Why has use of the node ID "become painful"? How many nodes are there in the system? Is the list growing?
Looking at the definition of Section PegaAES-UI-Reports*ClusterReports, the drop down is supposed to be displaying text .NodeDescription and setting value from property .SysNodeID. The .NodeDescription is actually sent from monitored node and stored in class PegaAES-Data-Nodes. Try to set node desription on the monitored nodes then restart them.
Since Pega 72 it is also possible to configure human-readable nodeID's. Java option -Didentification.nodeid will set the nodeID.