Monday, September 24, 2012

Living with the nature or fighting against mice

Today I am going to write down about some new issues we have faced after moving to Calgary which caused changing our lifestyle. In Edmonton we were living in a condo apartment, where we had an access to the backyard and to the underground garage. However, in Calgary we are renting a townhouse which has a double car garage and small basement room. It has no backyard which we are missing. 

When we moved to the townhouse we noticed differences living in apartment and townhouse. First of all it has stairs, I mean lots of stairs. So my kids started learning how to climb the stairs. Of course not all attempts were successful. The other difference is heating, water supply and so on. All of them are separate from others. You need to take care of it. 

But most surprising one was mice. First we noticed  excrement of mice in the kitchen, basement and storage room. Then once late evening my wife met "face-to-face" with a small mouse. I am not aware who was most scared.:)) When we first noticed the signs, I started googling and found that Calgary has no rats. So we were sure that it is a mouse. We started a fight against them... First I tried mint oil. In the internet most of people writing that it helps. But not always. So, noticing effective-less of the oil I decided to take more serious actions. I visited Home Depot and purchased gun mouse traps. It is strange but mice can not avoid peanut butter. So, I installed the traps with peanut butter over the house and caught two mice. Below is a picture one of them:

So, For the people who faced with the same issue I will advice using the traps. There are different form of them. I cannot say that wooden snap traps is the most efficient one. But they are very helpful. They cost $1-2 each. So you can trash them after successful usage. The was some cases when we noticed empty traps without mouse. But currently we do not have any mice at home.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I am regular employee or end of the probation period

As I wrote before I was hired by Rigstar Communication Inc three months ago as an accountant. I started with three months probation period which ended this Monday. So, I am full time usual Canadian employee starting September 18, 2012. I would like to write down how end of the probation period was declared to me. 

So my boss mmw called me to his office and asked to have a sit. Then he gave me an evaluation paper where he evaluated my performance. Based on his word I am doing great job. But as a person who used to pass evaluation twice per year last six years it was unclear. The sheet I was holding was telling me "different things". However, the result was more important. I have passed the probation period and I am full time employee. He shook my hand and congratulated me with the successfully passing the probation.

Below I am posting two picture taken when started and after the probation period. It is good to compare how I change. Looks like I became more hairy...

And after
P.S. I will write down a separate post about my job and what I am doing here. Most interesting part of it is feelings after switching from adviser to the client side of the table...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cooking quails in BBQ or Azerbaijani delicious bildirchin kabab

Today I would like to write down about a specific food we used to cook/grill in Azerbaijan. As you may be aware Azerbaijan is very famous with its cuisine, especially kababs. Kabab is not our national food, it is very popular in all countries of Caucasus and Middle East, but each nation has it is own tastes which affected kababs too. One of the famous kababs in Azerbaijan is bildirchin kabab. Bildirchin is translation of quail into Azerbaijani Turkish. To be honest I was surprised when I first saw quails in Super Store. Then Rovshan cooked my first bildirchin kabab in Canada. It has very tasty meat and it is very good food to have along with beer. So, at that time almost 10 quails was successfully eaten with lots of beer. 

After moving to Calgary I decided to grill these birds myself. You can easily find quails in Super Store where they sell poultry. Each package contains 6 frozen quails. In order to cook it you need to unfreeze them, add salt and pepper and keep some time in fridge for being marinated. You may BBQ it after salting and peppering, but I usually like keeping meat/poultry before grilling couple hours at least. Then they should be grilled in BBQ until they are ready. I prefer charcoal BBQ as it is very close to our cuisine. In pictures they look like followings:

Drying after unfreezing
Getting bronze

Some mushrooms for the taste
Grilling every part of them


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Canadian geese leaving us

After getting a student driving license my wife started pushing me to train her how to drive. Taking into account that she has never drove before I decided to explain her basic of the driving in farm roadways. So last months we are periodically visiting closest farm roads to gain driving experience. This area are full of birds, animals and shortly we are very close to the nature when she drives. So, As usually yesterday we decided to continue our training and drove to the closest farms. Last days I have noticed geese in the air of Calgary flying to the southward. And when we we passing next farm field I have noticed geese resting there, lot of geese... I asked my wife to stop and I tried to capture them with my iphone. They did not let me to come close, but I was able to capture some picture. Sorry for the quality, looks like it is a time to buy more serious camera... So, Canadian geese leave us for this winter...

