.
But, those aren't the only things Phil learns, his actions also imply that he has learned an awful lot of other things - so with that in mind, the next stage is to explore the further achievements of Phil in the name of bettering himself...