I just want to say that west Japan was generally unaffected by the earthquake and tsunami, and I am just fine. I have also heard from those I know in eastern Japan, and aside from some very scary shaking and disheveled apartments, they are fine. (I don't know anyone living in Sendai) If you are interested in donating to victim relief organizations, you can check out HuffPo's list here or the Japanese Red Cross here. My condolences to those affected by the quake.
What is the value of a profession to a player, to the character, and to the community? As I mentioned, I dropped Aka's Leatherworking in favor of mining, leveling it over the course of a few days. Leatherworking was the first of Aka's initial professions, along with skinning. As a noob drood, my rogue buddy suggested I get those two as a pair to make things for myself. I took both to 450 in Wrath, made myself the epic crafted boots, and changed skinning for Tailoring.
Tailoring was only temporary. I wanted the flying carpets to help me reach 100 mounts. While I collected Frostweave I took advantage of the spellthreads and such, but after I made the carpets I switched to Engineering (also for mounts...and pets :3). Fortunately I had gotten my paladin to 80 and could mine the leveling mats. The problem is that at the moment, I don't have a high-level skinner OR miner.
I asked guildies for advice - they are the community my professions contribute to. In general, 2 crafting professions buff a raiding character more than gathering ones. I don't have Jewelcrafting or Blacksmithing, but LW gives a nice bracer buff (assuming any crafted epics are replaced in raids), and Engi has tinker buffs and now cogwheels. By trading my +int buff for stam, was I gimping my healing, and therefore the raid? My RL's advice was to suck it up and buy mats to level both crafting professions, in the interest of saving LW. Is it my responsibility to the raid to level professions in accordance with their needs?
I asked my Insane buddy for advice - he suggested that I level my paladin to farm for myself (the only problem being that my paladin is a miner; my skinner is a level 65 DK bank alt). In terms of character benefit, is it better to neglect dailies and dungeons on my main in order to quest and farm on two toons?
I asked manfriend for advice - he said he always prefers having a toon to be self-sufficient with professions, so if I wouldn't give up Engi for skinning, I might as well drop LW for mining. Especially because as he knows, I work very infrequently on my alts when I'm focused on Aka. Is it more important to level professions than to play the way I want?
When it comes to my raid group, we are not as hard core as some. We require appropriate gear, enchants, and gems, consumables, strat prep, and honoring scheduled commitments. However, we do not require toons to have the most ideal professions or spec (unless something is seriously off). Although the first list contains requirements for a single toon that benefit the whole, the next two are considered personal choices left to the player. Indeed, even people with main toons with crafting professions will raid on surrogates (raid-ready alts with a high loot priority that compensate for group composition and player burnout) with random professions. I don't mean to suggest that this is better or worse than other methods - if I joined a guild that required certain profs, specs, time commitments, etc, I would be agreeing to honor them. My guild, however, does not dictate this particular decision.
Which brings me to the character, which is closely tied to my preferences. Without external pressure from the guild, I had internal pressure to keep the sweet bracer lining, not to mention it is the last of my starter professions, and one that I put lots of time, money, and effort into. But weighing that against my resistance to leveling alts and my unwillingness to spend gold on leveling mats, the choice was clear.
In the end, I choose my professions. Although I am committed to successful guild raids, at the moment professions are not crucial to them. And without this change, it's unlikely that I would have leveled either profession until much too late; at least now I can get my engi together in time to be useful.