Monday, September 17, 2012

How to get a credit report for free

After moving to Canada I have faced with a new lifestyle requirement called credit history. Why lifestyle? Because your credit report reflects how you live, how you pay your debts, how reliable you are. Credit report includes your credit score, which represents your creditworthiness. In easy language based on this score financial institutions decide to provide you a loan/mortgage/credit card or not... The credit history is recorded and maintained by credit bureaus. To be honest in Azerbaijan no one does this records and there is no credit bureau in Azerbaijan. Therefore, for people who immigrated to Canada from Azerbaijan is very difficult to get first credit card or a loan. I faced with the same issue when applied for my first credit card here. The only way of getting a credit card was depositing an amount of the credit line to a restricted deposit account.  But obtaining a credit card was an only way for me to start my credit history in Canada. There are also options to obtain a small loan in order to start the history. However, without having a credit history it is almost impossible to receive a loan. 

In Canada there are two major credit-reporting agencies: Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada. If you visit their websites by clicking of the names, you can see that they offer your credit report by paying $15. And usually people are paying it to get the report. However, if you read all page with more attention you can see that in "Other Credit Services" box it says that "You can receive a free credit file disclosure from Equifax Canada Inc. via Canada Post". And this message has a link to an application form. You just need to fill it out and fax or mail it to them along with the required documents. The report will not show your credit score, but will show your credit history. If you want to see your credit score you can fill you credit card details bottom of the application which will cost you $12, $3 less than if you apply online. Please note that this requests is noted in your credit report, but it has no effect on your credit score. I believe that getting free reports and maintaining your credit history is very good tool for getting financing/mortgage approvals easily. Paper copy of the reports should be received within 5-10 days. If you decide to order a report with the score you should be able to read the report. Here is some information about how to understand your report and score.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

How I purchased my second car in Canada or fighting against Toyota dealership in Calgary

As you already understood I purchased a new car. My first car in Canada was Nissan Xterra of 2002. I bought it from a young Canadian family in Edmonton. It was lady driven and therefore mechanically was OK. However, as usually it happens with lady's cars interior of it was awful. I spend lots of hours to clean it out. Nissan Xterra is very reliable and strong car. For Canadian winters and off-road it is awesome. But it is not comfortable to drive long distance in highway. It also drinks too much gas. Summer times usual fuel consumption is 14-15 liters per 100km and in winter it rises almost to 20... So, my gas expenses was never down from $300. Additionally, taking into account "old ages" of the car, it started requesting more spending on mechanical side. It never left me half way, but last months I was unsure on reliability of it and was spending at least $100 to maintain it. Therefore, finally as a usual accountant I decided to renew my car. 

Choosing a producer

Most of car producers started promotional actions from August'12 to clear out 2012 models. I reviewed almost all car producers' websites and compared their prices, promotions and other factors. I stopped on Toyota as their offers was more attractive. Toyota provides 0% financing and 0.9% leasing options. Additional factor was reliability of Toyota. I used to think that Toyota always has issues with its cars and therefore recalls them very often. However, after moving to Canada I noticed that Toyota is the most reliable car here... Therefore, I applied online to test drive Toyota's Venza and RAV4 of 2012. Then I have been contacted by salesperson of Toyota and invited for the test drives. After driving both cars I was sure in my choice, it was Toyota Venza AWD 2012. 

