It might be time to let go of the Martha Stewart stock

How could you do this, Martha Stewart? I believed in you. I believed in your products. I supported you when you were sent to jail for that little fib about insider trading because I thought there were many men that should have gone before you.

The day you were sentenced to jail, I went to Kmart and bought your place mats. I even bought your stock when you were in jail and watched the price go up and followed it down below my purchase price. I know, that was not your fault. That is my normal investor pattern and I cannot blame that on you. What did they teach you in prison? When you were not allowed to manage your company, did your people make bad decisions without you? What happened?

Let me start at the beginning so that you will understand my grief. We have new houses across from us when before there was desert, so I decided to put more Christmas decorations in front for my new neighbors to enjoy. I put a lighted garland around the front door, moved the Christmas tree to the living room window and bought individual electric candles (battery operated) for the other front windows. The candles in the window show the way home for loved ones. I not only had our kids in mind but our soldiers in harm's way, too.

I shopped the catalogs first and marked the pages with the candles. The prices ranged from $6 to $12.95 per candle. Then, I went to Kmart and checked out their supply. Martha Stewart came through for me - two candles per package for $6, with each good for 1,000 hours. They required two AA batteries, which were not included, so I bought three sets of candles and batteries that were on sale.

I went home and put the batteries in the candles. The light was disappointing - big enough bulbs, but the teensiest light within the light. Maybe it will look better in the dark. That night, I placed the candles in the windows, turned on the lights in the doorway and the Christmas tree. We went outside to ooo and ahhh. The candlelights were puny to say the least. Martha Stewart had let me down. Our kids and the soldiers will not make it home for Christmas if they depend on these candles to guide them.

Within the next few days, the candlelights went out one by one. I shook them, then took them apart and put them back together. Some lit for a bit but soon went out. It was time to ask for help.

The man who lives at our house is an electrical engineer, and we have a division of sciences so to speak. I take care of the bacteria, viruses and health stuff, and he is in charge of the electrical and electronic stuff. What I did not do when I planned purchases of the decorations was ask his advice. You can understand why. Once you ask for advice, especially from a husband, you run the risk of your idea being canned - totally. So I didn't, and now I must pay.

Saturday morning: The engineer agreed the lights were puny and ineffective. "They should have been LEDs," he said. "Can we replace them with LEDs," I asked. He is always talking about how great LEDs are. "No," he said, "they don't make them to fit. How many watts are the bulbs," he asked. "How many volts are the batteries?" "I dunno." "You gals are soooooooo funny," he said. "Yea, well, we can do stuff that you can't do," I retorted.

"Let's put the voltmeter on it," he said. Not exactly my thoughts. Years ago, I learned all this watt, volt, amps and ohms stuff for tests and then promptly forgot it except for the really important bits - it's not the watts that kill you, it's the amps, and electricity is a flow of electrons. Why fill your brain with information that you can easily obtain like phone numbers and electrical stuff. Plug it in and expect it to work as advertised is my motto.

"Did you buy the bunny batteries? I always buy the bunny batteries," he said.

"I buy whatever's on sale," I replied. "And these are not the bunny batteries."

"What did the package say," he said.

"I threw the package away but I know it said the candles were good for 1,000 hours." I could see a major engineering project in the making, and I was right. Out came the voltmeter, power supply and wires - many wires. Men love wires.

The batteries in the Martha light checked out at 0.7 volts and they should have been 1.5 volts. We checked a new on-sale battery. Yes, it was 1.5 volts. That was a relief because he was making noises like, "take them back to the store and get your money back." We measured the current, linear not parallel, because the batteries sat on top of each other. We measured Martha-bulb watts and compared it to a mini-bulb from the Christmas tree. We checked resistance of the Martha bulb compared to the Christmas tree bulb and determined the ohms. We put in new bunny batteries and checked the voltage new versus 24 hours later. We determined the milliamps. It was a process to say the least.

I will not overtax you with all the data, just the essentials. The Martha bulb is 0.12 watts, and a mini-Christmas tree bulb 0.18 watts. This candlelight for my window gave out less light than one tree bulb! One AA battery contains about 2,000 milliamp hours, and since the Martha bulb draws 40 milliamps, the battery should last 50 hours, or two to three days. It will take 100 batteries to keep all six candles glowing day and night through Christmas!

Aren't marketers clever? The package advertised that the light was good for 1,000 hours. Hours of what? I will be prepared next year, and in the meantime, I will take a closer look at my Martha stock. This might be a good time to sell before the rest of her shareholders figure it out.