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October 1997

Random Profile: Jim Riley, UNAVCO


It's back--tanned, rested, and ready. This article marks the return of Random Profile, which was a regular Staff Notes Monthly feature in the late 1980s and early 1990s. We've brought the series back to answer reader requests for more human-interest features in Staff Notes Monthly. Random Profile will spotlight a stochastically chosen staff member every other month.

Jim Riley

Name:
James W. Riley IV. ("My family's pretty traditional.")

Birthplace:
Greenwich, Connecticut.

Current position:
World Wide Web administrator for UNAVCO. Beforehand, he tested and maintained the pool of 55 Global Positioning System receivers that are deployed by UNAVCO consortium members. Then, he explains, "I started facilitating my group's efforts at getting information onto the Web." After former systems administrator Ramon Roth and consultant Dave Pierce left UNAVCO, "I picked up where they left off. I just recently got the funding to do this full time. It's been a big learning curve."

Favorite part of job:
"I get to work with almost everyone here at UNAVCO. I get involved in all the aspects of what our program does, which is really nice."

Employment in a previous life:
Technical writer. "I ended up doing a lot of ghostwriting for MBAs and people who really should've known how to write."

What brought him to Boulder:
"I didn't feel like I was really ready for college when I finished high school. I traveled and ended up here in 1987. I taught myself basic electronics and that became a stepping stone into the high-tech realm."

Favorite place on earth:
"I'd have to say the North Woods of Maine. My family has a camp on Upper Shin Pond that my great-great-grandfather built out of original timber. It's just northeast of Baxter State Park. The old-growth forest, where it hasn't been chopped down, is just amazing."

What he'd take to a desert island:
"A guitar. I like music. I have a studio at home with drums, bass, and guitar. It's all analog except for the recording equipment, which is digital 8-track."

Goal for this year:
"Finish my first album. I've got seven songs almost done."

Favorite films:

Before the Rain (1995), directed by Milcho Manchevski: "Great cinematography, with cryptic story evolution and a powerful message about war and hatred."

Red Rock West (1993), directed by John Dahl: "A film noir/black comedy/Western/thriller which has a great plot and nice character development."

Laura (1944), directed by Otto Preminger: "A classic noir murder mystery."

Favorite books:

Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn: "Don't bother reading it for its literary value; it's the message that makes this book worthwhile."

The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera: "An intense, philosophical, yet somewhat comical book about love, being, control, and political oppression."

Beloved, by Toni Morrison: "An intense book about a post-Civil war/post-slavery family that unravels its past through wonderful character development and an amazing plot."

Favorite albums:

Recent--Brighten Up the Corners, by Pavement. "It's poetic, but a little hard-edged, upbeat, very eclectic."

Classic rock--Ghost in the Machine, by the Police.

Obscure--Elis and Tom, featuring the 1960s popularizer of the bossa nova, Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Best-known relative:
Maternal grandfather Bob Haymes, an actor and composer who penned the jazz vocal standard "That's All" (recorded by Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, and Sarah Vaughan). "He was an interesting character--never in one place very long." Bob's brother, Dick Haymes, was a World War II-era actor and crooner with the Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, and Benny Goodman Orchestras.

How he sees himself:
"I'm pretty inquisitive--I like learning. I'm working on a political science degree at CU-Boulder for the process as much as the end. That's what I like about UCAR: you can learn an amazing amount in skills and information."

Current household companions:
"Just a couple of fish, Ernie and Fang." •


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Edited by Bob Henson, bhenson@ucar.edu

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