Financing or Leasing

One more thing I was considering was purchasing or leasing a car. Lease is very famous here in Canada, but cultural point was not letting me to pay for a car which I do not own. Mostly there is no difference between financing and leasing. But when you lease a car your monthly payment are less than when financing. After long thinking I finally won cultural ideology in my brain and decided that it will be more financially convenient for me to lease a car.  

Fighting against Toyota dealership

After making my choice regarding car and purchasing options I visited Toyota dealership closest to us again. I have been requested to provide my latest pay slip, copy of my driving license and copy of my SIN. Afterward a sales person filled out an application for leasing. I decided to lease basic model of Toyota Venza AWD 2012 and added a leather seating package on it. As a promotional action I have been provided with lifetime oil and filter change, flour mats, cargo liner and remote starter. 

The next step was waiting for approval of my application. And after couple of days they called me and said that my application was approved and I need to pay a deposit for the car. 

Trick #1
When I was paying a deposit I have been told that I need to provide a co-signer for the agreement. And co-signer can be my wife. After paying the deposit Financial Services Manager of the dealership, Charles Enns told me that my co-signer should be a person who lived in Canada more than three years. I caught the trick but it was late, I already paid the deposit. Therefore, I decided to keep silence and look for a co-signer. Thanks to my old friend Ali who agreed to apply as a co-signer for my application. 

Trick #2
After me and Ali signed the application allowing Toyota to run a credit check for us the same manager Charles Enns called to Ali. He called him and asked him to be reflected as a primary applicant on the application. Ali rejected his offer and thanks to him for it. I was not aware of this call at all. When I called to Ali to ask about application he friendly informed me about the call. It drove me crazy. It was next unethical action from Toyota side. I called to the dealership and requested a meeting with supervisor of Charles. After long discussion with the Senior Finance Manager, they apologized and offered me cover with protection bottom of the car for free. I accepted the offer and decided to continue the documentation process with my primary application.

Trick #3
After couple of days Charles sent me an e-mail where indicated that my application was finally approved and in his e-mail provided information for insurance of the car. Meanwhile they will deal with the installation of the all options we agreed. When I called to insurance company to transfer my old car's insurance to the new car I was informed that financial institution, RBC (which name I have been provided) does not provide leasing of cars and most probably it is financing of the car. However, I did the insurance and left my Nissan Xterra without insurance. I decided that lady from the insurance has no enough experience as I applied for a leasing. However, when I called to Charles he notified that actually they are going to sign a financing agreement with me. I decided to discuss this issue face-to-face with him and visited the dealership after my working hours. I was not able to drive my car and thanks to Adil who provided me his car for a day. When I came to the dealership I informed them that I am going to request return of my deposit and cancellation of the agreement as without my consent Charles applied for a financing to RBC. He did it on my behalf. Taking into account that we already discussed the situation over the phone he decided to apply for a leasing to Toyota Financing before our meeting. The result was approval of leasing application with $3,000 down payment. It was third and fourth unethical action from his side. He did all this application without my approval. However, he rudely insisted that all his actions are correct, he did not any fault and that is the way how the dealership works... But he avoided to respond my question "Does Toyota knows what you are doing to customers here?". It drove me more crazy and I decided to continue my discussion with the store manager, Dan. I insisted in returning my deposit and cancellation of the transaction. However, the manager apologized for the Charles's actions and made me very attractive offer. We agreed on details and here we gooo... I drive a new Toyota Venza.... It uses maximum 10 liters per 100km ;))) Now I am looking to sell my Nissan Xterra 2002. Here is some pictures of my new car:

P.S. If you decide to purchase a car from South Point Toyota dealership I will strongly advice you to avoid meeting with Charles Enns, Financial Services Manager there. He is most incompetent service person I have ever seen!!! Better contact to Ryan Boydell, another finance manager who is professional of his job. All other guys there are also really very pleasant. Exceptional thanks to Mike Nguyen who helped me in my choice.